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autumn it changes its abode, always commencing its journey, or change of place at sunset. Its precautions for concealment and security seem directed with great care and circumspection. It usually sits in the reeds with its head erect; and thus, from its great length of neck, it sees over their tops, without being itself perceived by the sportsmen. The principal food of the Bittern, during summer, consists of fish and frogs; but in autumn these birds resort to the woods in pursuit of mice, which they seize with great dexterity, and always swallow whole. About this season they usually become very fat.
RECEIVED his name from the colour of his legs, which are of a crimson red. In size he may be reckoned between the lapwing and the snipe, and is sometimes called Pool Snipe. The head and back are of a dusky ash colour, spotted with black, the throat partycoloured black and white, the black being drawn down along the feathers. The breast whiter, with fewer spots. He delights in fen countries, and in wet and marshy grounds, where he breeds and rears his young. The
female lays four whitish eggs, with olive-coloured dashes, and marked with irregular spots of black. Pennant and Latham say, " it flies round its nest, when disturbed, making a noise like a lapwing." It is not so common on the sea-shore as several others of its kindred species. We must observe here, that this bird has often been mistaken for others. The fact is (and this might lead us into a dissertation too extensive for the bounds of our book), that several birds changing their plumage and increasing or diminishing their size according to their age, the season of the year, and the climate they live in, set all nomenclators at defiance, and confound all classifications.
Is much like, and in size equal to, if not somewhat bigger than the woodcock. Buffon enumerates eight species of this division of the scalopax genus, under the name of Borges, including the foreign kinds; and Latham makes out the same number of different sorts, all British. The Godwit is met with in various parts of Great Britain. In spring and summer it resides in
the fens and marshes, where it rears its young, and feeds on small worms and insects; but in winter he seeks the salt marshes and the sea-shore, where he dexterously extracts with his slender beak the imprudent worm, that riggles himself out as soon as the tide has retired. A peculiarity belonging to this bird is the shape of his bill, which is a little turned upwards. The head, neck, and back are of a reddish brown; the belly and vent white; the legs dusky, and sometimes black.
The Godwit is much esteemed, by epicures, as a great delicacy, and sells very high. It is caught in nets, to which it is allured by a stale, or stuffed bird, in the same manner and in the same season as the ruffs and reeves.
THE LAPWING, OR PEWIT,
Is a bird well known in all countries, and nearly every where to be met with. He is of the size of a common pigeon. The female lays four or five eggs, of a dirty yellow, varied all over with great black spots and strokes. They build their nests on the ground in the middle of some field or heath, open and exposed to view, laying only some few straws under the eggs: as soon as the young are hatched, they instantly forsake the nest, running away with the shell on their
back, and following the mother, only covered with a kind of down like young ducks. The parents have been impressed by nature with the most attentive love and care for their offspring; for if the fowler, or any other enemy, come near the nest, the female, panting with fear, lessens her call to make her enemies believe that she is much farther off, and thereby deceives those that search for her covey. In some parts of this kingdom they are supposed to be migratory. This bird is really beautiful, although he does not exhibit that gaudiness of colours which other species of the feathered tribe can boast of: he weighs about half a pound. The head and the crest which elegantly adorns it, are black; this crest, composed of unwebbed feathers, is about four inches in length. The back is of a dark green, glossed with blue shades; the throat is black; the hinder part of the neck, the breast, and belly are white. His voice, on the swampy places along the sea-shores, heard at night, resembles the sound of pewit, or tewit, and hence his name in several parts of Great Britain; he is also called the Great Plover by several ornithologists. This bird is one of those who attract the fowler's attention in winter sports.
With slaughtering gun the' unwearied fowler roves,
Buffon, with his usual sagacity, observes that this bird held a place between fish and fowl, in the bill of fare of the monks, who used to admit his flesh on their tables, in Lent, and other times of abstinence. When basted with vinegar at the spit, this bird becomes tolerably good eating, chiefly if young and fat.
The following anecdote, from Bewick's History of Birds, exhibits the domestic nature of the Lapwing, as well as the art with which it conciliates the regard of animals materially differing from itself, and generally considered as hostile to every species of the feathered tribe. Two Lapwings were given to a clergyman, who put them into his garden; one of them soon died, but the other continued to pick up such food as the place afforded, till winter deprived it of its usual supply. Necessity soon compelled it to draw nearer to the house, by which it gradually became familiarized to occasional interruptions from the family. At length one of the servants, when she had occasion to go into the back-kitchen with a light, observed that the Lapwing always uttered his cry of "pee-wit," to obtain admittance. The bird soon grew more familiar; as the winter advanced, he approached as far as the kitchen, but with much caution, as that part of the house was generally occupied by a dog and cat, whose friendship, however, the Lapwing at length conciliated so entirely, that it was his regular custom to resort to the fire-side as soon as it grew dark, and spend the evening and night with his two associates, sitting close by them, and partaking of the comforts of a warm hearth. As soon as spring appeared, he discontinued his visits to the house, and betook himself to the garden; but on the approach of winter, he had recourse to his old shelter and friends, who received him very cordially. Security was productive of insolence; what was at first obtained with caution, was afterwards taken without reserve: he frequently amused himself with washing in the bowl which was set for the dog to drink out of; and while he was thus employed, he showed marks of the greatest indignation if either of his companions presumed to interrupt him. He died in the asylum he had thus chosen, being choked with something that he had picked up from the floor.