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Canada Goose.-“A single specimen was shot on Loch Lomond some years ago, and is now in the College Museum, Glasgow.”—Mr. R. Gray.
Honey Buzzard.-One specimen is mentioned by Maegillivray (* British Birds,' vol. iii., p. 260) as haring been obtained near Stirling in June, 1838, and came into his hands on the 9th of that month.
John A. HARVIE BROWN. Dunipace House, Falkirk.
Errata.-In the Extracts from a Journal of a Nesting Tour in Sutherland,' Zool. S. S. p. 852, line 36, for “ red backed" read “ redbreasted” merganser; p. 861, line 26, for “wood” read “ willow" warbler (the wood warbler is unknown in Sutherland); p. 862, line 26, under ptarmigan, for “ Ben More, Assyni," read “Ben-MoreAssynt," and at p. 863, line 27, for “ Kylesker” read “ Kylesku” or “Kyleskou." J. A. Harvie Brown.
Ornithological Notes from the Isle of Wight.
By Captain HadFIELD.
JUNE, 1867. Manx Shearwater.—June 14. A bird of this rare species was shot near the Needles. Only one other instance of its occurrence on our coasts has, I believe, been recorded.
Swift.-17. A flock of swifts, the largest I ever saw, for it contained some hundreds, passed over the town this evening in an easterly direction : they were hawking at a considerable eleration, and their flight was circularly progressive, like that of the Caprimulgus americanus, when similarly engaged. As they are now nesting or incubating, it is difficult to account for these gatherings: that they are but casual visitants there can be no doubt, none breeding in this neighbourhood, that I know of, and a few pairs only in the loftier cliffs west of Shanklin; however, their flight being so wonderfully rapid, they could readily pass round the island and back to the mainland within the hour.
Wren.-22. Saw a nest recently taken ; it was found in a common brainble, a few feet from the ground. Macgillivray says that when placed on the ground, the base, and often the exterior of the nest, is formed of leaves, but otherwise the outer surface is generally composed
of moss; but this nest, though resting on nothing but the brier, and at some elevation, is externally formed of leares, and nothing else. The opening is of fine green moss closely packed, and of a smooth surface, but there are a few fine grass-straws intermixed, encircling the entrance, which is neatly rounded off. There is no lining of feathers, though the nest has a finished look, and is perfectly even within.
Common Buzzard.--Although I have lately heard of a falcon having been seen at Steephill, I believe it to be the common buzzard, as it was observed wheeling about at a great height; besides, on the 23rd, I obtained a momentary view of a large dark bird, which I took to be the female of the latter species, soaring over the Downs.
Cuckoo.—25. In the stomach of a cuckoo, brought to me for identification, nothing but the remains of small black beetles were found.
Quail.—Though I have occasionally heard of the occurrence of the quail in the island, I never before knew of its nesting here, but I am now told by a farmer well known to me, and whose farm at Niton I shot over last season, that his men, in mowing grass on the hill-side on the 15th, laid bare a quail's nest with numerous eggs. Seeing there would be no chance of the old birds returning to the nest, he took the eggs home and placed them under a hen, but without much expectation of their being hatched. I heard, many years since, of a bevy of quails being met with near Shanklin. The quail seems partial to islands, and is abundant in the Isle of Man, for during my short stay there I bagged sixteen brace and a half: the landrail, too, was far more numerous than in any other part of England that I know of. Bewick's account of the number of eggs laid by the quail is so widely different from that of other authors that I am induced to make a few remarks on it. One would imagine the quail to be an uncommon or rare species, for he says "it lays but six or seven eggs, whereas in France they are said to lay as many as tirenty.” Strange that an observer and writer like Bewick should have so greatly erred. So we are to believe that the quail on one side of the channel lays eighteen or twenty eggs, and on the other but six or seven ? If proof were needed of its laying with us double the number of eggs stated by Bewick, I have only to observe that having gone lately to Niton, lo make further inquiry, I have ascertained that the eggs taken from the nest on the 15th of June were fourteen in number. But that the quail occasionally lays sonie eighteen or twenty eggs I have had pretty good proof; for when residing at Pau, Basses Pyrenées, a peasant showed me a capful of young quails just taken from the nest : though not counted they could not hare been much under twenty in number, and a pretty and interesting lot they were. Why the quail should be such a scarce bird in the South of England and yet so numerous in the Isle of Man I can only account for by supposing that we are here out of the line of light.
JULY. Lesser Blackbacked Gull, &c.—Mr. Rogers, of Freshwater, informs me that he has noticed but one pair of the lesser blackbacked gull breeding in the Freshwater Cliffs this season, and I have reason to believe that one pair only is nesting in the Culver Cliffs, having seen but one pair on the 31st of May. Mr. Rogers states that the herring gull is breeding at Freshwater in about the usual number, as are also the guillemot, razorbill and puffin : ravens hare bred there and reared their young (three in number). There being but two or three pairs of cormorants breeding in the Freshwater Cliffs this season, there is reason to fear that persecution will eventually drive this species away, as it has done the shag. Freshwater is no longer the secluded spot it was; not only are the hills fortified, but a coach runs daily between here and Freshwater.
Partridge.—Young birds had left the nest by the first week in Jals. Though they pair in March, I observed on the 31st of May a couple running about at mid-day, in a ploughed field, apparently feeding. Had incubation commenced, they would not have been found away from the nest; however, I believe Macgillivray to have been mistaken in saying that “the eggs are not laid until June," unless his remark refers to the partridge in Scotland; for, allowing that an egg is laid daily, it would be getting towards the end of the month before all the eggs could be deposited; therefore they could not be incubated for the young to be abroad by the first week in July.
Wood and Willow Wren.-Both species are now to be met with, having reappeared towards the latter end of the month; the former in considerable numbers.
HENRY HADFIELD. Veutnor, Isle of Wight, August 3, 1867.
Canine Fecundity. It may interest some of your readers to know that a young black and tan Gordon setter bitch bere whelped 18 whelps, all alive and well. She was herself one of a litter of 18, and she and her mother bave produced the extraordinary number of 87 whelps in six consecutive litters, the mother 58 in four and the
daughter 29 in two, making an average of 14} at every birth. The whelps are particularly large and healthy, with the assistance of wet-nurses. -John Middleton, Gamekeeper to the Earl of Rosslyn.- From the · Field!
Are Blue-bottle Flies distasteful to Bals ?-I am induced to ask this seemingly irrelevaut question through having observed that a longeared bat, which I kept in captivity for several days, until a wound caused its death, on being fed by hand, greedily took and devoured insects of the most different kinds, especially Muscidæ, but obstinately refused to eat blue-botlles, though presented at long intervals, and once after its having fasted a whole night. It would seize them, it is true, but a single bite sufficed in each instance to prove the mistake, when these flies were rejected, living and almost uninjured, whilst dozens of other Diptera were eaten in rapid succession. Had my pet lived any longer I should bare tried it with Telephoridæ, wbich are said to be a protected group amongst Coleoptera, bul this must now he left for another opportunity. With a view to substantiate or invalidate recent theories, it seems desirable to ascertain fully which insects are rejected by insectivorous mammals or birds, and which species are preferred for food. To enter here further into the question of the “ Kampfum's dasein," as the Germans say, is not my purpose, this subject having lately been handled in such a masterly manner in the Westinipster Review;' but I cannot resist pointing out that the blue-bottle is one of the most gaudily-coloured members of an usually soberly attired tribe. Du birds eat bluebottles ? - Albert Müller; Penge, S.E., August 6, 1867.
[The genus Musca and Musca vomiloria (the blue-bottle) is a favourite food of the barvest-mouse (Mus messorius); from actual observation I can vouch for this, and shall feel obliged for the experience of others. Edward Newman.]
Slarvation of Birds.-It were easy to attribute the death of birds to the dryness of the weather, and consequent hardness of the soil; but it is wiser, I think, to state the fact, without assigning a cause. That birds have suffered and are suffering greatly from the want of sufficient food is, I think, undeniable; but how this want is caused may remain an open question. On Friday morning, the 28th of June, I was disturbed at my usual avocation of writing by a prodigious cawing of rooks, and, going out into my little cockney garden, I found a dozen or more of these birds stealing my neighbour's cherries, currants and gooseberries, and Aging about in a feeble Aoating way that most clearly indicated a want of strength. Seven rooks were perched on a neighbour's house, either on the roof or chinneys-a position in which I bad never seen a rouk before, and certainly never expected to see one. On Saturday and Sunday several rooks were picked up dead, and were mere lumps of feathers and bones, thus exhibiting every symptom of being starved to death. A number of other birds have been picked up in a similar condition, but I am not able to say of what species.-Edward Newman.
Varieties in Birds' Eggs.- To the list of varieties of birds' eggs taken in Sutherland (Zool. S. S. 875) I must add two wbile grouse's eggs, which were taken after I left the county: they were in a nest along with iwo others of the usual colour; they closely resembled teal duck's eggs, being creamy white. On arriving at home I heard that another similar egg had been found in this county (Stirlingshire), and my frieud Mr. Alston also informs me that two have been found this season in Lanarkshire. Until this season I never heard of the variety before. I have one of the Sutherland eggs now in my cabinet, and the other is in the possession of my friend Mr. Jesse.John A. Harvie Brown ; Dunipace House, August 3, 1867.
Osprey near Cork.- A fine specimen of the osprey was shot last week by Mr. G. Ware, of Woodfort, on the Blackwater River above Mallow. It has been preserved by Mr. Hackett, of Patrick Street, Cork. From the · Field.'
Honey Buzzard.—A splendid female of this choice bird, shot by Caplain Robson, of Maidenbead, has been brought to me for preservation.-James Gardner ; 292, Oxford Street.-Id.
Montagu's Harrier.— I have at the present time, for preservation, a splendid female of this rare bird, shot by Colonel Sturt, M.P.; also a young male, in the secoud year's plumage, trapped by Lord Ashburnham.-James Gardner.-Id.
Snowy Owl and Honey Buzzard.—1 have lately received a rery fine specimen of the snowy owl, trapped by a gillie at Caithness, Scotland, which lived for some days afterwards in confinement; also a beautiful specimen of the honey buzzard, with the nest of the bird, of an extraordinary size; the bird was shot in the neighbourhood of Coventry.- Henry Ward ; 2, Vere Street, London.-Id.
The Barn Owl.—Ou the gravel drive to my house, which is overgrown by trees, it is not unusual to find of a morning six or seren dead shrew mice. The house is inhabited by the common barn owl, and I have evolved a theory respecting these unfortunate shrews. My thcory is that these mice have been caught by the owls and carried by them to the trees for inspection; that owls do not eat the shrew; and that on discovering the nature of their prey they simply drop it on the road beneath tben. Last year the nest of the owls contained five young ones: there was a difference of age of several days between each of these owlels; while the eldest was nearly as big as his papa, and in full feather, the youngest was a little ball of down, just out of the shell, the other three filling intermediate steps. In fact, in his family relations Mr. Owl
very inuch resembled some of my estimable friends, to whose family ladder each year has added an additional round. From this I evolve another theory—that Mrs. Owl lays her eggs at intervals of several days, but that she commences to sit so soun as she bas laid her first egg. Perhaps some of your readers may demolish my theories, or may add to them interesting facts.—John Garrell.-[The interesting domestic economy of the barn owl was first published in 1832, in the 'Letters of Rusticus,' who, in relating his experience on the subject, tells us that a pair of owls will bring up two or three families of owlets together. “There may be three pairs of owlets all requiring the attention of the old ones at the same time-one pair three-parts grown, one pair half. grown, and one pair a quarter grown." Mr. Blyth has related a similar story in the • Field Naturalisi's Magazine,' and suggested that the eggs last laid were hatched by the warmth of the young birds of a previous clutch.-Editor of the ‘ Field.']
Rock Thrush at Freshwater, in the Isle of Wighl.-I have succeeded with great difficulty in obtaining both specimens of the rock thrush which I mentioned in my last letter (S. S. 823). These birds were exceedingly shy, and one of them was almost blown to pieces.—Henry Rogers ; Freshwater, August 17, 1867.
Ortolan Bunting and Curlew Sandpiper in the Isle of Wight. I have also obtained a specimen of that extremely rare bunting, the ortolan, and one of the curlew sandpiper.- Id.