Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/328

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pipistrelle is out on mild evenings almost up to Christmas time, and memory recalls at least one December butterfly. In the middle of the month the honeysuckle begins to show its new leaves, and the gorse, in the kindly climate of the west, breaks into a thousand points of colour upon the bank where the rabbits sit out, basking in the pale sunshine of the closing year.

For "there are sunny days in winter after all," days which come after rain and storm, when the level beams strike on the ruddy trunks of the Scotch firs, and brighten the hues of the dying bracken. There are blue skies to light up the berried hollies, the red twigs of the cornel, the spindle-tree's rosy fruit bursting to show the orange-coated seed. And December's sunsets,—the flying storm-rack rent to show the flaming west, the deep orange afterglow which means frost — will vie with those of any month in the year. Few are the days when the naturalist in ordinary health will fail to be abroad to taste the brisk air after the morning's touch of frost, to see the leafless trees once more displaying their symmetry of limb and twig, and to note in the hedges, still hoary with masses of feathery-seeded clematis, the empty nests of the warblers, once so deep in tangled greenery and now so plain to view. A short "nip" of frost, lasting three or four days, has scarcely time to harden the surface of the ground before the wind veers to the west and all is soft again.