Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

called off by the old ones, which did not, as at the commencement of the nesting season, fly round screaming close to our heads, but mounting rather high in the air, seawards, commenced wheeling and kept up an incessant cry until all the young birds which could fly were enticed off and settled by themselves in flocks on the water some distance from the shore. A few young ones, not yet able to fly, were standing just outside their nests, but on seeing us soon hid themselves in the holes and crevices of the rocks. When watching the gulls we saw ten ravens, which flew by in one flock. There were also many common buntings on the walls and hedges in the vicinity of the cliffs.

24th. Several young herring gulls were fishing to-day in our harbours and estuaries.

August.

16th. Swifts seen for the last time. These birds have been very plentiful in the neighbourhood of Plymouth during the present season.

20th. A flock of six Cornish choughs were seen by a friend of mine on the rocks at Morthoe, on the coast near Ilfracombe, North Devon.

27th. There were several flocks of Ray's wagtails, young and old, in the meadows near the coast, which is generally the case at this time of the year, before their departure for the wiuter; there were also many wheatears.

29tb. Observed a pair of greyheaded wagtails in a meadow close to Plymouth; but I have remarked that these birds seem to prefer keeping by themselves, and on being disturbed generally fly off in a different direction from the others. Observed a nightjar this evening flying up a back street in Stonehouse, and, strange to say, a few days since one was seen flying over the Plymouth Market: these birds have probably been kept on the coast by the recent heavy gales. A female ring ouzel, in deep moult, was killed near Dartmoor.

31st. Saw the grayheaded wagtail again. The male, although of a fine yellow on the under parts, had a dark spot on the breast, which I suspect is usual after the autumnal moult; the head was pure gray, and the stripe over the eye and throat white.

John Gatcombe.

8, Lower Durnford Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Ornithological Notes from Dartmouth.
By Gervase F. Mathew, Esq., R.N., F.L.S.

September, 1874.

Avocet.— A friend of mine who lives in this neighbourhood, and who is well acquainted with birds, informs me that one day the beginning of this month he saw one of these curious birds feeding on a mud-bank about half-way between this and Totnes. He was quite close to it, he says, and could not possibly be mistaken as to its identity.

Cormorant.— Sept. 16. A great number in the river fishing off the Flat-Oar Muds and sitting on the banks opposite Stoke Gabriel. I never remember having seen so many together before in this locality, although I was pretty often on the river in the years 1867, 1868 and 1869. To-day 1 counted as many as eighteen in sight at the same time.

Herons.—September 16. I saw at least thirty or forty to day between Dartmouth and Stoke Gabriel, and in former years I never saw so many in one day.

Ringed Plovers and Dunlins.— September 16. Several small flocks of each species feeding on the Flat-Oar Muds.

Kingfishers.—September 16. Appear to me more plentiful than they used to be, as I noticed at least a dozen this afternoon, and a few years ago one seldom saw more than two or three in the course of the day.

Ring Ouzel.—September 23. A friend of mine sent me one of these birds yesterday, which he killed while out partridge-shooting, and did not know what it was. It proved to be a young male of the year, and was immensely fat, and being too much knocked about for skinning 1 had it cooked, and it formed part of my lunch to-day, and was excellent. My friend tells me he saw several others. These birds breed every year on Dartmoor.

Starling.—September 27. Great numbers about now, and they are beginning to mass in large flocks, and about an hour before dusk may be seen wending their way towards Slapton Lea, where they roost in the reed-beds.

Gervase F. Mathew.

n.M.S. 'Britannia,' Dartmouth, October 9, 1874.

Ornithological Jottings. By C. B. Caret.

In January the blackbirds were in full song. The weather was warm, though wet and windy; this leads us to suppose that birds are affected by the weather, for in the frost and snow miserable are the twitters of the half-starved birds. In February they began breeding, for in the first week in March a blackbird's nest was found with three eggs in it. Therefore, if the winter were warmer, should we have the birds singing all the year round? It seems to me that it is not because it is spring that they sing, but because there is then warmth and food; and that in mild winters, there being more food they are less pinched, and consequently sing as they do in the early spring.

In March I picked up a kittiwake, by the beach, where it had evidently been killed by a hawk. The eyes and brains had been eaten out, its leg was broken, and it was wounded in the body. It was in very much the same plumage as that one described by Mr. Cecil Smith in his 'Birds of Somerset,' which was picked up at Crowcoombe Heathfield. Its bill was lemon-colour at the tip of the upper and lower mandibles, the rest dark olive. The head was much battered, but the forehead and chin were white, while the top of the head was gull-gray. The breast, tail-coverts, and all the under parts were white. The back, scapulars and wingcoverts gull-gray. The four first quills tipped with black, the outer web of the first one black all the way down. In fact, it was in winter plumage, not having begun to change, though it was the end of March.

In April I saw a Dartford warbler at Couch's shop; it had been knocked down by a stone. I also saw a bullfinch which had been brought in: this bird is much more common in Jersey than it is here.

On the 19th of April I watched the swallows arriving from the south-east: they seemed to have sent some on as scouts, for they flew past by ones and twos every few minutes. They did not stay near here, but went over to the other side of the island, where a clay or two afterwards I saw numbers of them. They did not appear here till some time later.

In May an adult male marsh harrier was found in Herm j unfortunately it got into the hands of some person who, I believe, kept it too long before bringing it over to be preserved, so that all that remains of it is the head.

In July a young Montagu's harrier was shot in Herm: it was brought to Conch to skin: he found a whole lark's egg and also the shell of another in its throat: he showed me how the whole egg was sticking in the empty shell of the broken one. In one wing it had evidently some old unmoulted feathers: they looked more as if they were moth-ealen than anything else. These birds must go to Herm after the game which is preserved there, and this will account for their greater frequency there than here.

The swallows are still with us. I have heard their song several times since I last wrote (S. S. 4156). I also heard the house martins singing when I was in Yorkshire. I think the reason we so seldom hear the song of these birds must be that—with all the other songs of larger birds and with all the noises that there are in the day time—this gentle little song is quite overpowered, and it is only in quiet times, as at dawn, and in quiet country places, that one can have an opportunity of hearing it.

C. B. Carey.

Candie, Guernsey, October 10, 1874.

On the Nesting of the Golden Oriole in Kent.
By J. E. Harting, Esq., F.L.S.
(Reprinted from the ' Field' newspaper of October 3rd.)

Although the discovery of a golden oriole's nest in England is not unprecedented, it is of sufficiently rare occurrence to attract the attention of naturalists, more especially when the finder (as in the case to which I am about to allude) has the humanity and good sense to permit the young to be reared, instead of shooting the parent birds the moment they are discovered, and thus effectually putting a stop to all attempts at nidification.

It is a pleasure to be able to record the fact that during the past summer a pair of golden orioles took up their quarters in Dumpton Park, Isle of Thauet, where—the proprietor, Mr. Bankes Tomlin, having given strict injunctions that they should not be disturbed— they built a nest and successfully reared their young, ultimately leading them away in safety.

They must have commenced building somewhat later than usual, for it was not until the 6th of July that I first heard of the nest, and the young were then just hatched. Mr. Bankes Tomlin having kindly invited me to come and see it, I lost no time in availing myself of his invitation, and a few days later, namely, on July 12th, I found myself at Dumpton Park, standing under the very tree in which the nest was placed. The reader may smile at the idea of journeying from London to Ramsgate merely to look at a nest; but if he be an ornithologist, he will know that golden orioles' nests are not to be seen in this country every day, and that when found they are worth " making a note of." Often as 1 had seen the bird and its nest on the Continent, it had never been my good fortune until last July to meet with it in England. Indeed, the instances in which nests of the oriole have been found here and recorded are so few that they may be easily enumerated. According to the concise account given by Professor Newton in his new edition of 'Yarrell's British Birds,' one was discovered in June, 1836, in an ash plantation near Ord, from which the young were taken; but, though every care was shown them, they did not long survive their captivity. "Mr. J. B. Ellman says (Zool. 2496) that at the end of May, 1849, a nest was, with the owners, obtained near Elmstone. It was suspended from the extremity of the top branch of an oak, was composed entirely of wool bound together with dried grass and contained three eggs. Mr. Hulke in 1851 also recorded (Zool. 3034) a third, of which he was told that it was found about ten years previously in Word Wood, near Sandwich, by a countryman, who took the young and gave them to his ferrets; and Mr. More, on the authority of Mr. Charles Gordon, mentions one at Elmstead, adding that the bird appeared again in the same locality in 1861. Mr. Howard Saunders and Lord Lilford informed the editor that in the summer of 1871 they each observed, in Surrey and Northamptonshire respectively, a bird of this species, which probably had a nest. Messrs. Sheppard and Whitear speak of a nest said to have been found in a garden near Ormsby, in Norfolk; but the eggs formerly in Mr. Scales's collection, which it has been thought were taken in that county, were really brought from Holland, and the editor is not aware of any collector who can boast the possession of eggs of this species laid in Britain."

The nest which I am now enabled to record was placed in a fork of a very thin bough of an elm tree, at a considerable height from the ground, and almost at the extremity of the branch, so that it was impossible to reach it except by cutting ofi the branch near the

« AnteriorContinuar »