knot



knot defined in 1930 year

knot - Knot;
knot - Crown and neck reddish brown with darker streaks; mantle blackish; the feathers spotted with chestnut and margined with white; tail-coverts white barred with black; cheeks, throat, and breast chestnut. Length, ten inches. In winter the upper parts are ash-grey and the under parts white flecked with grey.

This richly coloured and pretty sandpiper with a strange name is one of two species in this order of birds of which the eggs are not known to ornithologists, or do not exist in collections. It is a regular visitor to the British coasts on migration in August, but many birds remain in this country until the following May. In some seasons they are very abundant, especially on the north-east coast of England; and in former times they were esteemed a great delicacy, and were netted in large numbers, to be fattened, like dotterels and ruffs and reeves, on bread-and-milk for the table. According to Camden (' Britannia,' 1607), the bird was named after King Canute on account of his excessive fondness for its flesh. Drayton, adopting this explanation of the name, wrote in his Polyolbion ':

The Knot that called was Canutus Bird of old,
Of that great King of Danes, his name that still doth hold,
His apetite to please, that farre and neare was sought,
For him (as some have sayd) from Denmark, hither brought.

It is possible that the Danish king introduced the taste for the knot, which lasted down to the end of the seventeenth century.

As long ago as 1820 the knot was found breeding in the Melville Islands (lat. 80°), and later, at various times, in other arctic localities, but in no case were the eggs preserved. During the pairing-time the birds toy with each other in the air, the male uttering a sweet, fluting whistle. On our coasts they are very gregarious, feeding on the extensive mud-flats in large flocks. It has been observed that the young birds that come in advance of the adults in August are strangely tame in disposition. In May, when the return migration to their arctic breeding-grounds takes place, the birds that arrive on our shores from the south have their rich nuptial colours fully developed.

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