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witness-box, and must know of a certainty whether they are diurnal or nocturnal. If you find that fishes of any particular genus,—Labrus, for instance,—are incessantly in action during the day, always roving about seeking food or pleasure, perhaps striving to display their splendid colouring, or perhaps simply desiring to convince wondering visitors that they have discovered perpetual motion,—be this as it may, you may pretty safely conclude that these beautifully decorated wrasses are not to be caught napping while the sun is above the horizon. Visit them in the dead of night and with a lantern, and you will find that a change has come o'er the scene; the perpetual motion, as in so many other instances, has come to a dead stand; the machinery is out of order and has ceased to work: the wrasses are scattered about in a variety of attitudes and are perfectly motionless; some are on their sides, some seem to be jammed in the crevices of a rock, some seem to be standing on their noses, and some on their tails: none make any attempt at motion, unless when the light of the lantern is brought to bear on them too brightly or too suddenly. We may fairly conclude when they exhibit these appearauces that they are asleep,—that they are really taking rest in sleep,—and thus the question would be solved as regards wrasse.
But look on those algophagous gray mullet; they swim about in mid-water by day soberly and sedately, too aristocratic to take notice; too confident of safety either to hurry or to hide; they seem to be enjoying a waking dream, but there is no evidence that they are asleep. At night how different the scene; then they are all on the surface, and all in a state of the greatest activity, most of them have the dorsal fin actually out of water: these are truly nocturnal fishes; it is impossible to catch them asleep by night, and we have no evidence that they sleep by day: therefore they do nothing towards solving the question, Do fishes sleep?
It may be observed that the absence of an eyelid and the consequent absence of the power to close the eye, are facts which have evidently induced the erroneous conclusion that fishes cannot
sleeP- Edward Newman.
Curious Instinct in the Hole.—Being much annoyed by moles, I set a trap in a large warren, which was at first successful. Having, however, reset the trap, I was surprised, two days after, to find that the mole on coming to the trap had made a hole to the surface, and then, passing over the ground, had re-entered the run beyond the trap, and so escaped. The holes were filled in, and in two days the same thing occurred again. The trap had not been sprung in either instance.—J. A. Foster; Ililston, Hull, January 10, 1874.
While's Thrush near Gramponnd, Cornwall. — One of the keepers of Mr. C. T. Hawkins, of Trewithen, in the parish of Probus, killed a day or two since what proves to be a valuable addition to our Cornish Avifauna, in a very fine specimen of White's thrush, which was kindly conveyed to me by the courteous attention of his steward, Mr. W. Trethewey, who at once detected it as different from any other thrush he had ever seen, and forwarded it to me for my museum. It differs in no one particular from the bird shot by (I think) Lord Malmsbury, which is described by Mr.. Yarrell, in his 'British Birds.' I think it therefore superfluous to give a description of the plumage, and shall content myself by giving the following particulars, which will answer the purpose of the 'Zoologist' in every respect:—
Length ...... 12J inches.
Tarsus - - - - - 1| »
From carpal joint to end of first quill - 6J ,.
Wings extended - - - - -201,,
Weight, 6J ounces. Number of tail-feathers, 14.
Mr. Trethewey writes, "The bird attracted the notice of the keeper for some weeks before he had an opportunity of shooting it. Each time he saw it, it was feeding in some marshy ground near some ponds, and when disturbed it flew to another portion of the water. The keeper thought it was a species of water-fowl. The cry was very much like that of the common thrush, but the habits quite different."—E. H. Rodd; Penzance, Jan. 15, 1874.
Siskins near Mansfield.—On the 10th of November a flock of siskins were seen on the alders round my pond: I shot eight of them. They were in very good plumage, the yellow on the males being very bright. They were about for a week, and I saw from fifteen to twenty of them: there were also a few redpolls in the flock. They reminded me very much of the tits, as I saw them hang in a great variety of attitudes in order to get at the seeds in the cones. The ground beneath the trees was scattered all over with fragments of cones and the husks of the seeds. The birds were very tame, and allowed me to get quite close to the tree, so that I had a good opportunity of observing their movements. — J. Whitaker, jun.; Bainworth Lodge, Mansfield.
The Lesser Redpoll not in Spitsbergen. — My friend Mr. Eaton was good enough to give to the Museum of the University of Cambridge the skin of the redpoll mentioned by him (Zool. S. S. 3805—3808) as having been obtained in Spitsbergen. It is that of the true Fringilla linaria of Linnaeus,—that is to say, the mealy redpoll,—and not of the lesser redpoll, as Mr. Eaton calls it. The last, as I before have had occasion to point out (Zool. S. S. 2223), has by no means a high northern range.—Alfred Newton; January 6, 1874.
Late Martins and Swallows.—Nov. Q, 1873. About 8 A. M. T saw two
swallows flying over the field and garden. They remained circling backwards and forwards for some time, flying quite low. Nov. 19.—This morning I noticed two martins flying up and down Upper West-street, Reigate. Later in the day I saw one flying backwards and forwards in front of this house. Nov. 30.—About 3 p. M. I observed six martins flying over the grassy slope on the east side of the nut-wood in Gatton Park, where they were sheltered from the wind. Some of them were skimming along close to the ground.—Albert J. Crosfield; The Dingle, Reigate.
Corn Crake.—Has it been observed in other localities that this species has been far from common this season? I did not hear the notes of this bird till the 9th of May, which was nearly a fortnight later than the average date in previous seasons; indeed in 1868 I heard it as early as the 18th of April, and in other seasons I have always heard it between the 22nd and 30th of April. Not only was the bird late in its arrival, but I did not hear it a dozen times during the whole of the summer, although in previous seasons its "crake" was almost as constant and familiar in the evenings as the pleasant twitter of the sand martin. Almost every summer before this I have had eggs of the species brought me by mowers, who had mown them out of the grass in the meadows, but this season I have not seen an egg, so I have'come to the conclusion that the bird must be comparatively rare—at least in its old haunts near here. I may here state that I saw a specimen of the spotted crake on the 16th of April, which had met with its death by flying against the telegraph wires, and its head was almost severed from its body.—G. B. Corbin.
Note on the Water Rail.—On the 31st of December last, whilst shooting with my brothers in some reedy meadows bordering the Test, about two miles below Stockbridge, Hants, we were surprised by the loud and singular cries of water rails, which were particularly numerous in that locality. We had heard these birds occasionally some ten miles higher up the river, but never to the same extent as on this occasion. The note was peculiar, and may best be described as a sharp loud whistle, very "resonant,"* not at all harsh or grating, reminding one somewhat of the note of the green sandpiper, and of extraordinary power for so small a bird. On one occasion the cries were uttered with scarcely any intermission for several minutes, and so loud as to impress one with the idea of two birds being engaged in angry conflict; and this came from a patch of small reeds close to which we were standing, though unable to discover the author or authors. During the * Stevenson's 'Birds of Norfolk,' vol. ii. p. 407.
three or four hours we were in the meadows we heard the rails at intervals, and long after sunset, whilst waiting for the evening flight of ducks, their loud shrill cries were borne from the thick herbage and sedge which clothed the banks of a neighbouring pond, sounding particularly distinct on the still winter's night. I do not know whether the note of this bird has been heard at any other time than during the spring or summer; but, as far as I can learn, it seems hitherto only to have been noticed at those periods. On the 3rd of January, 1874, my brother shot a very beautiful specimen. The beak where it is usually reddish orange is brilliant coral-red; and the tints of colour throughout the plumage are more vivid and clearly defined than I have seen in any other example.—H. Durnford; Stanley Road, Waterloo, Liverpool, January 9, 1874.
Egyptian Geese in Nottinghamshire.—On Friday, the 5th of December, 1873, six Egyptian geese were seen on the Trent, near Clifton Hall; two of them were shot by the gamekeeper of Mr. J. Watson. The birds were in beautiful plumage. This is their first occurrence in Nottinghamshire. Since writing the above two others have been killed on the Trent near Nottingham.—J. Whitaker, jun.
Note on the Occurrence of the Greater Shearwater in Bridlington Bay.— A fine specimen of the greater shearwater (Pujffimu major, Faber), was killed in Bridlington Bay, near Flamborough Head, by Mr. M. Bailey, on the 10th of January; and both this and the Sabine's gull recorded by me from the same locality, in the ' Zoologist' for 1873 (S. S. 3802), have been added to the collection of my son, Mr. J. H. Gurney, jun. The shearwater is a male bird, and in very nearly adult plumage; whereas four other examples from the same locality, recorded by Mr. Boulton in the ' Zoologist' for 1866 (S. S. 29) and for 1867 (S. S. 548), were all immature. The only remains of immature plumage in the specimen recently obtained are the following:—The under tail-coverts are fuliginous, but with each feather narrowly tipped with dirty white; the tibial feathers are entirely fuliginous, and an irregular fuliginous stripe of the average breadth of about an inch and a half runs up from the vent to the centre of the breast. There are also a few fuliginous spots on the upper part of the flank nearly adjacent to the shoulder-joint. The following memoranda as to the colour of the bill and feet were taken nine days after the bird was shot:—The bill is purplish black, with the tinge of purple strongest in the lower mandible, but the hooked tip of the upper mandible is bluish gray. The dark colour of the bill in this species contrasts strongly with the pale-coloured bill of its Medierranean congener (P. cinereus of Bree's ' Birds of Europe'), in which the bill is also much more robust than that of the present species (P. major, Faber). In the present specimen the legs and feet are of a very pale fleshcolour, except the outer side of the tarsus and of the outer toe, and also the outer edges of the claws and webs, all of which are dark purplish fleshcolour; this tint also runs up each web from the edge to about half way up the foot, forming a dark mark in the web nearer to the two external toes than to the middle one. The remaining portions of the webs are very pale flesh-colour, slightly tinged with greenish. The gizzard of this specimen was small but muscular, and remarkably roughened on the internal surface; its contents consisted of the horny jaws of about half a dozen small cuttlefish, the jaws varying in size from a sixteenth to a quarter of an inch in diameter. Similar remains of cuttle-fish have been found in the stomach of the fulmar,* and Mr. Layard, in his ' Descriptive Catalogue of the Birds of South Africa,' states (at p. 36i) that a similar diet is in vogue amongst the albatrosses of the Southern Seas, from the stomach of one of which he took " a handful of hard, horny, parrot-billed-shaped jaws."—J. H. Gurney; Northrepps, January 19, 1874.
Ornithology of the Orkneys.—Having spent many months, at all seasons of the year, among the islands of Orkney, engaged in collecting specimens of Natural History, and more especially of birds, and having taken great trouble to procure information on the spot respecting the occurrence of rare species, and in observing the life-histories of the more common kinds of birds, I have been induced to prepare for publication a small work bearing on the above subject; and up to May next I shall be much indebted to any readers of the 'Zoologist' for information of any kind whatever relating to the Mammalia, birds, insects, Botany, &c., of the Orkneys. Please address :— Captain Clark-Kennedy; Guards Club, Pall Mall, S. W.
Proceedings of the Entomological Society.
5th Jan. 1874.—Prof. Westwood, M.A., F.L.S., President, in the chair.
Additions to the Library. The following donations were announced, and thanks voted to the donors:—'Proceedings of the Royal Society,' No. 147; presented by the Society. 'Bulletin de la Societe Imperiale des Naturalistes de Moscou, 1873,' No. 2; by the Society. 'Catalogue of the Specimens of Hemiptera Heteroptera in the Collection of the British Museum,' part viii., by Francis Walker; by the Trustees. 'On the Origin and Metamorphoses of Insects,' by the Author, Sir John Lubbock, Bart. 'Contributions to a Knowledge of the CurculionidaB of the United States;' by the Author, George H. Horn, M.D. 'Sixth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories embracing portions of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah; being a Report of Progress of the Explorations for the Year 1872,' by F. V. Hayden, United States Geologist; by the Author. 'Synopsis of the Acrididae of North America,' by Cyrus Thomas, Ph.D.; by the Author. » See note by Mr. J. H. Gurney, jun., in ' Zoologist' for 1868 (S. S. 1483).