Imagens das páginas

considers that it can only be ranked as a straggler.1 All the specimens which have come under his own observation were obtained in spring or autumn. In the Hebrides specimens have been shot in I slay and Skye, but in the outer islands none have been seen. Dr. Saxby says that the Turtle-Dove, " although formerly very scarce in Shetland, may now be seen every year in certain of the gardens—that at Halligarth especially—between spring and autumn. It has always occurred singly. With nearly all the habit was to wander away during the day-time, returning at night to roost in one particular tree.2

It was first known to occur in Shetland in the autumn of 1856, when Mr. Edmondston of Buness shot one at Balta Sound. "It was but little seen from that time until about six years ago (1868), by which time the trees had grown above the walls, offering a more suitable refuge for stragglers of this description." On two

1 "The Birds of the West of Scotland," p. 223.

2 "The Birds of Shetland," p. 152.

[ocr errors]

occasions the Turtle-Dove has been found in Orkney.1

On the continent of Europe this bird seems to be confined chiefly to the central and southern parts, and does not reach Scandinavia or Russia. But in France, Spain, and the countries bordering the Mediterranean, it is very common in summer. Its winter haunts are in North Africa; and in Egypt and Nubia it is especially abundant. Capt. Shelley says that it frequently breeds there.2 In the neighbourhood of Tangier vast flocks arrive from the interior-in April and May to cross the Straits of Gibraltar,3 and on reaching Andalusia afford considerable diversion to the Spanish sportsmen, who kill large numbers by lying in wait for them.

Mr. Thompson, when proceeding in H. M.S. "Beacon" from Malta to the Morea in the month of April, saw this species on its spring migration. One flew on board on the 24th of April, and another on the 25 th; they each rested for a short time on the rigging, and then pursued their flight northwards. On the 26th four came from the south, two of them singly, the others in company; one only alighted on the ship; it was caught in the evening when asleep. Throughout the 27th many were observed coming from the south, and generally singly, never more than two together; very few alighted. On the 24th the vessel was at sunset ninety miles east of Sicily, Syracuse being the nearest land; on the 2 7th, forty-five miles from Zante, and sixty west of the Morea. On the 29th of April one was seen near Navarino; and another on the 6th of May in the island of Syra. At the end of the month numbers were observed amongst the light foliage in the gardens of the old seraglio at Constantinople.

1 Baikie and Heddle, "Fauna Orcadensis," p. 55, and Gray, op. cit. p. 223.

2 "Birds of Egypt," p. 214. See ante, p. 281.

3 Irby, "Ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar," p. 134.

Colonel Irby informs me that when on his way from Southampton to Gibraltar on the 9th October, he saw a Turtle-Dove on its southward migration in the middle of the Bay of Biscay.

[graphic][merged small]

(Crex pratensis.)

Q PORTSMEN who during the early part of k-' September follow their "birds" into seed —clover, rape, or mustard—seldom fail in such places to pick up a Landrail or two, and add in this way a pleasing variety to their bag. The appearance of a Rail usually gives rise to some comment, and not unfrequently to an expression of surprise that a bird of such skulking habits and apparently of such weak flight should be able to leave the country periodically, and return to it. That it does so, however, is certain. It arrives here towards the end of April, and remains with us till the end of September. During May and part of June its incessant craking note is constantly reminding us of its presence; and if in July and August its silence has caused us for a time to forget it, we renew acquaintance once more in September, when in quest of nobler and more important game. After that month we may look for it almost in vain, for, although a Landrail now and then turns up during the winter months, its appearance at such times is exceptional, the great majority of these birds having left our shores before the first day of pheasant shooting has come round. We can only account for the appearance of Landrails in winter by supposing them to be individuals of a late brood, unprepared to leave at the proper time, or wounded birds unable to take part in the autumnal migration. In Ireland, however, their occurrence in winter and early spring has been noticed so much more frequently than in England, that a good naturalist there, Mr. Blake Knox, has


« AnteriorContinuar »