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Hawfinch.—The Rev. H. T. Frere informs me that a flock of some fifty hawfinches appeared this month in the same garden at Diss where such numbers were shot last winter. The attraction is no doubt the yew-berries, as proved by dissection last year; but as no specimens have been received by our birdstuffers from any other localities, I am inclined to think these birds, in spite of persecution, are all reared in that neighbourhood. One or two pairs were known to have nested in that garden in the summer; they have also bred in several other parts of Norfolk this year.
Spotted Rail.—Three of these birds have been sent up to Norwich during this month.
Late House Martins.—Mr. Gurney saw a flock of from twenty to thirty flying round Cromer Church on the 3rd of November; and a few were observed also on the 4th and 5th. Not a single swallow seems to have been noticed at this time, but Mr. J. H. Gurney, jun., observed a sand martin on the river at Buckenham on the 23rd of November.
Slonechat.—Mr. Gurney remarked these birds near Cromer on the 6th and 11th of this month.
Glaucous Gull.—Two immature specimens have been sent to Norwich to be stuffed; one on the 5th from Lowestoft, and one from Yarmouth about the 16th.
Snow Hunting.—About a score of these birds were shot at Ludham, which frequented the reedy spots near the broad, a somewhat inland locality, but I have heard of one shot near this city, and others netted, of which I bought two pairs for my aviary.
Nuthatch.—On the 15th Mr. Gurney saw a pair of nuthatches attacking a lump of mutton-fat hung out for the tits, which they seemed greatly to relish. One was more orange on the under parts than the other, and always drove away the paler bird till it had finished its own repast. Mr. J. H. Gurney, jun., has also observed this species hiding nuts in the ground, as well as in the clefts of trees.
Garden Warbler ?—Mr. Gurney sends me the following singular note from the remarks of a very careful observer, named Galley, at Northrepps, who is very well acquainted with our ordinary migrants, both winter and summer. On the 15th, when working in his garden, Galley's attention was drawn to a bird, which he took for a garden warbler, bathing itself in the dew-water collected in the leaves of his cabbages. He watched it carefully whilst it performed this operation, first on one cabbage and then on another, during which time it frequently uttered a note which he compared to "sawing." When shown a collection of skins of warblers he selected a rather pale-coloured specimen of the garden warbler as the one he saw.
Blackbird.—A very unusual number of these birds at Keswick, near Norwich, at the present time, are charged with destroying a field of wheat by picking the grain out of the ground, but leaving it on the surface. Has such been observed by other of your contributors? They are said to devour seed-wheat sown near hedges, but why pull up and leave it? Thrushes I know will devour much grain, and even dry husk, as my aviary birds do constantly, though well supplied with soft food, worms, snails, &c.
Norwich, December 30th, 1873.
Notes from Leiston, Suffolk. By G. T. Rope, Esq.
Nodule.—First seen on the wing on the 1st of April.
Harvest Mouse.—Picked up two dead ones at a recently-threshed wheat-stack in April. I afterwards caught a male, which I kept alive for some time, but have now lost: he escaped once before, and was loose in the room all night; but having placed his cage, containing food and water, upon the floor, with the door open, he again took possession of it, and was found in the morning coiled up in his nest.
Longtailed Field Mouse.—July 30th. Saw one of these mice on the beach, among some tufts of coarse grass.
Fieldfare.—Saw these birds for the last time on the 20th of May. With the exception of a single one seen throughout the summer at Blaxhall, probably a wounded bird, or ailing in some way, I heard of no fieldfares this autumn before the 3rd of November.
Blackbird.—Several times during this month (December) we have seen a pied bird at Blaxhall: it is an adult male, with a fine orange bill, and is black, with the exception of the cheeks, which are white.
Dartford Warbler.—December 16th. My brother picked up a dead bird of this species this morning at Leiston. Is not this a new locality for this little bird? Yarrell, in the third edition of his 'British Birds,' makes no mention of its occurrence in Suffolk.
Redstart.—First seen on the 11th of April, at Knoddishall: a male.
Whinchat.—May 19th. Found a whinchat's nest this morning in the marshes; it was built upon the ground, and contained seven eggs.
Sedge Warbler.—April 30th. I this morning saw one of these birds singing on the wing, something in the manner of the meadow pipit.
Cole Tit.—On the 9th of June I found a nest of this species in the decayed stump of a Scotch fir, which had been broken off close to the ground. My attention was drawn to it in the first instance by seeing my dog sniffing at it. The nest contained eight partially fledged young birds, but all of them dead, having been drowned by the rain. Singularly enough, I found a nest of this bird in a precisely similar situation, two years ago, near the same spot, and in the same way, viz. by seeing a dog scratching at the hole; this also contained young birds.
Bearded Til.—1 am happy to say these beautiful little birds still hold their ground here. On the 13th of November, while walking through a large piece of reed-land in this parish, I fell in with three flocks, each containing from seven to nine birds. They are surprisingly tame, and may be watched while feeding, at the distance of only a few feet, provided the observer remains perfectly still.
Ray's Wagtail.—Saw the first pair of yellow wagtails on the 16th of April. On the 19th of May I found a nest of this bird upon the ground, under cover of some bent-down rushes. Saw the young off on the 9th of June.
Tree Pipit.—Observed one at Blaxhall in June. This bird is far from common in this neighbourhood.
Blackheaded Bunting.—A nest of this species found here in May contained eggs which differed considerably from their normal colouring; they were of a greenish white tint, some of them entirely without markings: one was slightly stained at the large end with pale brown. Observed the young out of the nest on the 4th of June.
Starling.—May 10th. This morning I heard a starling in the garden imitate very accurately the quick chattering of ducks on the wing, also the croak of the mallard. I thiuk there is no other British bird so good a mimic as this in the wild state. I have heard starlings imitate the notes of the peewit, curlew, jackdaw, and (I fancy) the heron. May 30th.—Young starlings are beginning already to congregate in small flocks with the parent birds.
Hooded Crow.—First beard on the 22nd of October at Blaxhall. This is later than in the three previous years.
Wryneck.—First heard on the 3rd of April.
Swallow.—First seen on the 1st of April near the sea.
Martin.—May 14th. Saw several house martins this moruing. I have scarcely seen any before this date.
Turtle Dove.—First seen on the 7th of May. The crop of a turtle dove shot here, in a pea-field, in July, contained a large quantity of small seeds and a single pea. One of these birds was shot here as late as the 28th of November; it had been noticed several days before, frequenting a barley-stack: this was a young bird, and apparently a very late-hatched one.
Norfolk Plover.—First heard and seen at Leiston on the 9th of April. These birds are not uncommon in this neighbourhood, frequenting our sandy heaths by day, and going out regularly about sunset to feed upon the cultivated land, more especially fields of young turnips, where they keep up a tremendous screeching and squealing at intervals throughout the night.
Ringed Dotterel.—July 30th. Caught a partly-fledged young bird on the beach; directly it caught sight of me it squatted close to the stones, and the old birds tried hard to attract my attention from it, by running about close to me with a crouching attitude, and repeatedly uttering their soft musical whistle.
Redshank.—Found some redshanks a few days old on the 14th of May, and on the 29th another recently-hatched bird, also one nearly fully fledged. The stomach of a very young bird contained apparently nothing but black mud. This summer I saw one of these birds alight upon one of the sails of a mill.
Greenshank.—October 6th. Saw several greenshanks in the river between Snape and Iken.
Snipe.—We had several snipe breeding here this year; the first nest, containing eggs, was found on the 19th of April. In one nest the eggs differed a good deal from their usual colouring, the ground being of a very light greenish buff, with very few blotches of darker colour, and these only at the large end. On the 12th of May I found a nest in which the eggs were just hatching; the young birds were remarkably strong on their legs, and the most beautiful little creatures imaginable, the colouring of their down being exceedingly rich and brilliant.
Jack Snipe.—I put up a jack snipe this spring as late as the 16th of April.
Spotted Crake.—A bird of this species was shot here on the 18th of September, but was too much mutilated for preserving.
Shoveller.—A young bird was killed near here on the 28th of April, probably bred somewhere in the neighbourhood.
Wild Duck.—April 23rd. Saw the first brood of young ducks off.
Garganey.—We had at least one pair of these little ducks breeding here this year. I first saw a pair in the marshes on the 15th of April. We have once or twice since seen a solitary male; and on the 15th of June I came suddenly upon a female, which evidently had young close by. During the end of July and the beginning of August we have several times seen on the wing a lot of about eight or nine young birds about the marshes. The voice of the male garganey is a low and very harsh grating croak, and that of the female a faint "quack," sharper than that of the wild duck.
Scaup Duck.— October 6th. I this morning saw a male which had been shot in the Aide, near Iken. The man who killed it said there were a pair of them, but he was only able to get one.
G. T. Eope.
Ornithological Notes from Somersetshire.
(Continued from Zool. S. S. 3628.)
But little of ornithological interest has occurred here since my last notes, and that little is mostly a record of slaughter.
Wheatear.—Two young wheatears made their appearance on my croquet-ground during this month, and stayed about for a day or two; they were both young birds, almost in nesting plumage: it was very wild weather and blowing a gale from the west at the time. I mention this as, although the wheatear breeds on the Quantocks and along the coast, it seldom makes its appearance here, and then only a stray single visitant for a day or two on its first arrival in the spring.