The Zoologist/3rd series, vol 1 (1877)/Issue 1/Occasional Notes

Occasional notes (January, 1877)
various authors, editor James Edmund Harting

Published in The Zoologist, 3rd series, vol 1, issue 1, p. 17–28

4133164Occasional notesJanuary, 1877various authors, editor James Edmund Harting

OCCASIONAL NOTES.

Autumnal Breeding of the Otter.—On the 5th of December I happened to be in Mr. Vingoe's laboratory, where I saw a young Otter, about the size of a Fitch, or Polecat, which had been brought in from an adjacent valley, where it was seen and knocked on the head. I was not aware that the Otter bred in the autumnal months, as well as in the spring, when we know they do breed.—Edward Hearle Rodd (Penzance).

[The time of breeding with the Otter seems to be quite uncertain, young ones being found at very different seasons of the year. Mr. Bell, in the 2nd edition of his 'British Quadrupeds,' p. 176, says, "The female goes with young nine weeks, and produces from three to five young ones in March or April." The Rev. Leonard Jenyns says (Brit. Vert. An. p. 13) it breeds in March. Mr. Harris, of Moorswater, Liskeard, Cornwall, informed us some time since that he had taken young on the 3rd of April, "not much larger than mice, but covered with hair, and able to swim."

Isaac Walton, who, from being constantly on the river, ought to have known something about Otters, speaks of discovering a female Otter, with five young ones, in May ('Complete Angler,' Major's 4th edition, p. 50). A pair which were formerly in the Zoological Society's Gardens, bred in August (see 'Zoologist,' p. 1901). Three young ones taken in Norfolk in January were about six or eight weeks old, and therefore born in November ('Zoologist,' 1851, p. 3022). A well-known sportsman and naturalist, the late Mr. Lloyd, of Scandinavian renown, informed us that in Sweden the Otter pairs in February or March, according to the mildness or severity of the season. The latest contribution that we have seen to the natural history of the Otter, and a very instructive article withal, is from the pen of Mr. Thomas Southwell, of Norwich, and may be found in the 'Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society,' 1872–73 pp. 79–90.[1] On page 84 a tabular statement is given, showing the various periods of the year in which, in fourteen instances within the writer's knowledge, young Otters have been found in Norfolk. The result of Mr. Southwell's experience is that the Otter produces her young ones from December to February, is not double-brooded, and that the number of young is from one to three, rarely exceeding the latter.—Ed.]

Rabbits Breeding above Ground.—In the last edition of 'Bell's British Quadrupeds' it is stated (p. 344) that "on moors where the soil is very wet. Rabbits often refrain from burrowing, and content themselves with runs and galleries formed in the long and matted heather and herbage." An instance has recently come under my notice in which a Rabbit was found breeding above ground in a field of turnips, and in a flat form, like that of a hare. The form contained four newly born young, and before they were discovered the old doe was unfortunately shot. This was near Amesbury, in Wiltshire, and the circumstance was reported by an eyewitness, Mr. W. Southam, in 'The Field' of the 2nd December last.—J.E. Harting.

Occurrence of a South American Rail in Wiltshire.—On the 20th of October last I received a communication from my friend the Rev. Arthur Morres, vicar of Britford, near Salisbury (an ardent and an accurate ornithologist, on whose judgment I knew I could rely), giving me particulars of a strange bird (which he had seen in the flesh in the shop of Mr. Foot, birdstuffer, at Bath, on the previous Tuesday) which he could not identify, and upon which he asked my opinion: at the same time he enclosed a small feather, to show the prevailing colour of the plumage. It had been shot on the western borders of the county, between Trowbridge and Bradford, and had been taken to Mr. Foot for preservation on Saturday, October 14th. From the description given it was evidently a Rail, very like a Moorhen in shape, and was generally of a bright chestnut colour, with crimson legs. It measured fifteen inches and a half in length, and the beak from tip to gape was two inches. But I cannot do better than quote Mr. Morres' own description, of the excellence of which Professor Newton subsequently expressed his unqualified approval:—"Legs and irides bright crimson lake; beak light green, yellowish at the base; it had no naked patch or shield on the forehead (possibly from its immature age); head and neck, gray; back, light olive-green; tail and tail-coverts, black; breast, bright chestnut-brown; wings, bright brown, especially the quills, which had almost a crimson tinge to them; wings, underneath, barred with black and rufous-brown (one of these feathers was enclosed); thighs, gray; vent, &c., black." Being utterly at a loss to name the bird in question, and feeling very certain that it was no European species, I sent Mr. Morres' note and the single feather to my friend Professor Newton; and here I beg to hail, as a triumph of practical Ornithology, the fact that no sooner did Mr. Salvin, who examined it with Professor Newton, see the feather and hear the description, than he at once pronounced the bird in question to be the American species, known as Aramides Cayennensis; a judgment which the two able ornithologists above named immediately verified by comparison with other specimens in the Swainson collection at Cambridge. Professor Newton adds that "as its name implies, the bird is an inhabitant of Cayenne and adjoining parts, occurring in Trinidad, but nowhere nearer (he thinks) to this country. It has been brought over several times to the Zoological Gardens, but it is most improbable that it should find its way to England unassisted; though, supposing it had made good its escape from confinement, it might perhaps continue to exist for some weeks, or even months, here, except in winter. Aramides is a rather aberrant genus of Rails, found only in the New World." Doubtless Mr. Morres and I should have been better pleased if we could have honestly considered our Wiltshire visitor as "veritable British," but after this decided opinion of Professor Newton we shall scarcely be disposed to regard the stranger as a voluntary visitor, or as one of the numerous stragglers driven over by adverse winds; we must rather look upon it as an escaped prisoner, perhaps one which has freed itself from captivity for some time, and has been wandering on and skulking from observation, after the manner of other two-legged creatures when they have managed to get outside the prison bars. I am bound, however, to say that Mr. Morres, who has made enquiry in the neighbourhood, can hear of no such escape, and says there are no marks of captivity about the bird. I may also remark that it is so far a cosmopolite as to have bred in the Jardin d'Acclimatation at Paris ('Ibis,' 3rd Series, vol. i., p. 435), and I may remind Professor Newton that in the second series of the 'Ibis,' of which he was the talented editor (vol. iv., p. 486), he speaks of this very species as "the wide ranging Aramides Cayannensis."—Alfred C. Smith (Yatesbury Rectory, Calne).

Greenfinch Nesting in Furze (Zool. 2nd ser. 5120).—In the summer of 1875 I found several nests of the Greenfinch in some tall furze bushes situated outside the wall of a kitchen garden, and one nest— containing four young ones— was almost entirely constructed of the silky catkins of the sallow, which the parent birds must have brought from some considerable distance, as no sallows are growing near the spot. The materials of which this nest was composed made it very conspicuous, and, what is more remarkable, the bird must have built it at a time when workmen were erecting an orchard house within a few yards of the bush; but we well know that birds as a rule are much tamer, so to speak, during nidification, than they are at any other time. I may remark that although these nests were built in the furze outside the garden, yet a much larger number were to be found within its boundaries, and these were constructed in almost any suitable place. The furze dwellers had possibly found the locality favourable for food, but not wishing, or not being allowed, to inconvenience their neighbours by building in their midst, they had availed themselves of the nearest suitable situation. I have never found a Greenfinch's nest in the furze upon the open heath, as I have those of the Linnet, and think the Greenfinch generally chooses a higher situation for its nest than the Linnet. As I had frequent opportunities of observing the Greenfinches in question, I may throw some little light upon "the time of day at which birds lay their eggs" (Zool. 2nd ser. 5115, 5161), and I can quite believe that the late Dr. Saxby intended writing a.m. and not p.m. These greenfinches always laid, as far as I was able to observe, in the morning, between 7 and 12 o'clock, generally from 8 to 10. When a boy at school I well recollect finding the nest of a Goldfinch in a high hedge: it had previously been found by some of my school-mates, and each was anxious to obtain the first egg. Two or three consecutive mornings I rose soon after daybreak, in anticipation of becoming the possessor of the much-coveted prize, ignorantly supposing that the bird laid during the night, or at very early morning. On the fourth morning an egg was laid between eight and nine o'clock, after I had waited some four or five hours for its appearance; I took this egg, and on the following morning the bird laid another about the same time, but she forsook the nest after the second egg was taken. One evening, in my rambles about the meadows, I came across the nest of a Reed Bunting containing two eggs; the following morning, having to pass near the nest, and seeing a Cuckoo fly out somewhere near the spot, curiosity led me to look at the nest again, and I found that besides the two eggs of the previous evening, one of the Cuckoo's was therein. This was before ten o'clock, so I reasonably conjecture that the Cuckoo must have laid that morning.—G.B. Corbin (Ringwood, Hants).

Gregarious Habits of the Longeared Owl.—I may add my mite to the observations of Messrs. Boyes and Gurney upon this subject (Zool. 2nd ser. 5163) as follows:—A few seasons ago, during March, I visited the heaths in this neighbourhood for the capture of the moth called Pachycnemia hippocastanaria, and in a fir-wood through which I passed I had seen one or more of the Owls in question on several occasions. One evening in particular I recollect seeing five or six, and these flew in a moth-like fashion out upon the heath and back again to the fir-trees, keeping in a body, and often uttering a short sharp chirp or whistle, something after the fashion of the Nightjar. I laid quietly behind a bank and watched their movements, and as their excursions were made in a westerly direction—between myself and the fast-retiring sun—I could see them very plainly skimming about, sometimes just over the heather, then settling down, or chasing each other as if in play, after which they would return to the wood and settle on some low fir branch near to me, so that I could almost reach them with my hand. It seemed to me that they were birds belonging to the same nest, as they appeared uncommonly tame, but I had not heard that any Owl had nested in the wood where these frequented. Strange to say I have seen the Shorteared Owl but twice in this neighbourhood, while the longeared species is much oftener observed. It may often be seen during the winter months gibbeted in the "gamekeepers' museum," for it must be understood that here, as in most other places, all Owls are classed as "vermin," and pay the penalty accordingly.—G.B. Corbin.

Rooks Attacking Acorns.—Whilst spending a few weeks in West Sussex during the past autumn, I was much amused in watching the way in which the Rooks carried off the acorns from an oak in front of our windows. Not content with picking up those which had fallen upon the grass below, they alighted upon the extremity of the branches, and plucking off the growing ones, carried them away to a little distance, and attacked them at leisure. I remarked that they did not swallow them whole, as Wood Pigeons do, but pecked them to pieces on the ground. Whether they swallowed the fragments, or only broke them to get at a grub within, I could not ascertain without shooting some of them, which I was loth to do; but I am inclined to think that a worm was the attraction, for after the birds had decamped I picked up handfuls of damaged and broken acorns, many of them only slightly chipped, which I should hardly have found if the birds had been feeding on them. This habit does not seem to have been noticed by the authorities on British birds, and I have looked in vain for any mention of it in the pages of Bewick, Montagu, Selby, Macgillivray, and Yarrell. It is true that Macgillivray includes acorns amongst the food of the Rook, but mentions them in such a way as rather to suggest that it is the fallen acorns which are picked up. In Jesse's 'Gleanings,' however (1st series, p. 61), I find the following statement:—"Rooks are known to bury acorns, and I believe walnuts also, as I have observed them taking ripe walnuts from a tree and returning to it before they could have had time to break them and eat the contents. Indeed, when we consider how hard the shell of a walnut is, it is not easy to guess how the Rook contrives to break it. May they not, by first burying them, soften the shell, and afterwards return to feed upon them?" It is a little curious that Yarrell, who has given an extract from the very next page of this volume of the 'Gleanings,' should have omitted to notice this particular passage. Since writing this note I have received a confirmatory account from Mr. John Tyacke, of Constantine, Cornwall, who writes, "For the last two years I have noticed what I never saw before, i.e., that the Rooks pitch in great numbers on the oak trees, and feed on the acorns, and I have been informed by a friend that they do the same on the Ilex." With regard to walnuts, I may add that in Sussex we have two walnut trees close to the house, and in the autumn, before the pods get too hard, the Rooks come early in the morning and steal quantities of them.—J.E. Harting.

The Hawfinch (Coccothraustes vulgaris) in Scotland.—I wish to correct as soon as possible a somewhat grave error made by me in the last part (10) of the revised edition of Yarrell's 'British Birds,' and in so doing I have to thank a correspondent, before unknown to me, who has been kind enough to call my attention thereto. In the account of the distribution of the Hawfinch in Scotland (op. cit. vol. ii., p. 102, line 4) after the words, "according to Mr. Gray," the sentence should run "from Dumfreisshire to East Lothian, and thence to Perthshire," &c., and the foot-note at the bottom should be omitted. I shall endeavour to issue, with the next part of the work, a leaf that can be substituted for that which at present contains the mis-statements I desire now to rectify.—Alfred Newton (Magdalene College, Cambridge, December 2, 1876).

On the Occurrence at Malta of the Snow Bunting (Plectrophanes nivalis).—In what I said (Yarrell, Brit. Birds, Ed. 4, ii., p. 8) as to the supposed appearance of the Snow Bunting at Malta in 1840, I am still, I believe, so far correct; but Captain Feilden has kindly pointed out to me that I overlooked an undoubted instance of the occurrence of this species in that island recorded ('Ibis,' 1870, p. 490) by Mr. C.A. Wright, who shot a male bird there November 13th, 1869.—Id.

Varieties of Starling and Blackbird.—In 'The Zoologist' for October (2nd ser. 5120) a white Starling is recorded, and this is followed by an editorial note to the effect that this species "appears to be more subject to albinism than most birds." I have known three or four such examples to have been obtained in this part of Hampshire during my ornithological experience, although I have never had the good fortune to meet with one myself. I recollect a few seasons ago seeing a case of stuffed Starllngs in the possession of the late Mr. J.T. Turner; it contained four birds, one white, one pied, one black, and one of the normal type, and, if I remember correctly, all were killed in different parts of the New Forest. In 1874 I saw a peculiarly marked specimen which had been killed near here. Its head and neck were of an uniform pale yellowish gray, whilst the rest of the body was of the usual colour and markings, except the legs, which were much lighter. I do not know if this specimen was preserved, but I believe not. It may be recollected that in the volume of 'The Zoologist' for 1875 (2nd ser. 4692) I mentioned the fact that most of the pied Blackbirds I had seen had more white about the head than upon any other part of the body, and this observation was confirmed by Mr. Gurney (Zool. 2nd ser. 4869). Recently, however, I have seen two specimens which proved the rule by forming the exception. One of these had a white tail, and a few pale feathers upon its back, and, as far as I know, is still alive, not far from the forest, where I have seen it once or twice in my rambles. The other specimen was killed by a boy with a stone, at Mudeford, near Christchurch, on the 16th of September. He had seen it many times bathing on the sea-shore, and although sought after by several persons for a week or two previously, it escaped till the date I have named. This specimen had the upper part of the back, wing coverts, and a band across the belly white, giving it almost the appearance of having a white belt round the body. There were a few pale feathers about the neck, and at the base of the tail, but very little white about the head.—G.B. Corbin.

Ornithological Notes from the Isle of Wight.—On the 19th of September both Swallows and Martins, mostly immature birds, were observed to be congregating in considerable numbers, seemingly about to migrate. By the 20th of October there was a general move, and few were to be seen after the 25th, and none after the 4th of November. I have been informed by Mr. Careless, naturalist, of Sea View, that he has had a handsome male Roughlegged Buzzard sent him for preservation, which was captured on the 13th of October, at Pelham Lodge, Ryde. It entered by an open window, and was found to be in poor condition; it had sustained an injury in the leg, and died the following day. Length, twenty-two inches; extent of wings, forty-eight inches. Mr. Smith, writing on the 8th November, tells me that he has had seven Short-eared Owls brought to him in a fortnight, and that he usually gets some at the autumnal migration. Few Kestrels remain with us during the winter, but one was seen on the 25th of October, in a six mile walk on the Downs. In reply to the editorial queries (Zool. 2nd ser. 5160) as to when, where, and by whom a specimen of the Spotted Crake I recorded was shot, I am now informed that the bird was found on the 14th September beneath the telegraph-wires on the Cowes and Newport Railway, having, apparently, in its flight, come in contact with them; showing that, like many other species, it is nocturnal in its migration. Not being very rare, I merely noted its occurrence.—Henry Hadfield (Ventnor, Isle of Wight).

Dartford Warbler in Cornwall.—In Mr. Rodd's "List of the Birds of Cornwall" (Zool. 2nd ser. 2231) the Dartford Warbler is included as a rare species, with the statement that "no very satisfactory record exists of the capture of this small Warbler westward, although it has been seen in some furzy ground in the parish of Madron." Ornithologists, therefore, will be interested to hear that in the neighbourhood of Constantine, where I reside, this bird has been gradually becoming plentiful. I noticed the first I had ever seen here about three years ago, since which time I have observed them frequently amongst furze. They flit from bush to bush, and on alighting disappear immediately, very similarly to the Lesser Whitethroat.—John Tyacke (Constantine, Cornwall).

Distribution of the Green Woodpecker in Cornwall.—In the eastern woodlands this bird is common, but in West Cornwall is very rare (c.f. Rodd, Zool. 2nd ser. 2239). In the neighbourhood of Constantine it was at one time very seldom seen, but of late has become more numerous.—Id.

Tree Sparrow Nesting in Middlesex.—In the last published part of the new edition of 'Yarrell's British Birds' (part 10, p. 85) a dozen counties in England are named in which the Tree Sparrow seems not yet to have been recorded as breeding, and one of these is Middlesex. On reference to an interleaved copy of my 'Birds of Middlesex' I find a MS, note, given me by the late Mr. Blyth, to the effect that in June, 1871, he obtained three half-fledged Tree Sparrows, which were taken from a nest in a hole of a tree at Hampstead. This is the only instance which has come to my knowledge of the Tree Sparrow breeding in the metropolitan county.—J.E. Harting.

Honey Buzzard in Suffolk.—On the 25th of September, on my uncle's property at Darsham, in this county, I shot a very fine, though immature, male Honey Buzzard. Expanse of wings four feet, and two feet from beak to tail; contents of stomach, wasp-grubs.—Arthur J. Clark-Kennedy (Little Glemham, Suffolk).

Reappearance of Pallas's Sand Grouse in Ireland.—A fine male specimen of this Sand Grouse was shot on the 4th of October, near Kilcock, in the County Kildare, and its companion, a female, secured at the same time. They were found feeding in a stubble-field, and, at first, were mistaken for Partridges. We have received one for preservation, the other was sent to Messrs. Ashmead and Argent, of Bishopsgate Street, London. — Williams & Son, taxidermists (2, Dame Street, Dublin).

[This fact has already been recorded in 'The Field' of 21st October, 1876, by Mr. Coates, one of the two gentlemen who procured the birds in question. It is not the first instance of the occurrence of this Sand Grouse in Ireland. In 1863, in which year a most extraordinary immigration of these singular birds took place, specimens were procured at Ross (Lord Clermont, Zool. 1863, p. 8934), Drumbeg (Sinclair, 'The Field,' 20th and 27th June, 1863), and Naran (M.B. Cox, 'The Field,' 18th July, 1863), the last-named being the most westerly locality for the species recorded with precision.—Ed.]

Variety of the Common Snipe.—A very interesting specimen has been sent to us for preservation. It is about the size of the so-called Sabine's Snipe, but not so dark in colour; the dark bars across the breast are well marked, and are continued down to the vent. The tail contained only eleven feathers, but some may have been shot away.— Williams & Son.

[If we understand Messrs. Williams correctly, the specimen in question may be said to be intermediate in form and colour between the Common Snipe and the so-called Sabine's Snipe. If so, we should much like to see it.— Ed.]

Golden Eagle near Killarney.—So seldom is this noble species now seen at Killarney, that it is not without regret I have to record the capture of a fine female bird, apparently in the second year's plumage, which was shot while flying over the Earl of Kenmare's deer park, about the middle of November last, by Denis Healy, one of the gamekeepers. The bird is now in the hands of Mr. Williams, the well-known taxidermist, in Dame Street, Dublin. The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaëtus) though commonly supposed to be no longer indigenous to Killarney, is yet not unfrequently observed in the mountainous parts of Kerry; and as I myself have, on more than one occasion, seen the bird hunting along the mountain sides, which border on the lakes, early in the spring, I believe there is good reason to suppose that the Golden Eagle still breeds in some of the less frequented parts of the district.—Arthur H. Bowles (99, Lower Mount Street, Dublin).

Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, &c., near Woodbridge.—During November and December, 1876, a beautiful specimen of the young of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaëtus) was taken, together with eight specimens of the Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), in the neighbourhood of Woodbridge, Suffolk. On the 14th of December a beautiful male Merlin (Falco æsalon) was shot on the ooze skirting the banks of the Woodbridge river. On the 18th of December a female, from the same place, was obtained; and on the 19th of December a second female was shot near the same spot. A Hobby (Falco subbuteo) I watched for several minutes, after having first disturbed him from trees, perched on a gate-post abutting on stubble upon which a large flock of Linnets were feeding.—Charles Moor (Great Bealings, Woodbridge, Suffolk).

A Pure White Jay.— On the 120th of October, Mr. Ripley, the birdstuffer here, showed me a young Jay, pure white, which had been shot within a few miles of York, a few days before. He had another of the ordinary colour, which was out of the same nest. The former had not a single coloured feather about it, but the whole of the plumage was of a uniform pure white. The legs of this bird were also of a whitish colour, as well as the bill; the iris, too, was of a very light colour, in fact almost white. Albinos of this species, I believe, are rare.— R.M. Christy (York).

Pheasants in New Zealand.—It would seem that pheasants are now fairly established in Southern New Zealand, and are tolerably numerous. Mr. Alfred Eccles, a former Vice-President of the Otago Acclimatisation Society, has obligingly communicated an extract from the 'Otago Daily Times,' wherein a special correspondent, writing on this subject, remarks as follows:—"In riding near Popotunoa Bush recently, in company with a friend of mine—a resident at Popotunoa—we flushed two pheasants, a cock and a hen. On expressing my surprise and delight, he informed me that there were plenty more there, and that along the Kuriwao Hills (Mr. Roberts's) and up the Waiwera Gorge, and all along that range by Kaihiku Bush, and Warepa, down to South Molyneux, and for miles back, pheasants were to be found in great abundance. This is good news for sportsmen, as from the nature of the country they can never be exterminated by fair shooting, and will afford sport quite equal, if not superior, to black game shooting in Scotland. Mr. Campbell, of Glenfalloch, tells me that there is a solitary hare frequently seen about his place, both by himself and others who know a hare when they see one. It is a great puzzle where poor puss could have come from; she must have either swum the Molyneux or crossed by Balclutha bridge. I hear the rabbits are spreading very rapidly in Southland, and threaten to be a fearful curse; they are now almost, if not quite, up to the Mataura in large quantities."

Blue Shark off Plymouth.—In September last a very beautiful Blue Shark (Squalus glaucus) was captured off Plymouth. Its length was fully eight feet, and its colour exceedingly fine. This specimen, I am sorry to say, was not preserved, but I managed to secure some of its teeth, which are finely serrated.—John Gatcombe (8, Lower Durnford Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth).

[This Shark is said to be not common[2] during the Pilchard season off the Cornish coast. —Ed.].

Occurrence of the Fox Shark off Teignmouth.—Being in Taunton one day towards the end of November, I noticed in the Corn Market a small tent erected, with a notice, written in large characters, "Strange Fish," pinned on the outside. A worthy tar, who had charge of the exhibition, assured me I should see a most extraordinary monster of the deep, which no man had ever seen before, and which no one could name. I paid the modest sum of one penny for entrance, expecting to see a dogfish or a porpoise, but fouud instead a remarkably fine specimen of the Fox Shark, or Thresher (Alopes vulpes), which measured about seven feet from the head to the end of the elongated tail. The fisherman told me that this Shark had become entangled in their herring nets, about two miles to the west of Teignmouth, and had been secured after a desperate struggle. It was very fairly stuffed, and had already been exhibited at Exeter and other towns, and no doubt will be found a more remunerative take than many good hauls of herrings.—Murray A. Mathew (Bishop's Lydeard, Taunton).

[The Fox Shark, or Thresher, although occasionally met with in various parts of the coast, is by no means plentiful. It derives its English name of "Thresher" from its supposed habit of attacking and striking the Grampus with its long fox-like tail.—Ed.]

Occurrence of the Bonito at Plymouth.—In September last a specimen of the Bonito (Scomber pelamys) was caught in a trammel-net in the Cattewater, Plymouth. I examined the fish, and found its length to be one foot eight inches and a half; pectoral-fin, six inches—much longer in proportion to the length of the specimen than shown by Mr. Couch in his figure of this species. Another about the same size, but with the pectoral-fins still longer, was taken some years previously near Plymouth. Yet they did not equal those of a closely-allied species, the Germon or Long-finned Tunny (Scomber alatunga), which I at first thought it might be.—John Gatcombe.

[The Bonito of the tropics, so well known to navigators, is rarely seen in British waters, although, according to the late Mr. Couch, a few specimens have been taken from time to time on the Cornish coast. The colour of the fish is a fine steel-blue, darker on the back, the sides dusky, and whitish below; behind the pectoral-fin is a bright triangular section of the surface, from which four dark longitudinal lines extend backwards to the tail. The specimen above noticed is not a very large one, the species sometimes attaining a length of two feet six inches.—Ed.]

Large Tunny on the Coast of Norfolk.—Early on the morning of the 24th of November, 1876, a large Tunny (Thynnus vulgaris), exhausted, but not quite dead, came ashore at Bacton, on the Norfolk coast, where I saw it on the following day, and took the following measurements:—Total length from the point of the upper jaw to the centre of the tail, 7 feet 4 inches: length of first dorsal-fin, in inches, 10·8; of second dorsal, 15·5; of pectoral, 15·8; of ventral, 10·3; of abdominal, 14·2: breadth of tail from point to point, 33·4. The finlets, which were ten in number on the back and nine on the abdomen, were rather less than an inch in depth; the lateral prominences above the tail were about two inches wide; the ridge on the side of the body, in a line with the upper ray of the pectoral fin, projected about a quarter of an inch, and was 18·7 inches long; from the gape to the point of the upper jaw measured 8 inches, and the eye was 2·1 inches in diameter, with a silvery green iris and a very dark blue pupil. The teeth were very small, and the upper jaw projected slightly beyond the lower, which is the reverse of what is stated by Yarrell and Couch. Both the upper and lower jaws were pink, this colour reaching backwards for about two inches from the extremity of the jaws. The general colour of the upper parts of the fish was nearly black, of the sides silvery gray, and of the lower parts, and also of the gill-coverts, silvery white. The first dorsal fin was purplish black, the second dorsal pale pink, shaded in places with dark purplish, the pectoral fin resembled the first dorsal, except that it had a white tip and the under side of the rays was also white, but tinged with pink; the ventral fin was like the pectorals, but without the white tip. The abdominal fin and the finlets were pinkish white; the tail was dark, resembling the first dorsal fin.—J.H. Gurney (Northrepps, Norfolk).

Breeding Season of Crayfish.—As a note towards determining the breeding time of Sea Crayfish, I mention that I have to-day (Oct. 27, 187(3) received one with the berry fully developed.—Thomas Cornish (Penzance).


  1. Online available at Biodiversity Heritage Library (Wikisource-ed.)
  2. see correction on p. 60 (issue 2) (Wikisource-ed.)