Imagens das páginas

to the immediate neighbourhood of the Alps. The name "White-bellied Swift" is not inappropriate, as indicating a peculiarity which distinguishes it from the common species. It is a migratory bird, like the last-named, and, like it, visits the Cape of Good Hope in winter, and penetrates into North-west India.

It is a summer migrant in Palestine, where Canon Tristram observed it nesting near Mar Saba, and in the tremendous ravine above the site of Jericho. It arrives at Constantinople from its winter quarters towards the end of April, and is common in Corfu from May to September, nesting annually in the Citadel Rock (Lord Lilford, "Ibis," i860, p. 234). It breeds in great numbers along the Etruscan coast, and is occasionally seen at Pisa (Dr. Giglioli, "Ibis," 1865, pp. 51-52). It has been observed on passage in Tangier and Eastern Morocco, and Mr. O. Salvin remarked that it was common about the plains of the Salt Lake district, Eastern Atlas, and breeding in most of the rocks of that country (" Ibis," 1859, p. 302). Mr. Howard Saunders saw hundreds at Gibraltar towards the end of March, and in June it was observed by Lord Lilford amongst the peaks of the Sierra near San Ildefonso. To England, as we have said, it rarely strays. In habits it is described, by those who have had opportunities for observing it, as resembling very much the Common Swift Like this species, it nests in holes and crevices, and lays two white eggs of a similar shape to those of its congener, but much larger. Its cry is said to be very different. Its vastly superior size and white belly serve at all times to distinguish it from the smaller and more sable bird with which we are so familiar.

The Spine-tailed Swift (Acanthylis caudacutus), a bird which is found in Siberia, Persia, India, China, and Australia, has in one single instance been met with in the British Islands. A specimen was killed at Great Horkesley, near Colchester, on July 8, 1846, as recorded in the "Zoologist" for that year (p. 1492), and was fortunately examined in the flesh by Messrs. Yarrell, Fisher, Hall, Doubleday, and Newman. THE NIGHTJAR.


(Caprimulgus europczus.)

T N order of date, the Nightjar is one of the *- latest of the summer birds to arrive, being seldom seen before the beginning of May, although, as in the case of other species, one now and then hears of an exceptionally early arrival. In 1872, for example, Mr. Gatcombe informed me that he had seen a Nightjar in the neighbourhood of Plymouth on the 10th of April, at least a month earlier than the usual time of its appearance. By the end of September, or the first week in October, these birds have returned to their winter quarters in North Africa. Colonel Irby, in his recently-published volume on the "Ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar," states, on the authority of M. Favier, that Nightjars cross the Straits from Tangiers to Gibraltar in May and June, and return the same way between September and November. They have been seen on the passage. Dr. Drummond informed the late Mr. Thompson of Belfast,1 that when H.M.S. " San Juan," of which he was surgeon, was anchored near Gibraltar, in the spring of the year, a few Nightjars flew on board. During the passage of H.M.S. "Beacon" from Malta to the Morea, in the month of April, some of these birds appeared on the 2 7th, and alighted on the rigging. The vessel was then about fifty miles from Zante (the nearest land), and sixty west of the Morea.

They came singly, with one exception, when two appeared in company. A couple of them were shot in the afternoon. A few others had been seen about the vessel on the two or three days preceding. On the evening of the 1st of June, two were killed and others seen in the once celebrated but now barren and uninhabited island of Delos.

1 See Thompson's "Nat. Hist. Ireland" (Birds), vol. i. p. 423

The Nightjar, although tolerably dispersed throughout North Africa during certain months of the year, does not, apparently, travel so far down the east or west coasts as many of our summer migrants do. In Egypt and Nubia, according to Captain Shelley,1 it is only met with as a bird of passage, but how much further south it goes he does not say. Mr. Blanford did not meet with it in Abyssinia, where its place seems to be taken by two or three allied species.2 The same remark applies as we proceed eastward. In Syria and Palestine, Canon Tristram did not observe the European Nightjar, but found a smaller and lighter-coloured species, on

1 "Birds of Egypt," p. 174.

* "Observations on the Geology and Zoology of Abyssinia," p. 336.

« AnteriorContinuar »