Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 3 (1899).djvu/174

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THE ZOOLOGIST.

that the Swallow would not return; consequently I determined to dig down to the nest. Entering the excavation head first, I soon found a small hole about two inches in diameter leading upwards about three feet from the entrance. I started burrowing, when the first thing discovered was a spherical white egg recently deposited on the bare ground. This was identified as the egg of the Natal Kingfisher (Ispidina natalensis), the clutch usually consisting of four eggs; and, on going a short distance further in the same hole, I came across the Swallow's nest, with a clutch of three small pure white elongate eggs, the nest being constructed wholly of minute grass-tufts. Both the Swallow and Kingfisher had made use of the same entrance. The Ant-bear I did not attempt to burrow after, this being a task usually ending in fruitless results, as these curious animals can dig faster than any two individuals provided with spades.

A Curious Deposit of Eggs.— For some time past a pair of Brown-hooded Kingfishers (Halcyon albiventris) have frequented my garden, but I was unable to locate their nest. At last, however, I came across one of the birds carrying a grasshopper, which at once led me to understand I was too late, and that the birds were feeding their young. They had nested in the bank of a pit, as is their wont, generally penetrating into the earth about three or four feet. Down this pit an old ladder had been left projecting several feet above the pit's mouth. About a week later, when revisiting the spot, to my surprise and delight I observed four large round white eggs lying on the ground immediately below one of the bars of the ladder, from which the eggs had evidently been dropped. The bird, having young in its nest, was apparently on the horns of a dilemma; it was useless depositing her eggs with the young, and hence the bird quietly disencumbered herself of the superfluous eggs in this easy but somewhat remarkable manner. The clutch of this bird consists of four round eggs, the shells being very thin, while the newly-laid egg has a salmon tint, the yolk reflecting through; but when the egg is blown it becomes pearly white. October is the nesting season.