Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 4 (1900).djvu/26

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THE ZOOLOGIST.

hours over the moors without so much as a sight or sound of a human being, hearing only the swish of the wind in the heather, the cheep of the Meadow Pipit, the angry cry of the Lapwing as we approach too near to her eggs or brood, the distant complaint of the Curlew, or the sad sweet whistle of the Golden Plover, when suddenly a sharp sound startles us. Is it some geologist chipping off a specimen of millstone grit? But what can he want so far on the open moor? Again we hear the clear "tac tac tac." We look around, and, behold, not far off is a bird, not "black as jet," like the Blackbird, but sooty-black, relieved only by the white crescent on his breast. "Tac tac tac" we hear again, and with each syllable up goes his tail. His cry alarms the Grouse-cock, who flies off, and from a distance calls warningly "Go back, go back." I first made his acquaintance near Loch Skeen, in Dumfriesshire. There I came suddenly upon a party of six, no doubt a family party. But it is here in Derbyshire that I have become familiar with him, either on the open moor, or down a gully cut by a peaty brook, or under those grand "edges" of gritstone clear-cut and precipitous against the blue sky which to the uninitiated suggest cliffs bounding an inland sea. But it is not only in the land of heather that the Ring-Ouzel is to be found. Soon after I came to live in Derbyshire, to my surprise I met him in the wilder parts of our dales, and there found his nest concealed in some corner of the limestone crags. Nor is it really surprising that he loves to haunt these dales. They are not wide fertile valleys, nor are they glens with sloping sides, dividing mountain from mountain. They are rather rifts cut right through the middle of a flat-topped hill. On a bleak April day the traveller may wander over the dreary uplands, disheartened by the everlasting greyness around him—grey sky above, grey stone walls, grey grass—with no colour; not even a hedge or ploughed field to relieve the monotony with their deeper browns. Quite suddenly the scene changes. He is standing at the edge of a dale, looking down upon the deep green of spruce-firs, and below them is a little river clear as crystal, bright with the most vivid emerald-green of the water-weeds over which it runs. Is it fancy? Is it fairy-land? He clambers down to the water. Here he is sheltered from the biting wind. He finds woods carpeted with dog's-mercury (Mercurialis