A voyage to Abyssinia (Salt)/Appendix 4
I have endeavoured in this Appendix to give a concise view of the animals indigenous to Abyssinia, and I have added the lists of a considerable number of rare birds and plants, which I discovered in the course of my travels in that country.
The animals domesticated throughout the kingdom consist of oxen, sheep (of a small black species,) goats, horses, mules, asses, and a few camels. Two different species of dogs are commonly met with, one of which, like the paria dog of India, owns no particular master, but is attached in packs to the different villages; and the other is a strong and swift animal employed in the pursuits of the chase. The latter from its earliest age is taught to run down its game, especially guinea-fowls: and it is astonishing how expert it becomes in catching them, never for an instant losing sight of the birds, after it has once started them from their haunts. Tame cats are likewise to be found in every house in Abyssinia.
The wild animals, called Ansissa Gudam, inhabiting the forest or "barraka," form a very numerous tribe, of which a concise list, with their names in Tigré and Amharic, may tend to convey a sufficiently accurate idea.
The elephant, (armaz, T. zohan, Amh.) is found in all the forests bordering on Abyssinia, and is commonly hunted by the Shangalla for the sake of its teeth.
The camelopard, (zeratta, T. jeratta ketchin, A.) is an animal rarely to be met with, owing to the shyness of its nature, and from its frequenting only the interior districts uninhabited by man. Its skin forms an article of barter in some of the provinces: and an ornament made of the hair plucked from the tail is commonly fastened to the but-ends of the whips, used by the inhabitants for the purpose of brushing away flies, which are exceedingly troublesome during the hot season. The whips themselves are formed out of the skin of the hippopetamos, and are called "Hallinga."
The only species of Rhinoceros, (arwe haris, T. aweer haris, A.) which I could hear of, was the two-horned rhinoceros, similar to that found in the neighbourhood of the Cape of Good Hope; of which a very admirable drawing is given by Mr. Barrow. This I believe was first described by Mr. Sparman. I myself never met with it alive, as it frequents only the low countries bordering on the Funge, or the wild forests of Wojjerat; but I procured several sets of horns, fastened together by a portion of the skin; whence it appears that they have no connection whatever with the bone of the head, a fact which gives a considerable degree of credibility to the notion generally received among the natives of Africa, that this animal possesses a power of depressing or raising the horns at will. Bruce ridicules Sparman for mentioning this circumstance; but as the drawing given by the former is evidently very incorrect, no great weight can be attached to his opinion. This animal is sought after by the hunters on account of the skin, which is much used in Arabia for shields; as also for its horns, which form a valuable article of barter throughout the East, being in great demand for making handles to swords and daggers. From the generally small size of the horns which are exported, it seems that the natives seldom kill the animal when at its full growth; Mr. Pearce has lately sent me one pair, however, the foremost of which measured two feet in length, and this was considered as the largest ever seen at Antálo.
The buffalo, (gōshee, T. gōsh, A.,) is common in the forests of Ras el Fil. Its skin is employed for the purpose of making shields, in the construction of which much art is displayed; and a handsome one, well shaped and seasoned, will sell in the country for four and five dollars.
The Zebra, or Zecora, is found chiefly in the southern provinces. The mane of this animal is in great demand for making a particular kind of collar, which is fixed on state days, as an ornament, round the necks of the war-horses belonging to the chiefs. The privilege of wearing this ornament appears to be confined to only a few of the principal men, which may perhaps, however, only proceed from its scarcity. The wild ass, possibly the Quacha, (erge gudam, T.—ebuda hiyah, A.) is found in the same districts as the Zecora.
Lions, (ambāsā, T.A.) are occasionally to be met with in sandy districts bordering on the Tacazze: and the killing one of them confers great honour upon a chief, giving him the privilege of wearing its paw upon his shield. Its skin is afterwards formed into a dress, very similar to that worn by the Kaifer chiefs in the neighbourhood of the Cape of Good Hope, though more richly ornamented.
Several species of the leopard tribe are found in the country. The common one is called nimeer in Tigre, nibr in Amharic—the second is the black leopard (gussela, T. and A.;) the skin of which commands a high price in the country, and is worn only by governors of provinces—the third, (muntillut T. wobo A.) appears to be an unknown species, and is said to be very fierce, occasionally carrying away children, and even men, when it accidentally finds them asleep: its face is described as resembling the human countenance. Of the lynx kind may be mentioned one nearly allied to the common lynx, (nibre arrar T.)—the lion cat, or caracal, (chon ambasa, T.,)—the tiger cat, or grey lynx, (nibre gulgul, T.;)—and the wild cat, (akul dimmo T. yedeer dimmut A.,) of which a drawing is given by Mr. Bruce; to these may be added the zibet, (turing dimmo, T. ankeso, A.) which produces a quantity of civet that constitutes a considerable article of commerce.
Of the dog kind may be enumerated, the hyæna, (zibee, T. gib, A.;)—a small species of wolf, (wachária, T. kabbaro, A.;)—a common sort of fox, (cōnsul, T. wolga, A.;)—the sea-fox, (wuggera, T. tokela, A.;) and the jackal, (akul mitcho, T. michæl chitlo, A.) which last is an animal exceedingly destructive to poultry.
A great variety of the antelope kind is to be met with. The largest of these are the kudoo, (agayen, T.) found also in the interior of the Cape;—the harte-beest, (wée'l, T. bohur A.) the spring-bok, (sassa, T.) and another very small species, little bigger than a hare, found commonly also at the Cape and Mosambique, called in Tigré "madoqua." Besides these are the wild goat, (taille budde, T. ebada fe-el, A.) and another species of antelope, (witil, T.) probably allied to the chamois, which is found on the highest parts of the cold and mountainous districts of Samen.
Several species of monkey abound throughout the wilder districts, the largest of which, (hevve T. gingero A.,) is nearly allied to those found in Arabia. Another smaller species, with a black face, is named alesteo, in the Tigré, and tota, in the Amharic language.
The rest of the animals are as follows: the wild boar, (arowjah akul, T. eryeah, A.;) the porcupine; (cōnfus, T. zurt, A.;) a species of cavy; (gihé, T. ashkoko, A.;) nearly allied to that found at the Cape; a small grey species of hare, (muntilé T.,) considered as unclean by the Abyssinians; the squirrel, (shele el hehoot, T.;) the rat, (inchwa, T. ait, A.,) with which the fields are over-run, and an undescribed species of makis, or lemur, (faunkus T. gueréza A.,) of which an imperfect drawing has been given by Ludolf. This last animal is about the size of a cat, and is commonly seen among the branches of trees; it has a long tail, faintly striped black and white, with white bushy hair at the end; the hair on the body is long, and of a clear white colour throughout, except on the back, which is marked with a large oval spot of short hair, of the deepest black. The skins of these animals are brought out of Damot and Gojam, and are commonly found in the markets, selling at about half a dollar each, every man in Tigré wearing a piece of this skin as an ornament on his shield. When a number of them are sewed together, it forms a very splendid covering for a couch, which I never met with except in the house of the Ras: one of these was presented to me by the Ras himself, which is at present in the collection of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. The hippopotamos, (gomari,) and the crocodile, (agoos,) which abound in the lakes, as well as principal rivers in the country, have been before mentioned. A great many other species of animals are doubtless to be found in the country; but the above list contains the names of all that I either saw or heard of, during my stay there.
Among the larger birds indigenous to the country, is a great variety of species of the genus falco; the most remarkable of which, are the two described and drawn under the directions of Mr. Bruce. The larger of these he has termed Golden Eagle, by way of distinction. This is classed among the vultures by Dr. Shaw, and is called the "bearded vulture," on account of the straitness of its bill; but its general appearance in a natural state, together with the vigour and animation which it displays, incline me to think it more nearly allied in the natural system to the eagles, and I should therefore be inclined to call it the African Bearded Eagle. The head of one, which I shot, most resembling that described by Mr. Bruce, differed in some slight respects from his drawing: the pupil of the eye was deep black; the irides sandy yellow; and an outer film, which it occasionally draws over the whole ball of the eye, of a deep bright scarlet; tongue hard, bifid, and fitting exactly in the under mandible; beak dirty brown, with tufts of black hair growing on each side of the upper mandible, bending forwards, and almost covering the nostrils; tufts of the same on each side of the lower mandible, and a still larger one forming a beard underneath: the space round the eye, and in front of it, as well as an angle behind, deep black, giving a bright lustre to the eye; the head covered entirely with small dirty white feathers, which, as well as those of the neck, breast and belly, were tinged with a rusty brown; the colour of the feathers on the back, tail, and wings, of a fine deep glossy brown, with white ribs; feathers on the back of the neck standing erect, somewhat like a ruff; tail feathers ten in number, wedge-shaped, wing feathers twenty-six; extent from the tip of one wing to the other rather more than eight feet; the bird otherwise agreeing with the measurements given by Mr. Bruce; the whole of the body covered with a yellowish down. The other eagle, killed at the same time, was nearly of the same size and make, but rather the smaller of the two; but the head and neck were blacker; the under part of the body dusky brown; the small feathers of the wings lighter, and talons somewhat longer: this latter was supposed to be the male. (The drawing by Mr. Edwards of the bearded vulture gives no idea of this bird.) The other species is rare in the country, and has been described by Dr. Shaw under the name of the Falco occipitalis, or Occipital eagle. The drawing of this by Mr. Bruce is very correct. There is another species of falcon in the country, called by the natives Goodic-Goodic, which I conceive to be nearly allied to the Sacre. Its size is about the same as that of the common falcon; its feet and beak of a blueish tint; its general colour deep brown, approaching to black; and the whole of the breast of a clear white colour; so that it may be properly designated by the name of "The Abyssinian white-breasted Lanner." The Abyssinians entertain singular superstition respecting this bird. When they set out on a journey and meet with one of them, they watch it very carefully, and draw good or bad omens from its motions. If it sit still, with its breast towards them until they have passed, it is a peculiarly good sign, and every thing is expected to go on well during the course of the journey. If its back be turned towards them, it is considered an unpropitious sign, but not sufficiently so, as to create alarm. But if it should fly away hastily on their approach, some of the most superstitious among them will immediately return back to their homes, and wait till a more favourable opportunity for commencing their expedition occur. From this circumstance, and the resemblance of its form to those so frequently met with among the hieroglyphics in Egypt, I am led to suspect that this species may answer to the sacred hawk of that country, which was venerated by the ancient inhabitants.
Vast numbers of vultures are found throughout the country, which in the time of war follow the tracks of the armies. The largest of this genus which I met with seemed to be of a new species its head was of a dirty white, with a hood, or crest, of a spongy substance, covered with down on the back of it: the bill of a bright orange colour, strongly hooked, and the space under the orbit of the eye, and the whole of the neck bare and of a light flesh colour. It had a large ruff of dark feathers round the base of the neck: and the whole of the upper part of the body was of a cinereous brown colour.
The ostrich (sogun) is found in the low districts north of Abyssinia, but very rarely within the actual limits of the country. Herns of various species, are common in the marshy grounds; one species of which (Feras Shcitan, or the devil's horse,) was noticed by Jerome Lobo; but his description was so vague, that it was difficult to fix upon the class of birds to which it belonged. The Abyssinian horn-bill, called Abba Gumba in Tigré, and Erkoom in Ambaric, frequents the cultivated lands of Tigré, and seems to be useful in destroying the grubs, worms, and wild bulbs, with which the land abounds. This bird builds its nest in the low branches of lofty trees, and is often seen sitting there in a kind of solitary independence. The Abba Gumba, as well as many of the other birds found in Abyssinia, also frequents the opposite coast of the continent; and some tolerably fine specimens of it are to be seen in Mr. Bullock's Museum, which were brought from Senegal. A large and handsome species of bustard, which I shot on the coast of Abyssinia, the skin of which I afterwards brought to England, appears likewise to be the same as that found in the neighbourhood of the river Gambia.
The Egyptian goose, and a species of duck, allied to the Anas Lybica are occasionally met with, and several other species of water fowl; the most common of which is the Derho-mai, literally water-fowl, a species of bittern, of which a drawing is to be found in Dapper's Description des Isles de l'Archipel. Guinea fowls, red-legged partridges, quails, snipes, lapwings, larks, and doves, abound throughout the whole country. The natives are so expert in the use of the matchlock, that they constantly kill the two former birds with a single ball; so that during our whole stay in the country, we were constantly supplied with them, as well as with different kinds of venison; the Ras always sending me a share of those which were brought in by his followers.
In the course of my last journey I made a collection of the rarer birds found in the country, which I was fortunate enough to bring safe to England. These I submitted to the inspection of Dr. Latham on my arrival, who obligingly favoured me with his remarks upon them. I subsequently presented them to Lord Stanley, who has since taken great pains in setting them up. At my request, he has been kind enough also to draw up a description of some of the more rare, which, together with Dr. Latham's valuable remarks, I shall here present to the public, as both will be found far superior to any account which my limited knowledge on the subject would permit me to offer to the public.
Romsey, September 25th, 1811.
I do myself the pleasure of returning your birds, several of which I find curious, and, so far as I know, not yet described. I have noticed this in the catalogue, referring, for the most part, to my Index Ornithologicus. You would not do amiss by getting up Nos. 5, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 22, 29, 34? 35? 42, 48, 50, 51, 55, 57; but the most rare are, in my opinion, 8, 18, 22, 29, 42, 48, 50, 51, 55, 57, and the last number most rare of all. Many in the list will be found in more than one museum; though in my own I have but few of them: my specimen of No. 11, was met with in England; No. 16, I had from Senegal; No. 20, from the Cape of Good Hope, and No. 31, from India. I have neither of your two Colys, but have the Coly-leuconatos from the Cape of Good Hope. I have taken drawings from eight or nine; the rest I had either figures of before, or can trace them sufficiently for my own use.
I have marked No. 55, as Ardea Pondiceriana; but if the figure in pl: enlum: 932, be looked at, the feet are in that plate cloven to the bottom; whereas in your specimens they are webbed deeply, as in the avoset, with which genus it ought to have place, were it not for the singular construction of the bill; on account of which, it can scarcely be ranked with the herons.
Yours, &c. &c.
1. Lanius, allied to Pie griesche silentieux Levail. Ois. pl. 74, f. 1. 2. Two specimens.. (Shot in Abyssinia.)
2. Lanius Q. Lanius Cubl: Ind. Orn. Sup. p. xx. One specimen. (Abyssinia.)
3. Lanius ferrugineus, Ind. Orn. i. 762, or a variety. One specimen. (Chelicut in Abyssinia.)
4. Lanius allied to 3. (Chelicut.)
5. Psittacus, probably new. This is the only species of paroquet I ever saw in Abyssinia; they were seen in large flights about the tops of Taranta in March and October. One specimen.
6. Coracias Benghalensis. I. O. i. 168. Thought to be a young bird. One specimen. (Mosambique.)
7. Coracias afra. var. One specimen. (Mosambique.)
8. Bucco, new species, (Abyssinia.) Two specimens. Supposed to be male and female, as they were shot at the same time. They cling like the common woodpecker to the branches of trees.
9. Oriolus Monacha. I.O. i. 357. (Mosambique.)
10. Oriolus Monacha. (Abyssinia.)
11. Oriolus Galbula. I.O. i. 186. (Mosambique.) This and No. 9, were found on a mango tree.
12. Cuculus, var. of Edolio Levail, 5. pl. 209. (Abyssinia.)
13. Cuculus, senegalensis. I.O. i. 213. (Abyssinia.) It is common in the mountainous districts, and is generally found sitting in the thick caper, and other thorny bushes, whence it is difficult to drive it. Its flesh is coarse and rank; and the contents of the stomach when killed, very fetid.
14. Picus, not described. (Abyssinia.)
15. Alcedo, not described. (Abyssinia.) Shot at Chelicut, in the bed of a brook closely shaded with trees and shrubs.
16. Merops erythropteros. (Abyssinia.) These birds fly like swallows, and are very difficult to kill. Three specimens.
17. Merops superciliosus. I.O. 271? Two specimens. (Mosambique.) Commonly seen flying about the manioca plantations, which the bees frequent.
18. Merops, not described. Fork-tailed. Two specimens. Abyssinian, near Adowa.
19. Erythropterus? large variety. Two specimens.
20. 21. Upupa promerops. I.O. i. 278. Two specimens. (Mosambique.) This bird flies with seeming difficulty, owing to the length of its tail.
22. Upupa erythrorhynchos, var. with a black tail. (Abyssinia.) Common; they keep together in flights of twenty, thirty, or more; and are often observed feeding on the figs of the Ficus Sycamorus; when disturbed they make a prodigious chattering. One specimen.
23. Certhia, var. of C. Zeylona. (Mosambique.)
24. Certhia famosa. (Mosambique.) Ind. Orni. i. 288.
25. Certhia Senegalensis. I.O. i. 284. (Mosambique.)
26. Certhia, not described. (Abyssinian.) Found in the low hot country, near the Tucazze. Two specimens.
27. Certhia afra. (Mosambique.)
28. A variety of do.
29. Tanagra, (not described,) red bill'd Tanager. (Abyssinia.) This bird is commonly met with wherever there are droves of cattle; and is constantly seen feeding on their backs, picking out a species of grub, engendered there in hot weather, which might, but for its obliging attention, prove seriously annoying.
30. Fringilla Senegala, and a variety of the same. (Abyssinia.)
31. Fring. elegans. I.O. i. 441. (Mosambique.)
32. Fring. Benghalus. I.O. i. 461. (Abyssinia.) Common in every bush close to the houses; manners like a wren.
33. Fring. Canaria. (Mosambique.) In. Or. i. 454.
34. Musicapa Paradisi. I.O. ii. 480. brown var. (Abyssinia.)
35. Musicapa mutata. var. Two specimens. (Abyssinia.) Supposed to be male and female, being found together on a fig tree at Ghella. (Rare in the country.)
36. Alauda Africana. I.O. ii. 499. The habits of this bird are like those of the English sky-lark, and its note nearly the same. (Abyssinia, frequent.)
37. Sylvia, not described? Two specimens. (Abyssinia.)
38. Hirundo capensis. I.O. ii. 499. Shot at Chelicut, in Abyssinia.
39. Turdus Phœnicurus. I.O. i. 333. (Abyssinia.)
40. ———— musicus, high coloured variety. Shot near Dixan in Abyssinia; its notes are something like the English bird.
41. ———— capensis. (Abyssinia.)
42. ———— nitens. (Three specimens. The Abyssinian name is Warry.) These birds are very common at Dixan, and in every part of the country where the Kolquall is found; they sit on the tops of these trees, and feed on their flowers, seeds, or some insect peculiar to the trees. Ind. Orn. i. 346.
43. Colius senegalensis. I.O. i. 368. (Mosambique.) They are seen in great numbers together feeding on the orange and paupau trees when the fruit is ripe.
44. Colius striatus. Shot in the garden of the Ras at Chelicut. I.O. i. 369.
45. Loxia Malacca. I.O. i. 385. var.? if not new. On the coast of Abyssinia.
46. Emberiza Capensis. I.O. i. 407. var.? This I considered and have called in my first journal the common house sparrow of Abyssinia; it builds under the eaves of the huts, and has the domestic manners of the English sparrow.
47. Columba Guinea. I.O. ii. 602. This is the common domestic pigeon of Abyssinia; hundreds are seen round the house of every chief, and being generally well fed, they often afforded us an excellent meal. The Abyssinians also do not object to eating them. They have a bright red eye, and never vary in the plumage.
48. Columba Abyssinica. I.O. Sup. p. lx. Called in the country Waalia. A plate of it is given by Bruce, in which the feet are too large, resembling more those of a hawk. This bird is eaten by the Abyssinans. It is a wild bird, generally to be found among the daro trees near a stream: this specimen was shot at Ghella.
49. Numida mitrata. The horn on the head of my specimen was destroyed by insects on its way to England, and Mr. Latham in consequence mistook it for the Meleagris. The horn is one inch and a half high, (Mosambique, and common in Abyssinia.) The Numida cristata is also found at Mosambique; having a beautiful crest of black feathers on the head. I had two of them alive, but was unfortunate enough to lose them.
50. 51. Perdrix Rubricollis. I.O. ii. 602. Two specimens. Shot and given to me by the Bishop of Mosambique, at which place they are common close even to the sea-side.
52. Scolopax calidris. I.O. ii. 722. 25. β. Killed at the bottom of the bay of Zeyla, on the outside of the Straights of Babelmandeb, by Mr. Stuart. It resembles the common curlew in its habits, and feeds on the shores of the sea.
53. Tringa senegalla. I.O. ii. 728. Killed in Abyssinia by the stream of the Seremai, in the vale of Logo. Its habits are like those of the common lapwing. A bird like this is common in Egypt, which is said to feed out of the mouth of the crocodile!
54. Tringa, not described? Killed on the coast of Abyssinia, behind the village of Madir, in the bay of Amphila. Its stomach on opening it was full of locusts. Two specimens.
55. Ardea pondiceriana. I.O. ii. 702. Two specimens, male and female, found at the bottom of the bay of Amphila; they wait the falling of the tides, and feed on the marine productions: they are, when alive very handsome and active birds. (Quere if not a new genus?)
56. Alauda, new species. (Two specimens.) These larks are common on the desert islands of Amphila, where few land birds could exist: they are also frequent on the coast. Their colour so nearly resembles that of the sandy grouse, that they are with great difficulty distinguished from it. It may with great propriety be termed the "desert lark."
57. Cursorius Europæus. I.O. ii. 751. This bird was shot on a sandy plain near the Tucazze river in Abyssinia; it has the same character as 56, being completely suited for the desert.
58. Rollus capensis. I.O. ii. 236. Killed in a small river at Gibba, in Abyssinia; manner like a water-hen.
59. to 63. Parra Africana. I.O. ii. 764. Five specimens, four of which were shot in a small fresh water lake belonging to Signior Montéro at Mosambique; the other was shot at Chelicut, in Abyssinia.
64-5. Gallinula, not described. A water bird, killed on the same lake as 59, &c. at Mosambique; two specimens.
—— Not numbered. Vespertilio. A small bat killed at Chelicut, where they are common. A much larger species was seen in the caves of Caleb Negus, near Axum.
Additional Remarks on these Birds, communicated to me by the Nobleman in whose Collection they are now deposited.
No. 1. Lanius poliocephalus, or Ash-crowned Shrike.
Length 7½ inches. Bill above ¾ of an inch, blackish, and much covered with the feathers of the front; crown of the head hoary, livid colour, lightest about the eyes; a blackish spot on the ears. A collar of white surrounds the neck, and covers all the under parts of the body, as also the under tail coverts, which becomes a dirty white on the belly. The general colour of the back and wings is a brownish black: but a line of white extends along the latter, from the point of the shoulder across the coverts, and down the exterior web, almost to the shaft of the two tertial quills nearest to the body. The remainder are tipped with white, and the rest of the quill feathers have each a large round spot on the inner web, which stretches in an oblique line across the wing, from the tip of the tertials to nearly the root of the first quill feather. But this line is not visible unless the wing be extended. The tail is square at the end: the two outermost feathers on each side are wholly white; the third is deeply edged, and tipped with the same: but the remaining feathers are only tipped with it, so as to give the effect of a cuneform tail of black laid upon a square one of white. Legs lightish ochre; claws brown. The feathers of the head appear a little inclined to a crest; but from the manner in which the skin had been pressed flat for preservation, it may be doubtful whether they were so in reality. The two specimens seen were precisely similar. Dr. Latham appears to have considered this as very nearly allied to, if distinct from, the Pie Griesche silencieux of Le Vaillant, Ois. pl. 74. f. 1. and 2.; but on a strict comparison of the bird, now that it is set up, with that plate and description, I consider this as a distinct species, and have therefore ventured to give it a name. The bill is straightish, with a little curving in at the end, and a very small notch.
No. 2. Lanius Cubla.
This I have no hesitation in considering as the Hottniqua Shrike of Dr. Latham, and Le Cubla of Le Vaillant, pl. 72, with which it agrees in almost every point, except that the black of the head runs down to the beak only in a point on the front, all between the eyes and the nostrils on each side being of a dingy white. This colour also extends higher up the back than these authors appear to represent it; and though the feathers are extremely silky and soft in their texture, the white upon them is by no means clear or dazzling; but, like the same colour upon the edges of the wing coverts, is strongly tinged with pale brown. I concluded it to be a young male, not entirely arrived at his full plumage.
No. 3. Lanius Ferrugineus, Var.
This, on the whole, I consider only as a further variety of Dr. Latham's ferruginous bellied Shrike, as they perfectly agree in size, length, and in the general character of the plumage. In the present specimen, however, the head, upper part of the back, and the tail, are black, not brown-black as in the other bird. The scapulars and lower part of the back, with the rump, also appear black, but on the feathers being lifted up, each is found to have a large white spot towards the end, with a deepish fringe of greyish black; these feathers are of a very light, loose texture, and appear to have an additional tuft of a light waving nature, nearly as long as the feather springing from the same shaft on its under side. The chin and throat are white, the rest of the under parts cream colour. On the coverts of the wings is a lengthened spot of white, parallel to the edge; the quills are plain black; the legs are strong, and of a blueish lead colour; claws dark, hind claw crooked and strong. The bill, from the gape to the tip, is not quite an inch long, rather compressed. The tail is a little rounded in shape.
No. 4. Lanius humeralis, or White shouldered Shrike.
The bill in this bird is three quarters of an inch from the tip to the gape, and not quite half an inch to the front. The depth, from the upper to the under edge of the bill, is about one quarter of an inch. The general colour of the plumage appears nearly to agree with No. 3; but the black is every where of a fuller deeper tint. This colour occupies the head, neck, and upper part of the back. The rump and upper tail coverts are of a greyish white. The wings are black, except the scapulars, and the bases of the primary quills, which are white, forming, when the wings are closed, very small round spots. The tail is rather more than four inches and a half in length, and wedge-shaped. The four middle feathers are wholly black: the eight others are black at the base, and tipped with white, which increases in every pair, so that the exterior feather on each side is almost entirely white. The whole under parts are white, inclining to a dirty white on the belly and vent. On the sides, just above the thighs, is a small blotch of a bright chesnut colour. The legs and claws are black. The base of the upper mandible is furnished with five or six strong black bristles. This bird appears to come very near to Dr. Latham's description of his Collared Shrike, p. 163. But it has not the most distant appearance of any such mark: and its length is not above nine inches and a half, whereas the Doctor ascribes twelve to his Collaris.
No. 5. Psittacus Taranta. Abyssinian Paroquet.
Size about that of the black winged paroquet; length about 6½ inches; bill blood-red; the whole of the front feathers between the eyes and upper mandible of a bright red; some of these adjoining the crown are edged with green, while some, which are very small, surround the eyes, and end in a point behind, giving the same effect as if the eye were placed in a naked skin, as in the genus Perdrix. The rest of the head, neck, and body, the ridge of the wing, lesser coverts, scapulars and tertials are green, deeper above and lighter below. The greater coverts are also green, but deeply tipped with black, which colour also occupies the secondaries, so as to form a line directly across the wing. The prime quills are dusky, narrowly edged with green: and the fourth and fifth on each side have their tips of a very light brown, as if the colour was there faded. From the point of the shoulder springs a very long black feather, which covers the whole ridge of the wing, and falls upon the first quill, in a line with the ends of the greater coverts. The upper tail coverts are of a bright yellow green, and so long as nearly to cover the tail, which is rather rounded at the end. The outer web of the exterior tail feather is light green; the interior yellow, which colour gradually increases upon all the intermediate feathers. A black bar crosses the ends of all; but their extreme tips are green, which colour however lessens upon each as it approaches nearer to the two middle feathers. These latter are green, deeply tipped for about half an inch with black; legs and claws rather dusky. As this bird is probably a new species, the only one that was seen in Abyssinia, and most numerous about the Pass of Taranta, I have ventured to attach to it the above names. Its place in the system would probably be near to the black-winged.
No. 6. Coracias Bengalensis? junior?
Length about 11½ inches. Bill 1½ inch long from the gape to the tip, and blackish: crown of the head and back of the neck, brownish sea-green; front and chin dirty rufous white, extending as an eyebrow over the eyes, where the white becomes purer. At the gape of the bill are a few strong but rather short black bristles. Immediately from the under-eyelid springs a tuft of long rufous feathers which cover the ears. The cheeks, through some part of the neck and breast, are violet, with a narrow dash of white down the shafts, except on the breast, which has no white. The upper part of the back and scapulars are sometimes of a greyish chesnut, sometimes of a greenish olive, according to the light in which they are viewed. The lower part of the back, rump, and upper tail coverts, blue, with a mixture of green, principally inclining to the latter. The lesser wing coverts are of a fine deep rich blue, the greater greenish blue, varying in the light from one colour to the other. The exterior edges of the first primary quill are deep blue, but become greenish towards the tip: the rest are similar, except that their hues are of a light changeable blue on the outer edges, which fades almost into white on the inner edges. Below the blue, the inner and tips are of a dusky greenish brown, with a dull tinge of coppery gloss. The belly, sides, thighs, under tail, and wing coverts are blue green, as are also the bases of the quills: but for the rest of their length they are dusky black, down the shafts on both sides, as well as the tips; while their inner webs, for a considerable space below the light spot, are of a fine rich blue, thus reversing the order of the colours above. The tail, legs, and claws answer exactly to that described by Dr. Latham, in his Gen Syn. p. 410, Vol. I. except that the tail of his bird appears to have been slightly forked, instead of being equal. This is probably a young bird, and, as it comes nearest to the Bengal Roller of Latham, it is so considered.
No. 7. Coracius afra? Var?
This Dr. Latham appears to have considered as a variety of Coracius afra, his African Roller, which I have not seen; but from his account of it, it must vary considerably. The bill is of a brownish horn colour, rather more than an inch and half long, very much and abruptly forked at the tip, and having the edges of each mandible narrowed in. Length of the bird about 12½ inches; the lower part of the neck, behind, the back, and part of the scapulars, reddish brown, with a tinge of olive green: the chin, front, and eye-brow white, as in No. 6; a small spot of white also on the back of the head. The feathers from the bill, and on the crown of the head, are long and pointed, and appear capable of being erected into a crest. On the fore part of the head is a slight tinge of the colour of the back: but the predominant colour of the head, neck, and all the under parts, is a fine rufous lilac, plain on the head and nape, but streaked with white down the shafts on the other parts. The rump and tail coverts above and below partake more of violet; a faint lilac just tinging the thighs and under coverts of the wings. The smaller wing coverts above are of a bright glossy lilac, which in the greater coverts is rather more mingled with brown, so as to reduce its splendour; the ridge of the wing and greater quills of deep blue, which towards the tips becomes greenish. The margins of the inner webs and the very tips are black. The two middle feathers are dingy green; the rest blue, shading into black on the inner webs; the tail itself is square at the end: the legs are strong and pale, claws brown. I am not quite decided about this bird, but it is evidently so nearly allied at least to Cora; afra, if not a variety of that bird, that I cannot venture to separate it, especially as I have not seen the latter.
No. 8. Bucco Saltii. Abyssinian Barbet.
As this bird appears to me evidently of a species hitherto undescribed, I have ventured to annex to it the above name, and am happy in the opportunity of thus paying a merited compliment to the public exertions of its discoverer, while I at the same time express my own sense of his kindness, for the liberal communication of his collection of Abyssinian birds. The present species appears to rank very near the doubtful barbet of Latham, from which however it is clearly distinct. It is but little above seven inches in length, the female rather less. The bill is of a blackish horn-colour, about nine eighths of an inch from the gape to the tip, and about three quarters of an inch in thickness at the base. It has two notches in the edge of the upper mandible, and a sort of indentation in the lower mandible, as if to receive the foremost notch; but there is no appearance whatever of any channel on the bill as in Bucco dubius. The general colour of the plumage of the body, above and below, as also of the tail, is black; but the whole face taking in the front, part of the crown, beyond the eyes, ears, and as far as the breast, is covered with narrow feathers of a sharp bristly nature, and of a bright red colour. The wings are dusky, the lesser coverts margined with dirty white on the outer web, and the quills with yellowish green, except towards the tips of the primaries. The under wing coverts, and the inner margins of the quills towards the base are white. The legs and claws are dark.
No. 11. Oriolus Galbula, Var.
Size rather above that of a blackbird; length something under nine inches; bill of a reddish brown, an inch and a quarter long. Plumage of the head and neck, the whole body, the lesser wing coverts, and the tail with the exception of the four middle feathers, of a fine golden yellow. All the feathers of the wing are more or less deeply margined on the exterior web, as well as tipped with yellow, of which there is a patch in the middle of the wing. The two middle feathers of the tail are black, with the extreme tips yellow. The next on each side is still more deeply tipped, and also margined on both webs with yellow. The rest have the base of their shafts black. Legs dusky, perhaps lead colour, claws dark. The principal difference of this bird from that in the Gen. Syn. Vol. I. p. 449, appears to be, that in this every feather is marked with yellow, while in Dr. Latham's bird, this only occurs "here and there." The tail is also very different, though the general character of the bird, and the disposition of its plumage, sufficiently point it out as a variety only of the galbula; but that bird surely belongs to the thrush, rather than to the Oriole genus?
No. 12. Picus Abyssinicus. Abyssinian Woodpecker.
Length barely six inches. Size rather above that of P. minor. Bill blackish horn-colour from the tip to the gape, which reaches under the eyes, measuring one inch; but to the feathers of the front only five eighths. The forehead and face are a dingy olive brown, rather more inclined to whitish about the eyes and cheeks. The crown of the head, and hind part of the neck, as far as the back, bright red, bounded on each side of the neck by a narrow white streak. The rump and upper tail coverts are also red, and the latter appear to hang low upon the tail. The lesser wing coverts and the back are yellowish olive, becoming nearly yellow towards the rump; rest of the wing dingy olive brown obscurely barred with dusky, and spotted with dirty white along both margins. These spots on some of the outer margins are yellowish. The exterior quill is nearly half an inch shorter than the third, or longest, and for one inch from the tip its outer margin is entirely plain: but all the quills have constantly one spot more on the inner than on the outer edge of the feather. The tail is barred above with olive white and dusky, but below the white becomes of a dingy yellowish colour, and the shafts both of the tail and quills are yellow; the former deepest in colour. The two outer feathers of the tall on each side are rounded at the ends, the third nearly so, but the shaft a little prominent and sharp; the rest of the usual shape, and the middle feathers about half an inch longer than the outmost. The whole under parts are of a dirty white, sometimes a little tinged with olive, and broadly streaked down the shaft of each feather. It has dusky legs, and dark claws.
No. 15. Alaudo Chelicuti.—Chelicut Kingfisher.
Length six inches and a half; bill, from the tip to the gape, which is exactly under the eyes, one inch and three eighths. The upper mandible is reddish horn colour, the lower reddish at the base, with the point dusky. From the eyes to the nostrils is a narrow whitish line: above this the feathers are long, and rather of a loose texture, dusky brown edged with lighter, more particularly towards the front and above the eyes. A collar of black, broadest at the nape, springs from behind the eye on each side, and entirely surrounds the head. The hind part of the neck is of a dirty yellowish white, the upper part of the back, the scapulars, and the principal part of the wings are dusky brown, becoming almost black on the wings, and below the neck-collar. On the lesser coverts is an interrupted oblique bar of white, and the base of the quills is of the same colour, forming a very small spot when the wings are unclosed. In the middle of the wing the feathers have their exterior webs deeply margined with a changeable greenish blue, and their inner webs and tips are dusky. Some few of the tertials have a very pale, almost whitish edge about the tip. The prime quills are white at the base, as noticed above; then nearly black, with a small part of the outer edge greenish blue, and thence to the end dusky brown, the first quill having a very narrow edge of whitish along the outer web. The lower part of the back range and upper tail coverts are dusky, with the ends of the feathers of a glossy pale blue, so that the latter is the only colour visible without displacing the plumage. The tail is of a fine blue, changing into green, according to the light; the inner margin dusky; the shafts pale at the base, and afterwards of a chesnut colour. The general colour of the under parts is whitish, pure on the chin and throat, as well as the under wing coverts and base of all the quills, except the two first secondaries, which, as well as a round spot below the bastard wing, are dusky black. Below the white part the quills are extremely dark, with dusky ends. The feathers on the breast and sides have a very narrow dash of dusky down the shafts. The belly, under-tail coverts, and vent, yellowish white, with a tinge on the last of the same blue which covers the rump. Tha tail is dusky underneath; the claws brown.
No. 18. Merops furcatus.—Fork-tailed Bee-eater.
Length above nine inches; bill black, an inch and a half in length, from the tip to the gape, or rather above one inch to the nostrils; general colour of the plumage bright yellow green, in some lights almost of a golden colour, in others having a chesnut tinge; from the nostrils to the hind part of the head a stripe of black extends, in which the eyes are placed. The chin and throat are vivid yellow, edged all round by a line of blueish green, and bounded below the throat with a straight bar of bright ultramarine blue. The breast is of the same colour with the back, and the rest of the under parts as well as the tail coverts are of a blueish green. The tail is forked; the outer feather being one inch longer than those in the middle, and measuring full three inches long. The tail above is blue or greenish, according to the light; the shafts of the feathers being of a dark chesnut colour, the middle feathers plain coloured, and the outer partaking of the same tinge, with the tips and margin of the interior web dusky. An indistinct sort of dusky bar crosses the ends of the other feathers; but on the fifth pair is hardly visible, except on the inner web; while all except the middle and outer pair of feathers are tipped with white, which becomes deeper on the inner web. The space beneath the tail is dusky; the bar and tips of the outer feathers being darker, and the tips of the rest whitish. The wing is nearly of the same colour with the body, but inclines a little more to chesnut on the quills. The outer margins of the primaries have a shade of blue: their tips are dusky, and the inner edges of a chesnut colour. On the secondaries and tertials the chesnut colour encroaches also upon the outer web; is margined with green, and deeply tipped with dusky, which becomes pale at the extreme tip. The space below the ridge of the wing is green; and the rest of the feathers are of a chesnut colour, with dusky tips: the first quill being scarcely an inch and an half long, and the third, which is longest, measuring three inches. The scapular feathers and those nearest the back have a considerable tinge of blue. The legs are week and dusky, appearing to have been of a reddish tinge.
No. 26. Certhia Tacazze. Splendid Creeper.
It is impossible by any words to describe the splendid effect of the colours in this bird. The whole head, neck, and breast, the upper part of the belly, the back and rump, the upper coverts and bend of the wing, present a glow of metallic lustre that cannot be surpassed by any other even of this brilliant family. The head, neck, and breast, are principally of a golden green colour, mingled with a considerable share of the rich coppery purplish gloss that adorns the other parts. The wings are dusky, edged outwardly with deep blue; the quills plain dusky; while the lower part of the belly, the vent, legs, and claws, are black. The tail would be rounded in shape, were it not for the two middle feathers which exceed the rest in length by nearly two inches: and it is of a blue black colour, with the edges, for about half the length of the feathers, of a bright steel blue, dusky beneath. The under tail coverts are of the same colour as the tail. The length of the bird is eight inches and three quarters; the bill being an inch long, considerably bent, and black.
No. 29. Tanagra erythroryncha. Red-billed Tanager.
In size and manners, in the arrangement of the feet, and the general colour of the plumage, this bird strongly resembles the African Beefeater. But the form of the bill is manifestly different, being three quarters of an inch long, and of a bright orange red, strong in shape, but not straight or square. The upper mandible is convex, a little inclining at the point, with no notch: but the edges are a little protuberant at the base below the nostrils, the lower one being flat at the sides, and having an angle on the lower side. The general colour of the plumage on the upper parts, the throat, and neck, is a heavy olive brown shading off at the ends of the quills into dusky, except in some of the primaries, the ends of which are of a lighter brown, and the lower parts of a brownish yellow. The tail appears rounded in shape, the feathers being somewhat pointed: but there is no rufous colour on the inner margins. The legs and claws are brown. The rump is of the same colour with the upper parts, and the tail rather more dusky. The front feathers come forward on the bill, and half shade the nostrils, which are covered by a yellowish membrane, the aperture in which is very small and close to the feathers. I have ventured to give this bird the above name, in which I have more confidence, as I herein follow the example of our ablest ornithologist, Dr. Latham. If the Buphaga is unknown in Abyssinia, this must be a new bird; and, though not precisely answering to the generic characters of Tanagra, may as well remain attached to that genus, at least while our present uncertainty about it lasts.
No. 37. Sylvia pammelaina. All-black Warbler.
The length of this bird is rather above seven inches, of which the tail takes up full three and a quarter. The bill is half an inch in length and blackish, the upper mandible inclining a little, towards the point, and having a slight notch near the tip, with a few bristles about the base; but the bill is not sufficiently flattened to refer the bird to the genus Muscicapa. In conformity with the opinion expressed by Dr. Latham, I have ventured to rank it among the Warblers, though by no means convinced that this is its correct place in the system. The whole bird is entirely of a dark blueish black above; the quills and tail inclining more to dusky black; the plumage of the breast has very little of the blueish tint, and the quills and tail, below, are of light dusky colour, the first quill feather being two inches shorter than the fourth and fifth, which are the longest. Legs and claws are of a brownish black.
No. 45. Loxia leucotis. White-eared Grosbeak.
The length of this bird is about four inches and a half. The bill is of a whitish brown colour. The head, neck, chin, throat, breast, belly, sides under the wings, with the under coverts, and lesser wing coverts above, are all black; on the ears is a tolerably large white spot; and a narrow white collar bounds the black at the setting on of the neck where it joins the black, and there is also an upright line of dirty white on each side the breast just before the bend of the wing; the thighs, lower belly, and vent, are also white; the under tail coverts being of a dusky black. The back is of a chesnut colour, as are also the scapulars and greater coverts of the wings, which latter are edged towards the tip with white; the remaining feathers of the wings are dusky, some of the quills being margined outwardly with a chesnut colour. The rump is of a dusky brown hue, edged and tipped with greyish. The tall is blackish brown, and the exterior feather lighter, with the shaft and outer web of a dirty white. The legs and feet are reddish brown, and the claws dusky, the hind claw being a very little bent. Dr. Latham appears at first to have entertained a suspicion that this might be only an additional variety of the Malacca Grosbeak, near which undoubtedly it should be placed: but he afterwards suggests the idea of its being new, in which opinion I fully coincide.
No. 56. Alauda Desertorum. Desert Lark.
Length about eight inches. The bill one inch long, and of a pale horn colour, bent about the tip, but not so much as in the African lark. The general colour of the plumage partakes of a greyish sandy brown, so that, when on the ground in its native deserts, the bird is with the utmost difficulty to be distinguished. About the eyes, the chin, and throat, the feathers are whitish, as are also the lower part of the belly, vent, thighs, under wing coverts, base of the prime, and tips of the secondary quills. On the belly and vent there is a slight shade of cream colour; and across the upper part of the breast is a kind of band of a much lighter shade than the back, narrowly dashed down the shafts with brown. The scapulars and upper wing coverts, are of a light dusky brown, edged and tipped with sandy white; the two outer of the primary quills being dusky, and the third, for near an inch from the base, margined on the outer web with whitish, and having a large white spot on the inner web. The rest are white across both webs at the base, and the last is deeply margined all round the tip, but principally on the inner web, with brownish white: the two first quills are of a much lighter dusky than the others. The secondaries are dark dusky, white at the base, margined outwardly and deeply tipped on both webs, so as to form two bars across that part of the wing when it is spread, which appear like small spots when the wings are closed. The two middle feathers of the tail are of a very light dusky brown, deeply margined with the same sandy colour as the back. The rest are of a dark dusky tinge, the exterior web of the outermost feather being almost white. The legs and feet are of a very pale yellowish white: and the legs, particularly, partake very much of a calcined look. The claws are of a pale horn colour, and the hind one is rather short, strong, and slightly bent, with the end whitish."
I have greatly to regret that occupations of a more serious nature prevented his Lordship from completing his list: but, he has favoured me with drawings of No. 55, which I conceive to belong to a new genus. I have given it the name of Erodia amphilensis. At the time we first saw this bird at Amphila, it struck us all as a very uncommon one, being perfectly unlike any other we had seen before. With this I shall conclude my remarks respecting the birds of Abyssinia.
The only insect which I have thought particularly worthy of notice is the Abyssinian locust, as I understand from one of our best informed naturalists that some doubts have been lately expressed respecting the destructive powers of this insect by a celebrated foreign traveller. I can, however, positively state from my own information, as well as of many persons with whom I conversed, that the one here represented is the only species of insect which commits those dreadful ravages so often recorded to have occurred in Abyssinia: and I can also add that, while I resided at Bombay, numbers of the same species of locusts were sent down to Mr. Duncan from the upper country for the purpose of pointing out the insect which had at that time laid waste several extensive tracts of land in the interior.
The head and shoulders of this insect are armed with a thick shell or case; that of the head has a leaden grey colour when alive, interspersed with red; the shoulder plate being of a reddish brown, spotted with white, smooth in front, and rough on the hinder part. The eye is bright yellow, with three black bars across it; feelers or horns black; the wings are of a yellowish brown, lower part tinged with a fine purple, and the whole obscurely dotted with black. The legs are externally of a leaden grey colour, the upper part shading off into black; the ribs also deep black, inside of second joint bright purple, and the thorns scarlet tipped with black; the extremities being formed of triangular shells formed of two sharp claws and a knob in the centre smooth and round. The body is cased with seven strong plates on the back, folding over one another, and the same number of a softer consistency covers the belly. It has four small feelers depending from the sides of the mouth, the two foremost of which have five joints and the hinder three. An immense flight of these insects came over to one of the Amphila islands while we remained in English Harbour, for an account of which see this work.
LIST OF NEW AND RARE PLANTS,
COLLECTED IN ABYSSINIA DURING THE YEARS 1805 and 1810.
Arranged according to the Linnæan system.
The plants having Br. MSS. annexed form new genera, described in the manuscripts of Mr. Brown. To this gentleman's kindness I am indebted for the list, which he made out from a collection of dried specimens brought by me into the country, and now in the possession of Sir Joseph Banks. The names without reference are considered by Mr. Brown as applying to new species; and for the few that have been published already, contracted references are given to the works in which they occur, namely, Willdenow's Species Plantarum; Forskal's Flora Ægyptiaco-Arabica; Vahl's Symbolæ Botanicæ; and the Appendix to the Travels of Mr. Bruce.
Hypoestis Forskalii (Justicia Forskalii, Willd. sp. pl.)
Justicia bivalvis. Willd. sp. pl.
Meisarrhena tomentosa. Br. MSS.
Eleusine (?) stolonifer.
Cordia abyssinica (Wanzey, Bruce.)
Neurocarpaea lauceolata, Br. MSS (Manettia lauceolata, Vahl.)
Stroemia farinosa, Willd. sp. pl.
Stroemia rotundifolia, Willd. sp. pl.
Rhamnus inebrians, (called in Tigré "Sadoo")
Saltia abyssinica, Br. MSS.
Carissa edulis, Willd. sp. pl.
Kanahia laniflora. (Asclepias laniflora, Willd. sp. pl.)
Pentatropis cynanchoides, Br. MSS.
Petalostemma chenopodii, Br. MSS.
Amyris Gileadensis, Willd. sp. pl.
Amyris Kataf, Willd. sp. pl.
Pterolobium lacerans, Br. MSS. (Kantuffa, Bruce.)
Dunalia acaulis, Br. MSS.
Barleria parviflora. [lxv
Cleome Siliquaria. (Siliquaria glandulosa Forsk. ægypt. 78.)
Cleome Roridula. (Roridula Forsk. ægypt. 35.).
Bracheilenia paniculatum, Br. MSS.
Teichostemma fruticosum, Br. MSS.
- The drawing of Mr. Bruce appears to have been copied from Buffon's one-horned rhinoceros, and to have had the second horn annexed to it, at the two-horned rhinoceros wants the folds in the skin which are there given.
- Some similar custom to this probably first gave rise to the idea of quartering heraldic arms.
- This animal is erroneously said in Buffon to be called Kankan, in Ethiopia.
- The Abyssinians have so much veneration for this bird, that they will not permit one on any account to be killed.
- Hern, killed on the 19th of August on the plain of Serawé. Crown of head black; beak of an orange colour; wings at the tip of a glossy black, twenty-four feathers in each; under the pinions bare, and bright red, as in the flamingo: tail forked, and four black feathers on each side, and eight white ones in the centre; legs black; outside of thighs black: rest of the bird white; this bird when erect was nearly four feet high.
- Another species of duck killed at Abha: upper mandible of beak light grey, edged with red; top of head brownish grey; irides yellow; body speckled somewhat like that of a guinea-fowl, whiter on the lower parts, and yellower on the back; scapular feathers dark umber-brown; round the eye and upper part of neck rusty iron colour; legs bright red; wings twelve long black feathers, twelve glossy blue, and four hinder ones of yellowish brown; secondary feathers black; tertials seventeen white, with a black stripe across them, rump and upper part of body black: under part yellowish.
- The remarks in italics are added by the author.
- I saw vast numbers of them, and they had all invariably a red bill. H.S.