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Occasionally a Hoopoe has been observed in winter in the British Islands, but so rarely as to make the occurrence a matter of note. An instance or two of this kind in Norfolk has been noticed by Hunt in his " British Birds" (vol. ii. p. 147); and Mr. R. Gray, in his " Birds of the West of Scotland," p. 198, refers to two which were killed near Glasgow, in different years, so late as the month of October.
The late Sir William Jardine informed me that two were shot in Dumfriesshire in the winter of 1870-71.
The most perfect specimen of the Hoopoe I have ever seen is one in my collection, which was shot at the Dell, a piece of water near Whetstone, Middlesex, on the 25th April, 1852. It has no less than twenty-two crest feathers the longest two inches in length, arranged in two parallel rows, with the upper surfaces outwards, and of a pale cinnamon colour broadly tipped with black. The other portions of the plumage are equally perfect and bright in colour.
THE GOLDEN ORIOLE.
'its annual visit to the European continent from the countries south of the Mediterranean, in the month of April, and returns in September. In the interval it may be found not uncommonly in the wooded parts of Central and Southern Europe; but it is rare in the north, being seldom seen in Sweden, and unknown in Norway. In England, where it may be regarded as an irregular summer migrant, it unfortunately meets with little or no protection, for its bright colours at once attract attention, and many get shot before they have been a week on our shores. The male bird is bright yellow, with black wings and a black and yellow tail. The female • is dull green, with pitch-brown wings, the upper tail coverts greenish yellow, and the under parts greyish white, longitudinally streaked with brown on the shafts of the feathers; the flanks yellow, and streaked in the same way.
My impressions on meeting with Golden Orioles for the first time in France, now many years ago, will not be easily forgotten. I wanted to see them alive, hear their notes, shoot two or three to examine them closely, and ascertain the nature of their food; and accordingly I accepted the invitation of a friend and took up my quarters at an old country house, about halfway between Paris and Orleans. On looking over my note-book for that particular year, I find the following entry, relating to the Golden Oriole :—
"Long before six in the morning I was awakened by a perfect chorus of birds—Blackcap, Nightingale, Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Chaffinch, Starling, and Magpie were all recognized; but what pleased me above all, was a beautiful mellow whistle, which I took to be that of the Golden Oriole, and in less than an hour afterwards I found that I was right in my surmise, for on walking through the woods which flank one side of the house, I had the pleasure of seeing for the first time alive several of these beautiful birds. They were very shy, and kept to the tops of the oak trees; but by proceeding cautiously I managed to get near enough to see and hear them well. Their note is really splendid, so mellow, loud, and clear—something of the Blackbird's tone about it, but yet very different; while in their mode of flight and perching they remind one of a Thrush. After a long search, I at length found a nest, placed at the extremity of a thin bough, and at the top of an oak tree, about sixty feet up. There were no branches for more than thirty feet, and it would have been almost impossible to reach it without assistance. I therefore marked the spot, and determined to get a long ladder a little later and try and take it. The keeper informed me that it was early yet for Orioles' eggs, and so I left the nest for the last day of my stay here. In the afternoon I went with the keeper to the Pare de Marolles. We could hear the Orioles, or Loriots, as the French call them from their notes, singing loudly in the recesses of the woods; but the foliage was so thick, and they kept so much to the tops of the trees, that it was almost impossible to catch sight of them. Their greenish-yellow feathers, too, harmonized so well with the leaves, that it rendered them still more difficult to see.
"Following the direction of the notes, I continued to make my way through the underwood as noiselessly as possible, peering through the branches, and striving in vain to catch sight of a bird. For a long time the sound seemed to be as far away as ever, or, as I advanced it receded. The sun was broiling hot, and the exertion of forcing my way through the under