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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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Nature Notes

by M. L. A.
Volume 10, 1899, pgs. 673-676


page 676

making out the bands of Missel-thrushes and of Meadow Pipits that still patrol, before the on-coming of the Fieldfares, the rough fell lands. But there are half-a-dozen or more species, sufficiently common, that are not so well-known, and which, yet, with a little care, can be easily noted. I would advise the intending ornithologist to wait at all times on his ear. That organ is of even more service to him than the eye. It gives the signal, in the faint but perfectly decisive voice of species, of the presence, close by, of the yet unseen bird. After the signal is caught, some small caution and a little wait will show the feathered morsel to the eye. In quiet woods, a soft zee sound, rising and falling, betrays the whereabouts of the Goldcrests. They flit in a small family party with butterfly-spotted wing, and seldom-seen yellow head, about the evergreen firs; atoms of life, light and drab, living on still more infinitesimal life. The Coal- tit are not far off, keeping their band together with pretty sweet calls, -- though they may be caught occasionally at a frivolous by-play, as when the other day I heard a Coal- tit beguiled by cocky Chaffinch into a wordy war, the one bird's spink incessantly answered by the other's teep, -- a game which absorbed the two for some time. Or else a rolling R-sound, minute as fairy's drum taps, tells the secret of the Long-tail's ambuscade, and with a little cautious spying the birds will soon be seen, more stationary than usual in the bushes at this season, perching with pendant tail, and enjoying a colloquy of tr-r-r-r-r's and tick-ticks . Or a tap-tap like the Woodpecker's call may be heard. Look up in the beech tree, and there is the Great- tit busy, opening with powerful beak the hard burr of the beech-nut. The Squirrel comes, too, after this year's bounteous harvest of mast, and so does the Jay. The Jay is cautious. We may hear his unmelodious voice above pretty often, but the rare vision we have of him shows a black-tailed, white-backed bird in the act of disappearance. He does not stay to be watched. The Marsh- tit also is not generally easy to observe. Perhaps a faint zip-zip gives the cue; and there he is! springing after insects about the gorgeous rose-bush that has not yet lost the fragile yellow leaves about its scarlet choops, beautiful as the bush, though not so bright, with his rich velvet cap above his pale throat and cheeks.

M.L.A.