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Ornithological Record from Norfolk for 1898, Gurney

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ORNITHOLOGICAL RECORD FROM NORFOLK
FOR 1898.

 

By J.H. Gurney, F.Z.S.
(Assisted by other Local Naturalists.)

 

As usual, with the Editor's permission, I apply myself to the office of coroner for the birds of the county, but am glad to say an East Anglian naturalist's note-book is not such a death-roll as it used to be, except for Hawks and Owls, the law seeming to be a dead letter as regards these birds. A more self-opinionated race than gamekeepers does not exist. One of the fraternity remarked in my hearing that he did not think the Kestrel did much harm, but he added significantly, "It is all the same to me; if I have my gun, I shoot all Hawks." I think all masters should forbid indiscriminate shooting. Surely there is no preserver of game to whom it would not be mortifying to see a beautiful Kestrel swinging in a post-trap, which in its last struggles (perhaps with "Velveteens" looking on) has thrown up a large pellet of beetles' wings; and this was witnessed on the 16th of August, when there was no excuse for setting a pole-trap. The keeper's onslaughts on the Sparrow-Hawk may be pardoned, because this thief is almost entirely a bird-eater, and there is no fear of his exterminating that species while so many arrive both by night and day. They must still be very common somewhere. I do not wish to give the pretty Butcher-bird a bad name, but I have it on pretty good authority that our Red-backed Shrike was again convicted of killing some very small Pheasants at Cromer. This is no surprise to anyone who has seen this strong bird carrying off in its feet a prey half as big as itself, but keepers should know that the large yellow-tailed Humble-bee is its favourite food.

Another deadly robber of game-eggs is the Carrion Crow, but for all that I am glad to say they have again this summer nested by the river at Keswick, though not in their old plantation. We found the nest, which is always a large construction, with a very substantial foundation of thick sticks, and I think it is more cupshaped than a Rook's nest. A very few of these birds still keep to our river valleys, but before long they will be as extinct as the Raven. Mr. Caton Haigh tells me they are still abundant in Lincolnshire, as well as the Magpie, which is becoming very rare in Norfolk.

There is another class which is suffering greatly—I mean the marsh birds—which in the past have helped to render Norfolk Broads so attractive by their presence. This great diminution is no doubt in part due to the decreasing area of our Broads, most of which are gradually "growing up"; but still more owing to the number of river yachts and wherries which visit these attractive water-ways, and scare the birds, to say nothing of what has been done to compass their destruction by a well-known dealer in birds' eggs in the West of England.[1]

It is now several years since the Reeve has bred in Norfolk, in fact, not since 1889, when, walking over "Rush-hills," I found the nest, and was near treading on the four eggs. The last appearance, or rather re-appearance, of these birds in any quantity was in 1893, when for some reason there was an unprecedented passage of waders of all sorts through Norfolk. On May 24th of that year my correspondent, the Rev. M.C. Bird, observed more than twenty Ruffs and Reeves at their old home, some of the males with fine frills, a sight neither he nor any other naturalist is likely to see again.

Coincident with the increase of the Shoveller, the Garganey Teal has become very rare, and the reason is not obvious. The marshman at Sutton has not known of a nest for some years, and I doubt if 1898 saw two nests hatched off in the whole Broad district; while there is no other spot in England where these birds breed. I remember when their eggs were not uncommon at Hickling, but now Mr. Bird's notes from time to time only mention the Garganey as a great rarity compared to the Shoveller, and generally seen in April. Mr. Bird has not been able to definitely ascertain whether any Garganeys have bred in the Hickling district since 1891.

Of another species, the Spotted Crake, formerly very characteristic of the Broads, Mr. Bird, in a recent letter, writes:—"Spotted Rails have not been nearly so frequent of late years; one at Potter Heigham, on the 5th of October, is the only one I have heard of being shot for some time." It appears that up to twenty years ago Spotted Crakes were pretty numerous, but since September and October, 1881, when there was a migration, they have been steadily decreasing in East Norfolk (cf. Mr. Bird's notes, Zool. 1890, p. 457). I am glad to see from Mr. Archibald's communication that it is not the same in Lakeland, and have no doubt the presence of so many visitors on our principal Broads helps to drive them away.

The annexed table is an approximate estimate of the decrease in the Norfolk Broads district of six species in the last forty years, drawn up from fairly reliable sources. The Short-eared Owl is included in the table, but what little evidence there is points to its never having been anything more than a scarce breeder among the Broads.

  1858. 1868. 1878. 1888. 1898.
Ruff
(Machetes pugnax).
About
14 nests
About
5 nests
About
2 nests
About
1 nest
0 nests
Bearded Tit
(Panurus biarmicus).
150? 100 80 45 33
Garganey Teal
(Querquedula circia).
20 15 12 7 2
Montagu's Harrier
(Circus cineraceus).
6 5 3 2 1
Marsh Harrier
(Circus æruginosus).
5 3 2 0 0
Short-Eared Owl
(Asio accipitrinus).
5 4 3 2 2

With the extinction of the Ruff, Norfolk loses fifteen breeding species, or, if the Greylag Goose, Savi's Warbler, and Little Bittern are reckoned, eighteen. At the same time it may well be that Savi's Warbler, a bird which leaves its shelter very reluctantly, flying only a short distance, and, dipping down again, to be immediately hidden, is still an annual visitant in very small numbers.

The year has passed almost without a single occurrence of such regular migrants as the Glaucous Gull, Little Auk, Fulmar Petrel, and three species of Buzzard. No Eider Ducks are reported, although Mr. Paynter describes them as having had an unusually prolific breeding season at the Farne Islands. The chief occurrences of 1898 are a Roller, two Little Bustards, four Cranes, and a Ruddy Shelduck. In August there was a large migration of Crossbills, which are not, strictly speaking, autumn migrants. September was far too mild to delay rare birds on passage, which, according to previous experience in open weather, pass over Norfolk; but the common immigrants generally come to us as much in fine weather as in foul, that is, those like the Blackbird, Grey Crow, and Shore Lark, which have no intention of going farther than England.

In October there were marked arrivals of Scaup Ducks, Bewick's Swans, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, and Goldcrests, the two latter extending far to the northward of Norfolk. Mr. Cordeaux reports "there has been no such arrival of Goldcrests at Humber mouth since 1892"; but it is probable that neither then, nor now, was Norfolk so largely visited as Yorkshire.

November was uneventful, but in December Blackbirds must have poured in, judging from the numbers seen when covert-shooting. A very considerable influx of Kingfishers and Wood-Pigeons took place, and at the end of the month some Woodcocks arrived, in good condition.

It might be expected that immigrants, on reaching our shores, would be more or less exhausted; but, on the contrary, no one who watches Sky-Larks, Crows, Jackdaws, Hawks, &c, coming in from the sea can fail to be struck by the methodical way in which they fly on, and never alight while the eye can follow them. Woodcocks and Blackbirds also, which have evidently only been in England a few hours, are found when shot to be in plump condition, and none the worse for their long voyage.

And now a few words on migration. Without doubt it is the wind and weather in Scandinavia which influence the start of the ordinary autumn immigrants, such as those we have referred to—Woodcocks, Blackbirds, Redwings, and Wood-Pigeons; but in the case of birds which set out from Eastern Russia it is different—e.g. the Greater Spotted Cuckoo, Macqueen's Bustard, and Yellow-browed Warbler. With them it must be the nature of the weather when they arrive in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire which determines whether they halt or pass on.

A certain number of Russian and Eastern Asiatic birds probably pass over Norfolk and the east coast every autumn, for the most part by night, and at so high an altitude as to be beyond the limits of human sight. As they are not seen their presence is never suspected. Migratory phenomena of this sort only become apparent when brought within our ken by unsettled weather and sometimes fog, as clearly demonstrated by Herr Gätke in his long course of observations on Heligoland.

There is no migrant whose movements can be better observed than the Blackbird's. They come from the east, for the most part in "rushes," from October to Christmas Day, first dropping into turnip-fields with an incredible number of Thrushes, and then swarming in plantations. It is in December and January that Norfolk obtains the old yellow-billed cock Blackbirds, which indicates either that the adults are the last to migrate from Scandinavia, or that, owing to dull plumage and brown bills, these old cocks are not recognized as such by English observers in October and November.

By the 1st of February the northward movement has begun again, almost before the southward movement of individuals nesting in the higher latitudes is over; and, under certain circumstances of wind and weather, it is probable the two streams sometimes amalgamate, or actually cross one another. If any ornithologist possessed of keen sight would go to sea in one of our Yarmouth herring smacks, or obtain the Trinity Board's permission for a week's sojourn on such a floating lightship as "The Outer Dowsing," or "The Leman and Ower," in the month of October, he could not fail to identify a number of species in transit, especially if the wind was from the west. A wind which the migrants (nearly always to be seen at Cromer arriving from the east) would have to fly against would delay nine-tenths of them until sunrise, or later, when they could be easily identified. Its velocity must be an important factor, and it would probably be found that they choose a high or low stratum, according as they are thereby enabled to minimize its power. By anchoring a boat at a measured distance of half a mile from the light-vessel, valuable notes might be further obtained on the comparative speed in flight of different species of birds as they passed along. Possibly the Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, and House-Sparrow, which have not yet been proved to be migratory, would also be identified, and much more might be learnt than we know about the effects of wind. The light-ships of Ireland have added no fewer than six new species to the Irish fauna (Barrington), which shows what is still to be done.

 

January.

1st.—Flock of Mealy Redpolls near Cley (H. N. Pashley); a true winter migrant, but whose appearance has nothing to do with severity of weather.

3rd.—A very singular Rook with about half of each wing slate-coloured, including the greater wing-coverts and scapular feathers, which was flying about with other normal Rooks at Eaton, was at first sight rather suggestive of hybridism with a Hooded Crow; but this cross has never been detected in Norfolk or Suffolk.

8th.—Mr. C. Hamond met with two Black Guillemots in Holham "bay," near Wells, at no great distance from the shore.

25th.—A Little Bustard shot at Feltwell (Zool. 1898, p. 125), a migrant probably from the South of France or Spain, as the species is commoner there than in North Africa.

 

February.

8th.—A wounded Shag picked up at Stiff key (Pashley), and another disabled by a stone, are almost the only records in my note-book for February.

21st.—Bewick's Swan on Breydon (B. Dye).

 

March.

9th.—Three hundred Wigeon, with a few Pintails and Shovellers, on Breydon Broad (S. Chambers).

10th.—A thousand Wigeon now on Breydon (Chambers).

13th.—Shag found dead at Yarmouth (Dye).

15th.—A white Blue Titmouse, or nearly white, very busy at a cocoa-nut hung out for these birds in Mr. Digby's garden at Fakenham.

28th.—A Shag brought in from sea (A. Patterson).

 

April.

2nd.—Jackdaws going seawards (Patterson).

7th.—Mr. Pashley, to whom these annual notes are always indebted, to-day announced the advent of four magnificent Cranes on their spring migration, which halted near the Glaven, and remained all the forenoon of one day (7th) in the same spot, and that within two hundred yards of a gang of men on the marsh side of Wiverton bank. Mr. Pashley had a good view of them as they were flying eastwards, and they were next reported as visiting a piece of water near the sea at Weybourne, where their great size attracted attention. They were again watched for several hours, and subsequently seen at Runton, after which they took their departure. We have not had a visit from a Crane since April, 1888, but the number of occurrences is now brought up to seventeen, of which only two were in the autumn.

16th.—A Spoonbill on Breydon since the 8th (Patterson), which, like the Cranes, escaped.

 

May.

2nd.—A Short-eared Owl's nest with five eggs (but said to have originally contained seven) discovered in a field of rushes not far from the sea in the vicinity of one of our Broads.

5th.—Only one Reeve seen on the Broads up to this date (M. Bird).

16th.—Six hundred Bar-tailed Godwits, in round numbers, and Grey Plovers, with a good many Knots, and fifty Whimbrel, on Breydon mud-flats (A. Patterson and Chambers), and a similar show of waders at Cley and Blakenny (H. Pashley) marked a strong May passage, hopeful for the return in autumn. Mr. Patterson believes that the smaller waders are in search of Corophium longicornis, a small crustacean which pushes its way out of the mud; but whatever they eat is difficult of detection afterwards. Simultaneously with the northward movement of waders, two Grebes, supposed to be Red-necked Grebes, were on Wroxham Broad (Capt. Sparrow), and Pied Flycatchers were in evidence at Cley, Holt, Northrepps, Sutton, and Framingham (S. Bligh).

18th.—Lady Lothian has a hybrid Guinea-fowl, the produce of an egg laid at Saxthorpe. It is a very large bird, with some white on the breast, and a good deal of slate-colour about the wings, and appears to be between a Domestic Fowl and a white Guinea-fowl. A similar hybrid living in the Zoological Gardens is decidedly whiter than the Norfolk one, and even uglier, and in both cases the Guinea-fowl's voice has been noticed. A third, given to the Museum many years ago by my father, and, I believe, not now in existence, was bred between a Game-cock and a Guinea-hen; but these hybrids must be considered very rare.

24th.—Two Goosanders on Breydon (S. Chambers).

27th.—Two Spoonbills on Breydon (Chambers).

28th.—A Boiler picked up at Yelverton (T. Southwell), the twentieth in Norfolk, and a female, as most of the others have been.


Zoologist2376 0144.jpg

Otis tetrax, Linn.


30th.—An adult male Little Bustard, in full breeding plumage, shot, in spite of close-time, at Kessingland, in the north of Suffolk (T. Southwell), (ante, p. 31), about five miles from our border, and since added to Mr. Connop's museum. As it has never been obtained in the British Isles in this attire before (though once taken on Heligoland in June), the accompanying reproduction of a photograph may be acceptable. It was sent to be preserved to Mr. Bunn, of Lowestoft, who, in skinning it, noticed that the neck was large, a seasonal dilatation which in some form seems to show itself in the male of all the Bustards, and which is shown in the cut. Three Kentish Plovers on Breydon mudflats (Patterson), and a red or "hepatic" Cuckoo at Hickling (Bird).

 

June.

1st.—Turtle-Dove caught on a smack (Patterson).

4th.—A pair of Avocets halted at Salthouse (their breeding-place up to 1825) for two or three days (Pashley).

9th.—By skill and dint of patience my correspondent, Mr. Bird, at last watched a Short-eared Owl to her nest, situate in a dry marsh of very wide expanse, doubtless similar to the site chosen on May 2nd, where the pointed rush prevails, and is everywhere higher than a man's knee. A few bents of Carex or Juncus, rather dropped than arranged, constituted the whole nest, which contained only one egg, and on that the female Owl was sitting close as late as 8 p.m.—so close that, being suddenly disturbed, she unfortunately forsook the nest. The nest, such as it was, measured 5 x 6 in., and the egg 1·2 x ·9 in., and by it Mr. Bird picked up two pellets of the bones and fur of a young Water Vole. Another nest subsequently found by Mr. Bird was a forsaken one, containing only a whole egg and a broken one, probably laid by the same pair of Owls. I learn from Mr. Bird that two eggs of the Montagu's Harrier were found at Horsey, and, when searching with him for Owls' nests, we came upon a trodden place in the marsh—in fact, the commencement of a nest—which contained what seemed to be the remains of a dropped or soft-shelled Harrier's egg. The spot was a rough circle within thirty yards of where Mr. Bird found eggs in 1896, and also near to where I was shown a nest in 1883. It is a great pity that these beautiful marsh Hawks continue to be so persecuted, but every man's hand seems to be against them, and I fear the day will come when they and the Owls will be both alike, as local breeders, extinct. Forty years ago the Broad district could not have held less than a dozen Harriers' nests, but whether the Hen-Harrier bred there is uncertain.

12th.—Spoonbill at Swimcoots (Nudd), probably one of three which left the Blakenny muds on that day (Pashley).

22nd.—Green Sandpiper seen at Hickling by Mr. Bird.

23rd.—A very dark immature Stock-Dove—almost a variety—caught on Snetterton Heath, probably bred in a rabbit-hole; and a Wood-Lark seen at the same time. Although, at Keswick, Stock-Doves have the accommodation of tubs for nesting, a pair this summer chose an uninhabited dovecote in a very frequented place.

25th.—Of thirty netted adult cock House-Sparrows, twelve had the chest-feathers, which are ordinarily black, strongly tinted with chestnut-colour, a phase of plumage not accounted for in any work on British birds. Perhaps the Passer rufipectus of Buonaparte.

 

July.

9th.—Green Sandpiper at Intwood, a bird whose presence in summer evidently does not imply breeding.

14th.—A Green-backed Porphyrio, seen in Potter Heigham Sounds by Mr. H.E. Harris, was shot a few days afterwards on Barton Broad, and sent to Norwich. Sutton and Barton Broads are very much "grown up" now, and their dense reedbeds resemble the lagoons of Egypt, where this noble bird—"Dic Sultani" of the natives—used to be so common that thirty could be killed in a day. From Egypt I expect the supplies imported to this country by Cross, Jamrach, and Castang of late years come.

 

August. (Mean temperature, 62·6°.)

The first week in August brought bands of Crossbills from over the sea, which were seen simultaneously in four or five seaside parishes, and immediately afterwards in various places a little farther inland, as from Sandringham (R. Clarke) southwards, and as far inland as Horningtoft. A medlar tree in Canon Venables' garden at Burgh was covered with them, from which they turned their attentions to a bullace and apple trees, and even gooseberry bushes and cherry trees were visited (A. Patterson). In one case some were seen on ragwort plants (Gunn). During the first six days of August the wind was west, and it was probably then that they crossed, but on the 7th it was E.N.E. with rain; so it is not very easy to follow their movements, but they seem to be commoner in England than they used to be. Their customary tameness and cry of "gip gip" on the wing was most likely to attract attention, but the recent extension of our county close-time to Aug. 31st saved many, though one or two fell a prey to cats and stones, and one was recovered from a muddy creek. They were not so fortunate on the coast of Suffolk, whence Mr. Gunn received several to preserve, and Mr. Lowne, of Yarmouth, had thirty-two, chiefly red males; but the flight soon passed on. The Crossbill is, and always has been, an irregular bird in Norfolk, even from the days of Sir T. Browne. From 1869 to about 1891 very few indeed appeared, but since then there have been a good many strolling bands, for the most part in June, August, and September. It appears that the present "wave" flowed in other parts of England, the west especially. With regard to the female which bemired itself in a creek, it may have been wounded, as it did not live long. But I remember some years ago hearing of Crossbills which got into a sluice at Swaffham, probably to drink, when the soft mud was like bird-lime to their plumage, and soon led to capture.

18th.—A good adult female Ruddy Shelduck sent up from Yarmouth? (Connop), and an old male Pintail, but in "eclipse" as to plumage, caught by Mr. Partridge on Saham mere. This is the third time Mr. Partridge has had a Pintail on his mere as early as August, significant of these birds breeding somewhere on British soil, unless they were migrants, which is not likely. Pinioned Pintails formerly bred on the lake at Stanford.

 

September.

N. wind fourteen days, S. wind seven days, W. wind seven days. Less than a quarter of an inch of rain in the whole month. The 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th were very hot days, with a fine aurora on the 9th.

The Pheasants, impelled by drought, scraped the dusty soil off potato-beds, and ate considerable portions of the potatoes; and, where turnips were in proximity to their coops, in some places nothing was left but the ribs of the leaf by the thirsty game-birds. The turnips themselves suffered so much that there was not the requisite cover for Partridges, and beech trees had the appearance of being withered. Three Bearded Tits, driven from their usual asylum on the Broads, or wanderers from Holland, were seen on a pond near Holt, where I never remember any before; and three Egyptian Geese and some Canada Geese were moving about in the vicinity of Cromer, the latter probably from Gunton lake, where the young are seldom pinioned.

On the 31st House-Martins still had young not flown on the steepest part of Runton cliffs, and Mr. Patterson met with Sand-Martins' nests in a hole in the wall. I cannot say whether the drought had anything to do with the choice of such habitations, or with the fact that a Greater Spotted Woodpecker was hewing holes at Keswick as if it had been May. But much later than this there were Starlings' nests, with young in them, at Hellesdon and Keswick.

5th.—Shoveller at Hempstead.

16th.—A Norfolk Plover, with some Lapwings, close to the town of Yarmouth, where eight Spotted Redshanks have lately been shot (E. Saunders).

20th.—Two Ospreys at Filby Broad, the precision with which they caught fish being particularly noticed by the Rev. C.B. Lucas.

 

October.

W. wind ten days, S. wind seven days, E. wind six days, N. wind four days.

Migration now set in with some earnest, and Kingfishers and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were in evidence. One Woodpecker was among the Wells sand-hills (Col. Feilden), and I met with others alive, and in shops; but perhaps their migration was more marked higher up the east coast. From the observations of Mr. Boyes in 'The Field,' and Mr. Evans in the 'Scottish Naturalist,' Norfolk has not had so many Greater Spotted Woodpeckers since 1868, and that also was a great Crossbill year.

Lusciniola schwarzi was shot in Lincolnshire on the 1st, and three Dafila spinicauda in Suffolk, but the latter must have escaped. For the most part rare birds passed on to other countries farther south, but we had most of the regular sorts.

8th.—Seventeen Wild Swans settled on a pond at Felbrigge Park, doubtless all Bewick's Swans direct from Northern Russia, as one shot by Mr. Cremer was of that species, and Bewick's Swan has occurred once in October before. The same, or another, flock was soon after seen at Heigham Sounds, and one taken (Bird); another was obtained at Runton (Fitch), another at Salthouse, and another at Yarmouth (Dye). We have had larger flocks than this, but the date is early; and their tameness on first arrival, and their settling on such a small piece of water about two miles from the shore, points to their having made a long journey.

10th.—Received three live Scaup drakes from Saham decoycage, and about the same time there was a sudden abundance of them at the mouths of our rivers and similar places. A Yarmouth game-dealer named Durrant had forty-four hanging up, of which twenty-eight were killed on the 8th (Patterson), and on the same day five at Stalham (Bird). Two were shot at Felbrigge, two at Beeston (Cremer), and one near Keswick (all on ponds), and one at Holkham; and Mr. Pashley was able to account for fifteen, besides which Mr. Gunn received some from Suffolk, and the taxidermist at Lincoln told me he had seven brought him. I have never been successful in keeping the Scaup on my pond long, but one of the birds above mentioned is still in excellent health, and comes readily to be fed with bread.

16th.—Mr. Patterson picked up an immature Black Redstart under the telegraph-wire.

The following notes are from Mr. Patterson:—Golden-crested Wrens trooped in last week. St. George's Park, Yarmouth, was alive with them on Thursday; Cats were on the alert, and accounted for the demise of five on the 15th. The park-keeper saw many Fieldfares and Redwings passing over, and numbers of the latter alighting among the shrubs, exhausted. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker alighted on a fishing-boat, and Rooks and Grey Crows have been crossing plentifully. A Woodcock flew into a tavern in Albion Road, another flew against a window, one was caught in George Street, and another in Yarmouth Cemetery.

19th.—Little Gull at Breydon (B. Dye), the only one reported this year.

27th.—A chestnut variety of the Partridge shot at Bylaugh, and since presented to the Museum by Mr. D'Arcy; about the same time, I was told of three at Elmham, which apparently were not preserved. This is quite as curious and persistent a variety as the Sabine's Snipe, and, not constituting a melanism, is even more remarkable, an excess of red colour being more abnormal than an excess of black.

 

November.

Exceedingly mild weather all this month.

1st.—A female Scaup, in a very rufous state as regards breast, neck, and head, received from Mr. Patterson, had probably acquired that ferruginous colour from feeding in water where there was oxide of iron. It had been shot when making its last meal, for several Cyclas cornea (identified by Mr. Reeve) were in its gullet. On showing it to Mr. Caton Haigh, he said that he had seen one as rufous (cf. 'Birds of Norfolk,' iii. pp. 78, 190).

2nd.—Received a Great Grey Shrike which had pounced on a "call-bird" at Downham; this proved an amusing pet while it lived, and further presented an unusual continuation of the black lores in a line across the forehead. I may here mention that in the Museum there is one killed at Ranworth which is quite as dark on the head and back as Lanius algeriensis; but this is a genus of varieties. Another Grey Shrike was taken in Yarmouth Gardens (E. Saunders), but we have not had a real Shrike year since 1880.

4th.—Lapland Bunting at Yarmouth (B. Dye), the only one reported this year.

9th.—A Water-Ouzel with a chest-band of brown chestnut, shot at Hillington by Sir W. Ffolkes; the Scotch type is extremely rare in Norfolk, and, if it came from Scotland, is a proof that some migrants do not cross the sea.

10th.—Greater Shearwater at Lowestoft (T. Southwell).

13th.—A chestnut Partridge shot at Cawston (G. Herd), and on the 24th another near Dereham, making six in Norfolk this season, one last year, and three the year before. This is the erythrism—for it can hardly be called a race—which has been known as Perdix montana since 1760, and it is not unlikely that the Norfolk specimens were from eggs laid by Hungarian Partridges, many of which have been turned out in Norfolk during the last few years, and may have produced this breed. On the other hand, as many as twelve were shot in Northumberland as far back as 1863-71, and another afterwards; Hancock does not suggest that they were introduced. It has also been shot in Ireland, and other parts of England and Scotland from time to time; and Mr. Cole tells me that one was killed in Norfolk about twenty-four years ago, which passed through his hands.

14th.—A Coot, which had probably lost its way in the fog, discovered in a horse-pit among houses in Northrepps Street.

16th.—Spotted Crake at Horsey (E. Saunders).

 

December.

12th.—After a high wind from the west thousands of Wood-Pigeons were seen by Mr. Patterson passing over the town of Yarmouth, and on the same day Mr. Haigh noted their abundance in Lincolnshire. About this time there was a great accession to their ranks at Keswick, Hempstead, and other places, and nearly coincident with the visit of the Wood-Pigeons was the arrival of more Woodcocks.

24th.—The unusual sight of four Reeves's Pheasants in Norwich Market is an indication of the introduction of these long-tailed "rocketers" into Norfolk, but at Merton they are being killed off, as they drive about the common ones; and for the same reason I have found it impossible to keep Reeves's Pheasant in the same aviary with Amherst's. Occasionally Reeves's Pheasant will produce a very handsome cross with our Common Pheasant, if the plumage of the latter predominates, and we have a good specimen in the Museum. I believe as much as £50 was given for one of the first pairs of Reeves's Pheasants which came to Norfolk, and several hybrids were bred from them at Earlham; but they are not popular, in spite of their long tails.

30th.—Four hundred and sixty-six Coots gathered after the annual Coot battue on Hickling Broad, said to be a record bag for nineteen boats (Bird); the art lies in keeping the line unbroken, and leaving the dead to be picked up afterwards.

31st.—The "Pagets' Pochard," taken last year, is still in excellent health, and the breast, which became a dull brown in summer, is again as red as the head. It has never been as tame as the Pochards, which will occasionally even take bread from the hand, and does not dive so much as they do, but has the same peak-like raising of the feathers on the crown. Its back is far darker than a Pochard's now, and its beak not so white a lavender. Of its hybrid origin there can be no doubt. This cross has received the name of Fuligula ferinoides, Bartl., and F. homeyeri, Baed., and Suchetet thinks it may also be Anas intermedia, Jaubert (cf. Leverk. J. f. O. 1890, p. 223). That it is really between F. nyroca and F. ferina there cannot be the slightest doubt.

 

  1. See also page 183f.: 'Rejoinder'. (Wikisource Ed.)