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remained on their nests, evidently sitting close, and empty eggshells here and there on the ground showed that some nestlings were hatched. With the help of a powerful glass I had a good view of the sitting birds as they crouched down, with their long necks thrown back between their shoulders and their beaks and tails projecting from and resting on their platform of twigs. Where their long legs were stowed away so as not to interfere with either eggs or young seemed a mystery, but they were most unquestionably in the nest, and not, as I have heard asserted to be the custom of these birds, protruded through the nest or over the sides. An entire nest from this heronry, preserved in a glass case in the hall, contains four nestlings, all differing in size and age, like young hawks. A pair of herons established themselves this year in Keswick rookery and brought off their young ones, for the first time since, about forty-five years ago, they quitted that ancient stronghold for Earlham and other neighbouring localities, the underwood there being somewhat thoughtlessly burnt during the breeding season, a liberty which they resented by seeking fresh quarters the following spring.
Lesser Redpoll.—Mr. Purdy, of Aylsham, sent me on the 27th a beautiful little nest of this species, which had been built in a yew tree, and to which, entangled in a horse-hair that had been woven into the structure, was suspended an unfortunate redpoll, too securely fastened to effect its release. I cannot endorse Mr. Gunn's remark (Zool. S. S. 4117), that the lesser redpoll "is becoming quite a resident in Norfolk," since, although 1 have not known of its nesting so near this city as in the instance recorded by him, yet more than twenty years ago I knew of its breeding in some of the localities he names, and in others as well. Mr. Purdy tells me he has several pairs nesting in a plantation near his house in sprucefir trees.
Common Buzzard.—An immature specimen shot at Thwaite on the 4th.
Shoveller and Garganey.—Saw a fine male shoveller on Hoveton Broad on the 27th, and several garganeys, which nest there every year.
Blackheaded Gulls, Grebes, #c.—The gulls, which for some years past have located themselves on Hoveton Broad, were more than usually numerous this spring, and were laying freely at the time I visited the Broad on the 27th. Six pairs of great crested SECOND SERIES—VOL. IX. . 3 D
grebes are said to have returned to the Broad, and I saw one nest with the eggs hard set upon. The coots did not seem to have nested so early as usual, their eggs, unlike the waterhens', being all fresh laid. Lapwings and snipes were pretty numerous on the surrounding marshes, with several pairs of redshanks. A snipe's nest found in a high grassy tussock had the eggs very hard set.
Wild Duck's Nest.—The keeper at Hempstead, near Holt, informed Mr. Gurney that a brood of young wild ducks were hatched under their own mother on the 7th of April, the earliest date he had known of.
Spring Migrants.—May 2nd. Young rooks out, and generally so by the 9th.
7th. Goatsucker and turtle dove seen at Northrepps. Young blackbirds on the wing.
9th. Redbacked shrike seen at Northrepps.
23rd. Spotted flycatcher seen at Northrepps.
25th. Swifts seen in Norwich, but not again for several days.
30th. Swifts plentiful at Cromer, but some are said to have made their appearance there nearly three weeks before and to have disappeared again: none were remarked at their usual haunts in Cromer and Southrepps church-steeples, either on the 28th or 29th; but at Aylsham, near Cromer, they were observed on the 23rd.
Peregrine Falcon and Hobby.—On the 14th a peregrine was seen at Northrepps, and a hobby, apparently a female, on the 13th. On the 26th a male hobby, a young bird of last year, in change of plumage, was shot at Northrepps, and in its stomach were found remains of beetles and of a small bird.
Nightingale.—Mr. Gurney was informed, on good authority, this month, that a man who had set a steel trap in his garden at Keswick for rats, without any bait, caught two nightingales in succession, probably attracted by the fresh mould spread over the trap.
Common Dotterel.—A bird in the immature plumage of last year was shot at Scottow on the 6th.
Waders on Breydon.—The usual flocks of migratory waders appeared on the Breydon "muds" about the second week in May, and, as a further evidence that the Wild Birds Protection Act is a "dead letter," owing to the absurd alterations made in its penal clauses by the quasi friends of the "little bird," I may state that some of the most perfect specimens of knots, sanderlings, bartailed godwits, gray plovers and turnstones, in full summer plumage, that have been killed in this county for some years, were shot on Breydon this spring, and passed at once into private hands, to the disgust of those local collectors who, respecting the Act, notwithstanding its weak points, have not encouraged local gunners to break the law.
Pied Flycatcher.—A pair were shot, about the 16th, in the "North End" gardens, at Yarmouth; and, about the 25th, a fine adult male at Gunton, near Lowestoft, on the same part of the coast.
Shoveller and Garganey.—Both species have appeared, and I believe nested, on Surlingham Broad this summer; of the latter some three or four pairs annually breed in the surrounding marshes, as well as the common teal. On the 24th Mr. Thomas Southwell observed more thau one old female shoveller, with young ones, amongst other wild ducks, on the meres of Wretham Heath.
10, Unthank's Road, Norwich, September, 1874.
Notes on the Birds of Walney Island.
Having spent two days on Walney Island, with a friend, at the beginning of July last, 1 am in hopes that some of my notes will be of interest to the readers of the ' Zoologist.'
We arrived at Barrow on the evening of the 3rd of July, and put up at the ' Ferry Hotel,' near the village of North Scale, where I stayed last year (see Zool. S. S. 3603). The visitor here must be content with rough fare, but the position of the inn will make up for any drawbacks in this respect, if the object of the visit be the study of some of the most beautiful of our indigenous birds.
On the 4th we walked to the nesting-ground of Larus ridibundus and Sterna cantiaca, at the north end of the island. Most of the young gulls had flown, but twenty or thirty were still in the nestling state, and a few eggs remained to be hatched, though we could hear the chicks squeaking in the shell. Owing to the extremely dry spring, and consequent scarcity of worms and insect-food, there has been great mortality amongst the gulls this year, and the carcases of young ones were lying about on the ground in every direction, whilst here and there an adult bird might be seen.
We searched carefully for eggs of Sterna cantiaca, but I believe in every case the young were hatched, and in most instances had left the neighbourhood with their parents. We found a single young bird, about a fortnight old; and four or five pairs, which kept screaming over our heads amongst the gulls, by their actions evidently had young ones, though we were unable to find any others.
The common and arctic terns, the former of which is the most numerous species here, were nearly all hatched, but many young birds were not yet on the wing. I was unable to distinguish the young of these birds, as they ran about on the ground, whilst old ones of both species were screaming overhead; but I found about a dozen specimens, of nearly equal size, picked up at random, to differ exceedingly, especially in the intensity of colouring on the chiu and throat, the patch of colour there varying from light yellowish brown in some specimens to jet-black in others. The same remark applies to the markings on the back, sides and head, though it is not so patent in those parts as on the throat. In some examples, again, the down from the base of the bill to the crown of the head, and that in front of the eyes was black, whilst in others it was light yellowish brown. I am unable to say whether these differences constitute marks of distinction between the two species, but it seems likely that this is the case; 1 should, however, be much obliged for any information on this subject. The young terns are nearly helpless on first leaving the shell, and can then merely crawl, but they soon become lively, active little creatures, and when disturbed hide themselves in the nearest tuft of grass.
We saw no lesser terns, and the statement of the watcher, who accompanied us, that the old and young had left the neighbourhood, was corroborated by what we saw the following day at the south end of the island; he also informed us that they had been scarce this year.
After leaving the north end we continued our walk along the west coast. We observed ringed plovers and oystercatchers to be numerous, many of the latter by their actions evidently having young under their care. Flocks of curlews were feeding on the ooze, and we saw a few shieldrakes and some immature common and heniug gulls.
The 5th of July we devoted to the south end of the island: here the terns, from having their nests continually robbed, are later in hatching out their young than those at the north end. We found Sterna fluviatilis much more numerous than S. Hirundo, and I may here mention that six specimens which the lighthouse-keeper shot for me subsequent to my visit were all of the former species. We examined about forty nests, and found them in every case lined with a few fragments of the coarse grass which grows abundantly on the sand-hills. On some low grassy dunes, about a hundred yards above high-water mark, we found a tern's nest, composed entirely of little bits of drift-wood, containing two eggs. There were no other nests in the immediate vicinity, but several old birds (S. fluviatilis) were seen close by. It may be remembered that on the 31st of May, 1864, Mr. Harling found on Walney Island a tern's nest composed of drift-wood and sand-grass, and that he believed it belonged to Sterna Dougallii (see Zool. 9156); but in a letter lately received from that gentleman he tells me that Sterna fluviatilis occasionally makes its nest of these materials. I believe we saw specimens of the roseate tern near the lighthouse, but I could not satisfactorily identify any, and it is generally impossible to distinguish its eggs from those of the other species, unless the owner be secured. Here, as at the north end, the lesser terns had flown, and we only saw two pairs.
We found four young oystercatchers on the west coast; they are very difficult to discover, as they conceal themselves cleverly by squatting among the large round stones, which they closely resemble in colour. The old birds were very clamorous, using every device to draw us away. The development of the beak must be very rapid in this species, as in one specimen I examined, which was just attaining its wing-feathers, it showed scarcely any signs of its peculiar elongated and wedge-shaped form. Geldart, the lighthouse keeper, and a very intelligent man, who is well acquainted with the birds that breed on the south end of the island, assured us that flocks of oystercatchers frequent Foulney and Walney Islands all through the spring, so from some reason or other there must be many barren birds.
From Walney we crossed in the lighthouse-keeper's boat to Foulney Island. Here we found large flocks of oystercatchers (old and young), curlews, blackheaded and herring gulls, and a small flock of immature gray plovers; also a few ringed plovers on the