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is as bold as the robin or tit, without their intrusive friendliness; that, when in the presence of strangers, coolly pursues its occupation without the prying inquisitiveness of the brown creeper, or the watchful distrust of the popokatea; that defends his home with almost the courage of the falcon or tern. It seems to delight in those openings which are found in river-beds, between long belts of tutu and other scrub; there it may be observed either hopping along the ground or fluttering about the lower sprays of shrubs, flying out to the spits of sand, or drifted trees that lie stranded in the river-bed^ On some of the longer-formed spits that are becoming clothed with vegetation, it searches amongst the burry (Accena), snips off the fruit-stalks of moss, picking the seed of some trailing Veronica. Its progress on the ground is usually deliberate; it hops with both feet together, a slight flutter of the wings and a flirt of the tail accompanying each motion; when approached too closely it leaves its perch, always descending at first, as though safer when near or on the ground; if it would rise on the wing a momentum is gained by a succession of hops. In some of its habits one is reminded much of the wattle-bird; its usual associates, at any rate during the summer months, are tuis, parroquets and robins. Not much secretiveness is displayed in the choice of a site for its nest; it may be found at varying distances from the earth, from four feet to twelve and upwards, usually at seven or eight. The structure is firmly and compactly built, with small sprays for the foundation, on which moss is abundantly interwoven with pliaut twigs; the lining is usually of fine grass bents; some nests are finished off with soft tree-fern down; it is usually placed in tutu (Coriaria ruscifolia), sometimes in Coprosma or manuka. From the neighbourhood of its home rivals of its own species as well as other birds are driven off. Probably it breeds twice in the season, although we have not observed more than two eggs to a nest; yet we have found four eggs tolerably forward in the ovary of a female killed at Christmas time: the full complement of eggs is probably four. The egg is of ovoid, sometimes elongated form, pure white, spotted with blackish brown or black, purplish at the edges of the spots; sometimes it is of a delicate pinkish tinge, just staining the white, spotted with brownish gray, with purplish blotches at the larger end. From a nest found at Arahura we have an egg that exactly resembles in its colour and markings that of Oriolus galbula of Europe: in size this specimen measures through the axis one inch three and a half lines, with a diameter of eleven and a half lines.
December 26th, River Waio. In a nest about twelve feet from the ground, in a bush of Coriaria, the eggs (two in number) were of elongated form, and measured in length one iuch seven lines by nearly one inch in width.
December 27th, River Waio. A nest in a small-leaved Coprosma (probably rhamnoides); female incubating a single egg; she remained on the nest till pushed off. The male bird was summoned by a jarring call, and both birds joined in a bold defence.
Near Lake Mapourika, in a very swampy situation, we found a nest with the walls very thickly built of moss and manuka sprays interwoven; it was placed about fifteen feet above the ground in a tall manuka. Dimensions of the nest across the top from outside to outside of wall about seven inches; diameter of cavity about three inches with a depth of two inches. We find this a fair average, after looking at scores of nests. The young when they emerge from the shell have a covering of dark down. We think the eye of the pio-pio gleams with much intelligence; perhaps this notion is conveyed by its narrow but bright pale yellow iris; the tongue is pointed, and furnished on the inferior side with a strong muscular process of almost horn-like consistence. Both skin and flesh are dark, but the flavour of the bird is not at all bad; it makes a savoury broil for those who bring the proper sauce—hunger; when not so provided, they do wanton mischief who kill a bird so harmless and interesting. They are very sociable, and a bush-hand living the life of a hermit, in his little whare of tree-fern stems up the Waio river-bed, fed some thrushes until he had enticed them to enter his hut. Once up the Havelock, in one of the outskirts of a mixed bush of Phyllocladus, Fagus and Podocarpus, several thrushes were observed flying from the top of a tree after insects, flycatcher fashion, in the glow of a hot afternoon. The writer inclines to the belief that the imitation of the redbill's note, above alluded to, is a good instance of the protective mimicry of sound. The pio-pio gets ample food, in the summer days at least, from the glades in the river-beds. Over these, high above, clash the falcons from amongst the rocky heights of the mountain chain; the hawk notes the movement of a bird below, but hearing the simulated cry of the redbill, withholds his dashing swoop, knowing that the wary redbill will alarm his faithful mate, and that the pair, with forces combined, are not to be attacked with impunity;
(To be continued.)
Ornithological Notes from Torquay. By Baron A. Von Hugel.
Notwithstanding the unusually mild weather we have been enjoying this winter, Torbay has been visited by a good many birds.
Black Ducks.—At present black ducks are very abundant, but so shy and wary that only very few are killed. They are mostly to be seen in large flocks,—I have counted over forty birds in one,—which are divided into several smaller ones, the whole group of birds often forming a semicircle. When alarmed black ducks do not rise in a body simultaneously, but each of the small flocks in succession; then, after wheeling about in a wild and irregular manner, rejoin into one large flock and resume their diving operations in some less disturbed portion of the bay. Single birds are very rarely seen, and I believe they are mostly wounded individuals. Most of the birds killed are shot on the wing, as one or other of the small flocks sometimes fly within gunshot of a sailing boat when wildly flying about after being frightened.
Scoters.—All the scoters I have seen belonged to the common species, Oidemia nigra, as I could not distinguish in any the characteristic white wing-band of the velvet scoter (O./usca).
Gannet.—Gannets have not been very plentiful on our coast this winter; but on some days large numbers have entered the bay. About a fortnight ago a flock of several hundred birds were following a shoal of fish off Paignton, and the effect produced by the contrast of the lovely white of their plumage against the leaden sky and deep green sea was very striking. All the birds I have noticed were in adult plumage, and young birds seem to be at all seasons very rare on our coast: the only specimen I know of is a bird in the second year's plumage in the town museum.
Guillemots.—The guillemots, which are as usual abundant, are a regular puzzle to me, for they are to be found in all plumages from the dark summer to the light winter dress, and if anything birds with black heads—the supposed summer dress—are more numerous than those with the white. All the razorbills I have seen were, with one exception, in full summer plumage. How can this be accounted Tor? I think by the white and black heads not being a seasonal change at all, but the sign of age. I remember being astonished last summer, whilst out shooting off Poole in July, by observing several guillemots in full winter dress. Some days ago I noticed a curious habit these birds have offlying through waves. I do not know if this habit has been noticed before, but it struck me at the time as curious. I was out sailing on a day when the south-east wind was sending some good-sized rollers into the bay, which made shooting almost impossible. Accordingly I employed my time in watching the birds around me, and whilst noticing the action of a small flock of guillemots two of the birds took wing, and, barely skimming over the water, flew through, and not over, the advancing waves, continuing their flight in this way for a considerable distance.
Skuas.—About a fortnight ago a small flock of skuas made its appearance in the bay. I noticed several of them chasing kittiwakes off Livermead. Judging by size, I think they must have been pomarines (Lestris pomarinus): this is the least rare of its kind, and visits our coast almost yearly during the cold season.
Manx Shearwater.—As usual, there are at present to be found about the bay a fair number of divers and a few grebes (Podiceps cristatus, P. cornutus and P. minor), with the common species of gulls, but no uncommon birds, with the exception of a Manx shearwater (Puffinus Anglorum) has been killed. The shearwater was shot on the 3rd of November last. These birds very rarely enter the bay, although very large flocks are said to be seen occasionally some distance out at sea.
The only land birds killed of late that I consider worth recording are the following:—
Firecrested Wren.—A male, Torquay, March 3rd, 1873.
Longeared Owl.— A pair, Torquay, December 17th, 1873. Mr. Shopland, the Torquay birdstuffer, informs me that both species of eared owls can only be considered as rare visitants to this neighbourhood.
Common Buzzard.—Examined, in the flesh, a fine female which had been trapped at Newton Abbot on the 10th of January.
Black Redstart.—Two adult males were killed in a garden in this town last month.
Roughlegged Buzzard.—One day, towards the end of December, —I forget the exact date,—I watched a large flock of hawks, which I conjectured to belong to this species. They were flying over this town, at no great height,in a south-easterly direction (cf. 'The Field,' January).
In the Torquay Museum there is a very fair local collection of birds, among which are the following specimens, which I think well worth recording, the more so as their occurrence has, in most cases, never yet been made known.
Hobby.—A very fine adult male, procured near this town in 1850. This is, as far as I can ascertain, the only old male of this species ever killed in the vicinity of Torquay.
Rosecoloured Pastor.—A pair; the female on Berry Head, June 12th, 1851 (cf. Burt, 'Zoologist,' 1851, p. 3233), and the male, a very fine bird, procured seven years later in the same place.
Eider Duck.—Female, Tor Bay, winter of 1866. A very rare visitant to our coast.
Eared Grebe.—An old bird in full summer plumage; shot off Paignton in May, 1853.
Horned Grebe. — A specimen in nearly full summer dress. A"few young birds are yearly killed during the cold season, but old birds in summer plumage are extremely rare.
Great Northern Diver.—A good series, from winter to full summer plumage. The pair in summer plumage are the finest I have ever seen; they were shot in the bay by Mr. Rodway in May, 1864. Mr. Burt, curator to the Museum, informs me that these divers usually leave the coast by the middle of April, or even earlier; but that in 1864 a number of these returned at the end of May, all in full breeding dress, when the above-mentioned pair was killed. Little Auk.—One picked up dead in Torquay Harbour in 1856. Iceland Gull.—An immature bird, " shot in Tor Bay many years ago." A very rare winter visitant.
Glaucous Gull.—Several specimens: one adult, killed off Torquay in the winter of 1854. Young birds are rare, but regular winter visitants to this coast.
Ivory Gull.—A young bird, Tor Bay, January 18th, 1853 (cf. Burt,' Zoologist,' 1853, p. 3807).
Pomarine Skua.—A beautiful adult bird, caught by hook and line in the bay many years ago. Young birds are procured every winter.