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sticks, and in it are laid five or six eggs, of a pale bluish white spotted with clove brown and ash colour; length one inch seven lines - breadth one inch.
The Magpie (Pica caudata). The appearance of this lively bird is too well known to need description, and being a sad destroyer of game, it is, as far as possible, exterminated from his district by every keeper. All kinds of animal food will be eagerly devoured by it, whether dead or alive, from the dead horse to the cockchafer. Young poultry and game birds, as well as their eggs, are especially sought after; and leverets as well as young rabbits are titbits which the magpie cannot resist. These birds pair all the year round; the nest is curiously devised, the whole structure being interlaced very strongly with sticks, leaving only an aperture at the side for the birds to go in and out. This framework is lined with clay, inside which is a layer of roots and grass. The nest is sometimes made in high trees, and at others in low bushes, especially of the thorn tribe; and this difference in the nesting-place has been attempted to be made a means of splitting up the species into two varieties. The eggs are six or seven in number, of a pale bluish white ground spotted with olive brown and green, and also with ash colour. Their length is one inch and four lines—breadth one inch.
The Jay (Garrulus glandarius). The jay comes last in the list of game destroyers, and, like the jackdaw, is chiefly obnoxious to the keeper from its eggsucking propensities, though it will no doubt occasionally seize a very young partridge or pheasant when it has the chance. Its food is chiefly of a vegetable nature—acorns, beechmast, and garden fruits being the most attractive to it. It inhabits thick coverts, and is seldom found in the open. The nest is built of sticks lined with grass, in a low tree or high hedgerow. The eggs are five or six, of a yellow white thickly spotted with light brown ; length one inch four lines—breadth one inch. The adult bird is from thirteen to fourteen inches
long; beak black; iris pale blue; forehead and crown greyish white, the feathers forming a crest capable of being raised at pleasure; nape and back of a cinnamon brown; wing coverts barred with black, white, and pale blue across their outer webs; primaries dusky black with the outer edges white; secondaries black, each having a white patch on the outer web; the last tertials of a rich chesnut colour; upper tail coverts white; tail black; chin white; under parts buff colour; legs, toes, and claws brown. The colours of the female resemble those of the male.
TRAPS AND TRAPPING.
Before entering upon a consideration of the various modes of taking vermin by traps, it will be necessary to describe the details of their mechanical construction, but more particularly the principles upon which they are framed. With the exception of the common wire or snare, which is of little use in reference to vermin, all traps may be divided into two sets—1st, those which take the animal alive, of which the box or hutch-trap is the type; and 2ndly, those which catch it between two jaws, which fall together either by the force of a spring or by gravity, when a trigger is moved—as for example, the common gin or steel trap, the figure of 4 trap, the weasel trap recently described in the Field by “High Elms,” &c. &c. The live traps all act upon the same principle as the dead ones—that is to say, by the pulling of a trigger, to which is generally fastened a bait; but in their case the result is to cause one or two trap doors to fall, which enclose the animal within a space from which it cannot escape. Both may be set baited or unbaited—in the latter case, being placed where the animal sought to be taken is likely to come, and both being so concealed as not to awaken suspicion. My own opinion is, that the hutch trap and the gin are sufficient for all purposes, and that all dead traps are inferior to the latter for this plain reason, that they act in exactly the same way by a plate and trigger, and have the serious objection that they cannot be concealed. Wherever a figure of 4, or a “High Elms?” trap can be set, the common gin can be set far better, and more safely too, for it may always be placed out of reach of game, whereas they cannot. I shall therefore chiefly allude to these two, commencing with
The gin or steel trap, which is made of various dimensions, according to the kind of vermin for which it is intended. Three sizes, however, will suffice for most purposes, the smallest one being four inches from jaw to jaw when set, the second six, and the larger one seven or eight-the latter being big enough to hold any kind of vermin in the list already given. These traps should be obtained from a good maker, and not from any chance ironmonger, who sells the cheapest he can purchase in Birmingham. The springs should be carefully tempered, and neither too strong to allow of the trap being set "ticklish,” or so weak as to admit of the escape of the animal whose leg is caught. They are made with plain jaws, as well as with teeth, the former being preferred by some keepers, but requiring very strong springs, They are not so readily set with proper delicacy. My own experience is in favour of short teeth. Gins may be set on the ground, or on posts or high stones. In the former case they must be entirely concealed; and in doing this artistically the good keeper may be known from the ignorant pretender. The plan is as follows :—First, lay the trap on the ground, then mark the outline of it, allowing half an inch clear all round; cut away the turf to this pattern, and in the centre dig a hole deep enough to receive a strong peg and the chain which fastens the trap to it, which will thus be entirely concealed ; drive in the peg, arrange the chain neatly upon this, and in the channel for the spring; and then set the trap in its place, temporarily propping up the plate by a piece of twig, which can finally be withdrawn by a string; take care so to cut away the turf that the jaws are only just below the level of the ground. Having done this, cut a very thin slice of the turf which was removed to make way for the trap, leaving little more than the grass itself, with a ragged edge, and lay this gently on the plate, and withdraw the prop; then cover the spring in the same way ; and lastly, put some more shreds of grass or leaves over the jaws themselves, but in such a way that the former will not be caught between the teeth when the trap is sprung. When the keeper can do all this so neatly that the trap cannot be discovered by the eye at a two or three yards' distance, and yet will be sprung by half an ounce weight being placed upon the plate, over and above what it has already, and without leaving anything between the jaws, he may be considered a master of his craft. All this should be done with strong leather gloves on the hands, and with as little breathing over the trap as possible. The object of these precautions is to avoid leaving any scent behind, which might alarm the vermin, who are always suspicious of any place
where they have FIG. 97. HAWK TRAP.
reason to believe inan has been at work. There are various positions in which this trap
should be set, which will be presently described.
In setting gins upon poles the spring should be at right angles to the plate, so as to allow of its being fastened to the side of the post, without sticking out from the top in a way to alarm the bird. These gins require to be very carefully made. The plate should be circular, and should fit exactly into the jaws, so as to leave no space
between. This form is shown in fig. 97. The construction is exactly similar to the ordinary plan, except that the plate and trigger are at right angles to each other, and that the spring also is set in the same way. Any maker of traps will easily construct them in this fashion, if the idea is given him. The above illustration is drawn from memory, as I cannot obtain one from the shop where they were formerly kept, and it does not exactly indicate the mode of closing the jaws. The spring ought to be continued higher, and should have an arm which embraces the lowest part of the
The Box-trap or Hulch-trap may be made by any village carpenter, and I shall therefore give full directions for its construction. First make an oblong-square box open at each end, three feet six inches long and eight or nine inches square inside. (See fig. 98.) There should be a second bottom
raised to the level of the dotted line, and in the centre of this a square hole should be left to receive the plate b, shown in section at fig. 98, and in plan, fig. 99. Next fit a sliding door at each end, running easily up and down in grooves cut for the purpose, and suspend these by cords to two long levers, as shown in the figure. The doors may be solid, or of wood pierced with holes, or of strong wire-work, which is the best, as the animal, whatever it may be, which is caught is always inclined to work away, with a view to escape wherever it sees light, and thus overlooks the crevice at the bottom of the door, which in the solid plan is apt to draw its attention and to lead to the door being lifted. A plate of wood is then cut to fit loosely into the square hole left in the false floor, and to it are fixed two arms projecting through slits in the sides of the box, and having a hook at each end, as shown in fig. 98 at b. Two E-shaped pieces of wood, a a, fig. 98, and a cord passing from one to the other over the levers complete the trap. It is manifest that any weight on the plate 6, which is only delicately suspended by the two pieces a a will detach it from them; when the cord is libe