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Ringed Plover.—Observed a few pairs on the Flintshire coast on the 13lh of March in the neighbourhood of their breedinggrounds. April 29.—Several pairs have now betaken themselves to their nesting-grounds in the sandhills near Southport, and fly noisily round any intruder; I think they have not, however, yet laid.
Dotterel.—A small flock was seen about the 22nd of April near Formby, making their way north-east, and one was heard a few days afterwards in the same neighbourhood; they occur here annually about this time, but sparingly.
Purple Sandpiper. — January 2. Two in St. John's Market, Liverpool, to-day, which the salesman assured me had come amongst other wild-fowl from Southport.
Dunlin.—January 10. Watched for some time, through a powerful telescope, several dunlins feeding, and observed they frequently plunged their beaks into the soft ooze quite up to the base. April 29.—Many still on our flats in small flocks, but nothing like the vast clouds one sees in winter.
Redshank.—January 10. I was much interested in watching the actions of a single bird feeding on the bank of the Alt; it never stood still for a second, but was ever on the move, running about hither and thither, and continually probing the soft ooze: these birds are very active whilst feeding, and walk with an extremely graceful gait, but seldom run.
Water Rail.—January 12. The stomachs of two 1 examined to-day contained a little fibrous vegetable matter, remains of small mollusks, and legs of a water-beetle, with a few pieces of gravel and chalk. My brother took three small univalve mollusks from the gizzard of one on the 4th of February. January 20.—My brother tells me he hears water rails crying almost every morning and evening in the reeds and sedge bordering the Test, Longparish, Hampshire.
Wild Duck.—January 17. Went into Flintshire to-day, and was fortunate enough to meet with a large flock of ducks and teal on the coast. On a marsh near Mostyn the neighbouring villagers trap a great many in a curious and novel way. They place large rabbit-traps about dusk under the water in the shallow tidal gulleys and pools, which are the favourite resorts of the ducks. During very cold weather, when the lakes in the mountains are frozen and the mountains themselves covered with snow, large flocks repair to the tidal marshes on the coast during the night, and a clever trapper will then often secure five or six couples.
Shieldrake.—March 13. Observed several pairs on the Flintshire coast to-day: they repair to the sandhills about this time.
Little Grebe.—January 19. My brother, whilst out after ducks this morning, observed a little grebe floating on its back in the water, which, on a nearer examination, proved to have been choked by a " miller's-thumb," which the bird had endeavoured to swallow head first, and had become firmly fixed in its jaws. The fish was full of spawn.
Gulls.—March 13. Hundreds of herring gulls on the sandy flats on the Flintshire coast, mostly fine adult birds, which breed numerously on the rocks some thirty miles west of Mostyn; also observed many common gulls, and blackheadcd with full black hoods.
Waterloo, Liverpool, May 4, 1874.
Ornithological Notes from Torquay. By Baron A. Von Hugel.
(Concluded from Zool. S. S. 3000.)
Blackheaded Gulls.—Noticed several specimens of Larus ridibundus on the 15th of February which had assumed the full spring plumage. They were flying in a large flock of other gulls off the mouth of the Torquay Harbour, their dark heads making them very conspicuous, even at a considerable distance.
Common Buzzard. — A specimen killed at Haccomb, near Newton, on the 23rd of February. This is the second bird of this species shot in that locality this year (Zool. S. S. 3907).
Crested Tit.—Noticed one of these birds in Chelston Lane on the '26th of March, which allowed of such a close approach that I nearly succeeded in touching it with my walking-stick. Parus cristatus has, I believe, never before been recorded from Devonshire, and only few instances of its occurrence in any part of England have been noticed.
Swallow.—The swallows made their first appearance on the 13th of April, on which day I noticed a pair; but they were seen in numbers only a week later.
Sand Martin.—The first sand martins I observed on the 20th of April at Hay Tor, on Dartmoor; but as yet, up to the 3rd of May, no common martins have been observed.
Ravens and Peregrines.—Whilst spending the day at Hay Tor, I noticed a pair of ravens uneasily flying about the Tor, and sometimes swooping down close past me. Their actions evidently betrayed the presence of a nest, and a few days ago I heard that some nestling ravens were offered for sale which had been taken on the moor. On the same day (April 20th) I likewise observed two large hawks, which were soon joined by a third, circling about at a great height overhead. I could not make out the species, but think they must have been peregrines, as their wings seemed long long and pointed, and not rounded, as in the buzzard.
Cuckoo.—First heard about Cockington, near Torquay, on the 24th of April.
Warblers.—I have noticed or heard all the annual visitants, with the exception of the wood warbler. The blackcap, which seems very plentiful this spring, was heard for the first time on the 14th of April.
Gannets, %c. — The gannets have not yet left our coast, as I noticed a good many at the mouth of the bay off Hope's Nose, on the 27th of April. There were also a number of the great blackbacked and herring gulls about; and the razorbills, all in pairs, were quite plentiful, decidedly more so than the guillemots, which is curious, as the latter bird is by far the most numerous during the winter season. Many individuals of both species showed yet signs of the winter plumage.
A. VON HiigEL.
Chelaton Cross, Torquay,
Notes from Castle Eden. By Mr. John Sc Later.
On the 9th May, at 8 P.m., I heard the screaming of a bird close to my window, and on looking out I saw two rats (full grown ones) with a thrush lying between them: they had killed it in a moment. The poor thing only lifted a wing once: it was bitten on the side under the wing; the rats made no attempt to eat it or carry it away, but ran playfully off. It was an old thrush, and had a nest of four young close by. I had for some time been at a loss to account for the unusual noise or alarum of the birds, especially in the evening, and had looked in vain for cats or hawks. I never suspected the rats: they have always been numerous in this place,—au artificial mound, about fifty yards long by fifteen wide, running between the house and the Dene, covered with "rockwork," low-growing bushes, and crowned with laurel and holly; from this little place I have no end of amusement; it is always moving with animal life. In the nesting season I have found the blackbird, song thrush, missel thrush, garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, hedge sparrow, robin, longtailed tit, bullfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, wood pigeon; and this year the sparrow has thought fit to place a bundle of straw and feathers on the top of a rather bare holly; and a short time since I let a pair of tawny owls from confinement, fully expecting they would go off into the Dene, but they took up their abode in this coveted place, and here they might have assisted me in keeping down the rats by killing the young ones (I have a doubt whether they would tackle a fullgrown one), but they were mobbed from morning till night, the missel thrush being, as usual, the boldest in attacking them, the blackbird the noisiest; and this noise was so incessant and annoying that I was obliged to shut the owls up again. Twentysix pheasants made this place their winter quarters, all of which I have seen roosting on one tree,—an old Scotch fir; the greater portion of them bad been hand-reared at a short distance off. I fed them regularly twice a day with maize; some of them became so bold as to fly upon the window-sill; the creaking of the window on being opened, or a whistle, would always collect them; the rats, tits, finches, and even the wary wood pigeons, would put in an appearance, at the same time taking care to be furthest away from me; they would allow me to throw out corn when within fifteen yards without flying away; but if the pheasants were not between them and me, they would be off if I showed my face at the closed window. The pheasants have gradually disappeared since the breeding season commenced. An old cock that has never left the place for six or seven years considers the place should belong to him and his six wives; at present, he is in turn compelled to give way at the approach of a game bantam and his five wives: this little fellow is master of them all. I have, however, an occasional visit from some other cock pheasants, when they can steal past the old one. Two lame cocks he never quarrels with, but torments them until they fly away, by displaying himself to them, exactly in the same manner as he does to the hens, so that love-making is not (as some writers would make us believe) the only incitement to this exhibition of the plumage, or it follows that this old cock is making love to the young ones. I may add, here, that I often see this display of plumage even in winter amongst a group of cock birds, when no females are near them: if another cock thinks himself as good looking as the one displaying himself, he displays in turn, and they always face opposite directions; their heads and necks are immediately brought erect, the feathers fall close to the body, except the tail, which remains spread, and the upper parts still shown to each other; it then assumes an attitude of defence and defiance, and either ends in a light, or more frequently one of them hops to one side, and immediately raises the feathers of the head and neck, which seems to indicate fear or submission; the other either resumes his display as at first, or finishes off by shaking himself and crowing. I have frequently seen hen pheasants draw up to each other, sometimes three or four at once, spreading their tails and showing their upper parts by drooping the sides next to each other, in a similar manner, and they invariably use a little threatening language to each other while they are braced up. The male pheasant will sometimes display himself to the female in another manner: he will run up to her from some distance, with his wings trailing and his feathers puffed out, and on coming up to her circle round her with the outer wing spread, just like the domestic cock.
When I commenced to write to you I had no intention of saying one word on this subject, and yet I am prompted to make use of the parsons' hackneyed phrase of—" one word more." The domestic cock is said to lower the wing next the hen; this is, perhaps, more apparent than real; the spreading of the wing is always on the side furthest from the hen, that side of the body being raised to allow the wing to be spread downwards in the shape of a shell; it is their habit also to raise the foot and draw it across the wing when spread, which produces a slight rustling of the feathers; this, then, necessitates the lowering of the whole of the other side of the body: let anyone raise his elbow, and then try to scratch it with his foot without sinking the other elbow. Now, without admitting that these displays are "purposeless," after what I have seen, I will say that they are not used only as "a charm for the female, and no other purpose," because different emotions seem to produce the same display.