Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/33

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until a later period of the winter, was almost equally long and severe. With real cold of this sort, with the temperature in the neighbourhood of zero, a white hazy stillness pervades the air; there is not a breath stirring to shake the powdered frostwork from twig and bough. For once, in place of our usual winter of mild Atlantic type, we have a specimen of the ordinary January weather of north-eastern Europe. Continuous and pitiless cold, ringing the earth's surface with a crust of iron, would try the birds severely, but they are in still worse case when all familiar landmarks are wiped out by deep and lasting snow. There is then a general move in search of more favourable conditions, and this not seldom becomes a wild sauve qui peut, in which millions of birds take part. As the snow, sometimes on the wings of a roaring blizzard, comes from the north-east, the movement is naturally towards the south-west, though, be it noted, birds object to fly directly before the wind, which in that case upsets their equilibrium and chills them by blowing between their feathers. They prefer the wind sideways or abeam. Perhaps instinct may also guide them towards the sole part of the kingdom where they may hope to find less arctic conditions. Great numbers appear at times to cross from the Welsh headlands to the south of Ireland. But too often disappointment awaits them even in the most favoured districts of the west country, and in the spring we find the dried remains of thrushes