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a wagtail. When flushed, it utters a note which is said to resemble "wheet, wheet.” Its food consists of worms and insects, especially those frequenting the water's edge. Its nest is built in a hole of the bank, where the hen bird lays four eggs, of a reddish-white colour, speckled with brown, in length one inch four lines, breadth one inch. The beak is dark brown towards the point, the base being of a pale yellow brown; iris dusky brown; a brown streak
from the beak to the eye, over which is a light-coloured streak; upper parts of the head and body greenish brown, each feather having a greenish-black stripe across the centre, and along the line of the shaft; primaries almost black, with a greyishwhite patch on the inner circle of all but the first; secondaries tipped with white; the central feathers of the tail the longest; in all twelve in number, and barred with greenish black, the four outer ones on each side being tipped with white; again, the two outer tail feathers on each side have the outer webs white barred with greenish black; chin white; upper part of breast streaked with dusky black on a ground colour of pale ash; under parts of a clear white; legs and toes ash green; claws brown; length seven inches and a half.
The GREEN SANDPIPER (Totanus ochropos) is chiefly met with in spring and autumn, a few only breeding in this country. This bird is somewhat larger than the summer snipe, with which it is often confounded, its length being nine inches and a half. Its habits resemble those of the common sandpiper, excepting that it is not so often found in the breeding season, while in the winter it is occasionally met with. Its note is said to sound like “cheet, cheet, cheet." The following is the correct description of this bird :-Beak greenish black ; iris hazel ; a dusky-brown streak reaching to the eye, over which is a white line ; upper parts of head and body dusky green, slightly shaded with dark green; primaries of a uniform dusky black; scapulars and tertials greenish brown, the former having numberless light-coloured small spots on both edges, while the latter have them on the outside margin only ; upper tail coverts white; the greater part of the tail feathers white; the outside feather with one small dark spot near the end, the next feather having two of these, the third and fourth with two broad dark bands, the fifth and sixth with three or four of them ; chin white; throat and front of the neck white, streaked with dusky lines ; breast and belly white ; sides and axillary plume greyish black with narrow base of white ; legs, toes, and claws greenish black.
Besides the snipes, many other birds are found in the fens, and of these some are excellent for the table, as the RUFF or REEVE, and the KNOT; but for the description of these comparatively rare birds, my readers are referred to the various works on natural history. Two snipes are termed a couple (not a brace), and several together a wisp.
THE FENS AND MARSHES.
The quantity of this kind of land still left in Great Britain is considerable, but nothing like that which formerly existed. Every year more and more is reclaimed, and much of that which is still called “ marsh” is gradually becoming consolidated, and the consequence is that it is not frequented by marsh birds as it used to be. In this kind of land ditches are cut at certain intervals, and the greater portion of it being below the level of the sea, the water is pumped out by steam-power, with the effect of keeping them nearly empty excepting in very rainy seasons. From this wet and boggy character it results that the walking is often such as to lead the shooter into water up to his knees, and hence, unless he is well protected, or weatherproof in constitution, he will suffer in point of health. On the Continent, and in Ireland, extensive marshes are still left undrained, and there excellent snipe shooting may be obtained.
DOGS FOR SNIPE SHOOTING.
The setter is usually selected for this kind of sport, because he will stand the wet and cold incidental to it better than the pointer. If, however, one of these latter dogs can be obtained of a harder constitution, he will often take to snipe well, and from his steadiness and fine nose he will be found extremely serviceable. A steady dog is all important, but it will generally be found that by using him to snipe he learns to “potter" in a way which will unfit him for partridge or grouse shooting afterwards. As snipe are beat for down wind, a finer nose than usual is required.
The essential part of the dress for snipe shooting is that for protecting the feet and legs from the wet, which is inseparable from the sport. Unlike grouse and partridge shooting, a pony cannot be used on this ground, and the delicate-constitutioned sportsman cannot in any way partake of the amusement without risk. Patent leather boots may be made to be quite waterproof, but they soon wear out; and if the sportsman is anxious about his feet, let him purchase the indian-rubber boots imported from America, which are the only articles entirely to be relied on. When lined with woollen material they are tolerably free from the unpleasant sensation of wet and cold which attends upon confined perspiration; and on this account they are apt to cause the very thing they are intended to prevent, and after strong exercise, if the wearer stands or sits still for a short time he will feel as if he had been walking through a brook. Good calf-skin boots, dressed with boiled linseed oil and bees' wax, are after all the best articles, and with these and leather gaiters, a strong healthy man may bid defiance to cold and rheumatism, so long as he keeps moving and avoids the excessive use of spirituous liquors.
MANAGEMENT IN SHOOTING.
The flight of the snipe is so eccentric that unless the shooter is aware of it he is not likely to be very successful. If this bird is shot at when it has fairly got on the wing, and while it is making those right and left shoots which it practises till it fancies its safety is secured, there is little chance of bringing it "to bag.” Hence the plan to be adopted is either to bring it down almost before it is on the wing, which must be done when it gets up at any distance from the shooter, or when it lies pretty close (as is generally the case), to wait patiently till it is thirty or forty yards off, by which time it begins to fly steadily, and then fire. When
first these birds come over in September or October they are very tame, from the effects of their long flight, and they will then “ lie like stones ;" but in a November frost they are as wild as hawks, and get up with a scream which unsteadies the nerves of the tyro to such an extent as to save many a life. Snipe almost invariably fly against the wind, and in order to avoid their going straight away, it is best to beat for them “down wind.” This, it is true, makes it somewhat more difficult for the dog to find them ; but by making him cross the ground carefully he will be able to catch their scent nearly as well as on the other plan, and the more so as the scent of the snipe does not travel very far. In mild weather snipe are not to be met with in any numbers on the marshes, but frequent higher ground; while, on the contrary, in frost, they can only obtain their food in situations protected from the frost, and especially in salt marshes, which do not freeze so easily as those out of reach of the sea. The sportsman will, therefore, select his beat accordingly. A retriever is always needful, and he must be broken to water.
THE GUN, SHOT, ETC. Any ordinary gun is suited to this sport, as snipe, though they take a harder blow than many people imagine, are not so difficult to kill as grouse or partridges. The shot most useful is No. 7, or even No. 8, but late in the season, No. 6 may be put into the second barrel with advantage.
PHEASANT SHOOTING-COCK SHOOTING-RABBIT SHOOTING.
The various kinds of covert shooting which are comprehended in the above table of contents, differ from one another most materially, and must be described under separate headings. Battue shooting and cock shooting can scarcely be considered as at all resembling one another; the former being capable of being carried on in a wheel-chair, while the latter requires strength and activity in the highest degree. As before, I shall describe in due order the material for the sport, the nature of our coverts, the covert gun, the dogs used in each variety of covert shooting, the dress most suitable for it, and the various modes of conducting it.
The PHEASANT (Phasianus Colchicus), together with the HARE and the Rabbit, form the staple of what is commonly known as pheasant shooting whichever mode may be adopted in carrying on this sport. The two latter, however, are only incidentally shot at, and do not form the peculiar objects of the sportsman's search. In addition to the common pheasant we have now a considerable number of the Indian variety introduced into England; these birds being supposed to be more hardy, and affording better sport from their greater rapidity of flight, especially as they rise from the ground. The Indian pheasant is a very neat and elegant bird, its plumage lying closer than the ordinary kind, and making it look smaller than it really is. There is little difference of colour, excepting that the new importations have rings round their necks. They breed freely together. The common pheasant is diffused throughout England, but does not thrive in Scotland, which