« AnteriorContinuar »
hatched, and the chickens reared, on my father's farm of Kuyl Fonteyn, Colesburg, Cape of Good Hope, last year. I believe this is the first instance of ostriches hatching their own eggs in a domesticated state. He got four hundred eggs in all last year, but failed entirely to hatch any by artificial means. The old idea that ostriches' eggs will hatch in the sun is entirely erroneous. The ostrich is as careful a mother as any domestic fowl, only leaving its nest at noon when the sun has its fullest force, and is so jealous of any intrusion that, as soon as it knows its nest is discovered, if possible it destroys the eggs. I shall be happy to answer any questions, either asto ostrich-farming to those seeking information, or to naturalists about their habits, that may be addressed to me.-J. A. Murray; Wanderer's Club, St. James's, September 10, 1874.–From the 'Field.
On the Distribution of the Species of Cassowaries.-Until very recently there was supposed to be only one species of Casuarius; now at least seven species are known, each with a distinct and very limited area, the genus being entirely confined to Northern Australia, New Guinea, and the adjacent isles. A full exploration of New Guinea would probably lead to the discovery of a large number of most interesting new species.—P. L. Sclater, at British Association.
Little Bittern near Epping.--A specimen of this rare bird was shot, on the 15th instant, at Passingford Bridge, about five miles from Epping. It was first observed by Miss Stevens, daughter of Mr. Stevens, miller, and a few days after was shot by his man. It appears to be a young bird which had just completed its first autumnal moult; it is probably a male, but in consequence of injury by shot, the sex could not be ascertained. It is in beautiful plumage.—Henry Doubleday; Epping, September 10, 1874.
Bartailed Godwit in Nottinghamshire.-On September 8th a flock of between thirty and forty bartailed godwits passed over the heads of a party of gentlemen shooting near Farnsfield, and six were killed. They were in beautiful plumage, and very fat. They varied much in size; the largest, weighing ten ounces, was seventeen inches from tip of beak to end of tail; the smallest six ounces, and thirteen inches in length. The larger ones were females, which in this species is always the case. The species has occurred but rarely in Nottinghamshire.-J. Whitaker.
White Stork near Berwick-on-Tweed.—A white stork, in very indifferent condition, was shot on the 10th of June at Scremerston, three miles from Berwick-on-Tweed; its dimensions are given in the 'Field’of July 4th.
Black Gannet.--I have just seen flying past a bird which is new to me, and I shall be glad to know whether you have heard of any round our coasts before,-a black gannet, not brown (i.e. not in the ordinary plumage of a young bird), but jet-black on the back, wings and sides, white neck and head, and white belly and breast-evidently not a young bird by its strong 'even flight and well-defined colour. Cruising last year in the early part of June off the Cornish coast, I saw a gannet somewhat similar in markings, only with more white about it-in fact, I should call it a piebald variety; but the one to-day seems to me more distinct in its plumage.-W. Taylor ; Yacht · Seabelle,' off Sidmouth, September 16, 1874.
[I know nothing of such a variety.-E. Newman.]
Little Auk and Dunlin.-Having read Dr. Saxby's notes on the · Birds of Shetland,' I would recommend all who may be desirous of acquiring information respecting the habits, migration, nidification, and eggs of the rarer aquatic species, to procure this graphic, instructive and interesting work, one that will amply repay the perusal—moreover, serve as a reliable book of reference, particularly as regards the transition states of plumage, variations in size, colouring, &c., of the eggs,-no author that I am acquainted with having given us so clear an insight into these particulars, so that one cannot but feel that in Dr. Saxby we had the right man in the right place. Though I must not anticipate the reviewer, I may perhaps venture to remark on a species or two, the little auk, for instance. Dr. Saxby says, “It has become apparent that the numbers occasionally drifted ashore dead have been unable to withstand the force of the gale,” and that as “the storm-driven birds seldom occur in the day-time, we may consider that darkness is the main cause." As to the darkness, it need be obscure, indeed, for the auk not to know its whereabouts. We are told that “it is far more ready to make use of its wings than either the guillemot or razorbill”— why, then, not seek the sheltering shores or cliffs? Starvation, I believe, to be the real cause, the auk, unlike many other species, not foraging inland or along shore. Dr. Saxby remarks, “ It seemed a curious fact that almost without exception the birds were washed ashore by an easterly wind;" the lower degree of temperature might partly account for the greater mortality. That these storm-driven and weather-bound birds should not have been in “poor condition,” though found with "empty stomachs,” is not surprising, as it does not necessarily follow that they should have become either thin or emaciated in so short a time. With regard to the dunlin, Dr. Saxby remarks, “that another species, or very distinct variety, is supposed to exist in some parts of Scotland." If so, it is very improbable that it should be confined to the northern part of the kingdom, seeing that Tringa variabilis is so commonly and widely dis. tributed. As to undersized birds and varieties, they are to be met with in many species, and the length of bill is no certain criterion to guide one; for instance, having some years since shot a sandpiper with an unusually short bill, and thinking it might be different from the common species, or a rara avis, I showed it to a well-known ornithologist from north of the Tweed, who had one of the finest collections in the kingdom; his ready remark was, “Birds' beaks, like men's noses, are not all of one length.” I quoted Macgillivray (and might have cited Brisson) as an authority, but found that he, like the prophets of old, was not duly honoured in his own country; however, there is some truth in the quaint remark referred to.Henry Hadfield ; August 7, 1874.
Affection of the Sea Gull for its Young. - Standing on the jetty at Inverary, on Loch Fyne, one morning in the autumn of 1870, I witnessed an interesting instance of the affection of the gull for its offspring. Three birds, of the species which may be seen any day following in the wake of the tourist steamers, two old ones and a young one, were allured, by a few pieces of biscuit adroitly jerked far out into the loch by a friend of mine, within a short distance of the jetty. The old birds too knowing to come within a stone's throw, the tempting morsels were picked up by the unwary young one. The supply of biscuit exbausted, one of those lads who are invariably on the spot if an opportunity for mischief presents itself, began to throw stones at the young gull, whose brilliant white plumage made it an admirable mark; the old birds, seeing the danger it was in, circled round and round, urging it by their cries and example to leave the dangerous spot, twice flying straight away, as though leaving it behind, and then returning. The foolish bird, at last struck by a piece of coal, fell into the loch, lying upon the water like a little ball of snow-white feathers. At the sight of this mishap the old birds were evidently in great distress, their motions and cries being redoubled. Before, however, the lad who had fetched it down, and had jumped into a boat, could paddle to pick it up, the bird, which had been only stunned, fluttered and flew a few yards, when the old birds instantly swooped down to its assistance, by their cries encouraged it, and it slowly rose between them and flew away, one of the old ones on either side, straight up the loch, evidently a sadder and a wiser bird, having received a lesson it was not likely soon to forget.— Richard Ball; Upper Mary Street, Birmingham, September 21, 1874.
Name of a Bird.- A very peculiar looking bird was shot by Mr. J. Knight, of Wrecclesham, near Farnham, on the 19th September; its head, wings, back and tail are of a beautiful cream-colour, beak yellow, and its breast is spotted similar to that of a missel thrush. The bird is now in the hands of a birdstuffer of this town, who believes it to be the common song thrush.W. H. Legg; Farnham, Surrey.
[Is it not a pied variety of the missel thrush ?—E. Newman.]
Beaumaris Shark taken off Hastings.—On the 28th of August a fine specimen of the Beaumaris shark (Lamna monensis) was taken in the nets of one of our fishing-boats about five miles off Hastings. It measured eight feet six inches in length, and the gape of the jaws laterally and perpendicularly was nine inches and a half. I have the jaws and the vertebral column; the diameter of the largest vertebra is one inch and three-eighths. For the whole length of the vertebral column above and below there is a stout ridge of cartilage strengthening and effectually maintaining the vertebræ in their proper position. When I first saw it the men had taken out the whole of the viscera; I could not therefore get its correct circumference. They told me that the liver weighed four pounds. This is the second specimen of the species taken off our coast; the first was a small one, and I sent you an account of its capture at the time. The largest specimen recorded by Yarrell was said to be nine feet six inches in length, and was a female. I believe the specimen I have described was a male, but I am not certain of that fact.–J. S. Bowerbank ; 2, East Ascent, St. Leonards-on-Sea, September 7, 1874.
Salpa spinosa (Otto) off the West Coast of Ireland.—I first found this oceanic mollusk in August, 1869, when it was floating near the surface of the sea, in very great abundance, between Golam Head and the Isles of Arran. Again, this season, I have met with it plentifully in the vicinity of the Skiara Rocks, and around Deer Island, to the south-west of Roundstone, in Connemara.-A. G. More; Dublin, September 4, 1874.
Zoological Society's Gardens in Regent's Park.—Since my last notice the following animals have been added to the collection. I have omitted the scientific or technical name, except in instances where it is required from the circumstance of the species having no well-known English name. I cannot conceive any advantage can result from giving a Latin name when the animal possesses a familiar English one: thus, in the instance of the giraffe, the addition of the words “ Camelopardalis Giraffa"; in that of the kingfisher the words “ Alcedo Ispida,” &c., obscures and encumbers the meaning: on the other hand, such unpleasant English words as “mastigure,” “kinkajou,” &c., may perhaps be allowed what little advantage can be derived from a second name. The selection may give a little trouble to myself as the compiler, but certainly will save trouble to the reader.
Published 9th July.— A Himalayan bear, presented by Mr. George Lockie; two red kangaroos from Australia, presented by the Acclimatisation Society of Melbourne ; two Audouin's gulls (Larus Audouini) from Sardinia, presented by Lord Lilford; a Kappler's armadillo (Tatusia Kappleri) from Surinam, deposited; two musquashes (Fiber zibeticus) from North America, received in exchange; a harpy eagle from Paraguay; seven Ariel toucans from Brazil, purchased; a collared fruit-bat, born in the Gardens.
Published 16th July.—A banded ichneumon from West Africa, presented by Lady Sheffield; a rose-ringed parrakeet from the Zambesi River, presented by Mrs. Loveday; a chimpanzee from West Africa ; a spectacled bear from the Upper Amazon; an Eyra cat from South America; a Nisnas monkey, an Eleonora falcon, deposited; two pumas, and nine rosybilled ducks (Metopiana peposuca), born in the Gardens.
Published 23rd July.— Three giraffes from Upper Nubia, purchased ; two passerine owls (Glaucidium passerinum), European, presented by Mr. C. W. Tait; a Reeves' muntjac (Cervulus Reevesi), born in the Gardens; a slow loris (Nycticebus tardigradus), from the Malay region, deposited ; a coati, brown variety, and a spotted cavy from South America, purchased; two bronzewinged pigeons and an olive weaver-bird, hatched in the Gardens.
Published 30th July.—Two tigers from Calcutta; two yellowbilled sheathbills (Chionis alba) from the Southern Ocean, presented by Mr. H. Roberts ; a Wanderoo monkey (Macacus Silenus) from the Malabar Coast, presented by Lieut. Vipan; a rosecrested cockatoo from the Moluccas, presented by Mr. John Elms; three grey breasted parakeets (Bolborhynchus monachus) from Monte Video, presented by Mr. C. Purnchard ; a king vulture from Tropical America ; a redbacked buzzard (Buteo erythronotus) from South America, purchased; a Philantomba antelope (Cephalophus Maxwellii), born in the Gardens.
Published 6th August.— A laughing kingfisher from Australia, presented by Mr. J. S. White; two black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles melanochir) from Central America, presented by Mr. S. W. Rix; a greater sulphurcrested cockatoo from Australia, presented by Miss S. Hooper; a Tamandua ant-eater (Tamandua tetradactyla) from South America, deposited; and three blotched genets (Genetta tigrina), born in the Gardens.
Published 13th August.— Two Egyptian gazelles (Gazella Dorcas) from Egypt, presented by Mr. G. Muscat; four rufous tinamous (Rhynchotus rufescens) from the Argentine Republic, presented by Mr. Alfred O. Lumb; three mastigures (Uromastix) from Persia, presented by Captain Phillips ; one Yaguarundi cat (Felis Yaguarundi) from South America, deposited.
Published 20th August.-A puma and three kinkajous (Cercoleptes caudivolvulus) from South America, presented by Mr. W. Delisle Powles : a Cuvier's toucan from Brazil, presented by Mr. Philip Harrington; a Macaque monkey (Macacus cynomolgus), white variety, from India, presented by Sir Andrew Clarke; a West African python (Python Seba), deposited ; a crested agouti (Dasyprocta cristata), from South America ; five common kingfishers, British, purchased.
Published 27th August. Two Chukar partridges (Caccabis Chukar) from N.W. India, presented by the Hon. Justice Jackson ; four Sandwich terns, four avocets, European, purchased; a common crowned pigeon (Goura coronata), two bronzewinged pigeons, hatched in the Gardens; a blackeared marmoset (Hapale penicillata) from Brazil; and two suricates, from South America, deposited.