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A single instance is on record of its having been shot in the Bermudas, although this group of islands is distant from Cape Hatteras—the nearest point of the North American coast—about 600 miles. After this, English sportsmen need scarcely be surprised at its ability to cross the Channel. Before the end of September it has commenced to migrate southwards on its way to its winter quarters in Algeria, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Palestine. It is said to be rare in Portugal, and seen on passage only in Spain, touching also at the Azores. It goes, however, much further south, as will be seen presently. Signor Bettoni includes it amongst the birds which breed regularly in Lombardy; and Messrs. Elwes and Buckley note it (“Ibis,” 1870, p. 333) as found in Epirus and Constantinople. In Corfu it is met with sparingly in April and
September, on its spring and autumn migrations. A single instance is on record of its having been shot in Oudh ;' but Mr. Blyth informed me that he knew of no other authority for it as an Indian bird, although he had seen specimens from Afghanistān. South of the Equator the Landrail penetrates to Natal (cf. Gurney, “Ibis,” 1863, p. 331), and, according to Mr. Layard (“Birds of South Africa,” p. 338), a solitary specimen has been procured in Cape Colony. Mr. Ayres, who has shot it in Natal, writing of its habits (“Ibis,” 1863, p. 331), says : “Having been once flushed, it is a difficult matter to put them up a second time out of the long grass; for, besides running with great swiftness, they have a curious method of evading the dogs by leaping with closed wings and compressed feathers over the long grass some three or four yards, and then, running a short distance, they leap again. The scent being thus broken, they generally evade the most keen
* Jones's “Naturalist in the Bermudas,” p. 45. * “Storia Naturale degli Uccelli che nidificano in Lombardia,” pt. xxxii. t. 91.
scented dogs; and so quickly are these strange leaps made, that it is only by mere chance that the birds are seen.” Many an English sportsman can testify to their power of evading good dogs, although they may not quite know how it is done. Nor is this the only way in which the Landrail displays its cunning. If surprised suddenly and caught, it will often feign death, and remain perfectly stiff and motionless for several minutes, to all appearance dead, but in reality only waiting for an opportunity to steal off unobserved. I have known two or three instances in which this ruse has been practised with success upon unsuspecting naturalists. Those who intend, therefore, to investigate the subject of hybernation should be on their guard against what at first sight might strike them as
* “Bengal Sporting Magazine,” 1842, p. 870.
N the year 1872, through the medium of the Natural History columns of “The Field,” a series of observations were made by naturalists in different parts of England on the subject of “Our Summer Migrants.” A form of calendar was distributed and filled up by each according to his opportunities. In this way, by the end of the year six hundred and forty-five separate observations were placed on record, and it devolved upon me to prepare a report from the statistics so furnished. As a good deal of interesting information was thus brought to light, it occurs to me that I may appropriately bring the present volume to a close by extracting so much of the report as relates strictly to the subject matter in hand, and I accordingly do so. In the calendars returned, some thirty species of summer migratory birds are mentioned with
more or less frequency. The majority of the observations upon them have reference, as might be supposed, to the dates of their arrival and departure, or, more correctly speaking, to the dates when they were first heard or seen and last observed. When referring some time previously to the utilization of such observations, it was remarked that upon various points some addition to our knowledge was desirable. Amongst other interesting facts, for example, might be ascertained the precise line of direction in which various species migrate, the causes which necessitate a divergence from this line, the relative proportions in which different species visit us, the causes which influence the abundance or scarcity of a species in particular localities, the result of too great a preponderance of one species over another, whether beneficial or otherwise to man as a cultivator of the soil, the simultaneity or otherwise of departure from this country in autumn, the causes operating to retard such departure, and so forth. All these are matters of interest, especially to