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object of pursuit in other districts; so that it is justly a matter of wonder that the species should still remain without apparent diminution. In Germany, such quantities of larks are caught that they are subjected to an excise duty, which, according to Keysler, produces to the city of Leipsic, without noticing other places, no less a sum than about 9001. sterling a year. In France, larks form a common dish, at this time, at almost every table.
In this month, trouts begin to rise; blood-worms appear in the water; black ants (formica nigra) are observed; the blackbird and the turkey (meleagris gallopavo) lay; and house pigeons sit. The greenfinch (loxia chloris) sings; the bat (vespertilio) is seen flitting about, and the viper uncoils itself from its winter sleep. The wheatear (sylvia œnanthe), or English ortolan, again pays its annual visit, leaving England in September. They are found in great numbers about East Bourne, in Sussex, more than eighteen hundred dozen being annually taken in this neighbourhood. They are usually sold at sixpence a dozen. See our last volume, p. 88.
To the WHEATEAR.
From that deep sheltered solitude,
The upland winds so bleak and keen,
To seek these hills-whose slope between
Wide stretched in grey expanse is seen
The ocean's toiling wave?
To take you, shepherd boys prepare
That bid you vainly dread
The shadows floating o'er the downs,
Or murmuring gale, that round the stones
Scarce moves the thistle's head.
And if a cloud obscure the sun,
With faint and fluttering heart you run,
And to the pitfall you should shun
Resort in trembling haste ;
While on that dewy cloud so high,
And bathes his spotted breast.
Frogs, enlivened by the warmth of spring, rise from the bottom of ponds and ditches, where they have lain torpid during the winter. The smelt (salmo eperlanus) begins to ascend rivers to spawn, when they are taken in great abundance.
Ón the 20th, the vernal equinox takes place. All Nature feels her renovating sway, and seems to rejoice at the retreat of winter. The sallow (salix) now enlivens the hedges; the aspen (populus tremula), and the alder (alnus betula), have their flowers full blown ; the laurustinus (viburnum tinus) and the bay laurus nobilis) begin to open their leaves. The equinoctial gales are usually most felt, both by sea and land, about this time.
Our gardens begin now to assume somewhat of a cheerful appearance. Crocuses, exhibiting a rich mixture of yellow and purple, ornament the borders; mezereon is in all its beauty; the little flowers ' with silver crest and golden eye,' the daisies, are scattered over dry pastures; and the pilewort (ranunculus ficaria) is seen on the moist banks of ditches. The primrose too (primula veris) peeps from beneath the hedge.
A thousand bills are busy now; the skies
Are winnowed by a thousand fluttering wings,
The glossy raven, and the hoarse-voiced crow,
Or hollow, trodden by the sinking hoof;
The sparrow lays her sky-stained eggs. The barn,
The white owl seeks some antique ruined wall,
Which age has caverned, safely courts repose:
Roofs o'er her curious nest with firm-wreathed twigs,
The leaves of honeysuckles are now nearly expanded; in our gardens, the buds of the cherry-tree (prunus cerasus), the peach (amygdalus persica), the nectarine, the apricot, and the almond (prunus armeniaca), are fully opened in this month. Virgil makes the flowering of the almond a sign of the crop of wheat, (Georg. I, v. 187.)
With many a bud, if flow'ring almonds bloom,
The buds of the hawthorn (cratogus oxycantha)
and of the larch-tree (pinus larix) begin to open; and the tansy (tanacetum vulgare) emerges out of the ground; ivy-berries are ripe; the daffodil (pseudonarcissus) in moist thickets, the rush (juncus pilosus), and the spurge laurel (daphne laureola), found in woods, are now in bloom. The common whitlow grass (draba verna) on old walls; the yellow Alpine whitlow grass (draba aizoides) on maritime rocks; and the mountain pepper-wort (lepidum petræum) among limestone rocks, flower in March.
The sweet violet (viola odorata) sheds its delicious perfumes in this month.
Though the striped tulip, and the blushing rose,
The gannets, or Soland geese (pelicanus bassanus), resort in March to the Hebrides, and other rocky isles of North Britain, to make their nests, and lay their eggs.
Much amusement may be derived in this month, as well as in the last, from watching the progress of worms, insects, &c., from torpidity to life, parti
Wrapped round a Nosegay of Violets.
Bloom on thy breast, and smile beneath thine eye;
cularly on the edges or banks of ponds.-See our Diary for February.
Towards the close of the month, bees (apis mellifica) venture out of their hives. Some notice has been taken of this interesting insect in our former volumes; we shall now pursue the subject. The bee is the most active and the most industrious of all insects. It works from the very first ray of day to the twilight, in those countries in which there is a perpetual spring. In the southern countries it is occupied during nine months; there is even in the winter but a few days in which it appears to repose. It is only in the more northern countries that the bee ceases absolutely to collect its sweets, from the latter end of September until the return of spring.
It is to this insect, and to this only, that we are indebted in Europe for the honey and the wax, which form an important branch of our rural economy; it gathers the substances which form the composition of honey from the majority of the plants, from the loftiest tree to the most humble of the shrubs and simples. The forests and the heaths belong equally to its domain.
Indeed, during the time of the rising of the sap, all the vegetables are full of nutritious juices, which are laid under contribution by the bee, whose only embarrassment is in the selection. Independently of the juice of the plants, and the nectar of the flowers, which it extracts from their chalices, without tarnishing their purity, and with an art which is derivable solely from nature, it is often observed to be busily occupied with bark and moss of trees, on which its piercing eye, and penetrating sense and smell, have enabled it to discover those substances which are necessary to the completion of its mellifluous store: it is sometimes seen on rocks, and on walls, the stones of which appear to be completely bare. This insect appears to collect salts which are wholly imperceptible to us. Water is actually necessary to it, and its