Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/52

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private grounds, where the lawns afford constant food and the shrubberies ample shelter. No thrush would think of building in the bare hedge-rows for a month to come. Watching the flocks of Peewits on moor or fallow, we may notice that many a wanton lapwing who now "gets himself another crest" has also selected a mate. A pair of Water Ouzels, earlier than the rest, may already be carrying moss to the nest which they repair each spring. They work only in the early morning and are not seen in its vicinity during the day. Song Thrushes, Fieldfares and Skylarks have come straggling back since the frost took its departure, only to shift their quarters if a February snowfall occurs, bringing the Golden Plover again to the coast. Linnets, which we so seldom saw in midwinter, are again in evidence, and in the fields are the first returning parties of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.

If the winter has been a severe one, food supplies are now at a low ebb. All the more welcome are the ivy-berries, which ripen in late February or early March. Blackbirds eat them, scattering their undigested seeds broadcast, and from the ivied elm in the lane Wood Pigeons, which have been thinning the blue-black clusters, crash out as we pass. The back of a hovering Kestrel, seen from above, shows as a bright chestnut spot against the hill-side. Magpies pass from orchard to orchard by easy stages, halting now in a hedge-row