On the 15th of April I obtained a pair of Marsh Sandpipers (Totanus stagnatilis) and a female Lesser Kestrel. On the 22nd of April we visited again the Heron colony. The nest which had held one egg a week ago now had four, which I took. It was built very high up in the reeds, so much so that I had some difficulty in reaching the eggs from the deep water in which I stood. I also took four eggs of Ardea purpurea, the Purple Heron. As there were many nests of the White Herons with one egg only, I determined to leave them for some days. On our way back Marco knocked over, with a long shot, a fine Drake White-eyed Pochard (Fuligula nyrocd).
While waiting for more eggs from this colony I paid a flying visit to the locality of last year. Meeting the jovial ' capitan' of the little frontier village, he invited me to ride back with him. I did so, returning to Dulcigno the next day.
Unfortunately, there was so much water that we couldn't reach the reed-bed in which I found them nesting last year. I had three or four shots at Pelicans fishing on the river bar, but at very long range. I had to put up the 400-yard sight to reach them, and failed to secure one. We saw the first Golden Oriole on our way back, and some Pratincoles, of which we got one, shot by Nikola, who had walked over when he heard I was going there-I believe in order to see that I didn't get into any danger. He is now a gens d'arme employed by the Customs. I bought at this place some Turkish tobacco of the finest quality, at the rate of something under one shilling per pound.
On the 25th of April I paid a final visit to the Great White Herons, and took six more clutches of eggs ; leaving many nests untouched which held only one or two eggs. I tried the automatic camera at these nests, and it had gone off when I returned, but I found no bird on the plate when developed. Probably the wind had moved the reeds to which the thread stretched across the nest had been attached. All automatic devices are necessarily very uncertain in their action, unfortunately. I should have liked to wait at these nests for a photograph of the birds, as I did last year, but the water was excessively deep, and it was only with great difficulty that I could reach some of the nests at all. My man always looked very anxious when I left the boat and disappeared from his sight into the depths of the reed-bed, and very relieved when I turned up again all right.
Great White Heron (Ardea Alba)
For the sake of identification I shot, as I thought, a pair of birds, for one of them had such long plumes that I felt sure it was a male. On dissection, however, they both proved to be females.
Marco couldn't accompany me on this last day, for his old father had died on the previous day, after an illness of some weeks. I had seen him only four days before, when the poor old chap, then on his death-bed, crawled out of bed and tottered to his feet in order to examine my gun, and have the action explained to him. It was a striking example of the love of arms so universal in these countries, and a case of ' the ruling passion strong in death,' for within four days he was dead from exhaustion, having been unable to retain any food for some weeks.
I went to the funeral, and a most painful scene it was ; for these people, so hardy and so accustomed to bloodshed, are as simple and as emotional as children. Marco, big as he was, fairly lifted up his voice and howled-no other word expresses it- while the women gave way to paroxysms of sobs and weeping, and had to be almost carried from the grave-side.
I did not go into the church, being somewhat late, but sat outside with crowds of sympathizing neighbours ; but I thought the elaborate musical service cruelly long, especially for such a people, compared with the merciful brevity and simplicity of our burial service.
A day or two later I bade farewell to all my friends in Montenegro, and embarked for Trieste amid a salvo of revolver-shots.
Trieste being only six hours from Venice, and having to stop on the way until I could procure some money from the bank at Budapest, on which I had a letter of credit, I ran across there to wait for the necessary funds to be remitted to me by post.
After a couple of days in this beautiful place, which I had never before seen, I proceeded to Budapest, en route for Roumania, for a second attempt to find a nesting colony of Pelecanus onocrotalus in the Delta of the Danube.