Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/91

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bottom and a tiny vibrant squeak tell that the shrew is abroad. On the first mild evening one may watch once more the wavering flight of the small bat or pipistrelle. Curled up amongst dead fern on the heath, the adder, very sluggish as yet, suns its scaly coils, and on warm banks the lizard basks. From the pond comes the smothered "croc, croc" of spawning toads. Half-awakened wood-ants cluster in masses about the entrance to their nest. The yellow-catkined sallows are humming with bees. Across the meadow, above the heads of the dancing daffodils, races one of their number which has taken to itself wings—the first brimstone butterfly. It is a wintry March which does not bring forth at least one butterfly. The first adventurer is often the peacock or small tortoiseshell. There is nothing strange in their appearance as, like the brimstone, they have been sleeping since last autumn, waiting for the few sunny hours which call them, sometimes all too soon, to fresh life. Even the banded hedge-snails, making their appearance at the first shower, are welcome as the damper and milder air which brings them forth.

A change of this sort, a kindly breath from the south-west after a long spell of east winds, has a marked effect upon the feathered choir. The early morning concert of blackbirds and thrushes recommences with new vigour. Skylarks and chaffinches, long delaying, burst at length into full song. For song in its begin-