Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

nesting, as in previous years, at Llandderfel, in Merionethshire.

The Red-backed Shrike, or Butcher-bird, is almost confined to the southern midland counties of England, and although stragglers have been met with occasionally in Scotland, it is always regarded as a rare bird there; and in Ireland it is quite unknown. Mr. Cordeaux states that he has never observed it in Lincolnshire. It is always a late comer, seldom, if ever, arriving before the first week in May; and the earliest date recorded for its appearance in any of the calendars is May 2, on which day it was seen at Ratham, near Chichester. Mr. Donald Mathews has observed, in the neighbourhood of Redditch, that it commences nidification immediately on its arrival. The custom which now prevails of " plashing," or laying 'the tall hedgerows in which the Butcher-bird delights to dwell, has caused it in many localities to forsake haunts where once it was quite numerous. This has been particularly remarked in Middlesex and the counties adjoining.

The observations upon the Garden Warbler, of which eight only are furnished, do not call for any particular comment, save an expression of surprise that a bird with so good a song should not have attracted more attention. The 21st of April is the earliest date recorded for its arrival, at Burton-on-Trent. One would certainly have expected also to find more notice taken of the Reed Warbler, a noisy little bird, whose incessant babbling by reedy ponds and at the riverside makes it almost impossible to overlook it . Nevertheless, but three notes were forwarded of its occurrence in 1872—two in Norfolk, at Lynn and Hempstead, and one in Wilts, at Marlborough; at the last-named place on the 31st of May, at least six weeks after its usual time for arriving. It is not easy to account for its being so overlooked, for it cannot be regarded as by any means a rare bird, although it may be a local one.

Colonel Irby, who has had opportunities of seeing many of our summer migratory birds on passage, from two good posts of observation, Gibraltar and Tangier, thus refers to the subject in his recently-published volume on the " Ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar : "—

"Most of the land birds pass by day, usually crossing the Straits in the morning. The waders are, as a rule, not seen on passage; so it may be concluded they pass by night, although I have occasionally observed Peewits, Golden Plover, Terns and Gulls, passing by day.

"The autumnal or return migration is less conspicuous than the vernal; and whether the passage is performed by night, or whether the birds return by some other route, or whether they pass straight on, not lingering by the way as in spring, is an open question ; but during the autumn months passed by me at Gibraltar, I failed to notice the passage as in spring, though more than once during the month of August, which I spent at Gibraltar, myself and others distinctly heard Bee-eaters passing south at night, and so conclude other birds may do the same.

"The best site for watching the departure of the vernal migration is at Tangier, where just outside the town the well-known plain called the Marshan, a high piece of ground that in England would be called a common, seems to be the starting-point of half the small birds that visit Europe.

"Both the vernal and autumnal migrations are generally executed during an easterly wind, or Levanter. At one time I thought that this was essential to the passage; but it appears not to be the case, as whether it be an east or west wind, if it be the time for migration, birds will pass, though they linger longer on the African coast before starting if the wind be westerly; and all the very large flights of Raptores (Kites, Neophrons, Honey-Buzzards, &c), which I have seen, passed with a Levanter. After observing the passage for five springs, I am unable to come to any decided opinion; the truth being, that as an east wind is the prevalent one, the idea has been started that migration always takes place during that wind. Nevertheless, it is an undoubted fact, that during the autumnal or southern migration of the Quail in September, they collect in vast numbers on the European side, if there be a west wind, and seem not to be able to pass until it changes to the east; this is so much the case that, if the wind keeps in that quarter during the migration, none hardly are to be seen.

"On some occasions the passage of the larger birds of prey is a most wonderful sight; but of all the remarkable flights of any single species, that of the common Crane has been the most noteworthy that has come under my own observation.

"On the Andalusian side the number of birds seen even by the ordinary traveller appears strikingly large; this being, no doubt, in a great measure caused by the quantity which are, for ten months, at least, out of the year, more or less on migration; that is to say, with the exception of June and July, there is no month in which the passage of birds is not noticeable,

« AnteriorContinuar »