Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 4 (1900).djvu/213

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HABITS OF THE GREAT PLOVER.

soon as it fell they spread themselves all over the plateau, and the dancing began. As far as I could observe, the birds now were very little occupied in procuring food. There was a peck or so at something now and again, but this was casual, and, as it were, an interlude. The constant quick running and stopping whilst the wings were folded appeared to me to be only a part (the less excited part) of the general emotion, out of which the sudden frenzies arose. There was also the usual vocal accompaniment. As soon as they had spread themselves out over the amphitheatre the wailing note went up, and was caught and repeated from one part of it to another at greater or less intervals. The whole ended in flight as before.

I remark a great difference in the shade of these birds' plumage. The breast and ventral surface is indeed light in all, but, whilst the back is in some so dark as to look, towards evening, almost black through the glasses, in others it is so much lighter that it looks almost white by contrast, or even of itself.

September 17th.—About 1 p.m. walked towards the amphitheatre without concealing myself, wishing merely to ascertain if birds were there at that hour. When I was still a good way off a very large number rose into the air, and I then edged off so as not to alarm them further, and to let them resettle, which after a time they did, and I retired.

At 11 p.m., it being bright moonlight, I again went to the place, and walked around and over the entire amphitheatre, noticing and picking up several feathers in the moonlight. I did not put up a single bird, nor could I hear their cry anywhere around. The place was quite deserted. Returning, I had the pleasure of liberating a poor Rabbit caught in one of those vile toothed traps, the selling or possession of which should be made a criminal offence, with punishment to "fit the crime," à la Mikado.

(To be continued.)

 
Zool. 4th ser. vol. IV., April, 1900.
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