Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/74

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revisit one's favourite haunts without a struggle with mud and mire. The stronger light shows off to advantage the plumage of our smaller birds, and foliage does not yet hide those which spend most of their time amongst the twigs and branches. Plumage is now at its best, for the nesting season is at hand, or, in some cases, actually begun. The birds which have wintered with us are in full song, and towards the end of the month fresh voices tell of the arrival of returning wanderers from over seas. In the bird-world renewed energies and fresh activities give to the month its key-note.

Whilst several of our resident birds begin to sing in February or even earlier, March brings a large accession to the volume of song. The Mistle Thrush seems to defy the shrill blast to drown his loud, harsh notes, so often heard in dark, rough weather, or when the north-easter rocks his perch amongst the topmost boughs of the elm, that his country name of "stormcock" seems more than usually appropriate. The Song Thrush and Blackbird towards the end of the month are too much occupied with nesting duties to sing much, and are then chiefly heard at dawn and for a short time before and after sunset. All day long the Chaffinch rattles out his lively challenge, while the leisurely strains of the Robin form a sort of undercurrent of song. Greenfinches trill in the orchard, and the cock-bird begins the long-drawn call-note