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specimens are seen is because the great majority which visit our coasts are young birds of the year in their plain brownish gray dress.—J. Gatcombe.
Dartford Warbler in Suffolk.—Mr. G. T. Rope, in the last number of the 'Zoologist' (S. S. 3865), in announcing that an example of the above species had been picked up dead at Leiston, asks if this is not a new locality for it, as Yarrell makes no mention of its occurrence in Suffolk. I am aware of but one other Suffolk specimen, which was shot by my late friend Mr. Thomas Dix, ou Nacton Heath, near Ipswich, and is still preserved in his collection, with others from the South of England.—Henry Stevenson; Norwich, February 17, 1874.
On the Occurrence of Emberiza nivalis in fnll Summer Plumage.—I have long been under the impression that the snow bunting breeds in some of the more unfrequented northern parts of the United Kingdom, and I trust that by next autumn I shall be enabled to thoroughly establish that fact. I have met with Emberiza nivalis early in September in Suffolk and Norfolk, and on more than one occasion have observed it in Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland, during July and August. In Orkney I have seen it in pairs at the beginning of August; and from what I have been enabled to learn from the country people there is no doubt but that it breeds in those islands, though I have as yet been unsuccessful in procuring the nest or eggs. I have seen evidently quite young birds about the 2nd of August near Stromness, and undoubtedly bred in Orkney. What I wish to record, however, is the occurrence, early in July of 1872, of a specimen of Emberiza nivalis in full breeding plumage at Eastbourne, in Sussex. I only knew of this last week, and I believe it to have been unrecorded in any Natural-History periodical. I bolieve it was shot upon the 2nd of July, but my informant, on whose word I place perfect reliance, is not certain of the exact date. It was shot upon the sea-beach opposite the Cavendish Hotel, and taken by the person who killed it to Bates, the taxidermist, of Eastbourne, who sold the skin to a gentleman living in Huntingdon, but whose name he could not remember. It is rather late in the day to record the occurrence of a bird of 1872; but this fact tends to assist my belief that this species does occur in the British Islands in summer more often than is generally believed to be the case, and ere long I think it will be proved that it breeds with us.—Alexander W. M. Clark-Kennedy; Guards' Club, S.W., January 15, 1874.
Buff Variety of the House Sparrow.—A curious variety of the house sparrow was shot in Cambridgeshire last week, and is now in my possession. Its colour is a uniform light buff; the back and wings dark buff, with light brown edgings to the flight feathers.—Walter T. Ogilvy; British Museum, February 16, 1874.
Siskins breeding in Ireland.—I am unable to find recorded any actual instance of the siskin breeding in Ireland. Thompson, indeed, in his 'Natural History of Ireland,' says, "That they may occasionally even breed in some parts of the County of Wicklow, and certain suitable localities in the North, is not improbable;" but this is only a surmise, and seems not to have been based on any actual observation. I am happy to be able to state that this surmise of Thompson's is correct. In May, 1871, a pair of siskins reared a nest of young ones in our pleasure-ground. The nest was placed about twenty-five feet from the ground, near the extremity of a long branch of a tall larch tree. It could not have been reached without cutting the branch. However, I had no intention of meddling with it; but, being an invalid at the time, I watched with great pleasure, from a sofa purposely placed close to the tree, the feeding of the young and the habits of the old birds. On referring to my note-book, I find that on the 22nd of July, 1866, I saw either a female or young siskin close to the house: I presume, therefore, that a brood was reared in that year also. I may add that the siskin visits us almost every winter in greater or lesser numbers, feeding, as is their custom, almost exclusively on the alder, and generally in company with their friends the redpolls. I find that when caged the siskin becomes instantly "at home," feeding and twittering at once as if at full liberty.— Bichard M. Barrington; Fassaroe, Bray, County Wicklow, Feb. 1, 1874.
PS.—I have not seen the number of Professor Newton's new edition of Yarrell which contains the siskin.—R. M. B.
White Woodcock in Ireland.—I saw a beautiful white woodcock a few days since in Dublin: it had been killed in the South of Ireland.—Rev. E. Robinson, in a letter to Mr. Gatcombe.
Ferocity of the Jackdaw.—In the January number of the ' Zoologist' (S. S. 3828) I see a note on the ferocity of the jackdaw. A very similar instance came under my observation during the past summer. When out driving one day in June I noticed, about fifty yards in front of the horse, a thrush, apparently just out of the nest, in the middle of the road. While I was looking at it a jackdaw suddenly flew over the fence, and, regardless of the cries of the infuriated parent, carried off the hapless youngster to an adjoining tree, where he immediately devoured it.—W. J. Kerr. ,
The Bute Swan and its Food.—The well-known and majestic mute swan was formerly somewhat common upon several parts of the Avon, where it annually bred, and was, in a measure, but semi-domesticated, and often have I watched the fierce struggles which took place between them at the pairing season, and afterwards the watchful and sentinel-like sailing to and fro of the male to protect the nest and his sitting mate from molestation, and eventually the advent of the four or five (on one occasion I counted seven) parti-coloured nestlings, who for nearly a year bore marks of their immature state. All this and much more I well remember, even the schoolboy achievement of getting to the nest through mud and water up to one's neck, and finding the huge dirty looking eggs amongst a profusion of down, which performance was gone through at the peril of the old birds, or worse still the old fisherman " coming down " upon us. A few years ago nearly all the old swans were caught or killed; and I have been informed that the reason for so doing was that they lived almost entirely upon the ova and fry of various fishes—salmon and trout to wit. We well know how readily an accusation of this kind receives support, especially from those who have an interest in the matter; for instance, the little dipper—whether rightfully or wrongfully I am not prepared to say, as it does not inhabit this part—is accused of being one of the worst depredators of the trout-streams in the more northern counties; but as an amateur lover of the feathered tribes I am somewhat sceptical as to the swan's "almost entirely" living at the expense of the piscine race. I have many times seen them feeding upon the water-weed (Anacharis aUinastrum), and have been somewhat amused at their grotesque attitudes, when the long flexible stems of this aquatic plant hung about their neck and seemed much to annoy them, but all of which were eventually disposed of down the swan's capacious gullet. Possibly they sometimes destroy the spawn of various fishes, but, as far as I have been able to observe, they do not destroy the young fry, or at least make a practice of doing so, but make the above-named and other weeds their staple food. I never on any occasion saw a swan feeding which gave such an "ocular demonstration" of their powers of destruction to the angler's favourites as is sometimes observed in the habits of its distant but longnecked relation, the common heron, whose grip of an eel must be anything but comfortable to the captured fish, if we may judge by its writhings aud contortions when held in the unmerciful beak of its captor.—G. B. Corbin; Ringwood, Hants.
Ostriches pairing.—An editorial note (Zool. S. S. 3531) expresses a wish for some information from the Cape on this point. In consequence, Mr. F. Denny, of Graham's Town, has, at my request, made inquiries amongst the hunters and ostrich farmers, and learns from them that in domestication the birds are paired as strictly as possible, but in a wild state the strongest male collects as many wives as he likes, leaving the weaker ones to find mates as they best can. The female, after laying her eggs, turns out of the nest all she cannot cover and keep warm, and at night the male relieves her on the nest, seeking his own food by day. As he could not do this in the natural state, many more eggs must be addled than on the farms, where they can be removed to other nests. The theory that these eggs are designedly left out of the nest by the parent bird in order to provide food for the chicks, is laughed at there; but how do they procure sustenance, nesting as they do in the desert, long distances away from any vegetation? As the feathers have to be cut off the live birds, they are not worth so much as those plucked from the wild ones after death.—H. F. Bailey; November 13, 1873.
Ostrich Economy.—A new industry is likely to spring up in cultivating the ostrich. A French officer in Algeria, having discovered that some ostrich eggs which were accidentally left in a hole in the wall of a bakehouse were, in course of time, hatched by the gentle and continuous heat to which they were exposed, conceived the idea of, first, keeping ostriches in confinement, and, secondly, hatching the eggs in artificial incubators and rearing the "chicks" thus hatched. For several years he assiduously carried his idea into practice; and, after repeated experiments, has succeeded in discovering all the secret details of the domestic economy of the ostrich. Instead of the cold-hearted parent "travellers' tales" have led us to suppose the ostrich to be, it seems, if the narrative to which we have referred be trustworthy, to be a most exemplary parent. Its nest certainly is made simply by scooping a large hole out in the sand, but over that nest it watches with unceasing devotion. Not only the hen but the male bird takes part in the incubation, thus setting an example which puts our domesticated fowl to shame. The breeding season commences in February or March, and for a whole month the hen bird continues laying— producing an egg about every other day: these are carefully watched, moved about every day, and as they increase in number the "sitting" becomes more and more close. About eighteen eggs are laid on an average, but all of these are seldom hatched; two or three are invariably placed outside the nest, for a purpose which we will explain presently. About fifty-three days is the natural period of incubation, and the cock and hen take their turns with unfailing regularity on the nest. Sometimes Mr. Ostrich imitates Brigham Young's example, and has several wives. When this is the case, he takes charge of the nest by night, and during the day, while he takes a stroll with some of his wives, one at least remains with the eggs. The nest is frequently made miles away from a blade of grass, and daily excursions are necessary in search of food; and here is the explanation of the ejected eggs; the baby ostrich would be unable to travel so far on his first entry into the world, and these eggs are left to be broken by the mother for his sustenance during the first few days of his life. The shell being cracked by her powerful beak, the new-born ostrich eats the yolk as it runs on to the sand, frequently consuming large quantities of sand too. The hard substances, such as pebbles, iron nails, &c., which have been found in the gizzards of ostriches, are swallowed for the purpose of assisting digestion; the grinding process which takes place is common to all birds. It is said that in Italy the knowledge of this fact is turned to account by lapidaries, who make turkeys swallow gems that they may be subjected to the process for a time, and thus receive the appearance of old stones. What a saving of time would be effected by using an ostrich for this purpose!
Liknean Society Of London.
January 15, 1874.—George Bentham, Esq., F.R.S., President, in the chair.
Dr. Hooker exhibited a very beautiful series of specimens of fossil copal, the product of Trachylobium Hornemannianum, some specimens of recent copal from the same plant, and some fruits of a Momordica, all forwarded from Zanzibar by Dr. Kirk, for the Kew Museum.
A framed plate of coloured drawings of edible and poisonous British Fungi, presented to the Society by Mr. Thomas Walker, was exhibited.
The following papers were then read:—
1. "On some Species of Japanese Marine Shells and Fishes which inhabit also the North Atlantic." By Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys. The Mollusca noticed by the author were procured by Capt. St. John in H.M.S.' Sylvia,' during the years 1871 and 1878, on the coasts of North Japan. His dredgings varied between three and one hundred fathoms. After passing in review the works of naturalists who had described the marine shells of Japan, and especially the 'Mollusca Japonica' of Dr. Lischke, with reference to those species which are common to Japan and Europe, Mr. Jeffreys proposed to record from Capt. St. John's dredgings thirty-nine species, and to give the range of depth for such of them as he had obtained in the 'Porcupine' expeditions of 1869 and 1870. He then offered an explanation of the occurrence of the same species in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by suggesting that it was probably owing to involuntary transport by tides and currents, and not to voluntary migration. Very little is known about the direction and force of .deep-sea currents; but high northern species might be transported on the one side to Japan and on the other to Europe by a bifurcation of the great Arctic current, which has been traced as far south as the Straits of Gibraltar in the course of the ' Porcupine' expeditions. The entry of northern species into the Mediterranean may be accounted for by the former existence of a wide channel, or rather an open sea between the lower part of the Bay of Biscay and the Gulf of Lyons, which has been satisfactorily proved on geological grounds to have been formed since the Tertiary epoch. A list of the Mollusca referred to in the paper was given, with critical remarks, as well as a list of twenty-two species of fish which Dr. Gunther communicated as common to the Japanese Seas and the North Atlantic or Mediterranean.
After the reading of the paper, Captain St. John was called on by the President, and stated that he hoped in future cruises to be able