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So might the days have been brightly told
Those days of song and dreams-
By the blue Arcadian streams.
Far off in a breezeless main,
Hath sought, but still in vain.
Marked thus-even thus-on earth,
And another's gentle birth?
Shutting in turn, may leave
Amulet, 1828. The young of all sorts of birds are now seen. The love-song of the greater number is nearly over, except such as breed late. Rooks are congregated, and, joined by the jackdaw, find their food on open fields
or downs; retiring to their roosting-places in high woods, on the approach of night. If the weather proves dry, so that their natural food (grubs) descend into the ground beyond their reach, they will sometimes betake themselves to fields of corn, where they will do much damage, if not scared away in time. If a late brood or two are batched after the rest, these do not, for some time, associate with the general company, but are led about by the old ones to cherry-orchards, and are often greater plagues to the orchardist than the whole rookery together. Coveys of partridges are often met with, and if before the young
can fly, they instantly squat motionless; and it is amusing to see the old ones' pretended helplessness in awkwardly fluttering away,
to beguile the intruder from the place; and with what address she steals in a circuit round, to call her young from the too public spot. The sparrow-hawk is often seen rapidly skirting the hedge, or skimming the fields, in quest of young birds: soon as observed, the swallow gives his shrill signal-note of danger, in which he is joined by the blue titmouse and some other birds. The swallow, house-martin, and wagtail, pursue the hawk with threatening cries, secure in their superior power of flight; all others escaping, with cries of alarm, to thickets for safety. Small birds are not alarmed in the same way by the larger kind of hawks. The crow and magpie sound an alarm on sight of the falcon, buzzard, kite, and raven; the three last fly before the audacious crow, but he rarely approaches near the first. The cuckoo, and the principal of the migratory birds, are now nearly mute, and begin to steal away imperceptibly. The swift or black-martin, almost always on wing round their place of resort, generally leave about the 8th of August; sooner if the season is cold and wet, but seldom later if the weather be ever so warm. The sky and wood-larks, with, here and there, a blackbird and song-thrush, are our principal songsters. The notes of other birds are only calls of fear or invitation to each other.-Magazine of Natural History.
The beautiful but evanescent flowers of the convolvulus now open; they live but for a day, opening their cups in the morning, and at sunset closing them for ever. Towards the close of the month, the splendid fringed water-lily (Menyanthes Nymphoides) is seen on the slow-flowing rivers and on ponds. When the fructification of this wonderful plant is completed, the stem, which rose many feet in order to support the flower above the surface of the water, sinks considerably beneath it, and there remains till the next season of flowering, when it again resumes its annual task. The enchanter's nightshade; the Yorkshire sanicle; the water horehound or gypsy wort; the great cat's tail, or reed mace; the common nettle; goose grass ; solanum (dulcamara and nigrum); the belladonna; asparagus and some species of rumex; with buck-wheat, and a variety of other plants, may be almost said to bloom, fade, and die, within the present month.
The fields now glow with every hue and shade of colorific radiance, the several species of Lychnis, Cerastium, and Spergula, contributing their share of beauty to animate this delightful scene.
Fishes. The finny inhabitants of rivers and lakes may be seen variously employed, watching their prey, basking in the sunshine, or roving about in shoals. The springing trout rises in the air to catch the passing fly, and the voracious pike darts like an arrow from his lurking-place among the heedless fry of minor fish. Of these and sea-fish, the following are in season for the next two months : viz. salmon, salmon-trout, trout, john dorée, turbot, mullet, mackerel, gurnard, sturgeon, whiting, haddock, white-bait, with other common fresh-water fish. The lobster, crab, crawfish, prawn, and shrimps, are now brought to market.
The insect tribes, which at this time sport in the sunbeam, visit the flowers and tender leaves, or crawl on the surface of the ground, are innumerable. By day, the gaudy butterflies add life and variety of colours even to the parterre. Among them the following are the most conspicuous:—The swallow-tailed Papilio. Macbaon, Peacock, Grand Admiral, Orange-tip, Marble, Tortoiseshell, and Blue Argus. By night, the no less splendid family of moths are on wing, but can only be admired when they happen to be disturbed from their retreats by day. The elephant-hawk-moth is a beautiful type of the sphinx family. Beetles, in their metallic-coloured mail, are seep on flowers, on foliage, or on our
paths. The stag, tree, boary, and rose beetles, are met with in gardens; and the variously-marked lady-birds are everywhere, if the green aphides are prevalent. The splendid green cincindella flits before us on dry paths; and many others of this curious tribe. Of the family of bees all are in full enjoyment at this time; the mason-bee is one of the most curious; unlike some of its congeners, its abode is solitary; the habitation built by itself appears like a patch of mud stuck into a small hollow, on the face of a wall. Within this are chambers, lined with leaves, and containing one egg, which, becoming a maggot, lives on the store provided by the mother, changes to a chrysalis, and comes forth a perfect insect in the following spring. The dragon-flies are also an interesting tribe of insects; their four transparent and ample wings, their lengthened, slender shape, and curious mailed structure and colours, and their habits of hovering over ponds and banks of rivers, where they are bred, sufficiently point them out to the notice of the naturalist. The largest of the genus known in this country is the Libellula grandis. This magnificent insect may be often observed in shady walks or lanes, darting with astonisbing velocity after every fly that passes, and on which he preys. The house-fly does not enter houses till the wet or cold of autumn drives them in. Young frogs change from their tadpole state.Magazine of Natural History.
Towards the end of the month, the various tints of green, which have been so refreshing to the eye, begin to lose their verdant beauty, the insect tribe haying commenced their devastations; but although deprived, in this month, of many of the exquisite beauties of Flora, her sister-goddess Pomona offers, with liberal hand, her cooling fruits : the juicy gooseberry, the liquid currant, the rich raspberry, and the substantial cherry, all contend for our preference.
The Groffien, or bigaroon cherry, ripens about the beginning of July, and continues till August. Some persons have supposed that the two names given to this cherry belong to two different varieties; but this is not the case: the French have a cherry known by the appellation of bigaroon, but none by the former name, which is probably that of the person who first introduced this new sort from France. The flavour of this cherry is greatly superior to any other; the flesh has a pleasant firmness, and the stone is very small for the size of the fruit; it is a fine,
handsome cherry, of a beautiful rose-tint on one side, and light yellow on the other; it is also finely speckled. The bigaroon is an indispensable ornament to the dessert, and brings a higher price at market than any other cherry. It is a very good bearer, either against a wall or as a standard; but if required in the greatest perfection, it should be grown on a wall. In wet seasons it is very apt to crack. This cherry has a broad, bell-shaped, coarsely serrated leaf.
The Harrison's Heart ranks next to the Groffien in quality: the flesh is rather firm, and the stone small. It is of a dull crimson colour all over, and speckled with rather long speckles, by which it may be readily distinguished from any other cherry. The Harrison's Heart will grow as a standard (although more liable to crack than on a wall), ripening the second week in July; and if the fruit be matted, and kept from rains, it will keep till September. The leaf of this cherry is long, narrow, and coarsely serrated. It is not so free a bearer as the bigaroon; but as the fruit keeps so long, it is worthy of being planted as a standard in a garden where there is a deficiency of walling, care being taken to have the tree well matted. See Brookshaw's Horticultural Repository, with beautiful coloured figures of the different fruits.
Another fruit brought to market in July or August is the Green Gage. This is the best plum which our gardens produce, and it is much to be regretted that it is so uncertain a bearer: fine trees, in the highest state of cultivation, will have a good crop upon them one year, and for two or three seasons afterwards scarcely a plum will be seen. To eat the green gage in the highest state of perfection, it should be gathered when a yellowish tint begins to appear round the stem; but if the fruit be suffered to remain on the tree, till this tint spreads half over the plum, the gage will lose its brisk flavour, become extremely luscious, and the flesh will be much softer.