Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Walk I. April.
 Walk II. April.
 Walk III. May.
 Walk IV. May.
 Walk V. May.
 Walk VI. June.
 Walk VII. June.
 Walk VIII. July.
 Walk IX. July.
 Walk X. October.
 Back Cover

Title: Country walks of a naturalist with his children
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00023498/00001
 Material Information
Title: Country walks of a naturalist with his children
Physical Description: vi, 154, 16 p., 8 leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Houghton, W ( William ), 1828-1895
Adlard, James Evan ( Printer )
Groombridge and Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: Groombridge and Sons
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: J.E. Adlard
Publication Date: 1870
Edition: 2d. ed.
Subject: Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Nature study -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fathers and sons -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1870   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1870
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by W. Houghton ; illustrated with eight coloured plates and numerous wood engravings.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00023498
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002231763
notis - ALH2148
oclc - 05270555
 Related Items
Other version: Alternate version (PALMM)
PALMM Version

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Front Matter
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Title Page
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Table of Contents
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Walk I. April.
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Walk II. April.
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
    Walk III. May.
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    Walk IV. May.
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
    Walk V. May.
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
    Walk VI. June.
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
    Walk VII. June.
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
    Walk VIII. July.
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    Walk IX. July.
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
    Walk X. October.
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
    Back Cover
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
Full Text
.................... . . .4sh.;MR.v 4r,. . . .jo- %.d I..j."1.',,V W H OU G H T 0 N

The Baldwin LibraryR University4-412Porkia

This page contains no text.


This page contains no text.

"1 I;ai*rxa-:r 73"*I u,gC y"iIP:% 'VJ: '--U s


This page contains no text.

PREFACE.IN this little book my desire has been, not somuch to impart knowledge to young people, asto induce them to acquire it for themselves. Ihave endeavoured to show that Country Walksmay be full of interest and instruction to all whocare to make good use of their eyes. If I havefailed, the fault rests with me for the way inwhich I have treated the subject. I am awarethat I have occasionally used words and phraseswhich may puzzle young brains, but I hope thatnearly all will be intelligible to boys and girlsof nine or ten years old, with a little explanationfrom parents or teachers.The chief, if not the sole merit of this littlebook consists in the illustrations which adornit; and I must express my sincere gratitude toMr. Gould, the eminent ornithologist, for his

"iv Preface.kind permission to copy some of the magnificentdrawings in his work on 'The Birds of GreatBritain.' To Mr. R. S. Chattock, of Solihull, Iam also deeply indebted, for the pains he hastaken in reproducing, on a reduced scale, Mr.Gould's drawings, and for the drawings of thesticklebacks and the frontispiece. My generousfriend and neighbour, Mr. Eyton, of Eyton, hasfurnished another instance of his numerous actsof kindness, in allowing me the use of Mr.Gould's work and of various woodcuts. To twolady friends I also express my best thanks; andlast, though not least, to the publishers, Messrs.Groombridge, for the care they have taken topresent the volume to the public in a veryattractive form.

CONTENTS.PAGEWALK I.-APBr .. ... ... 1On the Moors-Swallows-Water-voles-Peewits-MarshMarigold-Water-primrose Moles-Herons--Kingfishers-Moschatelle-Water-scorpion.WALK II.-API ... ... ... ... 17Ophrydium-Reed Sparrow Whirligig Beetles Fresh-water Mussels-Zebra Mussel-Titmice-Thrushes crackingSnail-shells-Dabbling in a Pond-Dyticus, or Great Water-beetle-Corethra Larva-Weasels.WALK III.-MA ... ... ... .. 36Searching for Sticklebacks' Nests-Nest-making Fish-Snail Leeches- Other Leeches- Cuckoo Flowers -BlueSpeedwell-Stitchwort-Tadpoles-Frogs-Frog and Cat.WALK IV.-MAY ...... ... 50The Melicerta or Tubicolous Wheel-animalcule-Water-crowfoot or Buttercup Sedge-warbler Reed-warbler'sNest-Cuckoos-Horsetail-Hydr. *WALK V.-MAY ... ... .... 69Drive to Shawbury-Trout Fishing-Parasite on Trout-Curious habit of a Two-winged Fly-Ephemerae, or May-flies- Willy hooking out Dace Another Fish Parasite -Globe Flower-Dragon-flies-Quotation from Thomson's*Seasons.'

vi Contents.PAGEWALK VI.--Ju ... ... .. ... 84In the Fields-St. George's Mushroom-Tree-creepers-A handful of Grasses-Nettles and Dead Nettles-Butterfly-Larve feeding on Nettle Leaves-Fresh-water Polyzoa-Eggsof Newts Development of Newts Donacia Beetles -Planarian Worms.WALK VII.-JUNE ... .. ... ... 103Hedgehog and young ones-Hedgehogs, injurious or not ?-On the Moors again-Great Tomtit-Shrikes or ButcherBirds Lady-bird Beetles Swifts-Coots-Water-hens-Grebes-Convolvulus.WALK VIII.-JL ... ... ... ... 119Frog's Spawn Alga-Other Fresh-water Alge-Hawks-Kestrel-Sparrow Hawk-Buzzard-Shrew-mouse, supersti-tions about-Spiders' Nests and Webs-Spiders' Fangs-Spiders' Feet.WALK IX.--JT ... ... ... ... 133In the Fields again-Scarlet Pimpernel-Goat's Beard-Caddis Worms and Flies- Forget-me-not Goldfinches-Cruelty of country lads to young birds-Grasshoppers-"Crickets-Pike, voracity and size of.WALK X.-OCTOBE ... ... ... ... 145In the Woods at the foot of the Wrekin-A hunt for Fungi-Fly Agarics-Victims nailed to a tree-Gamekeepers-Squirrels-Rare Fungi-Woodcocks-Ring-marks on fallentimber-Conclusion.

COUNTRY WALKS OF A NATURALISTWITHHIS CHILDREN.WALK I.APRIL.E could not have a more pleasant day,children, for a ramble in the fields than to-day. It is warm and bright, and the birdsare singing merrily, thoroughly enjoying the sun-shine; the little lambs are frisking about, andrunning races with each other. Put away lessonsthen, and we will have a holiday. "Oh," said"Willy, "it will be so pleasant, and I will take one ortwo bottles, and my gauze net, because we are sure tofind something interesting to bring home. Where shallwe go?" "I do not think it much matters where, forthere is always much to observe and to admire where-ever we stroll in the country." "Let us go on themoors, then," said Jack, "for you know, papa, a littleboy in the village told me the other day he had founda peewit's nest with four eggs in, and I should like to1

2 Country Walks of a Naturalist.try and find one myself." Well, here we are, then;we shall have to jump over a drain or two in ourramble, and as the banks are soft it will be necessaryto take great care, or we may tumble in. Ah! do yousee, there are two sand-martins, the first I have seenthis year. See how fast they fly, now sailing high upin the air, now skimming quite close to the ground. Ihave not seen any swallows or house-martins yet, butno doubt they will make their appearance in a fewdays. "Where do they come from, papa," askedMay, "because we never see these birds in the winter?You often say, when the spring comes we shall see theswallows, and then they go away again towards the endof summer." Let us sit down on this clump of wood,and I will tell you about the swallows.We have in this country four different species ofthe swallow family which visit us every year; theycome to us from Africa: these are the sand-martin,two specimens of which we have just seen, the swallow,the house-martin, and the swift. A very little atten-tion will enable you to distinguish these different kinds.The sand-martin is the smallest of the family; as thebirds fly by us you notice that the back part is brown,or mouse colour; the under part white. The back ofthe house-martin is of a glossy black or bluish-blackcolour; it is white underneath; while the swallow, whichis larger than the other two, has a glossy back, like thehouse-martin; but underneath it is more or less tingedwith buff; and see, as I speak here is one flying pastus. To-day is the 12th of April, about the time theswallow generally comes to this country. Now you

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 3see clearly enough its colour, and you will notice, too,a very marked difference in the form of its tail; seehow much forked it is, much more so than the tail ofthe martin. This forked appearance is produced by thetwo outer tail feathers, which are much longer than therest. Now I hope you will take notice of these dif-ferences, and call things by their right names, insteadof jumbling them all up together under the name ofswallow. I have not spoken of the swift, which doesnot visit this country till May; it is the largest of theswallow family, and has the whole of its body, bothabove and beneath, of a blackish-brown colour, excepta small patch of dirty white under the chin."But, papa," said Jack, "do all these four kinds ofswallows come from Africa? It is very curious toknow how they can find their way backwards and for-wards from Africa to this country, and how they comeback to the very spots they visited the year before ?"Indeed, it is a very curious thing; nevertheless experi-ments have been made to show that these birds returneveryyear to the same localities.Many years ago Dr. Jenner procured several swiftsfrom a farmhouse in Gloucestershire, and marked themby cutting off two claws from the foot of twelve ofthem. Next year their hiding places were examinedin the evening, when the birds had gone to roost, whenDr. Jenner found many of the birds he had marked bycutting off the two claws. For two or three consecutiveyears he examined their nesting places, and alwaysfound some of his marked birds. At the end of sevenyears a cat brought a swift into the farmer's kitchen,

4 Country Walks of a Naturalist.and this was one of those which Dr. Jenner had markedNow, Willy, I will ask you a question in geography.The swallow family visits this country from Africa."What sea, then, must the birds fly across? "TheMediterranean, papa." Quite right; and now canyou tell me the narrowest part of the MediterraneanSea? "The Straits of Gibraltar." Right again;and there the passage is about five miles wide; and atGibraltar swallows, swifts, and martins are often seenas well as several other bird-visitors of this country.People on board ship have seen swallows a long wayfrom land passing between Europe and Africa. Some-times the poor birds are so tired from their flight thatthey are obliged to rest on the masts, yards, and riggingof the vessels. This often happens when the weatheris hazy. Holloa, Jack, what is that splash in the waterabout six yards off? Keep quiet, and we shall seewhat it was. Ah it is one of my friends, the water-voles; I see the rogue, with his large yellow teeth andblack eyes. Do you see? He is on the other side ofthe drain, nibbling away at something. People gene-rally call him a water-rat,, but he is no relation at allto a rat, nor is he an injurious creature like it. "Well,but papa," said Willy, "the lads in the village alwayskill these water-rats, as they call them, whenever theycan. I suppose they take them for common rats. Doyou say they do no harm?" Very little, water-voleswill not eat young chickens and ducklings; nor dothey find their way into stacks and consume the corn;their food is entirely confined to vegetables, such asthe roots and stems of water-weeds. I feel, however,

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 5pretty sure that the water-vole is fond of beans, andwill occasionally do some mischief where a field ofnewly-sown beans adjoins the river or stream, in thebanks of which these animals form their holes. I willclap my hands, and off our little friend with his duskycoat starts, diving under the water, whence when hecomes out he will probably escape into a hole on thebank. Some day I will show you the skulls of a water-vole and a rat, and you will see there is a great differencein the form and arrangement of the teeth, and that thefirst-named animal is not, as I said before, related tothe rat. The water-vole is really a relative of that in-teresting creature you have often read of-I mean thebeaver. "Well, papa," said Jack, "I am tired ofsitting here, let us now go and hunt for peewit's eggs."All right, Jack, and if you find any you shall eachhave one for your breakfast in the morning. Whenhard-boiled and cold, a peewit's egg is a very deliciousthing, though I think the peewits are such valuablebirds, and do so much good, that I should not like totake many of their eggs. We had better separatefrom each other, so as to have a better chance of findinga nest. Soon we hear a shout from Willy, whose sharpeyes had discovered a nest with four eggs in it; so offwe all scamper to him. See how the old bird screamsand flaps, and how near she comes to us; she knowswe have found her eggs, and wishes to lure us awayfrom the spot; so'she pretends she has been wounded,and tries to make us follow after her. Now, Jack, runand catch her. Hah! Hah! There they go. I willback the peewit against the boy. So you have given

6 Country Walks of a Naturalist.up the chase, have you? Well, rest again, and takebreath. The peewit, as you saw, makes scarcely anynest, merely a hollow in the ground, with, perhaps, afew dried grasses. The peculiar instinct of the peewitin misleading people as to the whereabouts of its eggs,or young ones, is very curious. A very observantLAPWINO.naturalist says, "As soon as any one appears in thefields where the nest is, the bird runs quietly and rapidlyin a stooping posture to some distance from it, andthen rises with loud cries and appearance of alarm, asif her nest was immediately below the spot she rosefrom. When the young ones are hatched, too, theplace to look for them is, not where the parent birdsare screaming and fluttering about, but at some littledistance from it. As soon as you actually come to thespot where their young are, the old birds alight on theground a hundred yards or so from you, watching yourmovements. If, however, you pick up one of the youngones, both male and female immediately throw off alldisguise, and come wheeling and screaming around yourhead, as if about to fly in your face." Peewits arecertainly bold birds when their young ones are indanger. Mr. Charles St. John says he has often seen

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 7the hooded crows hunting the fields frequented by thepeewits, as regularly as a pointer, flying a few yardsabove the ground, and searching for the eggs. Thecunning crow always selects the time when the oldbirds are away on the shore. As soon as he is per-ceived, however, the peewits all combine in chasinghim away. We are told that they will also attack anybird of prey that ventures near their breeding ground;they are quarrelsome, too, and the cock birds will fightwith each other should they come into too close quarters.A cock bird one day attacked a wounded male birdwhich came near his nest; the pugnacious little fellowran up to the intruder, and taking advantage of hisweakness, jumped on him, and pecking at his head,dragged him along the ground as fiercely as a gamecock. This was witnessed by Mr. St. John.* "Ihave often heard peewits uttering their peculiar noise,"said Willy, "quite late at night. What do they feedon? I should so much like to have a tame young one."The food of the peewits consists of insects, worms,snails, slugs, the larve of various insects; I am certainthey do much good to the farmer by destroying numerousinsect-pests. "Oh, papa," exclaimed May, "do comehere, what a splendid cluster of bright golden flowersis growing on the side of the drain." Yes, indeed itis a beautiful cluster; it is the marsh-marigold, andlooks like a gigantic buttercup; it is sometimes in floweras early as March, and continues to blossom for threemonths or more. Country people often call it themay-flower, as being one of the flowers once used for* 'Wild Sports of the Highlands,' p. 136.

8 Country Walks of a Naturalist.may-garlands. I dare say you have sometimes seenwreaths hanging on cottage doors. Some people haveinvented what I think.very ugly names for this showyplant, such as horse-blob, water-blob."Beneath the shelving bank's retreatThe horseblob swells its golden ball."I have somewhere read that the young buds aresometimes pickled and used instead of capers, but I donot think I should like to try them. "And what,"asked May, " are those bright green feathery tuftsunder the water ? they are very pretty, but they do notbear any flowers." No, there are no flowers at present,but in about a month's time you will see plenty. Outof the middle of the feathery tuft there grows a singletall stem with whorls of four, five, or six pale purpleflowers occurring at intervals. Its English name iswater-violet,-not a fitting name for. it, because thisplant is not at all related to the violet tribe, but is oneof the primrose family; so we should more correctlycall it water-primrose. Its Latin name is Hottoniapalustris; it is called Hottonia ir honour of a Germanbotanist, Professor Hotton, of Leyden. Willy will tellus that the word palustris means " marshy," in allusionto the places where the water primrose is found growing.It is a very common plant in the ditches on the moorshere, and I will take care to show you its pretty tallstem when the flowers appear. While I was talking toMay about the water primrose, Jack espied a sulphur-coloured butterfly, and off he set in full chase; he didnot, however, succeed in capturing it, for his foot tripped

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 9over a molehill and down he tumbled-the beautifulsulphur butterfly having fled across a wide ditch andescaped. Not far from where he fell there was a thornbush and a number of unfortunate moles gibbetedS thereon: some had been killed quite recently, so I tookthree or four from the thorn with the intention of takingthem home and examining their stomachs to see whatthey had eaten. In the meantime, down we sat on anadjoining bank covered with primroses looking so gayand smelling so sweet. Willy then wanted to know thehistory of the mole; why people generally think it rightto kill these animals, and whether they really are blind.May, of course, could not resist the charm of collectingprimroses for mamma. The tw'o boys cared more foranimals, so I answered their questions about the mole.First of all I pointed out the amazing strength of itsfeet, its soft and silky fur, the form of its body so welladapted for a rapid progress through the undergroundpassages it forms. Look, I said, at its soft fur, how itwilllie in any direction; each delicate hair is insertedin the skin perpendicularly to its surface, so that themole can move rapidly either backwards or forwardswith great ease; the fur, lying as readily in one directionas another, makes no difficulty to a backward retreat.If you look closely when I push away the fur with myfinger and breath in the neighbourhood of the eyes,you will see two tiny black specs; so we can hardlycall the mole a blind animal; but as it lives for themost part underground its power of vision must besmall. The fore feet do the work of the spade andpotato-fork combined; its sense of smell is acute, and

10 Country Walks of a Naturalist.this, no doubt, aids the animal in the search of its food;the mole's sense of hearing is also very good. " Well,but, papa," exclaimed Jack, " a mole has got no ears,so how can it hear ?" There is no outward appearanceof ears, it is true, but look: I blow away the fur, andnow you see clearly a hole which is the beginning of thepassage that leads to the internal ear. The ears ofmany animals are very admirably made and fitted forthe purpose of receiving sounds, but you must notsuppose that because some animals-as moles, seals,whales, &c.-have no outward appendages, they aredestitute of ears and the power of hearing. Butyou must wait till you are a little older, and thenI will explain to you the matter more fully. The littlecuriously shaped earbones which are found in all mam-malia are found also in the mole; and I have in mydrawer at home a mole's ear-bones which I dissectedfrom the animal.But here comes, I do think, the mole-catcher him-self; let us hear what he has to say. " Good morning,Mr. Mole-catcher; have you been setting any moretraps to day? I suppose those unfortunate fellowsgibbeted on yonder thorn were caught by you." "Well,yeez, sir," he replied, " I reckons as they were; I havestopped their play, I guess; but there's a plaguey lotmore on them about, I'm a thinking." "What harmdo you consider that moles do?" I asked. " Harm,maister? why, lor' bless you, see them hummocks theythrow up all about. The farmers dunna like them uglyheaps, I can assure you." " Probably not; still if theywere spread on the land the soil would be as good as

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 11top-dressing. Do you know what moles eat?" "Well,sir, I believes they eats worms." "Yes, they feed prin-pally on worms, but they also devour wireworms andother creatures which prey upon the farmer's crops. Ithink moles do more good than harm, and I haveexamined the stomachs of many, and I am of opinionthat it is a mistake to kill them." " Lor', sir, you be's agemman that has seen the inside of a mole's stomach, hasyou ? You may be a cliver sort of a mon, but moles bevarmint." Thus saying, the old fellow wished us goodmorning and left us. "Papa," said Willy, "do notmoles make very curious places under the ground inwhich they reside at times? I think I have somewhereseen pictures of these encampments." Yes, they do;but I only know of them from description and figures;the fortress is generally made under a hillock; itconsists of many galleries connected with each other,and with a central chamber. You remember a youngmole was brought to us last summer, and that we putit into a box with plenty of loose earth and some worms..We only kept it a day or two. One morning I found itdead. I suppose it had not enough to eat. The molehas an insatiable appetite, and, according to the obser-vations of some naturalists, it will devour birds. Mr.Bell says that "even the weaker of its own speciesunder particular circumstances are not exempted fromthis promiscuous ferocity; for if two moles be placedtogether in a box without a very plentiful supply of foodthe weaker certainly falls a prey to the stronger. Nothoroughbred bulldog keeps a firmer hold of the objectof its attack than the mole. Mr. Jackson, a very

12 Country Walks of a Naturalist.intelligent mole-catcher, says that, when a boy, hishand was so severely and firmly laid hold of by one thathe was obliged to use his teeth in order to loosen itshold."We now proceeded on our ramble, and I espied aboutone hundred yards off a heron on the bank of the Strine.He did not see us at first, but when we got a littlenearer, off he flew, with his long legs stretched outbehind, and his head bent close to his shoulders. Hehad evidently been fishing, for we could see the scalesof fish on the side of the bank. Willy asked whetherherons built on trees, and Jack wanted to know howthey managed with their great long legs while sittingon their nests. These birds in the breeding seasonassemble together and make their nests on tall firs oroak trees; sometimes they build on rocks near the seacoast. It is said, too, that they will occasionally buildon the ground. The heron's nest is not unlike that ofthe rook, only larger and broader; it is made of sticksand lined with wool and coarse grass; the female laysfour or five eggs of a green colour, her long legs aretucked under her. Rooks and jackdaws sometimestake up their quarters near to a heronry, and do youknow they steal their eggs, the rogues, and devourthem. Both male and female herons take great careof their little ones and bring them food. Besidesfish the heron will eat frogs, rats, young ducks, andcoots. Eels are great dainties in the opinion of Mr.Heron; and sometimes an eel, after being piercedthrough the head by the sharp and strong bill of theheron, manages to wrap himself so tight round the bird's

rI'~~1~ ~~/ i ~'.;~tI~E~"':,::': Ni :

This page contains no text.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 13neck as to stop his breathing and cause his death. Agood many years ago herons were protected by the law;they were considered royal game, and their capture bythe peregrine falcon was looked upon as very excitingsport. As we followed the bank of the stream out flewa couple of kingfishers with straight and rapid flight;Swe distinctly heard the shrill note these birds utter;they flew about two hundred yards and lighted on a railnear the water's edge. Let us see if we can get a littlenearer to them, I said, and then sit down and see whatthey will do. "Papa," said May, " is not the kingfishera very beautiful bird, and the most brightly colouredof all British birds ? " Yes, it is; its splendid coloursremind one of the gorgeous plumage of tropical birds,and we have no other British bird with such brilliant"colours. There, did you see that? one of the birds' darted off the rail into the water. I have no doubt hehas caught a small fish; and now he has lighted on thesame rail, and with my pocket telescope I can see himti ow his head up and swallow some dainty morsel. It.is not. at all an uncommon sight to see a kingfisherS hover over the water after the manner of a kestril-hawk;suddenly it will descend with the greatest rapidity andagain emerge, seldom failing to secure a fish for its" .dinner. " Did you ever find a kingfisher's nest, papa ?"Willy inquired. Yes; some years ago I found one ina hole in a bank; there were four eggs in it, and I hadto put my whole arm into the hole before I got at thenest, which consisted of sand mixed with a great quantityof very small fish bones. The eggs are very pretty,having a delicate pink tinge, the shell is thin, and the

14 Country Walks of a Naturalist.form of the egg almost round. " But where," askedJack, "do the little fish bones of the nest come from ?"I think I have told you that many birds-hawks, eagles,owls, shrikes, &c.-throw up from their crops theindigestible portions of their food. It is not uncommonto find these on the ground in the course of one'srambles. Kingfishers possess this power; they throwup the undigested fishbones, and curiously enough, asit would appear, form them into a nest. There is akingfisher's nest in the British Museum, which Iremember to have seen a few years ago. It has beena disputed point whether the parent bird throws thefishbones up at random into the hole where she isgoing to lay, or whether she forms them into a nest.The nest in the British Museum was secured at theexpense of great patience and pains by the celebratedornithologist and splendid draughtsman, Mr. Gould,whose drawings you may one day see in the libraryof the museum at Eyton. This specimen, if I re-member right, was of a flattened form and fully halfan inch thick. It is said that the kingfisher alwaysseleets a hole that has an upward slope, so that, thoughheavy rains may cause the water of the river bank torise into the hole, the eggs will be dry. Some natu-ralists have said that kingfishers do not make their ownholes, but use those already made by other animals.Mr, Gould, however, is of opinion that kingfishers drilltheir own holes. The tunnels always slope upwards, asI said; at the further end of the tunnel is an oven-likechamber where the nest is made. The fish-bone nest isthought by Mr. Gould to be really a nest, and intended

"Country Walks of a Naturalist. 15to keep the eggs off the damp ground. However, thereis difference of opinion on this point, and I reservemy own. We will see if we cannot find a king-fisher's nest some time this summer. Now, May, whatlittle plant have you got hold of? "Indeed I don'tknow, papa, but it is a very curious little plant; Igathered it at the bottom of that hedge bank." Ah, Iknow it well, and a little favorite it is too; it is themoschatell. You see it is about five inches high, withpale green flowers and leaves; the flowers are arrangedin heads of five each, namely, four on the side, and oneon the top; it has a delicate musk-like odour, verypleasant and refreshing. Take a few specimens homeand put them in water with your primroses. Mamma,I know, is very fond of the pretty little moschatell."Oh, papa," exclaimed Willy, "look at the bottomof this drain; what is that strange-looking insectcrawling slowly about at the bottom ?" I see; it is awater-scorpion, a very common insect in these drainsSon" the moors,-indeed, it is common everywhere; letus catch him and take him home for examination. HeSiS a queer-looking creature, with a small head andpointed beak; his fore-arms are something like lobster'sclaws;, his. prevailing colour blackish-brown, like themud upon which he crawls; his body is very flat, andends in two long stick-like projections; underneaththese horny covers of the creature may be seen his twowings. He is an aquatic murderer; inserting thatpointed beak into the body of some other insect, andSholding his victim in his lobster-like forearms-oh!Sfatal embrace-he sucks out the juices of the struggling

16 Country Walks of a Naturalist.prey. Kirby and Spence say that some of the tribe ofinsects to which the water-scorpion belongs are sosavage that they seem to love destruction for its ownsake. A water-scorpion which was put into a basin ofwater with several young tadpoles killed them all withoutattempting to eat one. The tail projections, I ought totell you, are connected with the insect's breathing ; theyare protruded out of the water and conduct the air tothe spiracles at the end of the body, about which Imust tell you more at another time. The eggs of thewater-scorpion I have frequently found; they are of anoval form, with seven long hair-like projections at oneend. But it is time to go home, our walk to-day isover; let us look forward to another holiday and anothercountry ramble.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 17WALK II.APRIL.E will walk to-day along the side of thecanal bank as far as the aqueduct, then takethe Duke's Drive and home by Lubstree Park;we shall find lots to see and to admire in the course ofour ramble. We notice plenty of those beautiful ballsof green jelly (Ophrydium versatile) in the clear waterof the canal which, you know, we see every spring,These balls vary in size from that of a pea to that oflack's fist; they are, you see, generally attached tosome water-weed, and consist of myriads of veryue creatures called infusoria, which are imbeddedmass of whitish jelly; these animals can detachlves from the jelly and swim freely about; ofit requres a microscope to see the tiny greenmaules. If we examine a single specimen under ahigh power of the microscope we shall see its shape,"which, when fully extended, is long and cylindrical,having at one end a mouth surrounded, as is usuallythe case in the infusoria, by a circle of very fine hairs,or cilia, as they are called, from the Latin word ciliuman eyelash; the mouth opens into a long narrow,channel; the creature's throat, which leads to itsstomach; towards the opposite extremity the animal2

18 Country Walks of a Naturalist.tapers, till it ends in an extremely long fine hair-liketail which is fixed in the jelly-like ball; when the littlecreature prefers to swim freely about in the water itleaves its tail behind it, unlike, in this respect, to littleBo-peep's sheep! These balls were once supposed tobelong to the vegetable kingdom, but there is no doubtabout their animal nature." Oh papa, what is that bird with a black head thatflew from the side of the canal to the hedge ?" saidWilly "There, don't you see it?" Yes! I see, myboy, it is the black-headed Bunting or Reed Sparrow,common on the sides of rivers, canals, and ponds. Thespecimen you see on the hedge is a male bird, thefemales are a little smaller and have not black heads.See how beautifully contrasted are the deep-black headand white collar on the neck. In the spring andsummer these birds may be frequently seen, male andfemale together; in winter they associate with othersof the finch tribe, forming large flocks. The nest isgenerally placed on the ground amongst the sedgesand coarse grass; the eggs, which are four or five innumber, are laid in May and, I believe, a second broodsometimes is produced in July. The nests of the Reed-bunting are difficult to find, at least, I have seldom beensuccessful. You know how cunning the peewit is intrying to lead people away from its nest or young ones.Well, some observers have remarked the same thinginthecase of the reed-bunting. One writer says, "Walkinglast spring amongst some rushes growing near a rivermy attention was arrested by observing a black-headedbunting shuffling through the rushes and trailing along

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 19the ground, as if one of her legs or wings was broken.I followed her to see the result, and she, having led meto some considerable distance, took wing, no doubtmuch rejoiced on return to find her stratagems hadbeen successful in preserving her young brood." " Ha!ha!" interrupted Jack, "the gentleman was nicely de-ceived then." No, not entirely, because he goes on to sayhe afterwards found the nest, which had five young onesin it. One thing more I ought to tell you; not toconfuse the reed-bunting with the reed-warbler, a verydifferent bird, which very probably we may notice into-day's ramble.WHIRLIGIG BEETLE, MAGNIFIED."We now had another look into the canal, and sawnumerous little whirligig beetles, performing theirmerry-go-rounds on the top of the water. With whatamazing rapidity they skim along, to be sure! Somediving beneath the surface, some resting on a water

20 Country Walks of a Naturalist.leaf. If we catch one in our net and examine it moreclosely we shall see that, in form, it is like a miniatureboat. It seems surprising that these little " whirligigs,""whirl-wigs," or "shiners," as they are called, shouldperform their rounds so closely together, without some-times coming into collision. If you will look ever solong a time you will not see one animated boat runfoul of another. Just think of a couple of hundredskaters on a small piece of ice playing at cros-stick.Oh! would they not be constantly knocking oneanother over? Now look at Mr. Whirligig's eyes,HEAD OF WHIRLIGIG BEETLE, MAGNIFIED.a. Mouth. 6, c. Eye.you see each is separated into two parts by a division;the one is on the upper part of the head and lookstowards the sky, the other is on the under part of thehead and looks into the water. Now let us all keepquite still-the whirligigs rest. Now let us move-just look, they see our motions and off they start ontheir merry-go-rounds. It was with this upper part ofthe eye they saw us; should some sly fish, from below

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 21the surface of the water, make a rush at one, the beetlesees the enemy with his under eye and avoids him.What have you caught now, Jack? fish him out what-ever it is. Oh! a fresh-water mussel, and a very finespecimen too; there are plenty of these fellows in thecanal all the way from here to Newport. "Are theygood to eat, papa ?" asked Willy. I never tried one,but, from having often dissected specimens, I should saythey were as tough as the sole of a boot. I neverheard of anyone eating them. These molluscs carrytheir eggs, myriads in number, within their gills. Theyoung, at the time they are ejected, are very curiouslittle animals with triangular shells, and, oddly enough,they will fasten upon the fins or tails of fish, on whichthey will stick for some time, but how long I donot know. This particular mollusc is known by thelJtY OF SWA-MUSSQEL, PARASITIC ON A FISH'S FIN.name of swan-mussel; the young fry are sent intothe water in April and May. There is anotherkind of fresh-water mussel in rivers and streams,called the pearl-mussel, pearls being occasionally found

22 Country Walks of a Naturalist.in them. I had one of these pearls once given meby a lad, taken from a river in the Isle of Man. IFRY OF SWAN-MTUSSEL, HIGHLY MAGNIFIED.took it to a jeweller, in Liverpool, who valued it ata guinea. Your uncle Arthur, to whom I gave it, hadit set in gold as a pin ." I wish," said May, who hadFRESH-WATEB MUSSEL.listened to this part of the story with great attention," I wish pearl-mussels would live in the canal, it wouldbe so nice to get the pearls out of them." Very fewmussels are found to contain the pearls; perhaps you

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 23might have to open many hundreds before you found asingle pearl, and I should not like to cause the death ofso many harmless animals for the sake of a singlepearl." Here is another swan-mussel, and, just look, papa,"said Jack, "some other shells are fastened on it." Sothere are; it is a lot of the curious and pretty littlezebra-mussel. How prettily they are marked with zig-ZEBRA MUSSEL.--. ByssuS.zag stripes of reddish brown, especially the youngspecimens. The name of mussel is better suited tothese molluscs than to the large kinds upon which the"zebras" are often attached, because, like the saltwater mussel you have often seen at New Brighton,they have the power of spinning, what is called, "abyssus"-here, you see, is the substance I mean-bywhich they fasten themselves to shells, or to stones,roots, and other things.There flies one of those pretty little birds, the long-tailed titmouse; it is common enough, certainly, but Inever fail to notice several upon the hedges and poplartrees of the " Duke's drive." There are severalmembers of the titmouse family found in Great*(

24 Country Walks of a Naturalist.Britain; let me count them. First we have the greattit, then the little blue-tit, the long-tailed tit, thecole tit, the marsh, the crested and the bearded tit.How many does that make? Seven; but the crestedtit is very uncommon, and the bearded tit does notoccur in Shropshire. The other five are quite commonand we shall, I dare say, be able to see all in the courseof to-day's walk. The long-tailed tit, so called onaccount of the great length of the tail feathers, is a veryLONG-TAILED TIT.active, lively little bird. Indeed, activity and livelinessbelong to all the tit family. See how the little fellowflits from branch to branch, seldom remaining long onone spot. It is a very small bird, almost the smallestBritish bird we have; of course I am thinking of thetit's body and not taking into account its tail. Theskin is remarkably tender, and thin as tissue paper. Likeall the titmice, the long-tailed tit feeds on insects and

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 25their larvae. I do not remember to have heard or seenthis species tapping the bark of a tree with its beak, asthe great and the blue tit are frequently in the habitof doing, but most probably they do the same. " Whatdo they tap for, papa ?" asked May. I suppose for thepurpose of frightening the tiny insects, which lurk underthe bark, from their hiding places, when they quicklysnap them up with their sharply-pointed bills anddevour them. "Is not this the tit which the peopleabout here call a bottle tit, and which makes a verybeautiful nest ?" asked Willy. Yes, the nest is indeeda very pretty object, and one that you would never, Ithink, confuse with the nest of any other bird. Theoutside is formed of that white-coloured lichen, so prettyand so common, and moss, and if you were to put yourfinger, May, into the inside, which is full of the softestfeathers, you would say it was as nice as your own muff.The nest is oval, with a hole at the side. I believe thatsometimes two holes exist, but I have never seen twoin a nest. The eggs are very small, and are white witha few lilac spots. As many as a dozen or more aresometimes found in a nest.The little blue-tit, which has just fled across our pathis a very pretty active bird and common everywhere, inlanes, woods, and gardens. The blue-tit makes itsnest in a wall or a hole in a tree and lays about nine orten pretty little spotted eggs. How often I remember,when I was a boy, to have been bitten rather sharplyby this little bird into whose nest I had placed myhand; I can fancy I hear the snake-like hissing whichthe blue-tit utters when some rude hand invades its

26 Country Walks of a Naturalist.home. Its food consists of various kinds of insects andinsect larv.e, which it finds on the bark of treesand in fruit buds. I think it does much good bydestroying numbers of injurious insects, thoughgardeners and others destroy this bird, because theysay it harms the fruit buds. Look at that little sprightlyfellow, how restless he is; in what curious attitudes heputs himself on yonder branch. Hark you hear himtapping quite distinctly. Besides insects, blue-tit doesnot object to make a meal of dead mice or rats. Mr.St. John tells us that a blue-tomtit once took up hisabode in the drawing-room, having been first attractedthere by the house flies which crawl on the window."These he was most active in searching for and catch-ing, inserting his little bill into every corner andcrevice and detecting every fly which had escaped thebrush of the housemaid." He soon became more boldand came down to pick up crumbs which the childrenplaced for him on the table, looking up into Mr. St.John's face without the least apparent fear. Boyssometimes call the little blue-tit Billy Biter, no doubtfrom personal experience of the sharpness of Mr.Tit's beak. The great tit which we can see under theyew tree in our garden, almost any hour of the day, isvery common in the neighbourhood, and I dare say ifwe look well about us during our walk we shall seesome to-day."Oh! papa," exclaimed Willy, "there are somebirds on the towing-path of the canal, about sixtyyards off; they seem to be breaking something withtheir beaks by knocking it against the ground; just

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 27look." Yes, they are thrushes, and I can tell youwhat they are doing and what we shall find when wecome up to the spot. We shall see several brokensnail shells (Helix), which the thrushes find on thegrassy slopes of the canal bank, and then bring upto the path in order to get at the animals inside theshells by breaking them against the hard ground andstones. There as I told you, you see at least a dozenbroken snail shells. I am sure the thrushes do a greatdeal of good by destroying both snails and young slugs,and it is a pity their labours are not more appreciatedthan they are. Lads in the village, and great grownmen from the collieries, are continually hunting for thenests, eggs, or young of thrushes, and many otheruseful birds, which they wantonly destroy. Now weget on the Duke's Drive, and there, on a branch of apoplar tree, I see the great tit. Look at him; he is theking of the titmice, and he seems to know it. He is arestless fellow, like tits in general. Look at his blackhead and breast, white cheeks and greenish back. Now,by one of his hooked claws, he hangs suspended from abranch; now again he is clinging by both legs; seehow busy he is, examining the leaves and bark insearch for insects. But Major Tit is a bit of a tyrantsometimes and uses that sharp short straight bill of hiswith deadly effect upon some of his feathered com-panions, on whose heads he beats repeated blows till hecracks the skulls and eats the brains The marsh-titand the cole-tit are pretty common in this neighbour-hood, we may often notice them in our walks.If Willy were to get over the hedge with his net and

28 Country Walks of a Naturalist.dip it amongst the weeds of the pool, I dare say hewill succeed in catching a few water-insects, which hecan put in his bottle and bring to me. Of course theboy was delighted at the idea of dabbling with his netin the water-boys generally get immense fun from suchamusement, and their clothes frequently not a littledirt. A weedy pond is a grand place for naturalists,and various are the beautiful and strange forms ofanimal life which are found there. Dipping amongstthe duckweed and water-crowfoot is always attendedwith numerous captures, and Willy's bottle was soonfull of active little creatures. Let us see what it con-tains. A large beetle is very conspicuous amongst thecontents, now rushing to the top of the water, nowsinking to the bottom, scattering far and wide the tinywater-fleas, and other little creatures by the strong andrapid movements of his swimming legs. This is thegreat water beetle; we will sit down on this clump ofpoplar tree by the side of the road, and take the beetleout and examine him; we must take care he does notbite our fingers as we hold him, for his jaws are power-ful and sharp. Mr. Dyticus, for that is his learnedname-from a Greek word which means "fond ofdiving"-is one of the most voracious of water-insects,but let us first examine his form. You see it is welladapted for the kind of life the beetle leads; look at thatlong oar-shaped pair of feet, what a broad fringe ofhairs besets them, how admirably fitted they are forswimming; the wing-covers are smooth and glossy,without any furrows; by this I know the specimen tobe a male, for the wing-covers of the female are fur-

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 29rowed. The structure of the forefeet is very curious;you observe its under portion forms a broad circularshield, covered with a number of sucking-cups, two orthree being much larger than the rest; by means ofthese sucking-cups the beetle can attach itself securelyto any object it wishes. The wings are large and"strong, and situated, as in all the beetle tribe, underthe horny wing-covers. I will put this bit of sticknear his mouth; there, Jack, you see his strong jaws,and great use he can make of them I can tell you. IfWilly were to put one of these beetles into his aquariumwith his favourite sticklebacks, he would soon have causeto lament the untimely loss of some of them; woebetide the unfortunate fish or newt that is once caughtby the strong jaws of this fresh-water tyrant I haveseen Mr. Dyticus rush upon a full-grown newt, and notwistings and writhings could free the victim from thefatal embrace. They will attack young gold and silverfish, and Mr. Frank Buckland has told us of the sadhavoc these water-beetles do to young salmon, as wit-nessed by himself in a pond in Ireland. The forefeetyou see are strong but small; the beetle uses them asclaws in seizing its prey and conveying it to the mouth.A young and tender fish, you can easily imagine, Mr.Dyticus would very readily devour, but he will attackbeetles as large and even larger than himself, seizingthem on the under side where the head joins the body,the only soft place in a beetle. Dr. Burmeister, anaturalist who paid great attention to insects, tellsus that he once kept a beetle related to the great water-beetle, and saw it devour two frogs in the space of

30 Country Walks of a Naturalist.forty hours. After the eggs are laid, which alwaystakes place in the water, the larvae are hatched inabout a fortnight. In time-I do not know how long-these larvae grow to the size of about two inches inlength, and queer fellows they are, and very voraciousand formidable-looking. Now, Willy, lend me yournet, and I dare say we shall soon secure a specimen.What have we here? how the pond swarms with water-fleas! Oh! here is a treasure! What can it be? along animated thread of glass-we will put it into abottle by itself and I will tell you about it afterwards.Splash goes the net again, but no water-beetle larvae.Never mind; what does the child's songbook say-"If at once you don't succeed,Try, try, try again.A capital little verse to remember, so we will tryagain; and there now we are rewarded by the capture of adyticus larva-a creature with a long body-in somerespects reminding one of a shrimp. Oh look at hisjaws, how wide he opens them! You see that the last seg-ment of the body is provided with a long pair of bristlytails, by means of which the creature can suspend itselfat the top of the water. I have often kept specimensof these larve in vessels of water and noticed their pre-daceous habits; they feed on the larvae of other waterinsects, but are not able to destroy fish, not being fur-nished with jaws or bodies nearly so strong as the per-fect insect itself possesses. When the larva wishes toturn into its pupa state, it makes a round hole in thebank of the pond it inhabits, and there undergoes itschange, turning into a full-grown beetle in about three

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 31weeks' time. " Papa," said Willy, " I have often caughtbeetles that remind me of the great water-beetle, butSGREAT WATER-BEETLE, LARVA AND PUPA.they are not so large; what are they ?" They belong tothe same family as the great water-beetles, and are calledhave any English names. Come, we have dabbled inthis pond long enough for the present, let us proceed onour walk. "Well, but, papa," said May, " you havenot told us what that long worm-like creature is in theseparate bottle; do let us look at it again. Oh reallyit is a curious creature, why it is as transparent as glass,now it jerks itself about, now it floats without motionin mid-water. What is it ?" " I am inclined to think,"

32 Country Walks of a Naturalist.said Willy, "judging from its wriggling, jerking motionsthat it must be the larva of some kind of gnat." Rightagain, my boy, it is the larva of a gnat, and one knownto naturalists by the name of Corethra; you see thereare eleven divisions or segments in the body; the headis of strange form, and near the mouth are two hookedarms which spring from the middle of the, forehead andbend down in front of the mouth; with these weaponsthe Corethra larva seizes its prey and crushes it betweentwo rows of sharp spikes placed under the mouth ; afterbeing bruised and mangled by this apparatus the preyCORETHRA LARVA, MAGNIFIED.is ready to be swallowed. "But what," asked Jack," are those four curious black bodies; one pair nearthe head, the other pair near the tail of the animal ?"They are air-sacs, and are connected with the breathingor respiration of the larvae. Some have supposed thatthey serve the same office as the swimming bladder ofcertain fish, which being compressed or dilated at willenables the creature to remain still in mid-water orto rise or sink in it. After a time the larva changesto a pupa, in which state it lives without eating for afew days, and then turns into a gnat. We now proceedon our walk and come to a part of the road which hasa plantation on either side; we see a little active

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 33creature crossing the road and at once recognise aweasel. Let us keep quite still and silent, and we shall,I dare say, have an opportunity of watching it for ashort time. Just look at him! how nimbly the littlecreature runs along; now he stops and raises his headas if listening for something, now off he starts again;he is evidently hunting, and probably is on the scentof a young rabbit, rat, or field-mouse. Ah! see he hascaught something on the grass near the hedge; whathas he got in his mouth? it is a small rat, I think;now he throws his flexible body over it and gives itone or two bites. Now, Jack, run up and catch him.Ah I he is off like a shot; you must not think to"catch a weasel asleep." I often see these little ani-mals in my rambles, and always stop to witnesstheir extraordinary activity. Weasels will sometimesclimb trees and surprise some unfortunate bird onher nest; they are fond of eggs, and a bird's youngbrood are very dainty morsels; they will also eat molesand are sometimes caught in mole-traps. An excellentobserver mentions a case of a mole-trap having beenfound many years ago with two weasels in it; they hadbeen hunting in the mole's runs, had come in oppositedirections, and "by a curious coincidence, must haveboth sprung the trap at the same instant." Weasels aregenerally classed as vermin and killed on all possibleoccasions; I think it is often a mistake to destroy them;no doubt they will occasionally catch a young rabbit ora leveret or suck a few partridges' eggs, but the commonfood of the weasel consists of such small animals as mice,moles, rats, small birds. In wheat or other grain ricks,3

34 Country Walks of a Naturalist.they ought to be encouraged, as they enter them forthe sake of the rats and mice they find there. I have beentold by a friend that in some parts of Wales the farmerslook upon the weasel as a friend, in consideration ofthe destruction it causes to mice and rats. A gentle-man living near Corwen killed a weasel, and expectedto receive the thanks of the farmer on whose land ithad been killed; he was surprised to find that the farmerwas by no means grateful. In this respect I think theWelsh farmers are wiser than the English ones. Hawkssometimes prey upon weasels. Mr. Bell tells a storyof a gentleman who was riding over his grounds, onceSTOAT AND EGGS.having seen a kite pounce upon some object on theground and rise with it in his talons. "In a fewmoments the kite began to show signs of great uneasi-ness, rising rapidly in the air, or as quickly falling,and wheeling irregularly round, whilst it was evidentlytrying to force some hurtful thing from it with its feet."After a short but sharp contest the kite fell suddenlyto the ground, not far from where the gentleman waswatching the proceeding. On riding up to the spot"pop goes the weasel," none the worse for his aerial

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 35journey, but the kite was dead, for the weasel had eatena hole under the wing. The weasel makes its nest in abank or in loosely-constructed stone walls; three orfour young ones are generally produced. Some yearsago I remember seeing a mother-weasel and three youngplaying about on a bank. It was a most interestingsight. The weasel is much smaller than the stoat, andyou can tell it at once by its tail, which is entirely red;that of the stoat has a black tip. But it is getting lateand we must hasten home.

36 Country Walks of a Naturalist.WALK III.MAY.0-DAY we will go and hunt for sticklebacks'nests; as it is calm I think we shall have verylittle trouble in finding a few; a calm dayshould always be chosen, because to find the nests ofthese little fish it is necessary to have very sharp eyes,and to look very closely, and you know if there is muchwind the water is ruffled, and then it is not easy to seeobjects in it. Let us start off, then, with bait-can,canvass-net, and two or three large-mouthed bottles,to that small, clear, shallow pond in Mr. Jervis's field,and see if we can bring home a few fish and eggs. " Itwill be great fun," said Willy, "and when we havecaught the little fish we will bring them home and putthem in my aquarium." There are three species ofsticklebacks found in this country, the three-spined,the ten-spined, and the fifteen-spined-this last in-habits salt water. All three build nests, and showgreat care for their little brood. The nests of thethree-spined species are those most generally known,though I dare say, if we search carefully in the drainson the moors, we shall be successful in finding a nestof the ten-spined fellow, or tinker, as he is some-times called. Here we are at the pond, how clear

1~"6:16: '1 '"Ill"1 t~~1"" ~ ~ """:: aiTH E -S I E ST K EIt K AK E T

This page contains no text.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 37it is, and how beautifully green are the few patchesof star-wort in the water! As the grass is quite drywe can all sit down so as to get our eyes as near to thewater as possible; never mind a few crawling ants.May; if they bite you, I shall not feel it. Ah do yousee that little fellow with crimson breast and eyes likeemeralds? He sees us, for look how disturbed heseems; now he darts away and hides under a weed,but soon returns to the same spot; it is pretty certainhe has a nest close by. I will put my walking-stickinto the water near him. Well, actually, the bravelittle fellow is not the least frightened; see, he buntshis nose against the stick, and is very angry; he isafraid of some danger to his nest-this makes him sobold. Now I have made out where the nest is, it isclose under him; do you see a few small holes in themud at the bottom of the water? No, you don't seeanything; well, then, give me my stick and I willpoint them out. There now, do you see what I mean?Yes, you do; that is all right. "Let us get the nestout of the water," said Jack. Have patience; let uswatch what the fish is doing; see, he is busy fanningaway with his tiny fins directly over the nest. " Whatis he doing that for ?" said Willy. The quick move-ments of his fins bring fresh currents of water to theeggs or little fry that may be within. Ah! did yousee that? another fish came near the nest; howfuriously our brave "soldier" charged him; howquickly the intruder retired! I do not think he willdare to approach so near again for a long time, forthose sharp spines on the under side of the soldier are

38 Country Walks of a Naturalist.like a couple of bayonets and can inflict serious wounds.Let us leave this nest for a time and try to find somemore. Now that you have once seen a nest, you willnot have much difficulty in finding others. Willy soonfound another nest; "just look," he said, "there area lot of the tiniest little things close to the nest."Yes, indeed, so there are; the eggs have hatched, andthese are the little fry; there is Father Stickles quiteproud of his numerous family, and quite ready to fightfor them should any enemy be rash enough to intrude,for you must know that sticklebacks, like many otherfish, do not object to eat the young fry of their neigh-bours, and if the parent there-it is the male only thatis the protector-were to be removed, a hungry packof other sticklebacks would crowd around and makesad havoc amongst that happy little family. I remem-ber some years ago having once taken a father stickle-back away from his nest, and, after putting him in mycollecting bottle, I sat down to watch the result. Soonan invading army of other sticklebacks approached andattacked the nest for the purpose of getting at theclusters of eggs it contained. They pulled it aboutsadly, till I began to be sorry for what I had done. Ireturned the captive-parent to the water; at first hehardly knew where he was, and seemed confused, theresult, no doubt, of his confinement in the bottle; buthe was not long in coming to himself-he rememberedhis nest and the treasures it contained; he saw thatdevastating army all around it, and, summoning all hiscourage, the soldier-parent began an attack, now rush-ing at one and now at another enemy, till he was left

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 39alone on the battle-field, having thus gained, single-handed, a glorious victory indeed.Well, we will take this one home, with nest and eggsit contains. You see the nest is a mass of tangledgrass roots and other weeds; now that it is out of thewater it is a shapeless mass. However, here is a clusterof pinkish eggs, and if you look closely you will see twolittle specks in each egg; so that the fish is beingformed, for these are the little thing's eyes. You cansee, too, the tiny things jerking their tails about everynow and then. It is most interesting to watch thecare the parent takes of his little ones when hatched.Some few years ago I put a male stickleback in a basin)f water in charge of his nest. When the young onesvere hatched it was most curious to notice his anxietyor their welfare. Of course young sticklebacks, likeroung children, are of an inquisitive turn of mind, andipt to play truant too occasionally; but should someittle fellow wander too far from the nest, Father3tickles hurries after him, takes the little truant in hismouth, and spits him out right over the nest. This Irepeatedly witnessed myself, and I have no doubt youwill be able to see the same thing yourselves."Are not sticklebacks quarrelsome little fish ?" askedWilly. Yes, they are very fond of fighting, and theyare so bold that they do not fear any enemy, whateverhis size. I once kept a small pike, about ten incheslong, in an aquarium, into which I also introduced fiveor six sticklebacks. I suppose the pike did not muchlike the look of the prickles or spines, for he didnot eat the fish. Once I saw him make the attempt,

40 Country Walks of a Naturalist.but after getting Master Stickles into his mouth, hequickly threw him out again, not relishing, I suppose,the sauce piquante of the spines. The sticklebacks werereally masters; they tormented Mr. Pike dreadfully;first one would take a bite at his tail, and then another,till the tail had a woful expression indeed; so I turnedthe pike into a pool of water, and I dare say the retailbusiness has long ere this been completed."Are there any other kinds of fish," asked Willy,"that make nests and take care of their young oneslike the three species of sticklebacks?" Yes, thereare several kinds of fish which do so, but no otherBritish fresh-water kinds, I believe. There is the salt-water Lumpsucker, a fish of strange form and brilliantcolour-you know the pickled specimen in my study-whose young soon after birth fix themselves to the sidesand on the back of their male parent, who sails, thusloaded, away to deeper and more safe retreats. Thereare the long pipe-fishes, the males of which possess each asingular pouch on the tail; in this the eggs of thefemale are deposited and matured; the young onesoccasionally leave their strange abode, and after swim-ming about for a time return to it again, reminding usin this respect of the kangaroos and opossums amongstmammalia. There are also fish which inhabit therivers of Demerara which make nests and show greatattachment to their young ones, and I dare say severalother fish will be found to do the same."Oh! papa, do look here; as I was turning overthis bit of flat tile I saw in the water I found a creaturesomething like a leech, and on raising it up I saw what

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 41looks like a quantity of the animal's eggs, and sheseems to be sitting upon them as a hen upon her eggs."All right, Jack; let me look, I dare say it is one of thesnail-leeches. Yes, to be sure it is, and here are theeggs which the creature carefully covers with her body,and upon which she will sit till the young ones areformed; the small brood, sometimes one hundred andfifty or more in number, then attach themselves to theunder surface of the parent, and are carried aboutSNAIL LEECH.wherever she goes. There are various species of thisinteresting family; all are inhabitants of fresh water;some incubate or sit upon their eggs, others carry themabout in a hollow formed by the contraction of thesides. They have a long tubular proboscis, by meansof which they suck out the juices of pond-snails andother water creatures. These snail-leeches move alongin the same way as the common horse-leech and themedicinal leech, namely, by fixing the head-part on tothe surface of some substance in the water and thendrawing the hinder part up to it; they then extend thehead-portion and fix it upon another spot, again draw-ing up the other extremity. But the leeches, properly

42 Country Walks of a Naturalist.so called, have all red blood; that of the snail-leechesis colourless."Is the leech used to bleed people when they are illever found in the ponds of this country ?" asked Willy.I believe it is rarely met with now-a-days; most of theleeches used in medicine are imported from Spain,Hungary, the south of France, and Algeria; manymillions are brought every year to this country. Themedicinal leech was, however, once pretty common inthe lakes and pools of the north of England. The poetWordsworth introduces us to an old leech-gathererlamenting the scarcity of the animals in the followinglines:" He with a smile did then his words repeatAnd said that gathering leeches far and wideHe travelled; stirring thus about his feetThe waters of the pool where they abide.Once I could meet with them on every side;But they have dwindled long by slow decay;Yet still I persevere and find them where I may.-"This sonnet was written in 1807, and when we con-sider the immense numbers used in medicine, and theutter neglect of leech culture in this country, we shallcease to wonder that native leeches are very scarce.It is said that four only of the principal dealers inLondon import every year more than seven millionleeches. The annual demand in France was estimatedin 1846 to be from twenty to thirty millions; Parisrequiring three millions a year. "I should be verysorry, papa," said Jack, "to walk about like the oldman in the lines you quoted just now, with bare legsin the water, making them a bait for leeches. Ugh!

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 43it is horrible to think of; they must suck a good dealof blood from the man's legs." There is nothing likebeing used to a thing, and when you remember thatmany people derive their whole support from the leechesthey gather, you will not wonder that they do not feara few leech bites. I do not suppose they lose muchblood; no doubt the gatherers pick them up prettyquickly and put them into their collecting cases; be-sides the chief flow of blood from a leech-bite occursafter the leech has been removed; the flow is en-couraged by the application of warm fomentations, butthe cold water of a pool would stop the flow of bloodin the case of the man's legs. We ought to be thank-ful for the existence of an animal which is of suchimmense service to mankind. I suppose it was theappreciation of their value in medicine that inducedFrench ladies, about forty-five years ago, to regardleeches with especial favour. Many people remember theCochin-China mania and the sea-anemone mania, but,May, what will young ladies say to the fact that in1824 there existed in France a mania for leeches? Themost enthusiastic admirer of Cochin fowls or sea-anemones would never have thought of carrying heradmiration of her pets so high as to wear on her dressfigures of these animals; but we learn from a Frenchwriter that there might have been seen at that periodelegant ladies wearing dresses a la Broussais on thetrimming of which were imitations of leeches! Brous-sais, you must know, was a physician, no doubt afashionable ladies' doctor, and a great patron of leeches."What," asked Willy, " are the leeches I often find in

44 Country Walks of a Naturalist.the drains on the moors and in other places ?" I haveno doubt you often find these kinds; there is a smallleech, the commonest of all, called Nephelis, whoselittle oval cocoons are so frequent on the under sides ofstones in the water and on water plants. I will soonfind a few cocoons; look here, under this bit of bricktile are five or six; they now contain eggs, as I willshow you, by slitting open the case with my penknife.These gradually change to young leeches, which findtheir way out of the cocoon through one or other ofthe two openings at either end. Then there is thehorse leech, and another very similar to it, calledAulastoma, which means having "a mouth as wide as ahall;" it has no English name, but we may give it oneif you like, and call it "the hall-mouthed leech." Itsmouth is capable of great stretching, and can readilytake in huge earthworms nearly the size of itself. Ionce witnessed a curious sight -I put a couple of"hall-mouths" into a glass vessel of water, and intro-duced also a great fat lob-worm; each leech seized theworm, the one took the head, the other the tail. Asthe worm got gradually swallowed the two leeches cameto very close quarters, and at last touched. What wasto happen? would they twist and writhe about andbreak the worm, and so share the "grub" betweenthem? No; the one fellow quickly proceeded toswallow his antagonist. I watched him carefully, andhe succeeded in getting down the red lane about aninch of his companion; but whether he did not likethe taste, or whether he had qualms of conscience fortaking such unfair advantage of a near relation, I

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 45know not; after a few minutes the partly swallowedleech made his appearance again, apparently none theworse for his temporary sojourn in the throat of hiscompanion. This leech may be seen sometimes ondamp earth in search of its favorite earthworms. Ishould mention also that another worm-devouring leechhas lately been found in this country; it is known bythe name of Trocheta, called after a French naturalist,Du Trochet, who first described it. I dare say if welook carefully we shall find it in this neighbourhood.All these leeches lay cocoons in which the young aredeveloped. Let us leave the pool and take our littlefish with us, taking care not to shake the can morethan we can help. We are now in the fields; the grassis beautifully green after the late rain. Look at thatcrab tree in the hedge; did you ever see such a mag-nificent mass of blossom? The hawthorn hedges areloaded with May-buds; what a show of May there willbe in a fortnight's time. Let us gather a sprig of crabblossom and a few bits of May-bud, and see if wecannot gather a pretty handful of wild flowers for Mayto take home to mamma. Here are a few cowslipswith their drooping golden bells and delicious scent;I am afraid we shall not find enough to make a cowslipball. Here is cuckoo-flower, which, as old Gerarde says," doth flower in April and Maie, when the cuckoo dothbegin her pleasant notes without stammering." OldGerarde, by the way, ought to have said "his pleasantnotes," for it is the male bird alone that cries " cuckoo."Its flowers are of a delicate pale purple when at theheight of its beauty; they become nearly white when

46 Country Walks of a Naturalist.on the wane. "Ladies' smock" is another name forthis harbinger of Spring; Shakespeare speaks of it-"The daisies pied and violets blue,And lady-smocks all silver white."Here is blue speedwell and the delicately pencilledstitchwort with its pure snow-white blossoms anddelicate green leaves. It is a lovely Spring flower andvery common amongst the grass of every hedgerow.We will pluck a few bits; how brittle the stem is.What curious ideas our ancestors must have had; fancycalling this plant " all-bones !" Its name, stitchwort, nodoubt alludes to the plant's supposed virtue in cases of"stitches" in the side. The following lines of CalderCampbell on Spring flowers I am sure you will thinkvery pretty:"The buds are green on the Linden tree,And flowers are bursting on the lea;There is the daisy, so prim and white,With its golden eye and its fringes bright;And here is the golden buttercup,Like a miser's chest with the gold heap'd up;And the stitchwort with its pearly star,Seen on the hedgebank from afar;And there is the primrose, sweet, though wan,And the cowslip dear to the ortolan,That sucks its morning draught of dewFrom the drooping curls of the harebell blue."Here is more "May-flower" or marsh marigold; letus take some; it will make a bright show in our wild-flower cluster. We will put a sprig or two of copperbeech, with its rich brown leaves, which we can getfrom the garden, two bits of lilac, purple and white;

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 47and though the nosegay is common, it is still verybeautiful, and mamma will put it in her best vase andgive it a place in the drawing-room for those to admirewho have hearts to admire the wild gifts of Nature.Why, Jacko, what are you grubbing up in that ditch ?"I am not grubbing up anything," said Jacko, "buthere are a lot of black creatures, lively enough whenyou stir them up; I suppose they must be tadpoles."Tadpoles, Jack, unquestionably, but are they the youngof the toad or the frog ? Let me see. Well, it is not easyto say which in their present stage, a tadpole is so like atadpole, whether the young of frog or toad. If you hadfound the eggs, which you might have done earlier inthe year, there would have been no difficulty in sayingwhether they belonged to a toad or a frog; for the toadlays its black eggs imbedded in a long clear jelly-likeline, whereas the frog's eggs are imbedded in a shape-less mass of jelly. Look at some of these little blackfellows, as black as niggers; there is a delicate fringeon each side of the head; these are the creature's gillsand answer the same purpose as the gills in a fish; theblood circulates through them, and is made fresh andpure by the action of the air contained in the water.In this state the tadpole is more of a fish than a reptile;in a short time, however, these gills will be lost andthen the tadpole can no longer breathe the air of thewater, but must come to the surface to take in air fromthe atmosphere. By-and-by we should see two smalltubercles appear near the root of the tail; these arethe first indications of hind-legs. Meanwhile the fore-legs are budding forth, and in time would assume their

48 Country Walks of a Naturalist.distinct forms. The changes of the tadpole, when it is afish, to a frog, when it becomes a reptile, are most curiousand instructive. If you have never seen the circulationof blood in a tadpole's tail, you have something to lookforward to, and I will promise to show it you some dayunder the microscope. "What kind of frog," Willyasked, " do they eat in France? because you know theFrench eat frogs." The frog which the French eat isa different species from our common frog, though Idare say our common frog would be quite as good. Theedible frog has been several times found in this country,and Mr. Eyton says that during the time a detachmentof the French were prisoners at Wellington, they werehighly delighted to find their old friend the edible frogin the wild moors here. I have never myself seenany other than the common frog in this neighbourhood.You may think a frog would make a curious sort of pet,but a gentleman once kept a frog for several yearsquite domesticated. It made its appearance in anunderground kitchen at Kingston on the banks of theThames. The servants, wonderful to say, showed himkindness and gave him food; one would rather haveexpected that they would have uttered loud shrieks ofterror and fainted away at the unexpected sight.Curiously enough, during the winter seasons, whenfrogs as a rule are lying asleep at the bottom of a pool,this frog used to come out of his hole and seek a snugplace near the kitchen fire, where he would continueto bask and enjoy himself till the servants retired torest. And more curious still, this frog got remarkablyfond of a favourite old cat, and used to nestle under

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 49the warm fur of Mrs. Pussy, she in the mean timeshowing she did not in the least object to Mr. Frog'spresence.Both frogs and toads do a great deal of good bydestroying quantities of slugs and injurious insects;they are, moreover, perfectly harmless. Some ignorantpeople, who love to destroy everything, insist on killingfrogs and toads; they say they eat the strawberriesin their gardens. Did you ever examine a frog's ora toad's tongue, Willy? You never did; then I hopethe next frog you catch you will carefully open hismouth-treat him as if you loved him, as honest IsaacWalton says-and give me some short account of thestructure of a frog's tongue. " All right, papa," saidWilly, " I will bear the matter in mind. It makes melaugh, though, to think of my examining a frog'stongue; still I wonder what it is like, and I wish Icould at once catch a frog to see; but we are nowagain near home, and I must wait for another walk."

50 Country Walks of a Naturalist.WALK IV.MAY."APA," said Willy, "you once told me of avery beautiful little creature, almost toosmall to be seen by the naked eye, thatlives in water, and builds its house out of the smallparticles of clay or mud that float therein. Thebricks are not of the shape of house bricks, butquite round. Do you not think we can find someof these animals in the course of to-day's walk ? Iforget the name of the creature." I know what youmean; you are speaking of a microscopic animal calledMelicerta. " Oh, yes, that is its name, now I remember."I have no doubt we shall be able to obtain specimens fromthe canal; so we will walk along the bank for a shortdistance and then get into the fields again. Wemust take with us a clear wide-mouthed bottle, and weshall soon see whether we have captured any speci-mens. These exquisite little creatures attach them-selves to the leaves and stems of water-plants; theyare most readily seen on the finely cut leaves of thewater-buttercup or spiked milfoil. The way to pro-ceed is to place a tuft of this plant in the bottle and tohold it up to the light, and we shall soon see whetherany Melicerte are there. Here is plenty of water-


This page contains no text.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 51buttercup-a very interesting plant by-the-bye, andone which is subject to much variation; for when itgrows in swiftly flowing water all the leaves are verylong and hair-like, but in still water there are flattenedleaves as well, and the hair-like leaves are not nearlyso long. You see it is now in flower; a beautiful whitemass it forms in small still ponds. " Well, but, papa,"said May, "the flowers are white, and I thought allbuttercups were yellow." Nearly all the buttercups haveyellow flowers, but there are two British species whichhave white blossoms, namely, this one and the littleivy-leaved buttercup, or crowfoot, as it is often called,which is found either in the water or near thewater's edge. Though the ivy-leaved crowfoot isgenerally regarded as a species, I think it is only avariety of the one we are now looking at. Now I fisha plant out with my stick and nip off a tuft of hair-likeleaves and pop it into the bottle. Have I anythinghere ? No doubt the microscope would show countlessnumbers of minute animalcules, but I detect no Meli-certe. Let us try again. I nip off another tuft. There !do you see one, two, three, four little things stickingalmost at right angles to some of the leaves ? No, yousee nothing ? Well, perhaps not, for your eyes are notso accustomed to these things as mine are, but I willtake out my pocket lens; there, surely you see that oneclose to the side of the bottle, do you not? Oh yes,you see what I mean; well, that is the case or houseof a Melicerta, which animal I will describe to you,and when we get home we will look at it under the micro-scope. The case is about the twelfth part of an inch

52 Country Walks of a Naturalist.long arid about the thickness of a horsehair, and of areddish colour generally, though the colour depends onthe nature of the material out of which the case is made,Let us sit down and put the bottle on this large stone,and I dare say some of the creatures will soon showtheir heads at the top of the tubes, for they are all in-doors now; the disturbance caused in breaking off thebit of weed and putting it in the bottle has alarmedthe Melicertoe, and very quickly they sunk within theirhouses of clay. Now I see one fellow slowly appearingMELICEETA, ON WEED, MAGNIFIED.at the top, after the manner of a chimney-sweeper, butcertainly in a much more elegant form. There it hasunfolded four flower-like expansions, of which the upper-most are much the largest. The animal shows only

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 53the upper part of its body, and I can see with mypocket lens that it is somewhat transparent and whitish.But my lens has not sufficient magnifying power toreveal more, so I must tell you what I have seen ofMelicerta under my compound microscope. Each ofthese four leaf-like lobes or expansions is surroundedwith very minute hairs, which can move with greatrapidity in all directions; these you will remember arecalled "cilia," from the resemblance to eyelashes, forwhich cilia is the Latin word. The motion caused bythese numerous cilia lashing the water brings cur-rents containing particles of food for the Melicerta,and materials for his house. Mr. Melicerta "is atonce brick-maker, mason, and architect, and fabricatesas pretty a tower as it is easy to conceive." The mouthis situated between the two large leaflets, and leads toa narrow throat, in which are the curious jaws andteeth of the animal., Below the jaws are the stomachand intestine; so you see the Melicerta, though sominute a creature, has a complex structure. "Yousaid, papa," remarked May, "that the little creaturemakes its own tube; how does it do that ?" Upon theupper part of the head there is a small hollow cup,which is lined with cilia, and probably also secretessome sticky fluid to make the pellets of clay adheretogether; the particles of clay and mud, having beenbrought to the space between the leaflets by the actionof the cilia, are conveyed to this little cup-shapedcavity, and are then worked about by the cilia within,till a round pellet is formed which completely fits thecavity. The little creature then bends itself down upon

54 Country Walks of a Naturalist.the tube and deposits the pellet upon it, then it raisesitself up again and proceeds to form another brick, itsjaws working all the time. "I wonder," said Jack," how the little creature manages to set apart and putin its proper place the particles required for food andthose required for brick-making; it would be funny ifit sometimes made a mistake and put the clay in itsstomach and the food in the brick machine!" It iscurious, indeed, to know how the materials are put inthe proper place; I suppose the Melicerta has the powerto change the direction of the currents and thus toplace the particles in their proper place. By rubbinga little paint, such as carmine or indigo, in some waterand placing a drop upon the glass slide with theMelicerta, these currents may be readily seen; and Ihave more than once seen rows of coloured bricks, redor blue, which the animal moulded and then depositedon the tube! We will take the bottle home, and ifyou have patience I doubt not I shall be able to showyou a good deal of what I have been describing; butyou must have patience, for, as an excellent naturalisthas said, "The Melicerta is an awkward object toundertake to show to our friends, for, as they knock atthe door, she is apt to turn sulky, and when once in this- mood it is impossible to say when her fair form will re-appear. At times the head is wagged about in all direc-tions with considerable vehemence, playing singularantics, and distorting her lobes so as to exhibit a Punchand Judy profile."*Hark! what is that bird singing so sweetly and with* 'Marvels of Pond Life,' by H. J. Slack, p. 92.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 55such animation in the hedge? Do you hear? It isthe dear little sedge-warbler; often, indeed, heard, butnot so often seen, for it is fond of hiding itself in bushesor sedges. The sedge-warbler, like the migratorywarblers generally, comes to us in April and leaves usin September. How often have I listened with delightto its music when returning home quite late at nightin summer months If the bird stops its music for afew moments, you have only to throw a stone amongthe bushes and the singing commences again. I amnot clever in describing musical sounds, and I cannotNEST OF REED WARBLER.

56 Country Walks of a Naturalist.describe that of the sedge-warbler, nor can I alwaysdistinguish it from the song of its near relative thereed-warbler. Both imitate the songs of other birds,and their incessant warblings and babblings at nightcause them to be often mistaken for nightingales.I have generally found the nest of the sedge-warbleron the ground, on a tuft of coarse grass or sedge; thenest of the reed-warbler is supported on four or five tallreeds, and is made of the seed-branches of the reedsand long grass wound round and round; it is madedeep, so that the little eggs are not tossed out whenthe reeds are shaken by the high winds.Hark I there is the cuckoo; how clearly he utters"cuckoo! cuckoo !" He is not far away. Some peoplecan imitate the well-known note so well as to deceive thebird and bring it near the place where they are hiding.Your Uncle Philip only the other day made a cuckoorespond to him; had the day been calm instead ofwindy, he would, no doubt, have induced the bird tocome close to us. There he goes with his long tail,flying something like a hawk. You should rememberthe rhyming lines about the cuckoo's visit to thiscountry:In April,Come he will.In May,He sings all day.In June,He alters his tune.In July,He prepares to fly.Come August,Go he must.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 57"I think you said, papa," said May, "that it is onlythe male bird that utters the cuckoo note; what kindof a voice has the female ?" I have never heard thenote of the female cuckoo. Mr. Jenyns says, "Thenote of the female cuckoo is so unlike that of the male,which is familiar to every one, that persons are some-times with difficulty persuaded that it proceeds fromthat bird. It is a kind of chattering cry, consisting ofa few notes uttered fast in succession, but remarkablyclear and liquid." Very curious are the habits of thecuckoo. Unlike most other birds, they do not pair; youall know, too, that cuckoos make no nests, but lay theireggs one by one in the nests of various other birds,such as those of the hedge-warbler, or hedge-sparrowas it is generally but wrongly called, robin, white-throat, and other birds. It is probable that the samecuckoo does not go twice to the same nest to deposither egg. What a curious exception is the case of thecuckoo to the instinctive love of their offspring ob-servable in almost all birds After the eggs are laidthe parent bird has no further trouble with them; noperiod of incubation to bare the breast of the broodingbird; no anxiety about her young ones, as some idle,wanton lad hunts amongst the trees and bushes,destroys both nest and eggs, or tortures the helplessfledglings! "But, papa," said Willy, "how does ithappen that the young birds hatched in the same nestwith the young cuckoo always get turned out of it." Thecuckoo, being much the larger and heavier bird, fills upthe greater part of the nest, consequently the smallerfledgling companions get placed on the sides of the nest,

58 Country Walks of a Naturalist.and partially also on the back of the young cuckoo;when, therefore, the latter stands up in the nest heoften lifts up on his back one of the small companions,who thus gets thrown headlong to the ground. Thisseems to me to be the mode in which the ejection some-times takes place, till at last the young cuckoo is leftsole possessor of the nest, and of course gets all thefood; at the same time I ought to say that someCUCKOO.naturalists attribute a murderous disposition to theyoung cuckoo, and say that the other inmates of thenest are maliciously thrown out. Others, again, say

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 59that the foster birds throw their own young ones out.It is certain that the young are sometimes treatedthus, for they have been seen on the ground whenthe young cuckoo was too small to eject them itself."But why do not cuckoos make nests and sit on theireggs like other birds ?" said Jack. Such a question ismore easily asked than answered; nevertheless I hopeyou will always try to discover reasons for things. " Itis now," writes a celebrated naturalist, " commonlyadmitted that the more immediate and final cause ofthe cuckoo's instinct is, that she lays her eggs, notdaily, but at intervals of two or three days; so that ifshe were to make her own nest and sit on her own eggs,those first laid would have to be left for some time un-incubated, or there would be eggs and young birds ofdifferent ages in the same nest. If this were the casethe process of laying and hatching might be incon-veniently long, more especially as she has to migrate ata very early period, and the first hatched young wouldprobably have to be fed by the male alone." Thecuckoos come to this country about the middle ofApril; the male birds arrive before the females.Whether this arrangement is ungallant conduct on thepart of the gentlemen birds, who prefer to come alone,or whether, just when the gentleman cuckoo is readyand almost impatient for a start, her ladyship has allat once discovered some important matter that oughtto be finished before leaving the country, some adjust-ment of her dress, some tiresome feather that will ruffleitself up in spite of every effort to keep it smooth, Iknbw not, but the fact remains, that my Lord and Lady

60 Country Walks of a Naturalist.Cuckoo do not travel together. Let us suppose thatboth sexes have arrived in this country, we will say aboutthe 23rd of April. It is natural they want a little timeto look about them; at any rate, no egg is ready forbeing sat upon till some weeks after the arrival of thebirds, say the 15th of May. The eggs require fourteendays' setting before they are hatched; this brings thedate to the 29th of May. The young ones will requirethree weeks in the nest and constant feeding all thetime; we now arrive at about the 20th of June, whenthe young ones would be ready to leave the nest. Butthey want five weeks' more feeding by the parents, afterthey leave the nest, before they are able to provide forthemselves; this would bring the date to about the25th of July, when there is hardly a parent bird in thecountry; they have left for other parts of the world."Oh but, papa," said Willy, " you said in the linesyou told us to remember-In July,He prepares to fly.Come August,Go he must.And now you say the cuckoos leave before the endof July. I think you must have made a mistakesomehow." I am glad that you have found out theerror, if it is one. Old rhymes are not always to betrusted; but I suspect that the couplet "Come August,go he must," means to imply that the cuckoo doesnever really stay so late with us. I must not, how-ever, forget to tell you that it is the old parent birdsthat leave us early; young birds remain till Sep-

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 61tember, and even October, but they have not by thattime acquired the cuckoo note. If you ask why can-not the old cuckoos stay with us a little longer,and then all go away together as a family party,young and old, in September, instead of being in sucha hurry, I have only to say that it is the fashionamongst cuckoos, and of course cuckoos, like certainother animals, must be in the fashion. This is Dr.Jenner's explanation of the peculiar habits of thecuckoo in respect of its eggs. I am not prepared tosay whether or not it is sufficient to explain them.The cuckoo's egg is very small when compared withthe size of the bird; it is of a pale grey tinged withred."But how does the cuckoo's egg get into some ofthe nests?" asked Willy; "for some of the nests inwhich the cuckoo's egg is found are too small to allowthe cuckoo herself to enter to lay her egg." You arequite right; I believe it has been proved that thecuckoo lays her egg on the ground, and carries it in herbill into other birds' nests."Oh! papa," said Jack, what is this curious plantthat grows so abundantly on the grass here? I knowit well by sight, but do not know its name." It is aspike of horse-tail; see how the stem is marked withlines, and how curiously jointed it is, and quite hollowexcept where the joints occur. The fruit is borne atthe top of the plant (a); see, as I shake it, what a quan-tity of dust comes from it; this dust is the fruit, orspores as they are called; each spore is of an oval form,with' four elastic threads. If I were to put some of this

62 Country Walks of a Naturalist.dust on a glass slide, and look at it under the microscope,I should see a curious sight. The four threads wouldbe spread out, but if I were to breathe on the glass,these threads would coil themselves round the ovalHORSE-TAIL.body; but as soon as the effect of the moisture hadpassed away, the threads would shoot out again in thesame position as they were at first, causing the spore

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 63to leap as if it were alive. The stems are of two kinds,fertile and unfertile; the one you have in your handsis a fertile spike, and appears only in the spring; theunfertile ones have no dust-like fruit, and havenumerous jointed branches growing in rows, or whorlsas they are termed, round them they remain through-out the summer, and in some places form quite a thickcover. Feel how rough the stem is; this is due tothe presence of a quantity of silex or flint in it; onthis account some of the species are used for polishingpurposes. One kind, under the name of "Dutchrushes," is imported from Holland, being used forpolishing mahogany, ivory, metal, &c. The horse-tailsfor the most part grow in moist ground, in ditches andon the borders of lakes; some, however, are commonin corn fields and on the roadside. In this countrythey do not attain a height of more than a few feet,but in tropical countries one or two species grow tothe height of sixteen feet or more.Now for a dip with the bottle in this pond. I willtry and catch a few Hydrs. Strange animals, indeed,they are, and strange is their history; but let us catcha few first. Nothing yet in my bottle like a hydra.Ah! now we have one or two. You see a small creaturesticking to the stem of a bit of duckweed; around itsmouth are five or six little projections. At present theyare contracted; but the hydra is able to lengthen themout, when they appear as long, thin lines, which areused as the creature's fishing-lines; it is not muchlarger than a pin's head at present, but it can stretchits body out as it does its lines. I will take a handful

64 Country Walks of a Naturalist.of duckweed, and put it, dripping wet, into this bag,and when we get home we will place the whole in aglass vessel full of water. In the course of half an houror so, we shall, no doubt, see several hydrae, probably ofHYDRLE, ON ROOTS OF DUCKWEED.different species, in various attitudes-some hangingloosely down, others erecting themselves in gracefulcurves and throwing out their arms or tentacles manytimes longer than their bodies; others shooting up theirarms right above their heads; others contracted, lookinglike miniature dabs of jelly; others attached head andtail to the side of the glass; others floating on thesurface of the water, their tail-ends sticking out andserving to keep them from sinking; some of a beautifulgrass-green colour, others light brown or flesh colour,

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 65others almost white, others red. These creatures maybe cut into several parts, yet each part will grow againinto a perfect animal; young ones bud out of thesides of the parents. Some have said that they canbe turned inside out, and find no inconvenience what-ever from the operation. "But how," asked Willy,could anybody manage to turn so small a thing as ahydra inside out ?" It does seem an impossible task, Iconfess, and a man must have much skill and patienceto enable him to accomplish it. However, I will giveyou the description of an attempt made many years agoby a celebrated naturalist of Geneva, named Trembley,who made the hydrse or fresh-water polypes a study formany years. This is what Trembley says:-" I beginby giving a worm to the polype on which I wish tomake an experiment, and when it is swallowed I beginoperations. It is well not to wait till the worm is muchdigested. I put the polype, whose stomach is well filled,in a little water in the hollow of my left hand; I thenpress it with a small forceps nearer to the tail end thanto the head. In this way I push the swallowed wormagainst the mouth of the polype, which is thus forcedto open, and by again slightly pressing the polype withmy forceps I cause the worm partly to come out fromits mouth, and thus draw out with it an equal part ofthe end of its stomach. The worm, coming out of themouth of the polype, forces it to enlarge itself con-siderably, especially if it comes out doubled up. Whenthe polype is in this state, I take it gently out of thewater, without disturbing anything, and place it on theedge of my hand, which is simply moistened, so that it5

66 Country Walks of a Naturalist.may not adhere too closely. I oblige it to contractmore and more, and this also enlarges the stomach andmouth. The worm then is partly coming out of theHYDRA, WITH YOUNG ONES BUDDING OUT FROM ITS SIDE.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 67mouth, and, keeping it open, I then take in my righthand a hog's bristle, rather thick and without a point,and I hold it as one holds a lancet for bleeding. I bringits thickest end to the hind end of the polype and pushit, making it enter into its stomach, which is the m6reeasily done as in that part it is empty and much en-larged. I push on the end of the hog's bristle, whichcontinues to invest the polype. When it reaches theworm, which holds the mouth open, it either pushesthe worm or passes by its side, and at last comes out bythe mouth, the polype being thus completely turnedinside out."Very strange, indeed, to think that animals with thewrong side outermost should continue to eat, grow, andmultiply, as Trembley assures us his specimens did,though, perhaps, we shall not wonder that they oftentried to turn themselves back to their original condition,and with success, unless Trembley took steps to preventthem. There are other strange things recorded ofthe fresh-water polypes, as that different individualscan be grafted together without the slightest inconve-nience to any of the parties, the joint-stock companyof course being limited.The hydre live on small worms, larve of gnats, water-fleas, and other minute creatures; they catch them withtheir tentacles or fishing-lines, and draw them to themouth. It is maintained by many observers, with goodreason, that these arms have the power of paralysing,in an instant, the worms they wrap themselves round.There are at least three well-marked species of hydrato be met with in the ponds and ditches of this country.

68 Country Walks of a Naturalist.There is the green hydra, the light flesh-coloured orcommon hydra, and the long-armed hydra, the mostinteresting of all. See, there is the water-primrose,now in flower, with its delicate pink corolla and brightorange centre. Let us gather a few plants, and thenreturn home.-<-

Country Walks of a Naturalist. ,9WALK V.MAY.O-DAY we will go to Shawbury and try ourluck with the trout. If the fish will not risethere will be plenty to observe, and I have nodoubt we shall enjoy the day thoroughly; the wind isin the south-west and the day is cloudy; the May-flyis well out, and I think we have every chance of goodsport. Let us look out our fishing-tackle and drive offat once to the river. How delightful it is to stroll bythe river side and hear the rippling of the water; de-lightful, too, is the sensation of feeling at the end ofyour line the tugs and jumps of a good lively trout.I cannot resist quoting some lines from 'The Angler'sSong,' which I thinkyou will say are very pretty:Merry in the greenwood is the note of horn and hound,And dull must be the heart of him that leaps not to their sound;Merry from the stubble whirrs the partridge on her wing,And blithely doth the hare from her shady cover spring;But merrier than horn or hound, or stubble's rapid pride,Is the sport that we court by the gentle river side.Our art can tell the insect tribe that every month doth bring,And with a curious wile we know to mock its gauzy wing;We know what breeze will bid the trout through the curling waters leap,And we can surely win him from shallow or from deep;For every cunning fish can we a cunning bait provide,In the sport that we court by the gentle river side.t

70 Country Walks of a Naturalist.Where may we find the music like the music of the stream ?What diamond like the glances of its ever-changing gleam ?What couch so soft as mossy banks, where through the noontide hoursOur dreamy heads are pillowed on a hundred simple flowers?While through the crystal stream beneath we mark the fishes glide,To the sport that we court by the gentle river side ?For as the lark with upland voice the early sun doth greet,And the nightingale from shadowy boughs her vesper hymn repeat;For as the pattering shower on the meadow doth descend,And far as the flitting clouds with the sudden sunbeams blend;All beauty, joy and harmony, from morn to eventide,Bless the sport that we court by the gentle river side.Well, here we are once more at the charming littlevillage of Shawbury. How often, both as a boy and aman, have I wandered by the banks of the river Roden.What changes have taken place since my early rambles ILong familiar forms, companions in my fishing expedi-tions, have vanished; the mind fondly cherishes theirmemory, and recalls past hours of cheerful intercourse.We will put up the horse and carriage at the Elephantand Castle Inn and stroll away to the river.Ah! here is a capital place. Now, Master Willy,there is no tree to interfere with your throw, so castin just near that spot, quietly, carefully, anxiously; ifthere is a fish there he cannot resist your green drake.I recommend him the artificial before the fat naturalfly. As Christopher North says-" Devouring ephe-merals Can you not suffer the poor insects to sportout their day? They must be insipid eating-buthere are some savoury exceedingly . they carrysauce piquante in their tails. Do try the taste of thisbobber-but any of the three you please." There, hold

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 71fast, Willy, for that's a good one. Bring him upcarefully to the side; hold your rod erect; play him alittle, for he is full of vigour. There! well done; Ihave got him in the landing net. Is not he a beauty?A pound weight, I'll be bound.; and what condition!"His flesh will be almost as pink as that of a salmon.Further down stream I managed to take a fish in verydifferent condition; I took him where the river wasrather middy, and flowed very slowly. Just look athim, with a body lean and dark coloured, and an enor-mous head for so slender a body. " Oh but, papa,"said Willy, "what are these curious creatures crawlingPAEASITE (Argulusfoliaceus) oN TBovT, NAT. SIZE AND MAGNIFIED.

72 Country Walks of a Naturalist.over him? Do look." Ah! I know them well; anglerscall them trout lice. I will scrape off a specimen, andput him in the bottle. Now look at him. The bodyis nearly round, and almost transparent; colour rathergreen; it has four pairs of swimming feet, each pairbeset with a fringe of hairs; a pair of foot-jaws; asmall half-cleft tail; and a pair of fleshy circularsuckers just in front of the foot-jaws, by means of which'the little creature is able to attach itself, as a parasite,upon various fish. It is a graceful little creature, and,as you see, can swim with great activity in the water;now it swims in a straight line, now it suddenly turnsquickly round and turns over and over. It is known tonaturalists under the name of Argulus foliaceus; Ido not think it has any English name. It is found onmany kinds of fish, and generally in greater abundanceupon individuals that are in an unhealthy state; thoughthese parasites often attach themselves to fish in goodcondition. The mouth is furnished with a long, sharpsucking-tube, by means of which the animal can piercethe skin of the fish it lives upon, and suck up thejuices. We.will take a few home, and I will show youthe different parts of the creature under the micro-scope.Let us now sit down and rest for an hour, and eatour lunch; the fish do not rise as freely as they did;perhaps later on they will be in the humour again.But what do I see sticking to the sides of that railacross the river; I must go and see. Well, really thisis an interesting thing. An immense mass of flies, afew alive, but the greater number quite dead; and, look!

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 73a quantity of white eggs underneath them. Let usexamine a fly; it is of a brown or tawny colour, and hasrather long, diverging, colourless wings, marked withirregular brown spots. Why, there must be thousandsof dead flies covering these eggs. What an odd idea!Presently up comes Mr. Collins from the farm near thebank of the stream. " Oh, sir, I know those flies quitewell; they are oak-flies (Leptis scolopacea)." Cer-tainly not, I replied, though they do somewhat re-semble them in colour and appearance; but the farmerstoutly asserted he was right, and I did not think itworth while discussing the matter further with him.Mr. Collins is a good fly-fisherman; and fly-fishermen,unless they are naturalists, are generally very positive.How often have I tried to teach anglers that the May-fly does not come from a caddis worm; how often haveI failed Well, the two-winged fly I have just foundin such thousands, with their dead bodies broodingover this mass of eggs, is known to entomologists bythe name of Atherix Ibis; the females are gregarious,'and, as we have seen, attach their eggs to rails, boughs,or other objects overhanging streams; each female,having laid her eggs, remains there and dies; shortlyafter comes another and does the same, and so on tillimmense clusters are formed. The larva, whenhatched, falls into the water, its future residence; it issaid to have a forked tail about one third the length ofits body, and to "have the power of raising itself inthe water by an incessant undulating motion in avertical plane." I am not, however, acquainted witheither larva or pupa, but hope to become so this

74 Country Walks of a Naturalist.summer. " It is very curious, papa," said Jack, "thatthe flies, after they have laid their eggs, should diethere; why do not they fly away? Do any otheranimals do the same?" Yes, pretty much so. Someof the female insects of the genus called Coccus, scaleinsect, or mealy bug, common on the stems of varioustrees, to which they sometimes do incredible mischief,lay their eggs and die over them, the dead bodies ofthe parents forming coverings for the young. See howfast the green drake is appearing. Notice how it flies"with head erect for a second or two, and then fallsalmost helplessly on the surface of the water.There! did you see that fish rise at him? He has es-caped the hungry trout, and has reached a blade ofgrass, where he will probably rest for some hours.But give me my rod; perhaps the same trout will riseat my artificial fly. There! that throw was exactlyover the spot. No; he won't have it. I'll try againand again. No. Objects to sauce piquante, I suppose.Well, I will tempt him again in an hour's time or so.The water is smooth here, and free from rapids; let uslie down on the grass and see the birth of Ephemera-for that is the May-fly's proper name. Here comessomething floating down. It is within the reachof my hand, so I will secure it. What is it? As Ithought. Ephemera is throwing off its swaddlingclothes. See how it twirls and twists itself about.Now it is free; and the strange-looking worm haschanged into a beautiful fly. But there is yet oneother operation to go through ere it assumes its finaland complete form; you see at present it is a heavy

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 75flier, for the wings are scarcely dry, and the musclesas yet unequal to great exertion; so in their presentimperfect form they are constantly dropping for asecond or two in the water, and are often sucked downthe throat of some roach, trout, or other fish on thelook-out. You should remember that the Ephemera,or May-fly, in this its sub-imago, or imperfectwinged state, represents the "green drake" of theangler. What have I here on this blade of grass?Do you see? What is the shadowy form that lifelesslyclings to it? It is a delicate membrane, thin andlight; see, I blow it away. You saw the split in theback, through which the former tenant left the abode.It is the cast-off skin of the green drake, now meta-morphosed into a creature more active than harlequinor columbine, the male into a dark brown insect,with gauze-like wings, the female into a beautifulcreature, with body marbled white and brown, andable to fly well and strongly, now high in the air, nowsailing along close to the surface of the water, everand anon dipping gently into it for the purpose oflaying her eggs. The small oval eggs sink down to thebottom, and attach themselves to the weeds and stonesthat are found there. The flight of the male Ephemerais different; it is the males that practise together thatpeculiar up-and-down dance, with heads erect andbodies curving prettily upwards; of course, you canunderstand how countless multitudes fall victims tofish and bird, for dainty morsels they are. Theseflies, though voracious feeders both in the larval andnymphal state, never eat at all after they have assumed

76 Country Walks of a Naturalist.their perfect form. Indeed, they have no true mouth,only an imperfect or rudimentary one; and you wouldnever find a particle of food in their stbmachs, whichare always more or less full of air-bubbles, which,no doubt, assist in buoying up the insect, and thussave the expenditure of muscular power. I'll catchone of those dancing males, and press him quicklyin the middle. There! crack he goes! for the littleair-bubbles in the stomach have burst by the pressureof my finger and thumb.Abundant as are the May-flies at the latter end ofMay and the beginning of June in this country, in othercountries they are sometimes more astonishingly nume-rous. In some parts of Holland, Switzerland, andFrance, their great numbers have been compared topelting flakes of snow. "The myriads of Ephemeraewhich filled the air," says Reaumur, " over the currentof the river and over the bank on which I stood, areneither to be expressed nor conceived. When the snowfalls, with the largest flakes and with the least intervalbetween them, the air is not so full of them as thatwhich surrounded the Ephemerae." The occurrence ofsuch prodigious numbers is, I believe, unknown in theBritish isles. In the perfect or imago state the May-fly lives but a short time. The word ephemera means"living only for a day;" and though individualsmay live longer, yet the term is fairly correct as ex-pressing their short existence. TheMay-flies (Ephemera)have all three long fine hairs at the end of the tail;some members of the same family, but belonging to adifferent genus, have only two hair-like appendages.

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 77For instance, the fly known to fishermen as the "March-brown" belongs to the same family as the May-fly; itis smaller than it, and has only two hairs at the end ofthe tail; but with this exception, the natural March-brown and the May-fly are wonderfully alike; yet it is"most curious to notice what a wonderful difference thereis in the larvae of these two insects. Significant facts,no doubt, lie at the bottom of such differences in thecase of insects so evidently allied, but these I will notspeak of. Here are the two forms of larvae, theone being the larva of the common May-fly (Ephe.LARVA OF BAETIS, WITH BREATHING PADDLES, MAGNIFIED.LARVA OF EPHEMEBA, OR MAY-FLY, MAGNIFIED TWO DIAMETERS.

78 Country Walks of a Naturalist.mera), the other that of the March-brown (Ba'tis).Come, we have lunched, and rested, and watched theMay-flies; let us try to catch a few more trout. It isvery strange why sometimes the fish will not rise, thoughthe weather is propitious and the water in first-rateorder. Holloa I master Willy, what game are you afternow ? "Oh, papa," he exclaimed, "there are a lot ofdace on this shallow, so I put the spinning hooks on,and, see, I have managed to hook a couple out, bysimply throwing the tackle on the other side of thefish and then drawing it smartly through the waterover them." Well, that looks like a bit of poaching,at all events; the fish are spawning amongst that watercrow-foot, no doubt; just hook out some weed, and Idare say we shall see some eggs. To be sure; therethey are, dotted over the long thread-like leaves of theplant, like little pearls. You have caught enough, forI think it is not sportsmanlike conduct to take suchunfair advantage of the unfortunate dace. Put onyour casting line and try under the old forge bridge.You think there is not much use? A true fly-fishermanshould never say so. I have taken many a trout under thebridge, and I dare say you may be successful this time.There! I told you so. Keep your line tight, and Jackshall land him. He is not a large fish evidently, butvery lively. Now you have him, throw him on thegrass. Are there any parasites on him? Yes;but different to the last we observed. Here is a leech-like creature, rather small and cylindrical; it is thePiscicola, a not uncommon parasitic leech on fish.Well, put him into the bottle; we can take him home

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 79and examine him at leisure. How many trout havewe taken now? "We have got nine, papa, and,remember, I have caught three." Yes; but I sup-pose you include the poaching ? "No; I have caughtthree trout with the fly, and I don't count thedace." Not a bad day's sport, after all; for I threwback again three small fish. What is this showy plant,with large, yellow, globe-like blossoms ? How pretty itis, growing in abundance in a little spot near the river!It is the globe flower, so called from the rounded shapeof the corolla; it is one of the buttercup family, asyou will, perhaps, guess. In its wild state I believe itis found in mountain districts, so I suspect it has foundits way here from some of the cottage gardens whichare only a quarter of a mile distant. We will grubup a few roots; perhaps Mrs. Charlton would likethem for her wild garden shrubbery. When you goa-fishing always be provided, if not inconvenient, witha trowel and a small basket, as well as with a fewwide-mouthed bottles; they will be very useful, espe-cially if the trout will not rise. The trowel and basketyou can leave at a cottager's house, and the bottlesare indispensable to every angler-naturalist. Whatare you running after, Jacko ? Oh! I see; one of themost beautiful insects that are found in this country.Ah he is too quick for you. It is the brilliant steel-blue dragon-fly. Let us sit down for a few minutes andwatch its flight. How rapidly it flies, now pursuingthe course of the river, now suddenly darting back again.It is the Agrion virgo, the most splendid of all thedragon-flies, even rivalling the gorgeously coloured

80 Country Walks of a Naturalist.insects of tropical countries. All the dragon-fliesproceed from water larvae; strange creatures of unbe-coming forms and ferocious dispositions. The mouth,or rather the lower lip of the larva is of very singularform. Two jaw-like organs are at the end of the lip,its basal portion being articulated to the head; thismask, as it has been called, is folded beneath thehead when in repose, but it can be suddenly shotout in front of the head so as to seize any small crea-tures that may pass near it which the larva thinksgood to eat. Imagine one of your arms being joinedon to your chin, bend your elbow up till your handcovers your face-this will represent the dragon larvawith the mask in repose; now shoot out your arm in astraight line from the head-this will represent the maskunfolded and in use; your fingers may be considered torepresent the jaws of the creature. When the larvawishes to turn into an insect, it leaves the water andcreeps up the stem of some water weed or other objectout of the water, bursts its skin, and commences itsnew state of existence. If we look about us near thewater side, we shall be sure to find some empty pupaskins. Here are two on this sedge; you see a slit onthe back through which the dragon-fly has come out.The dragon-flies are the largest and most active of ourBritish insects, and, to quote the descriptive words ofProfessor Rymer Jones, " are pre-eminently distinguishedby the rapidity of their flight and the steadiness oftheir evolutions while hawking' for prey in the vicinityof ponds and marshy grounds, where in hot summerweather they are everywhere to be met with. Equally

Country Walks of a Naturalist. 81conspicuous from their extreme activity, their gorgeouscolours, and the exquisite structure of their wings,they might be regarded as the monarchs of the insectrace. The very names selected for them by entomo-logists would testify the perfection of their attributes;their titles ranging from that of Anax imperator, indi-cative of imperial sway, to epithets expressive of femi-nine delicacy and ladylike grace, such as virgo, puella,demoiselle, and damsel-fly, which are appropriated tothe sylph'like forms that many of them exhibit. Intheir habits, however, they by no means deserve thegentle appellations bestowed upon them. They are, intruth, the tigers of the insect world, and their wholelives are devoted to bloodshed and rapine. Indomitablein their strength of wing, furnished with tremendousjaws, and possessed of acuteness of sight and rapidityof motion scarcely to be paralleled, there seems to be noescape from their ferocity, and terrible is the slaughterthey effect amongst the insect legions they are appointedto destroy." It must not, however, be supposed fromthe above description that the dragon-flies are creaturesthat deserve to be killed. On the contrary, they aremost serviceable to men, and destroy countless numbersof injurious flies and butterflies whose larvae do damageto vegetation. " Well, papa," said Jack, " the boys inthe village always kill them if they can catch them,and say they sting horses." I know that this is apopular tradition, inherited by the rural folks ofour day from their great-great-grandmothers' grand-mothers. Dragon-flies are often called horse stingers;in America they are sometimes called devil's darn-6

82 Country Walks of a Naturalist.ing-needles; in Scotland, I believe, they are knownby the name of flying adders. Where is my net? Iwill try and catch a demoiselle. There I have her, orI should rather say him, for these dark spots on thewings disclose the sex; the female has unspotted wings,and is of a rich green colour. " How splendidly itshines in the sun," said Willy; " nothing can exceed thebeauty of its wings." Well, now you have looked athim closely and admired him, I will let him goagain. Off he flies, none the worse for his temporarycaptivity. Now for my friend the trout, who would nottake my fly an hour ago. Ah! I have got him thefirst throw; see how he jumps. Now, Willy, for thelanding-net. Bravo! all safe, and a good fish too.Our sport is over for the day, and we must get readyto drive home. To-morrow, Willy, you may learnthese lines from Thomson's Seasons:'"When with his lively ray the potent sunHas pierced the stream and roused the finny race,Then, issuing cheerful, to thy sport repair;Chief should the western breezes curling play,And light o'er ether bear the shadowy clouds.Just in the dubious point where with the poolIs mixed the trembling stream, or where it boilsAround the stone, or from the hollowed bankReverted plays in undulating flow,There throw, nice judging, the delusive fly;And as you lead it round in artful curveWith eye attentive mark the springing game,Straight as above the surface of the floodThey wanton rise, or urged by hunger leap,Then fix with gentle twitch, the barbed hook.Some lightly tossing to the grassy bank,And to the shelving shore slow-dragging some,With various hand proportioned to their force.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs