Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/342

This page needs to be proofread.



when frost drives it from the inland waters. The Golden-eye is known by the whistling or rattling noise made by its wings in flight, and often owes its life to its quickness in diving, disappearing at the flash. As with many of the diving ducks, it is chiefly the females and young birds which come thus far south, so that the obtaining of an old drake Merganser or Goosander in full plumage is a rare event,—pity that the delicate salmon-tint of the under-parts of the latter bird so quickly fades. The Long-tailed Duck, whose loud musical call is heard in summer amongst the northern isles, appears every winter in varying numbers, and is the "pintail" of the gunners upon the Yorkshire coast. For memories of the finest sight of all, that of a flock of Wild Swans upon the wing, trumpeting their bugle-call in time to the beating of their great pinions, we must go back for some years to a winter of Arctic severity, when the ice-floes went grinding to-and-fro in the estuary and lay piled up upon the shore. Further still, but within the memory of the oldest sportsman, stands out the Crimean winter, when there were all sorts of unfamiliar birds about, and he counted two hundred head of wild fowl one evening in the larder. Round the winter fire while the curlew and redshanks are calling outside in the darkness, further reminiscences follow,—of that great shot at wigeon with the heavy shoulder-gun which took half an ounce of powder, and which resulted in eight and a half couple being