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said to have been killed on the river Yealm: this species is very uncommon in our neighbourhood. I was informed by a fisherman that there were now hundreds of gannets in the channel off Plymouth, and that he had also met with some puffins (which he called "popes"); this seems very early for the appearance of the lastnamed species, but it might be owing to the extraordinary mildness of the season. The mackerel-boats are now begiuning to bring in quantities of guillemots, and a few razorbills, in every stage of plumage.
8th. Saw three shags at a birdstuffer's, one of which was in nearly perfect breeding-dress, whilst the other two were only just beginning to change. Large numbers of these birds are now daily seen in the water and on the rocks near the Mewstone, at the mouth of the river Yealm. I believe the plumage of the female shag in summer to be finer even that that of the male, and that the same may be said of the cormorant.
14th. There were three more old male shovelers in the Plymouth Market, killed on one of the rivers or estuaries in this neighbourhood.
19th. Walked along the coast beyond Bovisand, and observed several cormorants, which showed the white patch on the thighs peculiar to the breeding-season.
20th. Remarked a pied wagtail in apparently full summer dress. I believe that a large number of the birds of this species we see in early spring are migrants.
23rd. Observed a small party of wood larks, some of which rested on a telegraph-wire; this I have often seen them do before. Starlings are already taking possession of the "air-holes" in the high walls of the ramparts surrounding Devonport, in which large numbers breed. Watched twelve herons, one after another, silently crossing from the trees on which they had been resting during high water, in Warleigh Wood, to their fishing-places on the opposite side of the river Tamar, the mud-banks of which were just beginning to appear. This morning I examined the contents of the stomach of a brown owl, in which were the remains of an immense rat, the long and thick tail of which was quite perfect. What a pity it is that so many of these useful birds should be shot and trapped by our gamekeepers. Many kestrels and green woodpeckers have also been killed in this neighbourhood.
24th. Saw a large flock of Larus ridibundus. on the water, many of which had already acquired the dark head of the breeding season. I also met with a few ravens on the coast.
27th. Was shown a fine specimen of the spotted redshank, which had been lately killed in the estuary at the mouth of the river Erme. It was in perfect winter plumage, and is a rare bird in Devonshire.
8, Lower Durnford Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth, Mareh 11,1874.
Remarks on Birds seen during a Tfiree Weeks' Tour in Brittany. By Captain Henry Hadfield.
Gannet, Redthroated Diver and Guillemot.—On approaching the French coast, after passing Jersey, a few gannets were observed in the distance, and redthroated divers and guillemots, disturbed at their morning's repast, were constantly passing and repassing, increasing in numbers as the harbour of St. Malo was neared.
Jay.—During my rambles on shore I was agreeably surprised to find birds still so numerous, notwithstanding all that has been said and written; for instance, that beautiful bird, the jay, was not only found in every wood and copse, but was seen flitting from pollard to pollard by the roadside.
Magpie.—The magpie is almost, if not quite, as numerous as the jay; less wary, too, allowing one, gun in hand and dog at heel, to approach within some forty or fifty yards; and on one occasion, when sauntering about the town of Lannion, a pair of magpies alighted close to me, aud began to search for the small fish and fry falling from the nets hung up to dry on the public esplanade skirting a tidal basin. Seeing them so tame, I inquired whether they belonged to any one, but it appeared not, and their perfect state of plumage went far to prove it. One day, when walking through a densely wooded district, I observed towards sunset numbers of magpies passing overhead, sometimes singly, but more frequently in strings or irregular flocks, all flying in the same direction to their roosting quarters.
Hooded Crow.—The hooded crow was found a common though not a very numerous species.
Rook.—Rooks were not so plentiful as with us, nor did I observe a single large flock or a rookery.
Jackdaw.—Jackdaws w ere seen at St. Pol de Leon, wheeling round and about the tower and spire of the old church of Notre Dame de Kreisker, which is three hundred and sixty-six feet in height, in the open mullion-work of which they may possibly breed.
Crested Lark.—This interesting species was observed at Roscoff in small numbers, generally two or three together, feeding on a much frequented road and causeway leading to the harbour, where carts were constantly passing to and from the vessels lying alongside the mole. On the near approach of a cart they would rise on wing, and wheeling round re-settle on the same spot; this I observed them do again and again, and so tame or fearless were they that they would allow one to get within five or six yards of them. What they were feeding on 1 could not make out; but the road being hard and well worn, there could be little found except chance grains of corn, or may be insects attracted by the horses and cattle. Though it has been said to resemble the sky lark it differs greatly in shape and somewhat in size, being shorter, particularly in the tail, and in that respect more like the wood lark: its walk is not so stately, nor is the head held so erect as that of the former. Yarrell tells us that this species is " like the common lark in form," and that "its tail is long"; and the figure might be taken for that of the sky lark, but then it was delineated from a stuffed specimen, which the taxidermist had doubtless made to stand erect, whereas the crested lark has a crouching, stealthy walk, the neck contracted. Morris's figure is more exact, and the position more natural, though it is represented with crest erect, whereas those I saw had it usually depressed or recumbent, but at all times distinguishable: his remarks on some of its habits tally with my observations—for instance, its approaching habitations, and being solitary rather than gregarious.
Chaffinch, $c.—Of small birds the chaffinch is by far the most numerous, and is to be met with everywhere; in no part of England have I seen them in such abundance or so familiar. The house sparrow, on the contrary, is comparatively scarce, and so is the hedgesparrow.
Sky Lark.—The sky lark was seen in considerable flocks, though a much persecuted species, being in great request for the table.
Goldencrested Wren.—Several were seen in a fir-plantation at Quimper, and it is seemingly a numerous species, being too small a gibier for the table.
White Wagtail.—The white wagtail was the only species of Motacilla seen; but as none were shot or closely examined I could only judge from their being of a light gray colour on the back. It would puzzle an unscientific observer to discover why a gray bird should be called "white," but it might puzzle him still more to find a black bird named the "white wagtail" and a yellow wagtail the "gray."
Tree Sparrow.—Numerous nests of this species, I believe, were observed in some tall and leafless trees by the roadside.
Woodcock and Snipe.—Woodcocks and snipe were scarce, owing to the mildness of the season—neither frost nor snow up to the 19th of November, at which date I left for Paris. There had been flights of woodcocks early in the month, but in such open weather, in a well-wooded country like Brittany, they are so dispersed that few are met with; and in wet weather snipes are scattered over the moors and heaths.
Gulls.—On the coast, particularly at Concarneau and Carnac, mauy gulls were seen in the distance; and I may remark that I never saw them in such numbers except at their breeding-stations, but it is readily accounted for, fish being so abundant, more so than in any part of the world I have visited, except the coast of Malabar.
Ventnor, Isle of Wight, February 9,1874.
Fish and Crustacea in the Tanks, fyc., at Concarneau.
It may give some idea of the immense quantity of fish caught on the coast, if I state what came under my observation when at Concarneau. At an early hour I was awakened by a great commotion and a clattering of sabots, and on looking out beheld a prodigious quantity of fish exposed for sale, well nigh covering the street; still more and more were being brought,literally carpetting the ground, being spread out on cloths, the soles in pairs—the street thereby transformed into a busy market, to which the townspeople were flocking. The quantity of fish taken is far too great for home consumption, and much is sent up to Paris.
Wonderful as this sight was, an inspection of living fish and Crustacea, in the far-famed tanks, was more surprising still. Hewn out of the rock, these tanks cover a space of a thousand square yards or more, sheltered and protected from the sea by massive walls. At high water these basins are many feet in depth, and the fish are discerned with difficulty, nor could I see any in one of the tanks till an attendant directed my attention to some light and glistening spots on dark objects at the bottom; these he said were turbots, but there must have been brills amongst them. On food being thrown in, the whole tank was in commotion, the fish darting here and there in quest of it, some coming to the surface almost perpendicularly, and with wonderful speed and agility; and their manner of swimming is most graceful, too—propelled, as well as guided, by the powerful and pliant tail.
The tank containing crayfish is so well stocked and closely packed that they completely cover the surface, and I was informed that they consume daily two hundredweight of dogfish and other common species. I saw them fed, and it was amusing to observe these awkward long-legged creatures, not unlike huge spiders, crawling on and over each other's backs in search of the dainty morsels, which were greedily seized and devoured.
In an adjoining tank lobsters were to be seen in great numbers, some crawling about the steps leading down to the water, having been left high and dry by the receding tide, but they appeared none the worse for it. Some of the lobsters were of great size, others differing in colour from the common kind, being of a bright and intense blue. Of the common lobster (Cancer gammarus) Cuvier remarks, " C'est un des Crustaces de mer que Ton sert le plus sur nos tables." In the 'Dictionnaire Classique,' it is said, "Sa taille est souvent gigantesque, on le trouve commuuement dans la Mediterranee et dans l'ocean." There was also the Palinurus, or spring lobster, somewhat resembling the crayfish, to which it is seemingly allied, and is here most abundant, well nigh as much so as the common lobster.
In another tank a shark was seen, living peaceably and amicably with numerous other fish, with which it had fraternized; but, being well fed, a satiated appetite may perhaps account for its forbearance.
My acquaintance with fish and Crustacea being slight, I shall not venture into other tanks, as I might get out of my depth, but may say a word or two about the aquarium adjoining, where fish and Crustacea are bred, and where they may be traced from the spawn