The Fourth Lakelet
Had No Rush-Or Sedge-Beds And No Reeds, And Was Almost Covered With A
Luxuriant Growth Of The Floating _Camalote,_ A Plant Which At A
Distance Resembles The Wild Musk Or Mimulus In Its Masses Of Bright
Green Leaves And Brilliant Yellow Blossoms.
This, too, was a
fascinating spot, as it swarmed with birds, some of them being kinds
which did not breed in the reeds and rushes.
It was a sort of
metropolis of the coots, and before and after the breeding season they
would congregate in flocks of many hundreds on the low wet shore,
where their black forms had a singular appearance on the moist green
turf. It looked to me like a reproduction in small size of a scene I
had witnessed - the vast level green pampa with a scattered herd of two
or three thousand black cattle grazing on it, on a large cattle estate
where only black beasts were bred. We always thought it great fun when
we found a big assembly of coots at some distance from the margin.
Whipping up our horses, we would suddenly charge the flock to see them
run and fly in a panic to the lake and rush over the open water,
striking the surface with their feet and raising a perfect cloud of
spray behind them.
Coots, however, were common everywhere, but this water was the only
breeding-place of the grebe in our neighbourhood; yet here we could
find scores of nests any day - scores with eggs and a still greater
number of false nests, and we could never tell which had eggs in it
before pulling off the covering of wet weeds.
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