Like the other islands it was quite destitute of trees, but the low bush was luxuriantly dense, and filled, they were told, with herds of reindeer and musk-oxen. Myriads of wild-fowl from the lordly swan to the twittering sandpiper swarmed among its sedgy lakelets, while grouse and ptarmigan were to be seen in large flocks on its uplands.
In the vicinity hares were numerous, and in the thick jungle bordering the tanks in places, and consisting mostly of nurkool and wild rose, hog-deer and wild pig were abundant. The dried-up bed of an old arm of the Koosee was quite close to my camp, and abounded in sandpiper, and golden, grey, goggle-eyed, and stilted plover, besides other game.
They are an important element of the latter bird's diet, and no fewer than eight species of them have been found in its food. Wireworms and their adult forms, click beetles, are devoured by the northern phalarope, woodcock, jacksnipe, pectoral sandpiper, killdeer, and upland plover. The last three feed also on the southern corn leaf-beetle and the last two upon the grapevine colaspis.
Here again appeared a large block of greenstone deeply grooved by the grinder. Thence we debouched upon the surf-lashed shore, tripped over by the sandpiper and the curlew and roped by the bright-flowered convolvulus. Streaks of the auriferous black sand became more frequent and promising as we advanced.
A long-legged sandpiper and her mate ran down the shore ahead of him. He perked up his angular ears, and then his nose caught a fresh scent under his feet where a porcupine had left his trail. And he heard more clearly the raucous tumult of the jay and the musical chattering of the red squirrels. All these things were satisfactory to Peter.
Cattle and other live stock also are seriously molested by mosquitoes as well as by another set of pests, the horse-flies. Adults and larvae of these flies have been found in the stomachs of the dowitcher, the pectoral sandpiper, the hudsonian godwit, and the killdeer.
He observed the change in sun and shadows. With the instinct of a man trained to note details, he pulled out his watch. It was almost six o'clock. More than three hours had passed since the sandpiper had got in front of his gun. He did not attempt to rise to his feet, but scanned with slower and more careful scrutiny the edge of the forest and the river.
Alive and on the wing they may be immediately distinguished by the pure white rump and tail-coverts of the Green Sandpiper, which are very conspicuous, especially as the bird rises; the white on the same parts of the Wood Sandpiper is much marked with brown, and consequently never appears so conspicuously.
Ere the leaf is off the ash and the beeches are tinged with russet and gold, flocks of these handsome birds leave their homes in the ice-bound north, and fly southwards to England and the sunny shores of France. Such a rara avis as the grey phalarope a wading bird like the sandpiper occasionally finds its way to the Cotswolds.
Dot led the crouching enemy away by fluttering as if she had a broken wing, and she called for help with all the agony of her mother-love. "Pete," she cried, "Pete," and "Pete, Pete, Pete!" No one who hears the wail of a frightened sandpiper begging protection for her young can sit unmoved. Someone at the Ledge House heard Dot, and gave a low whistle and a quick command.