Now there was the plaintive cry of one of the goat-suckers which hawked for moths and beetles round the great trees; then, after a silence so profound that it was painful, came the deep croak of the bullfrog rising and falling and coming from a hundred different directions at once.
He backed against a rock. A great pale shape leaped by him, an antlered shape. It was a herd of big deer bolting suddenly out of the stillness. He heard the swish and smash of their retreat grow distant, disperse. He remained standing with his back to the rock. Slowly the strophe and antistrophe of frogs and goat-suckers resumed possession of his consciousness.
One species alone never shows his beauty to the sun: and were it not for his lovely shining colours, you might almost be tempted to class him with the goat-suckers, on account of his habits. He is the largest of all the humming-birds, and is all red and changing gold-green, except the head, which is black.
It has the mouth of the goat-suckers and procnias, and the port of those vultures whose crooked beaks are surrounded with stiff silky hairs. Suppressing, with M. Cuvier, the order of picae, we must refer this extraordinary bird to the passeres, the genera of which are connected with each other by almost imperceptible transitions.
The jays, for instance, are now visiting them for acorns; in the summer they fluttered round the then green branches for the chafers, and in the evenings the fern owls or goat-suckers wheeled about the verge for these and for moths.
Frogs croaked, and crickets chirped, the whole night; and the call of goat-suckers, and the hooting of owls, were heard in every direction; large fish were splashing in the water; wallabies were bleating as they came down to the creek, and saw our horses; and mosquitoes by their loud humming prevented our sleeping.
From eleven to three all nature is hushed as in a midnight silence, and scarce a note is heard, saving that of the campanero and the pi-pi-yo; it is then that, oppressed by the solar heat, the birds retire to the thickest shade and wait for the refreshing cool of evening. At sun-down the vampires, bats, and goat-suckers dart from their lonely retreat, and skim along the trees on the river’s bank.
From eleven to three all nature is hushed as in a midnight silence, and scarce a note is heard, saving that of the campanero and the pi-pi-yo; it is then that, oppressed by the solar heat, the birds retire to the thickest shade and wait for the refreshing cool of evening. At sundown the vampires, bats and goat-suckers dart from their lonely retreat and skim along the trees on the river's bank.
Then all was still again and silent as midnight. The caymen were now upon the stir, and at intervals their noise could be distinguished amid that of the jaguar, the owls, the goat-suckers and frogs. It was a singular and awful sound. It was like a suppressed sigh bursting forth all of a sudden, and so loud that you might hear it above a mile off.
The different kinds of frogs almost stun the ear with their hoarse and hollow-sounding croaking, while the owls and goat-suckers lament and mourn all night long.