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Hobby near Plymouth.—In my last notes I omitted to mention that a fine young hobby was killed, on the 1st of October, in the neighbourhood of Plymouth.
8, Lower Durnford Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth, December 7, 1873.
Female Rocdcer with Horns.—On the 31st of October I killed a roedeer, and was surprised to find, on handling the deer, that it was a female with the head of a buck. The horns were short and soft, the same as if they had been ten or twelve days cast and had begun to grow again. The deer had also a great deal of milk upon her, but no other deer of any kind could be found near the place, although the ground was all disturl>ed. Is not this a very unusual and curious circumstance? The same thing never happened to me before (and I have had some experience with roedeer), nor others to whom I have mentioned the circumstance.—' Field,' November 8, 1878.
Food of Water Shrew.—On the 26th of July I watched a water shrew diving for food, which it landed in order to devour. After watching for about a quarter of an hour, during which it rarely had an unsuccessful dive, I made a search in order to ascertain on what it was feeding, and found it to be the caddis-worm, which it seemed to remove from its domicile with ease. At the place where it landed I found quite a heap of empty cases.— W. Jeffery,jun.; Ratham, Chichester.
Dormice Breeding in Confinement.—I had occasion to-day to visit the establishment of Mr. Nicholson, naturalist, of High Street, Portsmouth, and was rather astonished to see about twelve or fourteen small cage boxes, each containing the female and young of the common dormouse (Myoxus avellanarius) in all stages of development, from the naked, blind little thing of a few hours old to the full-grown animal, with its beautiful eyes, ruddy coat and amusing activity. Mr. Nicholson has upwards of two hundred, all bred and born in confinement, in litters or nests of from three to eight or nine young ones. Did a similar instance ever come under your observation ?— 'Field,' November 8, 1873.
Birds obserred at Glcnarm Castle.—On the 18th of October a fine specimen of the common buzzard was shot near Glenarm; weight thirty-two ounces; contents of stomach, the remains of a rabbit. It is the fourth I have seen shot in this neighbourhood, two of which are in my own collection. On the 20th of October (wind blowing a gale N.W.) a specimen of
SECOND SERIES VOL. IX. E
the little auk was taken alive near the coast: weight, three ounces and a half; plumage black and white; the sides of the head are white, above the eye a small white spot; scapulars with white streaks; secondary quills tipped with white. House martin last seen on the 8th of October. Snow buntings first seen same date.—T. Brunton; GUnarm Castle, Larne, Ireland.
Note on the Longevity of the Royal Kite.—In the ' Zoologist' for 1865, Mr. Rocke recorded two remarkable instances of the longevity of the royal kite, to which I am desirous of adding a third, less remarkable than one of the cases mentioned by Mr. Rocke, but yet perhaps worthy of notice. In the summer of 1846 I purchased, whilst in Cardiganshire, a young kite, which had been taken a few weeks previously from the nest at the "Devil's Bridge," in that county, and kept it in confinement till the 3rd of December, 1873, when it was found dead in its cage, without any previous illness having been observed, except some slight lameness in one leg. This kite was a female bird, and laid two eggs in April, 1862. It may_ be worth mentioning that on one occasion when a full-grown dead slow-worm was offered to this kite, the bird seized it with avidity and swallowed it whole.— J. H. Gurney; Northrepps, December 13, 1873.
Buzzard, Hobby and Peregrine near Newmarket.—A buzzard was taken near here last week, and a hobby was trapped on the 26th November on the Warren; when found it was uufortunately too far gone to be preserved. A peregrine falcon was also shot last week at Southminster.—William Howtett; Newmarket.—'Field,' Dec. 6, 1873.
fieldfares feeding upon Apples.—Anything unusual in the habits or economy of birds must be interesting to naturalists; on this ground therefore I am induced to record a raid upon my orchards by fieldfares during the present autumn. My friend Mr. F. Bond has suggested to me that perhaps the usually earlier clearance of the apples from orchards may account for this fact not having been noticed before; but this suggestion appears to be effectually disposed of by the counter-fact that in the year 1870 my orchards were unvisited by even a single fieldfare, although the apples (a larger crop than in the present year) were left out until within three or four days of the date when lately cleared. The crop was got in by the 12th of November in 1870, and by the 16th of the same month in the present year. The fieldfares first made their appearance about the 1st of November, and were remarkably bold for a bird of such proverbial shyness; they were in considerable numbers, and the quantity of fruit quickly scooped out by them was quite a caution. Wishing to scare them, as well as to obtain some fine specimens for preserving, I found no difficulty in getting repeated shots any day, until the last apple was got in. I should mention also that in 1870 scarcely a single blackbird or thrush attacked the apples, while this year these birds were literally in hundreds, being far more numerous than the fieldfares, and the damage done of course far greater; it was also much more difficult to get shots at them than at the fieldfares. Whether the excellence of the roast made up for the damage done is doubtful; both the blackbirds, however, and fieldfares were remarkably fat, and by no means contemptible as a second course. I can account to myself for the fieldfares not visiting me before, for they may not have found out the apples before, the orchards beiug rather removed from the arable lands where fieldfares usually haunt; but I cannot so account for the blackbirds and thrushes attacking me more this year than in 1870, when, as far as my recollection goes, they were at least as numerous as now. Quite independently of numbers, I am convinced that many birds must be under the influence of some cause or other by which they become, or cease to be, pests, in what appears to us an arbitrary and unaccountable manner. Thirty years ago, when I am sure the blackbirds and thrushes were quite as plentiful here as they are at present, there was not a net ever used to protect fruit of any sort, and all sorts of fruit were proverbial in their abundance; gooseberries unnetted hung on the trees until dead ripe, whereas during the last ten years not a single dish of strawberries, currants or gooseberries would have ripened but for close netting. So again, with respect to the damage done by bullfinches, I have for several years been compelled to defend myself by shooting them; nothing eke practicable is effectual, but thirty years ago no one here ever dreamt of shooting a bullfinch, and yet scarcely a fruit-bud (except of greengages and some other kinds of plum) suffered; certainly the gooseberry bushes were never completely stripped from top to stem as they are now. During the last winter these birds, for the first time on record here, attacked the apricots, peaches and nectarines on walls, completely stripping many of them of fruitbuds. Whence arose this new form of their destructive propensity? and will it continue in future seasons? If we may credit Mr. F. 0. Morris, the bullfinches of Yorkshire are quite unobjectionable garden visitors in the early spring mornings; and also (if I remember rightly) Mr. M. finds no need of nets even to protect his strawberry beds. Will the Yorkshire birds degenerate in course of years, or will birds of Dorsetshire amend their ways?—O. P. Cambridge; Bloxuorth Rectory, December 8, 1873.
Ring Ouzel, &c, at Exmonth.—On Sunday, the 20th of Octolier, as I was taking a walk with my son on the cliffs near Exmouth, we came across a few late stragglers. We came upon the place where some bird had been killed by a hawk; we could not at once identify the feathers of the slaughtered bird, but, after a little, we came to the conclusion that they were those of a young ring ouzel. Soon afterwards we saw two ring ouzels, both birds of the year: they were very tame, and allowed us to get quite close to them: we watched them for some time as they were feeding eagerly on sloe-berries. We also saw a flock of about twenty tree pipits (which were probably congregating for their departure), one wheatear and one summer snipe; these were probably two late birds that had remained after their companions. Swallows and martins had apparently not begun to think of departure.—Cecil Smith; Lydeard House, near Taunton.
Black Redstart in Summer Plumage in November. — Since November 20th I have almost daily seen oue or more black redstarts in their dark or summer plumage: I have never but once before seen them in such a dress. About ten or more years since I obtained a specimen, which I have still in my possession. A year seldom passes but they are seen here during the month of November in their less sombre but more plain plumage. To-day, whilst watching one through a binocular, .1 could but much admire its graceful flycatcher action of taking insects whilst on the wing.—Stephen Clogg; East Looe, November 25, 1873.
The Tawny Pipit at Brighton.—To-day 1 saw a male tawny pipit (Anthus campestris, Bechstein) stuffed at Mr. Swaysland's, which had been' taken in a clap-net outside Brighton a few days back. It was in very good condition. Since I first pointed this out as a British bird (' Ibis,' 1863, p. 37), various other specimens have been obtained. The dates may be seen in Mr. Harting's ' Handbook,' p. 108; they range from August 17th to the present one, October oth or 6th. We shall soon read what Mr. Dresser can tell us about this species, as the number of his 'Birds of Europe ' containing it will be out shortly. I for one confess I have a good deal to learn respecting it as regards this country, where it seems to be found in autumn.—George Dawson Rowley; Chichester House, East Cliff, Brighton, October 8.—'Field,' October 11, 1873.
Short-toed Lark and other Birds at Brighton.—On Saturday, the 15th of November, a short-toed lark (Alauda brachydactyla, Leister) was taken in a net outside Brighton, and brought alive to Mr. Swaysland, who sent it up to me. The bird, he says, is a male. On looking into my notes, I find two others have been seen here,—September 26, 1854, and April, 1858. The last was shot while dusting itself in a road, very near the spot where the present example appeared. Curiously enough, the man saw this example about, and went out on purpose to catch him. Mr. Harting, in his 'Handbook of British Birds,' notices Yarrell's bird, Mr. Rodd's bird (Zool. 1854), and two others in the ' Zoologist.' "The flight" took place this year with us on Sunday and Monday, October 20th and 27th, and continued more or less during the next few days, uniformly to the eastward. During the week a person took seven hundred birds of one species alone. On Sunday last, the barometer being very high, the air was swarming with gnats, and the martins (Hirundo urbica) were hawking for them as in summer.—George Dawson Rowley. [This is only the sixth recorded occurrence of the short-toed lark in the British Islands, all of which, with one exception, were captured in the South of England; the exception occurred at Shrewsbury. The bird is a native of Central and Southern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.—Editor of' Field,' Nov. 22, 1873.]
Cnckoo in Confinement.—I hope Mr. Stafford will let the readers of the 'Zoologist' know how his young cuckoo prospers (S. S. 3788). On two occasions we have endeavoured to keep cuckoos in confinement, but in neither case has the attempt been altogether successful. In July of last year (1872) a farmer brought my sister a young bird, in North Lancashire, which he had found by a roadside near the nest where it had been reared. For several months it appeared to be in good health, but exhibited the same restlessness and longing to be away which Mr. Stafford mentions. It received the greatest attention at the hands of my sister, and for some time refused to feed itself. Caterpillars were its favourite morsel, which were always greedily accepted, but not devoured without ceremony. Picking them up crosswise in its bill, the cuckoo regularly proceeded to render them soft and digestible by passing them several times backwards and forwards between its mandibles; after which process they were swallowed head or tail first, as the case might be. Worms also formed part of cuckoo's diet, but were not received with the same relish nor eaten in the same careful manner. Throughout the winter soaked bread, egg and raw meat were its diet; but apparently this—or some other unknown circumstance—disagreed with it. In February or March of this year (1873) it lost almost all its feathers, and died on the 22nd of April, nine months after its capture.—Hugh P. Hornby; 35, Norfolk Street, Strand.
Late Stay of House Hartlns. — On the 22nd of November, and on several previous days, four martins were actively flying about the churchyard here; the night of the 22nd, however, was very cold and frosty, and on the morning of the 23rd, as I entered my church-door, one—no doubt, of these same birds—lay dead on the church-steps, evidently having died of exhaustion from cold. The other three were seen for several days longer, when I again found one dead not far off; since that the remaining two have disappeared; probably they, too, have died. Those I found dead were quite young, I should say not fledged for more than two or three weeks. I imagine that most of the over-late occurrences of martins and swallows noticed year by year are of very young birds, unequal to the task of migrating with the old ones.—O. P. Cambridge.
House Martin near Aylesbury on the 5th of December. — Yesterday, whilst walking with a shooting party at Hartwell, near Aylesbury, I noticed a house martin merrily hawking for flies for about half an hour.—H. Harpur Crewe; Drayton Beauchamp Rectory, Tring, December 6, 1873.
Scarcity and Laic Stay of Martins and Swallows at Sclborne.—I have two remarks to make with regard to the hirundines this year. The first is that they have been remarkably few in this neighbourhood. The other is the remarkable lateness of their departure. I received the other day a