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sheep-dogs to attack the stoat; at which they were soon so expert as very rarely to miss being the rabbit's avenger.
The weasel, only half the size of the stoat, is more than a match for either a full-grown rabbit or rat. I was amused by an account of one of these combats, related to me by a friend, who had just witnessed it, while riding along the public road, near Wargrave, in Berkshire. A weasel had attacked a large Norway rat, which seemed to think discretion the better part of valour. As he was retreating, he always wheeled about, raising himself on his hind legs when attacked in rear. As soon as the weasel heard the sound of the horses' feet, he hid behind a wall, but the poor rat was so completely done up as to suffer himself to be seized by the tail. The English peasantry assert that there are two kinds of weasel, one very small, called “a cane," or "the mouse-killer." This idea, I have no doubt, is erroneous, and the "mouse-killers" are only the young ones of the year; numbers of these half-grown weasels appearing in summer and autumn.
There are many conjectures as to the cause of pure white or pied pheasants suddenly appearing in a preserve, which had only been stocked with the common coloured birds. The most reasonable solution seems to be that white blood, although remote, might appear after several generations. I have been led to think so, from seeing a whole brood of pheasants turn out milk-white, when the parents were both of the ordinary kind. More often, however, there are only one or two white birds of the same hatch. At Rossdhu, one white hen was observed
the second season after pheasants were turned out. It was unfortunately caught in a vermin-trap in the autumn. Several years elapsed before any more were seen, when one cock and two hens appeared among the other pheasants collected on the stubbles at the beginning of winter. These were most probably hatched in the same nide. Since then several more have been noticed at different periods. Pied pheasants have never been seen there, although in many places they are less uncommon than the white. I killed one, very prettily marked, in Roxburghshire, which I put up several times before getting a shot at it. The tail and wing-pinions were pure white, head, neck, and back spotted with white feathers, and legs the colour of a white fowl's. The spurs were exceedingly long and sharp, which, together with its size and brilliancy of plumage, showed it must have been very old.
As there are many preserves where neither pied nor white pheasants have ever been heard of, I am strongly of opinion that a sprinkling of white pheasants have originally been imported, which may have partially extended. their ramifications. Most sportsmen will have observed something of the same kind when rabbit-shooting; a black fellow suddenly starting up amidst multitudes of the common gray. I recollect once seeing, in the middle of a populous rabbit-warren, four very young black ones, the only sable inhabitants of the colony. I have often watched them from a tree, and noted that they always kept close together, and frequented the same hole. No doubt they were of the same litter.
Quite distinct from the above is the Albino, several examples of which variety I inserted in the Edinburgh
Evening Courant of January last. I select the two following, as being particularly curious. "A cream-coloured hart is now roaming Lord Breadalbane's celebrated forest, the Black Mount. But perhaps the most interesting of these lusus' is a beautiful roe of the purest white, which haunts the tangled copses of Craig-an-James, on the banks of Loch Lomond. This fairy-like creature, so harmonizing with the romantic district it frequents, was first observed last spring, when a fawn, by the keepers of Sir James Colquhoun, of that Ilk, on whose property it is. Its eyes are red, and, what is very remarkable, it does not vary its colour according to the season. This is the more unaccountable, as the roe always changes the chestnut red of summer for the dark mouse colour of winter. This winter dress prevents the animal from being readily seen, when the coverts are thin and bare, and the trees stript of their leaves, and is one among the thousand provisions for these creatures, so defenceless and so often assailed, by the Hand that formed them all. The instinct, however, of the species leads our white-robed dryad to suppose herself, when squatted, as safe as her sober-coated companions, though her colour at once betrays her, The Alpine hare, on the contrary, not being an exception, but a distinct race, seems fully aware of its conspicuous winter appearance, and, when the snow is off the ground, always seeks to hide among the light gray rocks or thick patches of heather."
I am sorry to say that this curiosity was unable to bear the only few days of severe weather last February. It was found in a dying state among the snow, which it almost rivalled in purity. My brother has had it stuffed.
The summer before last, another red-deer calf appeared in the Black Mount, as white as a sheep. This yearling
can be made out on the hill at a mile's distance, among heather or rocks.
Should an Alpine hare be started at the base of a cairn, if unpursued, she will most likely run up to a large piece of rock, and place her back against it, watching the motions of the enemy underneath. She will remain long in this position, quite still. If the sportsman leaves his attendant at the foot of the cairn, and, by taking a circuit, comes down above, there is no danger of the hare seeing him. The only difficulty is to find out the rock, among so many pretty much alike, especially as its shape from above is often very different from what it appeared below. To prevent mistakes, I generally directed my game-carrier to hold out his blue bonnet in his right or left hand, to point out on which side of me the rock lay, but if it was directly below me, to place his bonnet on the ground. In a calm day, I have sometimes taken off my shoes, to prevent the hare from hearing my steps, and very seldom failed to shoot her. This miniature stalking is within the reach of many grouse-shooters, and, by trying their skill at it when the birds grow wild, they may find out whether they have any turn either for wild fowl or deer stalking.
When one of these hares is pursued by a colly or terrier, she will run round and round the hill, on her own track, trying to confound the scent, and, as a last resource, scuttle along a watercourse, if there is one near.
I have often put up the nightjar, when grouse-shooting, and once discovered its pair of unfledged young, close to
the place it rose from. It frequents rough waste ground, on the borders of cultivation, and is very fond of slopes of bracken-hence the name of fern-owl. If found in the heather, there are always copses or woods near, no doubt for the supply of large night insects they afford. When routed, by daylight, from a ferny dingle or a heathery brae, its flight is more like a leaf driven by the wind, than the spontaneous movements of a bird. Very dif ferent is its bearing in the dewy twilight of a cloudless day. It will then fly round the intruder, with a threatening attitude, often so near as almost to touch him—sometimes settling on the path, within a few yards of his feet. If traced, by its monotonous note, to a favourite perch, upon the branch of a decayed tree, it snaps its wings in taking flight, like a smiter pigeon, uttering a weak plaintive squeak. One that I winged, by opening its capacious mouth, and hissing like a cat, had a most formidable appearance, but it had no power to hurt even a child. The toes are toothed inside, to enable it to catch moths, cockchafers, &c., as it seizes prey, like owls, with its feet.
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