« AnteriorContinuar »
further information and a more detailed description. I may supplement his remarks, however, by saying that Lord Lilford found it common in Corfu in May, and at Nice in August and September;1 and that Mr. T. Drake met with it in March in Tangier and Eastern Morocco.2 Now that its occasional presence in this country has been detected, ornithologists should look out for it between April and September, and scrutinize every Sedge-bird they see, on the chance of meeting with the rarer species.
THE MARSH WARBLER.
T N appearance this bird resembles the com*- mon Reed Warbler, just as the Aquatic Warbler resembles the Sedge-bird. It is one of the plain-backed species, and similarity in appearance as well as in habits causes it doubt
less to be overlooked or mistaken for the commoner bird.
From its general resemblance to the Reed Warbler, Salicaria strepera} (Vieillot), it has no doubt been overlooked; but when its distinguishing characters have been duly noted it will in all probability be found to be a regular summer migrant to this country. Dr. Bree, when treating of this species in his "Birds of Europe," says (vol. ii. p. 74): " I think it very probable that this bird is an inhabitant of Great Britain, though hitherto confounded with the Reed Warbler. I think I have myself taken the nest; and Mr. Sweet's bird, mentioned by Mr. Yarrell, was probably this species."
In the "Zoologist" for 1861, p. 7755, the occurrence of the Marsh Warbler in Great Britain was recorded by Mr. Saville, who procured a single specimen, subsequently identified by Mr. Gould, and saw others in Wicken Fen,
1 The specific name arundinacea, which is commonly applied to this species, belongs properly to the Great Reed Warbler, the Turdus arundinaceus of Linnaeus.
Cambridgeshire. He says: "My attention was first attracted to this species some time since, during a visit to our fens, by the marked difference in the song of a bird somewhat similar in appearance to the true S. arundinacea (i. e., streperd); it was louder, clearer, and sweetertoned than that of the last-named. Its mode of flight, too, was more undulated and quicker. It was more shy and timid, continually retreating to the thickest covert. Never, so far as my experience goes, does it emit notes similar to the syllables 'chee-chee-chee' so common to 6". arundinacea!'
Another specimen of this bird was obtained in Cambridgeshire by the late James Hamilton, jun., of Minard, during the summer of 1864, and was exhibited at a meeting of the Natural History Society of Glasgow in February, 1865, as recorded by Mr. E. R. Alston in the "Zoologist," 1866, p. 496.
In the same year, Mr. Robert Mitford gave an account ("Zoologist," 1864, p. 9109) of a Reed Warbler which he found nesting in lilac trees in his garden at Hampstead, and which at the time was thought to differ specifically from 5". strepera, and possibly to be S.palustris. In the summer of 1863 Mr. Mitford had found four pairs of this bird breeding in gardens under similar circumstances, and in July, 1865, he shot two of the same birds, both males, and found, as he says, "two nests similar in structure, and similarly situated to those of the previous year in my garden, from both of which the young had evidently flown only a few days previously. The birds were not in good order, but just beginning their moult. I so arranged the matter that at the time I shot these birds I received from Romney Marsh fresh-killed specimens of the true Reed Warbler, shot in the reeds of the fen ditches; and in comparing the two birds in the flesh together, 1 have little hesitation in saying that the inland warbler is not our Reed Warbler. I will not enter into the chief points of difference at present, as I hope next May to get a specimen or two in finer plumage." (" Zoologist," 1865, p. 9847.)
Mr. Mitford I believe has not altered the opinion which he originally expressed; but, from a careful examination of the birds shot by him, I am inclined to regard them all as 5". strepera. This peculiarity in the Reed Warbler of nesting at a distance from water has since been noticed by naturalists in other parts of the country. In 1866 I referred to a confirmation of the fact as communicated by a friend at Ealing,1 and Mr. A. C. Kennedy, in his "Birds of Berks and Bucks" (p. 81), has alluded to the same habit from his own observation near Windsor. In all probability the birds seen by Lord Clermont in lilac bushes at Twickenham2 were also Reed Warblers.
Mr. Frederick Bond some time since called my attention to the occurrence of the rarer S. palustris in Norfolk, and kindly lent me a series of skins of both species procured in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Sussex. Of these, two specimens of S. palustris were killed at Whittlesford, Cam
1 "The Birds of Middlesex," p. 47.
2 "Zoologist," 1865, p. 9729.