The normal existence of half the animal world appears to be sudden death or starvation with interludes of the keenest enjoyment.
Early in May the nest of the dabchick can be found on almost any of the lagoons and ponds that occur in the marshes. It is a loosely compiled structure generally formed on a floating island of weeds and rushes, constructed so as to rise and fall with the water level, while moored sufficiently well to keep its place in the current. As however it chooses backwaters in a river there is seldom much danger of the nest being carried away. The bird while sitting always manages to slip oft the rest into the water without splash if disturbed, after covering its eggs with weed. To such a pitch of perfection has modern observation been brought that I saw the whole process of a mother feeding its young, oil a cinematograph in London, far better than any ordinary observer could succeed in doing by the waterside with Zeiss glasses. A second brood is hatched out as a rule, for I have seen the little chicks in Hampshire in August on more than one season. They can swim as soon as they are a day old, their education in living being complete perhaps a week later.