Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/330

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to take front rank. Every bird is keen on pushing his own business and in such a hurry that manners have to go. In the midst of their quarrelling they suddenly dart into the air, and begin frantically manœuvring, then fall as if shot, striking the ground with a thud. Just as they do this, a Sparrow-hawk dashes through their ranks, and, without checking its flight, goes off with one of their number.

A wet December, when the streams run bank-high, floods the river-flats and forms wide, shallow plashes beloved of the lapwings and equally attractive to wandering gulls and wading-birds of all sorts. A tall, moody-looking Heron comes to see whether the newly-discovered lakelet affords scope for his piscatorial craft. Such Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails as have not left us trip daintily about the water's edge, and, as the floods subside, the Carrion Crow comes to look over the slimy deposit which remains on chance of stranded fish or drowned-out mice. The month seldom passes without more or less rough weather, and sometimes brings a storm which, upon the coast, may vie with the worst of the autumn gales. The shore-haunting gulls, with a premonition of what is coming, pass overhead drifting inland for shelter. All night it blows great guns, and next morning, when the air is full of spindrift and flying foam-flakes, we see the Kittiwakes, under ordinary circumstances