Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/85

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MARCH

67

fresh-turned furrows, passing singly and in parties all through the first half of the month. To those who know the Meadow Pipit, its return to the water-meads in straggling flocks is as familiar a feature of the month as the re-appearance of the wagtails. The Linnets twittering and singing in the ash, the black-capped Stonechats on the furze, all, or a large proportion of them, were absent while frost and snow held sway, though their quest of warmth and sunshine may only have carried them to the neighbourhood of the south coast. Few have any idea of the extent to which these local movements of birds occur within the United Kingdom.

It is not until near the close of the month that we look for the return of the first of the summer migrants, or birds of passage, whose annual wanderings have a far wider range. The first to be reported, from warrens, stony fallows, or the sand-dunes of the coast, is almost invariably the grey-backed Wheatear, which by the end of the month flicks its white tail and utters its sharp "chack, chack," in many a rocky mountain solitude. A few days later the Chiffchaff, a slim little warbler, olive-green above and lighter below, may be seen darting into the air for insects from the twigs of a yellow-catkined willow or repeating its monotonous distich amongst the tender green of budding larches. Its arrival puts the seal to the promise of March, for the chiffchaff, and not the cuckoo, is the true harbinger of