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corn districts, such as Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, and the border counties, the grouse are a very light brown, borrowing a tint from the stubbles on which they delight to feed. Snaring grouse in these counties on the “stooks," with wire no thicker than horse hair, is a very common way of poaching. Forty or fifty are often taken at a time, during the period between the corn being cut and carried. All these birds are so light in the colour as more nearly to resemble partridges. But let us take the mountain from top to bottom, and admire the wondrous care of the Divine appointments. The ptarmigan, the colour of its snowy summit in the winter time, and of the gray granite rock in summer; the grouse, lower down, exactly like its own red-brown heather in the autumn, while the partridge, which subsists upon the little patch of corn that skirts the muir, has the yellower shade of the stubble on its wing
As the nights grow long, grouse take a far fuller evening than morning feed. In mid-winter their crops at dusk are as hard as drums. They seldom fill them in the mornings then. Black game also often content themselves with heather at this time, from scarcity of other food. Late in the year both these birds sit best when evening feed begins.
Many birds, especially those whose young ones run as soon as hatched, and, being thus dispersed, are more likely to be stumbled on, bave various arts to arrest the attention of the chance wanderer, and decoy him from the brood. The lapwing is always most clamorous when you are furthest from the objects of her solicitude. So is the
curlew; but should you approach them, the mother appears quite careless and unconcerned. Grouse and partridges flutter along the ground as if wounded and unable to fly, the latter uttering a most discordant scream. I have always thought these birds overdo their part, and that the lapwing is far superior to them in the art of misleading. The manœuvres of wild ducks are similar to those of grouse, and they give notice to the ducklings when they are to dive by a loud quack, which is instantly obeyed. But the most finished actress I have seen was a mire snipe, which fluttered up exactly as if the tip of its wing was broken. It flew in this disabled manner for about ten yards, when it fell as if exhausted, and lay struggling on its side. I walked forward to seize it, muttering, “Well if they hav'n't been poaching even now." Up it rose again, apparently with the greatest difficulty. But this time it was longer in doing the tumble down part. Suspecting the trick, I followed to see how it would end. After enticing me some distance, it sprang up
with its easy natural motion, and triumphantly twisted out of sight.
The hooded or Royston crow of England must either be different in its habits from that of Scotland, or naturalists of the south are much mistaken in their observations on this bird. Bewick and others make a marked difference between the Royston and carrion crows, saying, that the former arrive with the woodcock, and take their departure in spring to breed.” Now, in Scotland, there appear to me nearly as many hooded as carrion crows all summer, and both are called by the common people
“Hoody Craws." Nests are constantly found with one of both kinds; and I have noticed that the male is generally hooded, and the female black. The young also are mixed. Bewick says that, in more northern parts, the Royston crow remains the whole year, subsisting on sea worms, shell-fish, &c. Now I have remarked that the black crow is nearly as often to be met with on the sea shore as the Royston, and is equally fond of shell-fish. Those hooded crows on the sea shore are much lighter in the colour, and more apt to live in pairs than the inland ones, which I don't recollect ever seeing build together. I have, however, often found nests where both male and female were black. The food of Inland Royston and black carrion crows alike; habits the same; they are also found always in company when the young leave the nest. A gamekeeper, of some experience in trapping vermin, informs me that two Roystons and two black may be hatched in the same nest; also, that sometimes the male is hooded, and sometimes the female.
I once witnessed a touching instance of the attachment of an eagle to her young, which, like the child of some blood-thirsty chief, alone had the power to touch the single chord of tenderness and love in the heart of its cruel parent. I had wounded her mortally as she flew from her eyrie, quite unconscious of her having hatched an eaglet. Next day she returned to the foot of the rock, although not able to reach her nest, the feelings of a mother being stronger in her savage breast than either the sense of present pain, or dread of further danger.
When I lived at Lennie, my children set an old peahen, long solitary, with some bantam eggs
Five came out, and she proved so careful a step-mother as to rear them all. Some knowing observers declared that her long legs would walk them to death. Not so, for often she carried the whole five on her back, and if any one seemed weak or flagging, she invariably took it up for long together, as a good nurse would spare her sickly child. When they were old enough to roost, she decoyed them to the large boughs of some old tree, where they continued to rest even during the long cold nights of our northern winter. She tended them with great care after they were quite able to shift for themselves, always feeding them with any pieces of bread thrown to her. The little bantams showed equal attachment to their kind protectress; and it was not till spring had far advanced that they left her to join the other poultry.
All creatures which feed upon flying insects, such as the swallow, the bat, &c., must follow and dart at their prey; and this circumstance gives an uncertain irregular cast to their own flight. There is no more curious example of these evolutions than the large greenish brown autumnal dragon-fly. This fierce dragon generally appears in August, and remains till the winter sets in. It has a beat of its own, which it plies most regularly, and its rapid darts are more like a bird of prey than an insect. You see one, perhaps, at a distance ; he is close to you in an instant; at two more of his aërial bounds, he clears the adjacent plane-tree, teeming with insects; down the opposite side, round your head again, and all the while seiz
ing gnats in his iron pincers like magic. I once caught in my hat one of these Gorgons, which gave me the opportunity from its being hampered with some load. To my surprise the booty was a middle-sized butterfly, firmly held in its forceps, and most unwillingly relinquished. The head of the poor victim was nearly separated from the body. Gnats and midges are, however, more commonly the food of the dragon-fly; and I have sometimes knocked one down with at least half a dozen in his ra
The strength of the wasp is even greater. After holding down and biting to death a fly, nearly as big as himself, I have seen him fly away with his burden quite easily. The mason wasp, also, after constructing its cylinder, will carry a caterpillar as large as itself, and deposit it above its egg for food to the young grub when it emerges. As great a feat for an insect, as the carrying off an ox for a lion or a tiger.
Some curious and interesting anecdotes of the nightingale and other soft-billed birds, during the nesting time, were mentioned to me in conversation, and I begged the kind narrator to commit them to writing. His high standing is sufficient guarantee for their authenticity.
“We never had the nightingales so near the house as this year. It was about the middle of May when, from hearing them sing constantly, and one of them almost at the door, we were led to look about for their nest, and soon found it close upon the ground, in a Virginian raspberry bush, most skilfully fenced about by the canes. It was within a very few yards of the house—not more than ten. At first we were very cautious, and looked