Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

declined to afford us any information without being paid for it, a proposition to which we were not disposed to accede; but from the size and elaborate character of the building, it is evident that the capital is large.* Assuming that any proposition for the foundation of an aquarium in Birmingham must be of a much more modest character, we find that the only existing institutions of the kind, the financial bases of which we need examine, are those of Paris, Hamburg and Sydenham, and it is important to observe that these differ essentially from the English establishments which we have mentioned above (except possibly that of Manchester) in being truly genuine aquariums, standing or falling on their zoological merits alone, instead of being mere adjuncts to a musical lounge, as at Brighton; or depending for success upon rental of restaurants, croquet-lawns, billiard-rooms, American bowling-alleys, ozonebaths, &c, as at Great Yarmouth and Ramsgate; or upon "an almost daily succession of concerts and light entertainments," and "bijou shops for articles de luxe," which will be, as we learn from the prospectus, sources of revenue at Liverpool. For.this reason the analysis of the financial elements of these three aquaria deserves our special attention. We find, then, that the aquarium of the Jardin d'Acclimatation is an integral part of the "Compagnie du Jardin Zoologique;" that the shares (the number of which is unfortunately not stated) are of 250 francs, all paid up; that their present market value is 125 francs, and that no dividend has been paid since its establishment in 1862. The average attendance is 450,000 annually, but the entrance fee to the Jardin d'Acclimatation includes also admission to the Aquarium. The cost of buildings and tanks was 100,000 francs (£4,166), and the tanks are fourteen in number, each containing about one cubic metre. The Hamburg Aquarium was opened in 1864, and had the immense advantage of the early popularity of the recently established gardens in which it is situated; the still greater one of being under the management of Mr. W. A. Lloyd, whose zeal and self-sacrifice reduced the total current expenditure to £600 per annum on a capital of £3000. As a consequence, capital and profits balanced each other in six years. But this was accomplished through a fortunate combination of exceptionally favourable circumstances; for, as Mr. Lloyd himself

* I have since received from Manchester a statement of the exact cost of the aquarium there, namely LI 1,971: the opening of this institution is described as eminently successful.—JE. N.

writes, "Our gardens were new, popular and fashionable, and I have known as many as 250,000 (nearly the whole population of Hamburg and its environs) enter these gardens in five or six days. We had as many as 25,000 to 32,000 pass the gates on a fine Sunday or Easter Monday or Whit-Monday, and of course the aquarium gained by this. 1 have known £80 taken in the aquarium in twelve horns on such a Sunday, and in the autumn of 1864 we took £60 a-week for ten weeks consecutively. But as the whole place had but one-tenth of the population of London, this could not last; hence its great popularity was at first, and hence the smallness of the average takings when spread over six or seven years." Turning, lastly, to Sydenham, we are only able to state, in broad terms, that the cost of the buildings, tanks, machinery, &c., and of stocking, was about £12,000, exclusive of ground; and that a large dividend has resulted from its operations. Mr. Lloyd has expressed his decided opinion that, successful as it is biologically, even this aquarium could not possibly be made to pay apart from the other attractions of the Palace; further, in a letter to Mr. H ughes, full of practical information of the most valuable kind, freely communicated in that spirit of brotherhood which ever characterizes the true enthusiast in Natural History, he lays down the broad general principle, that no aquarium can be made to pay its way, unassisted by other attractions, even in the largest centre of population, unless its cost be limited to £3000 and its annual expenses to £500. The facts which we have endeavoured to summarize seem to support this conclusion, and we venture to suggest, finally, that in carrying out the scheme of an aquarium in Birmingham, the alternatives which the promoters will have first to consider are—

1st. Its establishment on a small scale, success depending solely on its attractions as a scientific and educational institution.

2nd. Its formation on a much larger scale, the addition of other attractions and sources of revenue being then admitted to be necessary for pecuniary success.

In either case it will be important to consider whether the scheme shall be carried out in connection with any existing institution or place of public resort, the attractions of which already suffice to bring together a large number of persons, of whom a certain proportion would pay an extra fee for admission to the aquarium itself.

In conclusion, we should state that we have been unable to obtain any decisive opinion as to the possibly injurious effect of the atmosphere of a large town upon an aquarium situated in its midst. The managers at Southport and Vienna decidedly reply, "No!" and the fact deserves notice that the Liverpool Aquarium is to be built in the very centre of that great town. Finally, Mr. Lloyd's opinion, to which the greatest weight unquestionably attaches, is that no such injurious result need be feared.

Birmingham, April 10, 1874.

Birds in Cambridge Market.—The following is a list of the birds I have met with in the Cambridge Market and game-shops:—Kestrel, shorteared and white owls, capercaillie, black and red grouse, ptarmigan, magpie, kingfisher, stone curlew, peewit; golden, gray and ringed plovers; sanderling, oystercatcher, heron, curlew, blacktailed and bartailed godwits, common and spotted redshanks, dunlin, knot, ruff and reeve, woodcock, common and jack snipe, water rail, moorhen, coot; pinkfooted, whitefronted, bernicle and brent geese; sheldrake, gad wall, pintail, shoveller, pochard, scaup, goldeueye, common and velvet scoters, tufted and longtailed ducks, redbreasted merganser, goosander, redthroated diver; great crested, rednecked, eared and little grebes; lesser blackbacked, common, kittiwake and blackheaded gulls; razorbill and gannet. I have only mentioned those which have come under my own observation, but of course other species may be met with from time to time. On the 13th of June I saw in Mr. Baker's shop at Cambridge a female woodcock which had been picked up on the 9th under the telegraph-wires by the Trumpington Road. It was, although a female, the smallest woodcock that either Mr. Baker or myself ever saw: he did not weigh it before skinning, as it was in the most wretched condition. The state of the plumage on the head showed it had been engaged in incubation, but some time since, as the young feathers were appearing. I think a good many birds come to grief through these wires, as the first intimation I had of the arrival of the cuckoo this year was being shown one which had met with a fate similar to that of the woodcock.—Julian G. Tuck; Tostock House, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

Ornithological Query.—Will any of your readers kindly help me to a solution of the following problem :—Of two species of sea-fowl, which may in other respects be regarded as identical in habits and exposed to similar risks, the one lays a single egg every season and the other lays two eggs, the youug birds breeding in the following season. Determine the relations in respect of duration of life, for the maintenance of a constant ratio between the numbers of the species.—S.H.Saxby; East Clevedon, Somerset, June 24, 1874.

Osprey carrying off Chickens. — Observing Mr. Arthur John ClarkKennedy's account of an osprey carrying off chickens, in the May number of the ' Zoologist' (S. S. 8996), and as such behaviour is not in accordance with the usual habits of the species, I have pleasure in reminding your readers of a similar occurrence recorded by me in the 'Zoologist' for December, 1868 (S. S. 1484). See also 'Birds of the West of Scotland,' page 20. — John A. Harvie Brown; Dunipace House, Falkirk, N.B., June 29, 1874.

Buzzards in Norfolk.—On March 4th, 1874, a good male specimen of the roughlegged buzzard was shot at Burgh, near Yarmouth: it had been resident in that neighbourhood for several weeks previously, feeding chiefly on the fieldfares and lapwings frequenting the surrounding marshes. A female common buzzard was shot at Bergh Apton on the 20th of March: stomach full of rabbit's fur.—T. E. Gunn; Upper St. Giles Street, Norwich.

Harsh Harrier in Suffolk.—A male specimen of the marsh harrier was captured on the 8th of May, 1874, in the neighbourhood of Yaxford, in Suffolk.—Id.

Food of Barn Owl and Great Spotted Woodpecker. — Many observers assert that the barn owl feeds almost, if not quite, exclusively on mice and young rats: in dissecting an old bird very recently I took from its stomach the remains of a sedge warbler, the head and legs being quite entire and easily distinguishable. I also picked up an almost full-grown water vole, quite dead, that had been dropped by the old bird near its nest. The great spotted woodpecker seems excessively fond of the larva of the goat moth. I know of an old tree close by this city completely bored and riddled by this insect, and which is the favourite resort of a pair of these birds in obtaining food. One of the old birds was unfortunately killed, and when picked up had between its mandibles an immense goat-larva, measuring over three inches and a half in length; it was crushed all over and quite • dead. The bird itself smelt very strongly of the peculiar odour; its stomach on dissection was found to be filled with the remains of the larvae.— Id.; June, 1874.

Pied Flycatcher In Norfolk.—A male in adult plumage was obtained on the 15th of May, 1874, at Stalham: stomach full of minute insects.—Id.

Lesser Redpoll breeding near Norwich.—A nest of the lesser redpoll, containing two fresh-laid eggs, was taken on the 16th of May, 1874, on Higham Causeway, Norwich: it was built in the branches of an alder-bush. The nest was composed of green moss and fine dry grass, lined inside with fine cow-hair and the down of the cotton-rush and a feather or two. The lesser redpoll is becoming quite a resident in Norfolk: I have noticed its

SECOND SERIES—VOL. IX. 2 S

nesting in several localities during the last few years. I may mention, in addition to the above, the parishes of Surlingham, Bramerton, Great Cressingham, and Hickling.—T. E. Gunn.

Yellow Wagtail and Wild Goose near Guildford. — I have observed several yellow wagtails (Motacilla flava) by the side of the Wey near Guildford, also on grassy downs, one on the 26th of May, three on the 18th of June, and one since. A flock of wild geese passed over close to this town on the 19th of June, the whole amounting to about fourteen individuals.— W. Thomas; St. Catharines, Guildford, June 22, 1874.

Little Bittern in East Yorkshire.—A fine specimen of the little bittern was shot near Easington, in this Biding, on the 25 th of May last. It was unfortunately so shattered by the shot as to render it impossible to examine it internally.—F. Boyes.

How the Puffin ascends to its Nest.—Considering its habits, the puffin, in comparison with most birds building on heights, seems somewhat insufficiently provided with the means of getting to its nest. How it contrived during the breeding season to make the frequent ascents necessary whilst feeding its young, was a question to me, until a short visit to Flamborough Head on the 20th of last June explained the process. On the cliffs north of the lighthouse numerous guillemots and puffins were nesting. The latter chose the lower cliffs, and from their boldness their actions were easily watched both from above and below. Their manner of ascending to their nests, which were from fifty to one hundred feet from the sea, was as follows:—The bird rose from the water some way from the shore, flying so as barely to clear the tops of the waves until within fifty yards of the cliffs, when it appeared to depress its tail, which was fully spread, and by extending its webbed feet on either side nearly to double the surface of resistance, its course was changed, and the bird rose without apparent difficulty to its nest. Whilst thus used the legs were laid along the sides, the inner toe of the extended foot was covered by the outer feather of the tail, the points of the toes did not project beyond the curve formed by the tips of the tailfeathers, the combined arrangement of feet and tail thus forming a short but very powerful instrument, broader in proportion than the tail of most birds at that distance from the body. The habit was common to all the puffins which I saw go to their nests, and I think the guillemots used their feet in a similar manner. Whilst rising, the wings were moved with the same regularity as in horizontal flight. It is evident that the use of the tail and feet described must lessen the speed of flight, and the puffin is not eminent for its flying powers. Jt seemed as if the bird were conscious that it must have plenty of "way" on it at the commencement of the rise, and approached the point at which it began to ascend at a great speed. It occurs to me that the weight of the puffin's body must tell in its favour if, as I surmise, the bird ascends by the momentum gained in its level flight

« AnteriorContinuar »