Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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50
PARTRIDGE AND WOODCOCK
CHAP.
down on a brow thickly clothed with furze. Marching towards them with spaniels at heel, up jumps a hare under my nose, then another, then a rabbit. I reload rapidly, and on reaching the gorse ' put in' the dogs. Whirr ! there goes a partridge ! The spaniels drop to the report of my gun, but the fluttering wings of the dying bird rouse two of his neighbours before I am ready, and away they fly, screaming loudly. The remainder are flushed in detail and I succeed in securing the greater part of them. Now for the next covey. They were marked down in that little hollow where the heather is longer than usual— a beautiful spot! But before I reach it, up they all spring in an unexpected quarter; that cunning old patriarch at their head had cleverly called them together to a naked part of the hill from whence he could observe my manoeuvres, and a random shot sent after him with hearty good will proved totally ineffective.
" Now the spaniels are worming through the thick sedges on either side of the brook which intersects the moor, and by their bustling anxiety it is easy to see that game is afoot. Keeping well in front of them, I am just in time for a satis­factory right and left at two cock pheasants, which they had hunted down to the very edge of the water before they could persuade them to take wing. Now for that little alder coppice at the further end of the marshy swamp. Hark to that whip­ping sound so different from the rush of the rising pheasant or the drumming flight of the partridge ! I cannot see the bird, but I know it is a woodcock. This must be one of his favourite haunts, for I perceive the tracks of his feet and the perforations of his bill in every direction on the black mud around. Mark ! again. A second is sprung, and as he flits between the naked alders a snap-shot stops his career. I now emerge at the farther end, just where the trees are thinner than elsewhere. A wisp of snipes utter their well-known cry and scud over the heath; one of these is secured. The rest fly towards a little pool of dark water lying at a considerable
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