(Charadrius Oedicnemus, Linn.—Le grand Pluvier, Buff.)
LENGTH about sixteen inches. The bill is long, yellowish at the base, and black at the tip; irides and orbits pale yellow; above each eye there is a pale streak, and beneath one of the same colour extends to the bill; throat white; head, neck, and all the upper parts of the body pale tawny brown; down the middle of each feather there is a dark streak; fore part of the neck and the breast nearly of the same colour, but much paler; belly, thighs, and vent pale yellowish white; quills black; tail short and rounded, and a dark band crosses the middle of each feather; the tips black, the rest white: legs yellow, and naked above the knees, which are very thick, as if swollen, hence its name; claws black.
This bird is found in great plenty in Norfolk and several of the southern counties, but is no where to be met with in the northern parts of our island; it prefers dry and stony places, on the sides of sloping banks. It makes no nest: the female lays two or three eggs on the bare ground, sheltered by a stone, or in a small hole formed in the sand; they are of a dirty white, marked with spots of a deep reddish colour, mixed with slight streaks. Although this bird has great power of wing, and flies with great strength, it is seldom seen during the day, except surprised, when it springs to some distance, and generally escapes before the sportsman comes within gun-shot; it likewise runs on the ground almost as swiftly as a dog; after running some time it stops short, holding its head and body still, and on the least noise, squats close on the ground. In the evening it comes out in quest of food, and may then be beard at a great distance: its cry is singular, resembling a hoarse kind of whistle three or four times repeated, and has been compared to the turning of a rusty handle. Buffon endeavours to express it by the words turrlui, turrlui, and says it resembles the sound of a third flute, dwelling on three or four tones from a flat to a sharp. Its food chiefly consists of worms. It is said to be good eating when young; the flesh of the old ones is hard, black, and dry. White mentions them as frequenting the district of Selborne, in Hampshire. He says, that the young run immediately from the nest, almost as soon as they are excluded, like Partridges; that the dam leads them to some stony field, where they bask, skulking among the stones, which they resemble so nearly in colour, as not easily to be discovered.
Birds of this kind are migratory; they arrive in April, live with us all the spring and summer, and at the beginning of autumn prepare to take leave by getting together in flocks: it is supposed that they retire to Spain, and frequent the sheep-walks with which that country abounds.
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