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which is shown by the various eggs that might be found in the course of a day's hunt, in the lanes or woods and on the moors of our
own country alone. Let us set off on an imaginary excursion in search of these beautiful objects.
4. It is a fine May morning, and our walk is cheered by the songs of the many birds which, perched in the hedgerows and copses, are singing their morning melodies. As we approach the river, we observe that the sand-martins are swiftly skimming through the air ; and, knowing that in the sandy banks of the stream we are pretty sure to find their nests, we wade up and soon discover the colony.
5. Carefully introducing a long thin twig, smeared with bird-lime, into the tunnel (for it is too small to admit our hand), we are rewarded by the sight of a small white egg, of a most perfect shape, and just tinged with a faint pink colour, which makes it look as if it were filled with blood.
6. We wrap it carefully in cotton wool, and, placing it in our box, we cross the stream, and find ourselves on the outskirts of a moor
overgrown with the yellow-flowered gorse, or whin.
Here we obtain a rich harvest, for the prickly shrub forms a fine hiding-place for the nests of hundreds of small birds.
7. The first we find is that of the linnet, and there, snugly lying among feathers, are four pretty blue-white eggs, with their red-brown scratchings and speckles.
The mother linnet has just flown away.
And here, in the nest of the hedge-sparrow, we find those pale blue eggs which, although So common, are none the less beautiful in both shape and colour.
8. It is the nest of this bird that is very often chosen by the cuckoo as a depository for her egg; and although it is of a very different colour from that of the hedgesparrow (being speckled brown, and also of much larger size), yet the mother bird seems incapable of distinguishing between the cuckoo's egg and her own.
9. Here is a group of holly bushes, which is the favourite nesting-place of the blackbird, and after careful search among the prickly leaves, one of her brown speckled eggs is added to our spoils.
10. By this time the sun has nearly reached the meridian, and wishful to visit a wood which lies some distance off, we proceed in that direction.
11. As we pace along upon the soft turf, we suddenly hear a fluttering noise, and, looking to the ground whence the noise seems to come, we
a small brown bird flying in front of us, which has evidently flown out of a tuft of grass at the foot of a small tree. After a keen survey we find the nest, with its four dark-brown eggs. They are the eggs of the tit-lark. So well does the colour of these eggs harmonise with that of the
surrounding objects, and so cunningly is the nest hid, that it takes considerable skill to discover them.
12. In about an hour we reach the wood, and enter its cool shade. Oh ! how pleasant is the sight of the shady trees, covered with their fresh green leaves and pretty blossoms, the sweet spring flowers, and the blue sky, just seen through the tops of the trees; while the ear is delighted by the sweet and varied sounds which the thrush and other feathered songsters pour out on all sides.
13. We now proceed to examine the underwood for the nests of those small birds whose favourite nesting-place it forms. The beautiful nest and eggs of the chaffinch are the first things that come under our notice. These eggs have a very curious appearance, having on their surface dark-brown blotches, which make them look as though the shell had been burnt in such places. 14. Next we come across the
of the yellow-hammer; these are of a white colour, and are covered with purple markings, which look like the scratchings made by a quill pen.
The dingy yellow
egg of the white-throat, and the pale blue egg of the starling, which we find in the decayed stump of an old tree, are placed in our box before we leave the wood.
15. Passing an old barn on our way home, we succeed, by climbing to the eaves, in obtaining some of the pretty white pink-dotted eggs of the swallow.
16. It is now getting dusk. A school of rooks is slowly flying homewards to its “town in the trees” (little chance of getting their eggs to add to our collection), and the moths and night-flying beetles begin to flit across our path as we walk briskly towards home, having had a long and pleasant ramble, and learnt much of nature's great teachings.
not forget that, while it is right and pleasant thus to collect and observe for the
purpose of study, it is quite wrong to wantonly destroy the nests of the pretty birds who
Sing in wood or tree,
Their sweetest melody.” Grammar.—(1) Analyse “We came from the shores of the green old Nile." (2) Parse “How are you?” (3) Make nouns from the following verbs :-pay, run, provide, perform, intend. (4) Make sentences of your own, containing the words promise, secure, reform.