But They Retain Their Dislike Of Dogs,
A Dislike Shared By Cattle, As If They Too Dimly Remembered A Time When
They Had Been Hunted.
The list of animals still living within the pale
and still wild is short indeed.
Besides the deer, which are not wild,
there are hares, rabbits, squirrels, two kinds of rat, - the land and the
water rat, - stoat, weasel, mole, and mouse. There are more varieties of
mouse than of any other animal: these, the weakest of all, have escaped
best, though exposed to so many enemies. A few foxes, and still fewer
badgers, complete the list, for there are no other animals here. Modern
times are fatal to all creatures of prey, whether furred or feathered;
and so even the owls are less numerous, both in actual numbers and in
variety of species, than they were even fifty years ago.
But the forest is not vacant. It is indeed full of happy life. Every
hollow tree - and there are many hollow trees where none are felled - has
its nest of starlings, or titmice, or woodpeckers. Woodpeckers are
numerous, and amusing to watch. Wood-pigeons and turtle-doves abound, the
former in hundreds nesting here. Rooks, of course, and jackdaws, - daws
love hollow trees, - jays, and some magpies. The magpie is one of the
birds which have partly disappeared from the fields of England. There are
broad lands where not one is to be seen. Once looking from the road at
two in a field, a gentleman who was riding by stopped his horse and
asked, quite interested, 'Are those magpies?' I replied that they were.
'I have not seen any since I was a boy till now,' he said.
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