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A single instance is on record of its having been shot in Oudh j1 but Mr. Blyth informed me that he knew of no other authority for it as an Indian bird, although he had seen specimens from Afghanistan. South of the Equator the Landrail penetrates to Natal [cf. Gurney, "Ibis," 1863, p. 331), and, according to Mr. Layard (" Birds of South Africa," p. 338), a solitary specimen has been procured in Cape Colony.
Mr. Ayres, who has shot it in Natal, writing of its habits ("Ibis," 1863, p. 331), says: "Having been once flushed, it is a difficult matter to put them up a second time out of the long grass; for, besides running with great swiftness, they have a curious method of evading the. dogs by leaping with closed wings and compressed feathers over the long grass some three or four yards, and then, running a short distance, they leap again. The scent being thus broken, they generally evade the most keenscented dogs; and so quickly are these strange
1 "Bengal Sporting Magazine," 1842, p. 870.
leaps made, that It is only by mere chance that the birds are seen." Many an English sportsman can testify to their power of evading good dogs, although they may not quite know how it is done. Nor is this the only way in which the Landrail displays its cunning. If surprised suddenly and caught, it will often feign death, and remain perfectly stiff and motionless for several minutes, to all appearance dead, but in reality only waiting for an opportunity to steal off unobserved. I have known two or three instances in which this ruse has been practised with success upon unsuspecting naturalists. Those who intend, therefore, to investigate the subject of hybernation should be on their guard against what at first sight might strike them as an instance of torpidity.
T N the year 1872, through the medium of the .*- Natural History columns of " The Field," a series of observations were made by naturalists in different parts of England on the subject of " Our Summer Migrants." A form of calendar was distributed and filled up by each according to his opportunities. In this way, by the end of the year six hundred and forty-five separate observations were placed on record, and it devolved upon me to prepare a report from the statistics so furnished. As a good deal of interesting information was thus brought to light, it occurs to me that I may appropriately bring the present volume to a close by extracting so 'much of the report as relates strictly to the subject matter in hand, and I accordingly do so.
In the calendars returned, some thirty species of summer migratory birds are mentioned with more or less frequency. The majority of the observations upon them have reference, as might be supposed, to the dates of their arrival and departure, or, more correctly speaking, to the dates when they were first heard or seen and last observed. When referring some time previously to the utilization of such observations, it was remarked that upon various points some addition to our knowledge was desirable. Amongst other interesting facts, for example, might be ascertained the precise line of direction in which various species migrate, the causes which necessitate a divergence from this line, the relative proportions in which different species visit us, the causes which influence the abundance or scarcity of a species in particular localities, the result of too great a preponderance of one species over another, whether beneficial or otherwise to man as a cultivator of the soil, the simultaneity or otherwise of departure from this country in autumn, the causes operating to retard such departure, and so forth. All these are matters of interest, especially to those who reside in the country, and have leisure to inquire into the subject. Let us see how far the observations supplied furnish a reply to these inquiries.
Of the thirty species of migrants mentioned, the Swallow, as might be supposed, has attracted the largest share of attention, and in regard to the number of observations made upon it stands at the head of the list with forty-three. The Cuckoo comes next with thirty-eight; the Chiffchaff and Swift follow with thirty and thirty respectively; and so on through the list, as given below, to the Reed Warbler, upon which bird, strange to say, no more than three observations were made.
The following list will give some idea of the amount of attention which each bird received.