mudlark / mudlarking. noun or verb. Rarely, slang for a hog. Traditionally, a street urchin or scavenger (or the activities of such); now, hobbyists and treasure seekers who search in muddy areas along rivers. Also, a generic name for various birds that like muddy environments, particularly the magpie lark and Australian slang for a racehorse that excels on muddy tracks.
“Other sewery professions included toshers and mudlarks who delved through muck, in sewers and along fetid riverbanks, for lost jewellery or the odd silver spoon.” (Bill Bryson)
“He had no time for reading, nor did he care what I wrote, nor did he believe I would ever get anywhere, but he liked to hear about it. He was interested in horses, mud-larks particularly. Listening to me was a harmless diversion and worth the price of a good lunch or a new hat, if needs be.” (Henry Miller)
“‘Mudlarks,’ Fraser told him, picking his way. ‘Winter and summer, they slog up to their middles, in the mud o’ low tide. Hunting lumps o’ coal, rusty nails, any river-rubbish that will fetch a penny.’” (Bruce Sterling and William Gibson)
“They resumed conversations that had been interrupted by tavern-fights thirty years earlier at the first Bomb in Dunkirk. And I began to understand that even Queena-Kootah is not so terribly far from London. Standing on a ship in Japan, I am closer to London than ever I was standing on the banks of the Thames as a mud-lark boy.” (Neal Stephenson)