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No. 15. Adult in Summer.—As in winter, but that the head and neck are pure white, the orbits orange-red, and the feet yellow-brown. (In collection).
Anecdote of the Horse. A somewhat remarkable instance of the horse's attachment to particular companions came to my knowledge a short time since. A pony which bad been working some time in a coal-mine was drawn up and lowered into another mine, but, on finding itself among strange company, refused to eat. It was tried three days, but would not taste any food. It was then taken out and returned to the pit it had come from, when it manifested unmistakable signs of satisfaction, and commenced eating and working as usual.- George Roberts; Lofthouse, Wakefield, October 30, 1866.
Rats and Mice.-Rats and mice are numerous in the coal-mines about here. They
down with the oats, straw, &c., which are taken for the horses. They subsist on the horse-food, reinnants of candles, and fragments which the miners waste at meal-times. Cats are taken down to assist in diminishing their numbers. Bats (tbe longeared species) bave been found in pits at a depth of one hundred and seventy yards. The longtailed field-mouse and the shorttailed field-vole leave their retreats in February. I observed one of the former ivhabiting an old nest of the hedgesparrow in February: it was not torpid ; il left its dormitory and descended to the bottom of the hedge 10 feed in the middle of the day.-Id.
Notes on the Mammalia of Norfolk (continued from Zool. S. S. 385).
Polecat.— This formerly common species is now becoming rather scarce, owing to the strict measures that are employed in the destruction of “ vermin," of which this is considered one of the most prominent agents. An individual or two is occasionally trapped in the game-preserves ; the last example I heard of was a male, obtained in the vicinity of Fundenhall, a few days since.
Oller.-Two female specimens of the otter were obtained in the vicinity of Harleston, one on the 3rd of August last, and the other on the 2nd of Nurember. I have also received infurination of the occurrence of two other individuals on Hickling Broad, a few days since.
Diseased Olter.-In dissecting the first example, mentioned above, I was much surprised to discover nearly the whole of the poor animal's intestines almost entirely covered with large ulcers, some of which ineasured as much as three inches in diameter. Its body was of course much swollen, indeed so much that it was apparently large with young. I recorded a curious instance of a diseased rat in the “Zoologist' for 1865 (Zool. 9645), and Mr. Alston also mentions several cases of rats and mice (Zool. 9708), but these are all apparently skin diseases. The above circumstance is, I believe, rather remarkable and of very unusual occurrence; I never remember hearing or seeing recorded any similar instance. Perhaps some of the readers of the Zoologist’ may have met with similar cases of internal disease in animals in the wild state.-T. E. Gunn ; 3 West Pollergale, Norwich, November, 6, 1866.
The Harvest Mouse and the Cockroaches.-In August, 1865, one of my parishioners brought me a male harvest mouse. I put it into a dormouse-cage, where, after a short
SECOND SERIES-VOL. II.
time, it became very tame, and would rush to the wires with the greatest eagerness and take insects out of my band. It ate blue-bottle and other fies, butterfies, moths, bees, wasps and Lepidoplerous larvæ, and was specially fond of cockroaches. It would seize, worry and eat an immense full-grown specimen with the most amusing ferocity, and I have known it eat as many as fourteen in one night. It would also eat wheat, barley and oats, biscuit, cake, apple, nuts, and bread and milk, but its fuvonrile food was insects. It lived in apparently perfect health for six months, and then died very suddenly.-H. H. Crewe,
Whales off the Isle of Wight.-Last week some wbales passed by here, which unfortunately I did not see, but heard a coast-guardman say they were either whales or 'black-lisb."" The following notice of the occurrence appeared in our local newspaper :-"On Thursday (Nov. 29th.) two Greenland whales (Balæna myslicetus), passed Ventnor, at an average distance from the shore of about one mile and a half, though at one time they were not further off than a quarter of a mile. They were very good samples of their class, and the volume of water thrown up by them each time they came to the surface for respiration quite astonished those who took them for porpoises." As I do not remember our being honoured with such a visit during some twenty years' residence, the occurrence seems worth recording.- George Guyon; Ventnor, Isle of Wight, December 3, 1866.
Ornithological Notes from Falkirk.-Redwings arrived with us much earlier than usual : I saw a flock of them on the 2nd of November, and we have had them more or less ever since: this flock occupied the top branches of some tall larch trees, and were twittering like so many swallows: I shot one in the act. A company of seven swallows passed overhead, going west on the following day. Woodcocks are plentiful on Torwood grounds: I heard that Colonel Dundas and party killed, on the 9th of November, fourteen couple, besides other game. A large flock of siskins, a bird which I have not seen here for some years, was busily engaged amongst the catkins of the alder trees in our marsh : to-day (November 19th) I shot two, the one an old bird, the other evidently a bird of the year. Immense focks of wood pigeons are feeding on the beech-mast. There is every appearance of a severe winter; hard frost all to-day, accompanied by a cold north wind.-John A. Harvie Brown; Dunipace House, Falkirk, November 19, 1866.
Honey Buzzard in Aberdeenshire.--In the woods of Balogie, the property of Mr. Dyce Nicol, M.P., there were shot a pair of honey buzzards, male and female, one by the forester, the other by the gamekeeper. The female was shot on the nest on the 12th of July last; her mate was killed about a week previous. Their stomachs contained bees and honey. The best was built in a tall fir tree, which was difficult to climb, the trunk being smooth and brancbless. The nest was about three feet in diameter, very fat, and composed of twigs of various sizes (those uppermost being about the thickness of a pipe-stalk), and covered with grass-roots. The eggs, two in number, were about the size of those of the domestic hen, slightly tapered, their colour resembling rosewood, blotched with very dark brown. I am obliged to Mr. Robert. Wilson, gunmaker, St. Nicholas Street, for the above information, to whom the birds were sent for preservation. Only one other instance of the breeding of this specics in Scotland is recorded. Macgillivray states that Mr. J. M. Brown found the nest and eggs in the woods of Abergeldie, in the county of Aberdeen, and says that he is only aware of three instances of this species having been killed in Scotland. Since then (1810) other two specimens have been obtained in this county. In September, 1864, Mr. Hyatt shot one in the pleasure-grounds at Crimmondmogate, and in September, 1865, another was killed on Dee-side, and sent to Mr. Mitchel for preservation.-W. Cruibe Angus.
Rare Birds in Northamptonshire. I have to record the capture of a Manx shearwater, in the early part of last September. It was taken alive, uninjured, feeding (?) with some chickens in the town. It drank water freely, but not being supplied with proper food it died.
A female lesser spotted woodpecker (Picus minor), and a male great spotted woodpecker (Picus major), both rare in this neighbourhood, bave been shot within the last few days. Several gray phalaropes were also shot in September. A male crossbill and a Buhemian waxwing have also occurred. - Henry P. Hensman ; Northampton.
Occurrence of the Merlin in Scilly.—A male merlin, baving just completed his moult, and presenting the beautiful plumage of the adult bird, with a light blue back, was sent over from the Islands yesterday.- Elward Hearle Rodd; Penzance, November 6, 1866.
The two Great Gray British Shrikes. My friend the Rev. John Jenkinson, of Reading, who has been staying with me, gave bis attention with myself to the subject of the supposed two species of gray shrikes which have been regarded as British, and during his stay we went closely into the investigation of the subject, and which resulted at length in my requesting him to put on paper, for the use of the “ Zoologist,” the following remarks, which have been perused by me, and which are in accordance with my own views. I may add that I have mentioned the subject to Mr. Gould, who quite appreciates the care that is due to the specific identity of the two birds as British. Mr. Gould, however, seems to support the important point that the male of our Lanius excubitor has two white spots on the wing, whilst the female has one only. You will observe that Mr. Jenkinson calls especial attention to the female bird in my case, as having a shorter, deeper, and a differently formed bill from the other which is in the male plumage.-Id; December 13, 1866. Greal Gray Shrike.— Notices have appeared occasionally in the “Zoologist' of
shrike differing from the common one, and spoken of as the greater porthern sbrike (Lanius borealis).” Apparently this bird is not much less common than the other, and therefore there ougbt to be sufficient examples of it to settle the question of its distinctness, and to enable it to be clearly identified. The following descriptions of fuur birds will show the points of difference between the so-called L. borealis and L. excubitor in its different states of plumage. Nos. 1 and 2 are in Mr. Rodd's collection; No. 3 in my own possession ; No. 4 in the Truru Museum. No.l. Adult male of L. excubitor. Whole upper
blue gray. Through the eye and ear-coverts a black streak with a whitish edge above. Whole under surface white. Distribution of white in wings and tail as follows:-A bar across the primaries and secondaries, forming two spots on the closed wing. Scapulars largely lipped. Secondaries tipped. Four central tail-feathers black, the next on each side tipped with while, which increases rapidly in an oblique line to the root of the outer feather, which is all white.
No. 2. A much smaller bird, recorded by Mr. Rodd as a female :—Whole upper surface gray, less pure and blue than No. 1, with slight inixture of rusty about the head. The streak through eye much broader, with no indicatiou of an upper white edge. Under surface white, but not very pure, and mixed with a rusty linge. Distribution of white, &c. Bar, on primaries only, forming one spot, no white on scapulars. Secondaries slightly tipped. Four central tail-feathers black, the rest tipped and based with white, the white chiefly at the base, and the proportion of black to white greater than in No. 1: outer feather white. The black of this bird is really more brown than black, the eye-streak being the nearest approach to real black.
No. 3. Slightly smaller than No. 1. Apparently adult female of that bird. Upper surface blue-gray, with a good deal of rusty tinge, especially on top of head. Eyestreak duller than No. 1, with whitish edge above. Under surface dirty white, with greyish crescentic marks. Distribution of white, &c. Bar, on primaries only, forming one spot. Scapulars tipped, but less largely and purely than No. 1. Secondaries and soine of the primaries tipped. Greater wing-coverts edged and tipped with rusty while, forming a varrow line across the wing. Tail as iu No. 1, but rtaher less wbite.
No. 4. Nearly the same as No. 3, but the crescentic markings fewer and fainter and two spots on wing. Query, an immature male of No. 1. If so, il would seem that two spots on the wing are distinctive of the male and one of the female of L. excubitor.
Nos. 1, 3, 4, are clearly of the same species, viz. L. excubitor, agreeing in all those points in which they differ from No. 2. The points of difference are these :Ist, as to size. No, 2 is a much smaller bird than the other. Tbe tail is threequarters of an inch shorter than in No. 1. Wings from carpal joint same length. This makes No. I look a shorter winged and longer tailed bird, in proportion to its size, than No. 2. 2nd. Beak of No. 2 stouter in proportion to bird, and the ridge of the upper mandible more quickly curved. 3rd. Distribution of white, especially in the tail : in No. 2 ihe black predominates, --in No. 1 the reverse. This point of difference, as well as that of size, is correctly noticed in the “Zoologist' for 1850 (Zool. 2650).
No. 1 is undoubtedly the bird known as L. excubitor, and so described in Yarrell, who, however, does not mention the spots in the wing of the female as differing from those in the male. Pennant, Selhy, Bewick, Temminck, Gould and Montagu, all seem pretty clearly to describe the same bird as L. excubitor; though they all speak of only one spot of white on tlie wings. No. 2 is not described by any of them. It seems, however, pretty clearly to be a distinct bird. Being so, and being a smaller bird, is it rightly called the “greater northern shrike (L. borealis);" and where is it described ? It would be an assistance if any persons having specimevs of the gray shrike would say, having reference to the points of difference above named, to which species they belong. It would enable us to judge which of the two is the most common, and whether those differences are true points of distinction between two species; especially if they would notice anything in wbich the differences named are not borne out. No.2 being a female, a description of the male bird is desired, and can perhaps be furnislied by some one.-J. H. Jenkinson ; December, 1866.
PS. I think in all probability some of those noticed as "greater porthern shrikes" are merely L. excubitor; e.g. 'Zoologisl’1830 (Zvol. 2619), where a female bird is described as L. borealis, which is identical with my No. 3; so perhaps No. 2 is not so common as the notices would seem to make it, and the term “greater” may bave helped to puzzle people.-J. II. J.
Woodchat Shrike, Sabine's Gull and Gullbilled Tern in the Neighbourhood of Plymouth.-Within the past two months the following exceedingly rare birds have heen obtained in the neighbourhood of Plymouth, all of which I have myself examined :— Female woudchat shrike, captured with bird-lime, and kept alive for some days on raw liver: this bird was in severe moult, and the old plumage much worn. Sabine's gull, a young bird of the year, killed in Plymouth Sound, and stated in one of the local papers to be the gullbilled tern, which it in no way resembles. Gullbilled tern, immature, shot on the Saira ; from the gullet and stomach of which several beetles were taken: the colour of the bill of the young gullbilled tern is said by most authors to be of a bluish black, but in this bird the base of the lower mandible is of a yellowish orange, as described by Temminck. I feel much pleasure iu being the first to record the occurrence of the three above-mentioned birds in the vicinity of Plymouth. Many black redstarts have already made their appearance on our coasts.J. Galcombe; Plymouth, November 16, 1866.
Nesting of the Song Thrush.- Last April I discovered a nest of the song thrush in a rather unusual situation. It was fixed on the top of a rail which was slandiug on one end in a disused iramway arch. One end of the arch was built up, and the place was dark in the daytime. The nest was robbed by mischievous boys. The birds built again not far distant, on the ground, among loose straw. I also found a nest of the thrush, the soft living of which was inlaid all over with bits of rolten wood.-George Roberts ; Lofthouse, Wakefield.
Nesling of the Flycatcher.—The nest of the spotted flycatcher bas been variously, and I think in soine instances incorrectly, described. Macgillivray says the nest “ is small, compact, composed of straws, moss and hair, and lined with feathers.” According to Montagu, it is “formed of bents, moss, and such like materials, interworen with spiders' webs, and lined with feathers.” The Rev. J. C. Atkinson, in his little work · British Birds' Eggs and Nests,' describes it as composed of “ moss, old and new bents, straws, twigs, hairs and feathers.” In Kuigl's · English Cyclopedia,' it is said to be “ loosely constructed of moss, fibres, catkins of the hazel, or small iwigs, lined with straw and wool, or hair and feathers.” Now, I have seen many nests of the flycatcher, but I have seldom found feathers in the lining. I have found a little wool or bair. One that I minutely dissected last year was composed externally of dry soft bents and a little moss, and finished with soft moss, and strips of red bark. This red bark, which by the way is almost the colour of the eggs, has always formed a portion of the inside and rim of the nests I have observed here. I should, however, remark that I have found my nests in an orchard where red bark of the cherry and plum tree is at band. There was neither hair nor feathers in the nest that I examined. In corroboration of Montagu, I have sometimes seen the rim finished with masses of old spiders' webs. The writer in 'Knight's Cyclopedia’is certainly in error when he says the nest is loosely constructed, for it is generally, and accurately, described as compact ; in fact, I have found some nearly as closely made and as elegantly finished as the nest of the chaffinch. It has been interesting to me to learn recently, from Wilson's excellent work on American birds, that some of the American flycatchers use bark in the formation of their nests. Wilson, who was a minute describer of nests as