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as remarked by the eminent Irish naturalist, Thompson, is probably little known, except to the observant ornithologist. Owing to the dulness of its plumage, its want of song, and its weak call being seldom heard, it is certainly one of the least obtrusive of our birds; the trees, too, having put forth their “ leafy honours ” before the period of its arrival, further serve to screen it from observation. It is one of the latest of our summer migrants to arrive, seldom appear ing before the second week in May, and generally taking its departure during the first week of September. It is found throughout the British Islands, but is much less common in Scotland. It has, however, been found breeding as far north as Sutherland and Caithness. The situation selected by this bird for its abode during its stay with us is generally in the neighbourhood of gardens and orchards, where it takes up its quarters on a wall or fruit tree, and sallies forth into the air after passing insects. The name of Spotted Flycatcher is more appropriately bestowed upon the bird in its immature plumage, when each brown feather is tipped with a buff spot. As it grows older, these spots gradually disappear. It is a wonderfully silent bird, and even when the hen is sitting the male does not, like the males of so many other species, pour forth a song to enliven her. The nest is usually placed on a beam in a shed, in a hole in a wall, or on the branch of a wall-fruit tree, partially supported by the wall ; not unfrequently it may be discovered in a summerhouse. It is neatly composed of moss and fine roots, and lined with grass, horsehair, and feathers. The eggs, generally five in number, are bluish white, spotted, chiefly at the large end, with reddish brown.
The late Mr. Wheelwright found the Spotted Flycatcher inhabiting Lapland in summer, but observed that it was not nearly so common there at that season as the Pied Flycatcher. In Central and Southern Europe it is a summer resident, passing through Spain and Portugal, Italy, Turkey, and the Ionian Islands twice a yearnamely, in spring and autumn. Its course in
autumn appears to be south-east by south. Mr. Wright has noticed it as very common in spring and autumn in Malta, arriving there somewhat later than the Pied Flycatcher. It has been noticed by Mr. J. H. Gurney, jun., as plentiful in Algeria in summer. Captain Shelley met with it once at Alexandria in May, when it was probably migrating; and Rüppell includes it without hesitation amongst the birds of North Africa. In the middle of October, Von Heuglin found that it was not rare near Tadjura, and somewhat later in the year on the Somali coast. In Palestine Canon Tristram found it breeding in all parts of the country, its favourite nestingplaces being in the branches of old gnarled trees overhanging the paths (“ Ibis,” 1867, p. 361). How far eastward it extends I am not sure, as in China and Japan an allied species appears to take its place. But south of the Mediterranean it penetrates to South Africa. Mr. Layard says, “ the common European flycatcher has been brought by Mr. Andersson from
1 “Syst. Uebers. d. Vögel N.-O. Afrika's,” p. 61. 2 “Birds of South Africa," p. 148.
Damara Land in some abundance. And Andersson himself states that the bird is common in Damara and Great Namaqua Land, and is found there throughout the year. Dr. Hartlaub cites it on M. Verreaux's authority as from the Cape, and Swainson also alludes to it as from South Africa. Since the publication of the work above quoted, Mr. Layard has been enabled to add that his son procured this bird at Grootevadersbosch, near Swellendam. From Lapland, then, to the Cape of Good Hope, and from Portugal to Palestine is a pretty extensive range for so small and weak a bird as our Common Flycatcher. I should not be surprised to hear that it is found even still further to the eastward, for so many of our summer migratory birds spend their winter in India and China, and after all the greater part of their journey would be by overland route, which admits of their travelling by stages, to rest and feed by the way.
1 “Notes on the Birds of Damara Land,” by the late C. J Andersson; arranged and edited by J. H. Gurney, 1872, p. 129.
FROM its conspicuous black and white
1 plumage, the Pied Flycatcher is a much more attractive species than the commoner bird. Strange to say, although of similar habits, and living on similar food, it is by no means so common as a species, nor so generally dispersed. Its presence in Scotland is always looked upon as an uncommon occurrence, and in Ireland, until recently, it was quite unknown.
During the month of April, 1875, Mr. Robert Warren, jun., of Moyview, Ballina, co. Mayo,