Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

and 26 deg. S. Canon Tristram found it sparingly distributed in Palestine in winter, and in spring in the Jordan valley. It is recognised by naturalists in north-west India, and there can be little doubt that the Pipit which has been described from that country, and from China and Japan, under the name of Anthus agilis, Sykes, is only our old friend A. arboreus in a different plumage from that which it assumes here in summer. Herr von Pelzeln says1 that agilis only differs from arboreus in having a stouter bill, and he does not think that it can be specifically distinct, notwithstanding that Dr. Jerdon gives both species as inhabitants of India. On this point Mr. Hume says (" Ibis," 1870, p. 287): "I took nine specimens of arboreus from England and France, and compared them with our Indian birds. There was no single one of them to which an exact duplicate could not be selected from amongst my Indian series. That all our Indian Pipits known as agilis, maculatus,

[ocr errors]

and arboreus ought to be united as one species under the latter, or possibly some older, name, I can now scarcely doubt."

THE WATER PIPIT.

{Anthus spinoletta.)

T N size this bird equals our well-known Rock Pipit, but may be distinguished by the vinous colour of the throat and breast, by the absence of spots or streaks upon the under parts, and by the outer tail feathers, which are marked with white, as in A. pratensis. It was named spinoletta from the provincial name applied to the bird in Italy, whence Linnaeus described it.1 Pallas, however, altered the name to "pispoletta," because Cetti affirmed that this was the correct Florentine term, and not spinoletta. Linnaeus's name, nevertheless, on the ground of priority, is entitled to precedence. The species was identified with aquaticus of Bechstein by Bonaparte.2

[ocr errors]

This bird seems to have been first made known to English naturalists by Mr. Thomas Webster, of Manchester, who, in a communication to the " Zoologist" (p. 1023), stated that he had seen three birds at Fleetwood in October, 1843, which he had not the slightest hesitation in identifying with a Pipit described by M. Deby as Anthus aquaticus, Bechstein, and which to all appearance were totally distinct from the common Rock Pipit of our coast. In January, 1860, the Rev. M. A. Mathew, in a letter to Mr. Gould, called attention to the fact of his having procured a Pipit at Torquay, which was subsequently identified unhesitatingly with A. aquaticus of Bechstein. Since that date, Mr. Gatcombe, of Plymouth, has noticed several other specimens in Devonshire, and a great many have been procured in Sussex, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Brighton. Thus the claim of this bird to rank as a British species has come to be pretty well established. M. Baily, in his "Ornithologie de la Savoie," says that the Water Pipit is common at all seasons of the year both in Switzerland and Savoy. During winter it frequents the wet meadows, marshes, and unfrozen springs in the valleys, and about the end of March or beginning of April ascends the mountains, and resorts to the most sterile plateaux, fields, heaths, and stony places in the neighbourhood of water, where it nests on the ground under stones, sometimes in clefts in the rock, but oftener in the grass beneath the bilberry, whortleberry, or some creeping bush.

In the fall of the year it descends to the warmer valleys and frequents the margins of the rivers, whence it has derived the name of Water Pipit, making its way gradually southward as winter approaches. Mr. Saunders has met with it at Malaga in winter; but apparently it is not common in Spain, and, according to the Rev. A. C. Smith ("Sketch of the Birds of Portugal") still less so in Portugal. Mr. Wright has met with it once in Malta, having shot a specimen there in November, 1860. It crosses the Mediterranean to North Africa. Canon Tristram met with it in Algeria, and Captain Shelley recognised it in Egypt. In the peninsula of Sinai it was found by Mr. C. W. Wyatt, frequenting the sides of the salt-ponds near Tor, and it is included in Mr. Strickland's list of the birds of Asia Minor (" P. Z. S.," 1836, p. 97) as being found on the coast in winter at Smyrna, whence it penetrates to Palestine (Tristram, "Ibis," 1866, p. 289). Messrs. Elwes and Buckley have enumerated this amongst other species in their list of the birds of Turkey, and Menetries states (" Cat. Rais. Caucas." p. 39) that it is common on the shores of the Caspian in April, May, and June. The range of this bird eastward is at present hardly determined; partly, perhaps, because the Pipits have been a good deal neglected for the sake of more attractive species, and partly on account of the difficulty which travellers usually experience in the identification of this difficult group of birds. That the Water Pipit penetrates to north-west India is to be inferred from the fact that Mr. Hume sent M. Jules Verreaux a specimen for identification from the Punjab west of the Sutlej.

« AnteriorContinuar »