Page images

ments had been repeated with most astonishing regularity for some fifteen or twenty minutes, a sloping flight was directed towards the ground, and throwing the wings above the back, at the same time uttering a rapid “chucking” cry, it dropped out of sight among the grass. There can be very little doubt that the bleating sound is made by the wings, for it is only heard while the bird is descending with them extended; never at any other time. I have many times produced a sound of much the same kind by cutting downwards through the air with the outer edge of a large quill. A Shetland guide takes a singular pleasure in calling the traveller's attention to the "snippack’s” supposed power of making its voice heard close at hand one moment and a hundred yards off the next, and never for a moment thinks of doubting that it is uttered while the bird is upon the ground in order to lead the intruder from its nest. More than one old sportsman of my acquaintance would rather suffer at the stake than renounce the same time-honoured belief, but for myself I can only assert that on hearing the sound in question my attempt to discover the bird producing it in the air abore bas never failed, except at night or in foggy weather.

Blacktailed Godwit.—The blacktailed godwit mentioned in my noles for last month (Zool. S. S. 477) was shot by me on the 4th of June: it was running upon a small patch of sand close to the sea, and allowed me to drift up in the boat until within about forty yards. Although so late in the season it had not completely acquired the fine red summer plumage. It was a female, and so very fat that I experienced great difficulty in skinning it without soiling the feathers. The stomach contained sand, small stones, pieces of shells and numerous skins of grubs.

Black Guillemot.-As late as the 7th of June I observed a party of seven black guillemots near Balta. More than two are very seldom seen together in June.

Sanderling.-On the evening of the 10th of June, after a smart breeze from S.S.W., I saw a small party of sayderlings feeding with some dunlins upon the flat ground left bare by the tide at the head of the voe. So far as I could ascertain they fed in silence until I was observed, when they commenced a warning “twit, twit,” rising with the same cry if still further pressed. Al two o'clock next morning (Monday) I went out and shot one, fearing that the fishermen would disturb them : it was in the beautiful reddish plumage peculiar to summer.

Peregrine Falcon.—On the 7th of June I received a specimen of the peregrine falcon, which had just been shot at Uyeasound: it was a male, apparently from last year, and had not quite completed the summer moult: both crop and stomach were quite empty.

Dunlin.-During the latter half of June I found several dunlins' nests upon the Hill of Colirale, several hundred feet above the level of the sea, and at least a quarter of a mile from the nearest drop of fresh water. The nests were all placed among the heather, and consisted of nothing more than a deep cavity, slightly lined with pieces of moss and grass. One was completely hidden beneath an overhanging spray of heather, and would have escaped notice had not the bird flown out as I stepped over it. When a dunlin is near hatching, and is disturbed in this manner, she alights almost immediately, and runs trailing the wings and uttering a peculiar shrill cry; when the danger seems to be over she returns by running until within about twenty yards of the vest, and then, after pausing awhile and looking round upon all sides, flies the remaining distance. In the breeding season these birds have a singular habit of hovering at a considerable height abore the ground, at the same time uttering a sort of gentle warbling.

JULY, 1866. Tuile.-Fresh eggs of the twite were found during the whole of this month.

Golden Plover.- Golden plorers began to assemble very early this season. I saw the first flock, numbering about forty individuals, on the 2ud of July.

Crossbill.A number of crossbills visited us on the 4th of July, during a light N.E. wind. The greater number were birds of the year, in green and yellow plumage, and there were several in bright yellow or orange, but red ones were very scarce. They seemed to feed entirely upou Aphides, to procure which they would snap off a rolled-up elm leaf, fly with it to some convenient perch, and then, transferring it from the bill to one foot, pick them out at leisure.

Rednecked Phalarope.-- On the 14th of July several well-fledged birds of this species were observed in company with some old ones, in a marsh, by Mr. Thomas Edmondston, jun. Two of the former, which he shot, are now in iny possession. There can be but little doubt that they were bred there.

HENRY L. SAYBY. Baltasound), Shetland, July 31, 1866.

Ornithological Noles from Beverley, East Yorkshire.

By W. W. Boultos, Esq.


Cormorant. -1865. December 13. I received this day from Mr. Bailey, of Flamborongh, a fine old female specimen of the cormorant. This bird is anything but common our eastern coast, a few specimens only occurring each year, and these are chiefly immature birds.

Gray Phalarope.-- December 30. A specimen of the gray phalarope was shot on the Humber bank yesterday: I obtained it for my collection, and on dissection it proved to be a male. This bird is occasionally inet with along the east coast of Yorkshire, most of the local museums containing specimens: this season, however, riz. that of 1865—66, would seem to be unusually prolific in specimens of the species throughout the kingdom, judging from the numerous captures recorded in the 'Zoologist. I have received a second specimen, shot near to Flamborough.

Mountain Finch.-Large numbers of this species have frequented the neighbourhood during the winter months: they may be found in flocks, often mixed up with linnets, &c., in the carrs of East Yorksbire: many, loo, have been shot in orchards and gardens around the suburbs of Beverley.

Rock Pipit.—1866. January 26. Four specimens of this pipit were shot to-day by Mr. F. Boyes, of Beverley, at Flamborough. They are common along the cast coast of Yorkshire, but I have never met with a specimen inland. Mr. Boyes saw many more besides those he shot.

Quail.February 20. An immature male specimen of the quail was shot to-day by Mr. Ward, of Arram, near Beverley: it was shot year to the village of Arram. This is now a rare bird in East Yorkshire.

Tree Sparrow.—March 3. This species is by uo means uncommon in our neighbourhood; tree sparrows are frequently met with both singly and in focks. This day an old male tree sparrow was shot by Mr. B. Boyes, and several other specimens have been brought in for preservation.

Great Gray Shrike.March 8. A male of this species was brought to me to day by a sergeant of the Coldstream Guards, who had shot it amongst some hawthorn-bushes on Swine Moor, one of the common pastures of Beverley. The shrike, of either species, is now a rare bird

[ocr errors]

in the neighbourhood of Bererley: I have never bad more than four or five specimens shot within several miles of the town.

Gunnel.- April 23. A fine old male specimen of the gannet was sent to-day to Mr. R. Richardson, of Beverley, for preservation, by Mr. Boynton, of Alrome, near Bridlington. The gapnet has occurred in larger numbers along our coast during the present year. Several have come under my own observation, in various stages of plumage.

Shore Lark.- April 6. I bare to-day received from Mr. Bailey, of Flamborough, an old male specimen of this rare bird. It was shot a short time previously by Mr. Bailey, near to Flamborough: he mistook it for a variety of the blackheaded bunting, and sent it to me as such. Mr. Bailey also stated that it was one of a flock, and that had he knowo its value he could have secured more specimens. This is the only specimen of the shore lark I have met with shot on our east coast.

Gray Plover.–April 20. I received this day, in the flesh, a specimen of the gray plover, rapidly changing to the breeding plumage. On the 30th of May Mr. F. Boyes shot another, an adult male, in the perfect nuptial dress: both these birds were shot at Spurn, mouth of the Humber. It is very rarely that we obtain this bird in its breeding plumage in our neighbourhood. The change of plumage appears to be effected, in part, by a partial moult of new feathers, and in part by a gradual change of hue that takes place in the old feathers, which remain unmoulted.

Curious Freak of Nature.-On the 15th of March a hen carrier pigeon, in my own loft, appeared to be rather cramped in the left foot and leg: on that day she laid two eggs, both of them perfect, but one a liule smaller than the other, and both rather thin-shelled: two days after she laid a third and perfect egg of the full size, and with a perfect shell; on this egg she sat the full time, and brought the chick within to maturity. This carrier hen has never since laid more than two eggs at one nesting, and has never been in any way cramped in leg or foot. This partial palsy of the limb was doubtless due to the pressure of the eggs upon the nerves which supply the muscles with motive power. I have frequently observed similar results in the case of short-faced tumblers, delicate in constitution and small in size, when the bird, from over obesily or actual want of power, has failed to expel the egg at the proper time: after a few days of care and rest the bird has generally regained the lost power in its legs. Since the above occurrence a Cochin China pullet of the present year (1866), in my yard, dropped two eggs from her perch during the night, and laid a perfect egg, as usual, on the following day.

Ring Ouzel.This bird visits East Yorkshire in company with the fieldfare: it is met with, as a rule, at those periods of the year when the fieldfare arrives and leaves us. On one occasion only have I known it breed near to Beverley, and in my collection is an egg taken from the nest in question. Several specimens of the ring ouzel were shot in the neighbourhood during the month of April: the last specimen brought in for preservation was shot on the 3rd of May; the last fieldfare I got was shot on the 24th of April. Since the arrival of the fieldfare again, in October, the ring ouzel has also reappeared: several have been seen and shot; the last specimen brought for preservation was shot on the 27th of October.

Pied Flycatcher.-I have never met with this species in this district of East Yorkshire until the present year. On the 3rd of May and two following days several specimens were shot by Mr. Bailey, of Flamborough, eight of which he sent to me: they were shot out of a large flock, and amongst them were birds of both sexes, mature and immature.

Bridled or Ringed Guillemol.-May 17. Mr. F. Boyes shot a ringed guillemot to-day at Flamborough Head: it was a female. I am convinced that this species is not by any means so rare as is generally supposed. I have obtained many specimens in both summer and winter plumage: its apparent scarcity I attribute rather to its close resemblance to Uria troile (with which species it has often been doubtless confounded) than to an actual rarity of the Uria lachrymans. In these days of advancing knowledge, science and research, I believe that many species hitherto believed to be scarce, from their close resemblance to other and distinct species, will be found after all not so rare as supposed: they have been overlooked and unobserved amongst their closely allied species, existing and even breeding with us, whilst their very being has been unsuspected and disbelieved.

Black Tern.-On one occasion only have I previously obtained this species in the mature plumage; they have been seen occasionally along the eastern coast, and reported to me, but rarely shot. On the 18th of May Mr. Bailey shot a mature male specimen off the Flamborough Head: it is now in my collection. I also possess an immature specimen shot at the same place and by the same gun.

I once possessed a mature bird shot at Spurn, but afterwards exchanged it for another bird.

« PreviousContinue »