Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/53

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and now alighting in a field. Sometimes we meet with large and excited gatherings of from eight to a dozen, the subject under discussion being evidently connected with matters matrimonial. Two jack-hares chase madly over the springing corn, scuffling and boxing, so blind in their rivalry that they will run right up to the feet of an onlooker. A squirrel in his winter coat of brownish-grey, not red as in summer, hunts with quick jerky movements amongst the leaves for a chance acorn, carrying his brush curled up over his back as if to keep it clean and dry. Here by the lake side we come upon a heap of loose, peaty soil nearly a yard across, so much bigger than the mole's ordinary hillocks that it evidently marks the site of his fortress. Opening it up, we find the whole of the mound crossed and recrossed by a connected system of galleries or tunnels, which, however, exhibit none of the beautifully symmetrical arrangement so often figured. At a depth of ten or twelve inches is the central chamber which contains the nest, a double handful of oak-leaves and pieces of sedge, beautifully dry inside, but untenanted.

On the coast the air is full of the cries of the Curlews after dark, this unusual stir always marking the time of the year when they leave for their breeding-haunts in the hills. The Black-headed Gulls begin to acquire their black hoods, and the Herring Gulls circle slowly round at a great height, uttering their jubilant spring cackle.