Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/338

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One must seize the opportunity of a bright, keen day of Christmas weather to see how the moors look in wintry guise. As we follow up this rippling, eddying north-country "beck," we hear a song which seems like a more musical variation of the chatter of the stream over its stony bed. A white breast, which we take at first for a drifted foam-patch amongst the dark rocks, shows that the author is a Dipper or Water Ouzel. Presently he enters a pool, diving and dabbling as cheerily in the ice-cold water as if the month were May. No winter day, however cheerless, raw or chill, seems to affect the spirits of this Mark Tapley of a bird. In the fringe of plantation below the moor, the Grey Hens come bustling silently out of the spruce firs which are gemmed with frost work,—while with whirr of wings their lord, a stately Black-cock, rises from a patch of rushes. Drifting showers, half snow half frozen sleet, have powdered the moors with white, but, as the sun shows through, we hear, the Grouse "becking" and crowing on all sides, and upon the drifts one notes the print of their mittened feet. Here amongst the heather is a grove of small thick-set pines. Approach the nearest of them and with muffled flop a Long-eared Owl leaves its perch and flaps away with noiseless wing-beats, shortly followed by another, and so on, until we have counted six in succession. From the litter and vast accumulation of castings on the ground below, the tree is evidently a regular family