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tions, and then content themselves with about three, or at most four hours' shooting, which is confined to the turnips. Preparations have been carefully made by the keepers, who, during the two hours prior to eleven, have been beating the stubbles towards the turnips with the aid of spaniels and ponies, and by the hour named, all the birds are collected in the large fields of turnips or other green crop, which are essential to success in this kind of sport. At the hour fixed, the party assemble to the number of four, five, or six, and forming a line, each being about thirty or forty yards from his next neighbour, they walk straight across the field. Between each two shooters there should be one or two beaters, so as to insure a proper driving of the ground, for single birds will lie very closely in turnips. As they rise they are shot at, each by the person to whose share it properly belongs. In order to avoid confusion or dispute as to the killer, imaginary lines are drawn forward and backward midway between each pair of shooters, and all birds killed within the space enclosed by the line on each side of a gun, are supposed to be killed by that gun.
This rule is very useful, inasmuch as without it there would be often two or three guns discharged at one bird, with consequent disputes as to the real killer, which are easily settled in this way, and it is unsportsmanlike to shoot at a bird beyond the proper lines of demarcation. As soon as a bird has crossed out of one of these sections into another it may be shot at, and great pleasure is often afforded in “wiping an eye” in this way. When a shot is made, the whole line waits till the a
gun loaded, unless breech loaders are used, when the delay is unnecessary, and in this respect a great advantage accrues to this species of gun. Dogs are not used, except to retrieve, which task is left to the keepers, and the whole sport is confined to the constant shooting at the birds as they rise, forming a wholesale kind of butchery, which appears to be now the sum and substance of the modern idea of what is good sport. Of course, when birds are so thick as they must be to give occupation to four or five guns, it is out of the question to attempt to follow them up; but when the quan. tity of turnips is not sufficient for the time to be spent in shooting, it is usual to walk them a second time, and this
will generally produce a pretty good second crop of single birds, with an occasional covey.
The retrieving of partridges is conducted exactly in the same way as that of grouse, which is alluded to at page 30.
In this species of sport, in addition to the various kinds of snipe, several other birds frequenting the fens are met with, especially in Ireland and on the Continent, where snipe shooting is to be found very superior to that of England. But among snipe alone the sportsman will often be puzzled to determine what is the particular variety which his gun has succeeded in bringing down, the common snipe and jack snipe being often mistaken for each other for the convenience of the sportsmen, therefore, a short description of each will be given, the specific characters being on the authority of Yarrell.
VARIETIES OF SNIPE.
The Great or SOLITARY SNIPE (Gallinago major), also called the DOUBLE SNIPE, is not uncommon in the fens on our eastern coast, but is almost unknown in Ireland, and on the west of Scotland. When on the wing it can scarcely be distinguished from the common snipe in point of size, but its fan-like tail shows its nature to the experienced eye. These birds are generally met with in the early part of autumn in pairs. They breed in considerable numbers in Norway and Sweden, placing their nest in a tussock of grass, near any bushes on the borders of a marsh. The eggs are four in number, of a yellow olive brown, length one inch and three quarters, breadth one inch two lines. The bird itself is described as follows :-Beak dark brown at the end, pale yellow brown at the base ; iris dark brown ; a dark brown streak extends from the beak to the eye ; above this, and passing over the eye and ear coverts, is a streak of pale brown; top of the head a rich dark brown, with a pale brown stripe down the middle ; neck pale brown, the centre of each feather having a darker spot; upper parts brownish
black, each feather having a central line and margin of buff; lesser wing coverts black brown, tipped with pale yellow above, and white below; great coverts black, tipped with white; primaries of a dull greyish black; secondaries black, tipped with white; tertials black, barred and streaked with pale brown ; rump dark brown, edged with pale brown; upper tail coverts yellow brown, mottled with dark brown; tail feathers sixteen, of which the four on the outside are nearly all white, the middle eight being of a rich brownish black for the first three-fourths of their length, then comes a patch of chesnut, next a bar of black, and finally they are tipped with white; chin pale yellow brown; breast and sides with half-circular bands of brownish black or pale brown; belly and vent pale brownish white; legs and toes greenish brown; claws black. Length twelve inches; weight seven to nine ounces. Females larger than the males, which are lighter in colour above and below the dark stripe at the base of the beak.
The Common SNIPE, SNITE or HEATHER BLEATER (Gallinago media) breeds in small numbers in the south of England, and to a large extent in the north, but is chiefly a bird of passage, coming over in November and leaving in March. The third name which is given above arises from
the bleating noise made by this bird on the wing, and which is a call of the male to his partner in the breeding season. At this time the cock snipe rises to a great height in the air, leaving the hen on the nest, which is made in a very slight manner, on the ground, and lined with dead grass. The eggs are four, of a pale yellowish or greenish white, the larger end being spotted with brown ; length one inch and a half, breadth one inch and one line. The plumage varies according to the season, as follows :-In winter the beak is dark brown at the end, pale reddish brown at the base ; iris dark brown ; a dark-brown streak from the base of the beak to the eye ; over this, and extending backwards over the ear coverts, a pale-brown streak; upper part of the head very dark brown, with a pale streak along the centre; back dark brown spotted with pale brown ; interscapulars and scapulars dark brown, with broad margins of rich buff, forming four distinct lines along the upper surface of the body; wing
coverts spotted with pale brown on a ground of black, and tipped with white; tertials barred with pale brown on a black ground; primaries and secondaries dull black, the latter tipped with white; upper tail coverts barred alternately with pale brown and dusky black; tail feathers fourteen, the front half dull black, varied on the margins with reddish brown, the posterior half of each feather having an oval spot of pale chesnut, and also tipped with the same colour of a still paler shade; chin brownish white; cheeks pale brown; ear coverts somewhat darker; sides and front of the neck pale brown, spotted with darker brown; under parts white; the sides and flanks being barred with dusky black; under tail coverts pale yellow brown, barred with greyish black; legs and toes greenish brown. In summer the old bird has the outer lateral margin of the interscapular and scapular feathers narrow and almost white; all the parts on the back and wings described as of a pale yellow brown in winter, are now of a reddish brown. The plumage of the two sexes is alike. The young birds have the summer plumage. The length of the snipe averages ten inches and a half, the female being the larger of the two; beak two inches and three-quarters long. The weight varies a good deal, according to the condition. The end of the beak, when the bird is alive or recently killed, is smooth, soft, and pulpy, but soon after death it becomes dimpled like the end of a thimble. It is a delicate organ of touch, and assists the bird in detecting its food among the slush in which it bores for it. It feeds on worms, insects, small-shelled molluscs, and seeds.
The JACK SNIPE, JUDCOCK, or GID (Gallinago minima) is distinguished by several peculiarities, being more solitary than the common snipe, and very rarely breeding in Great Britain. It comes over in the middle of September, and leaves in the beginning of April, the numbers being not nearly so great as those of the common species, but far beyond those of the solitary kind. Unlike the common snipe, it makes no scream on being put up from the ground, which it is not easy to do, this bird being remarkable for its sluggishness. It feeds on bare boggy ground, but when off the feed, it may be found in sheltered situations among strong rushes
or coarse grass. It is very doubtful whether it now breeds in this country, but formerly the nest was occasionally met with. The beak is dark browu at the point, the base being a pale reddish brown; iris dark brown; from the beak to the eye a dark-brown streak; over this and reaching backwards over the ear coverts, a broad pale-brown streak, with a narrow darker one along the middle line of the posterior half; top of the head a rich dark brown, without any pale streak down the middle; nape of the neck greyish brown, varied with dusky brown; back rich dark brown; interscapulars and scapulars nearly black, tipped with reddish brown, both being edged with rich buff; wing coverts dusky black, edged with pale brown ; primaries and secondaries dusky black, the latter ending in a white point; tertials brownish black, spotted and streaked with rich reddish brown; upper tail coverts brown, edged with buff; tail feathers greyish black, twelve in number; cheeks, chin, and neck greyish brown, spotted with darker brown; breast, belly, and vent white; legs and toes dark greenish brown; claws black; length eight inches and a half; of the beak one inch and a half. The females are larger than the males, and the plumage is the same, with the exception that in the former sex it is not so bright in colour. The winter plumage is also nearly like that of summer, the reddish-brown parts of the latter period being more inclined to ash grey in the winter. Young birds are deficient in the green and purple iridescent tints of the adults.
The SUMMER SNIPE, or Common SANDPIPER (Totanus hypoleucos) is only met with in this country during the summer months, and for that reason is not one of the birds which is likely to fall to the gun in what is called "snipe shooting.” Still, as it is commonly known by the name which is here prefixed, and as many people shoot these birds during the summer, it is desirable that my readers should have a detailed descrip-' tion of this and its congener, the green sandpiper. The summer snipe appears in Great Britain during the month of April, and leaves in September ; its movements are quick and lively, and its most common haunts are the banks of running streams, where it may be seen close to the water's edge, flirting its tail up and down something after the manner of: