Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/309

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twenty years. They breed, often quite early in the year in February or March, wherever they may happen to be when they feel the impulse to do so, and thus lead a free Bohemian existence which brings them but rarely within the ken of the south-country naturalist, though further afield, in the old pine-woods of the Grampians, they are always to be met with.

About the fields and lanes the varied tribes of finches and buntings now appear to be the all-prevailing birds. One notes with pleasure the extent to which the Goldfinch has benefitted from protective legislation. The "charms" of goldfinches which are to be seen about overgrown fallows and weedy field-borders, are far more numerous and stronger in point of numbers than was the case twenty years ago. And wherever there is arable land, how thickly chaffinches and yellow-hammers people the hedge-rows. If a census of the feathered tribes of the British Isles could be taken, one or the other would, we feel sure, easily distance all competitors, not excepting the house-sparrow. For while the sparrow is a hanger-on to civilization, and is quite rare in some districts, as amongst the Welsh uplands, finch and bunting are everywhere. Coming from a party of the latter, one may hear on a bright day in November what sounds like a variant of the yellow-hammer's refrain, but a nearer approach shows that the author is a Cirl Bunting, who shows his black throat as he puts up his head to