Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 3 (1899).djvu/137

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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

Zool. 4th ser. vol. III., March, 1899.