The Zoologist/3rd series, vol 1 (1877)/Issue 10/Occasional Notes

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

Published in The Zoologist, 3rd series, vol 1, issue 10, p. 440–452

4366729Occasional notesOctober, 1877various authors, editor James Edmund Harting

OCCASIONAL NOTES.

Black Rat in Somersetshire.—On September 18th one of our village cats distinguished herself by capturing a fine specimen of a Black Rat, the only example of this ancient breed which has ever fallen under my observation.—M.A. Mathew (Bishop's Lydeard).

Absence of the Weasel from Ireland.—It is a pity that the few who believe in the existence of the Weasel in Ireland have never been able to produce an Irish specimen. Some years ago a friend of mine made it known that he would give £5 to anyone who would bring him such an animal; yet up to the present time not one has been produced.—W. Kinsey Dover (Castle Connor, Ballina, Co. Mayo).

Wild Cat in the Isle of Wight.—It may be inferred from the Editor's scepticism in regard to the alleged existence of the Wild Cat in the South of England (p. 339) that he believes in its existence in the North. What dwellers in the New Forest may think of it I know not; it may not have been met with there, but of its occurrence here there can be no doubt. This Cat is not "of hearth-rug ancestry" I am confident. Countless generations could not have so transformed it; but, however that may be, here it is, and may be inspected. Having so recently described a Wild Cat from Inverness-shire ('Zoologist,' 1876, p. 4791), the minute description of another would be a work of supererogation.—Henry Hadfield (Ventnor, Isle of Wight).

Swimming Powers of the Mole.—The following facts concerning the swimming powers of the Mole were communicated to me the other day by my brother-in-law, the Rev. Geoffrey Hill. He was fishing on Loch Morar, in Inverness, at the time, and wrote me this account:—"One day I saw a mole swim across the loch. It must have swam a mile and a half. I came across it when it had come about three-parts of the way, and, having nothing to do, as it was too still and sunny to fish, we accompanied it to the land, rowing alongside of it, as if it were Captam Webb swimming across the Channel. I don't know that this little fact is at all curious, but it may be, so I wished you to know of it." I certamly was not aware that the Mole had such powers of endurance in the water, or that it possessed such perseverance and strong instinct to make good its point over such obstacles.-Arthur P.Morres (Britford Vicarage, Salisbury)

[Mr Bell, in his 'History of British Quadrupeds' (2nd. ed. p. 130), says the Mole is "an expert swimmer," an action for which the structure both of the hands and of the hinder feet are well adapted. Other instances of its powers of progression in the water will be found narrated in the Natural History columns of 'The Field' of 24th August, 1872. and the 10th, 17th and 24th June, 1876.— Ed.]

The Green Sandpiper in Stirlingshire.—On the 26th of August last while walking with a friend down the bank of the River Carron, our attention was suddenly attracted by a peculiar note, and almost immediately I saw two birds flying down the river about a hundred and fit y yards off. I at once said "Green Sandpipers." The conspicuous white rump being distinguishable at a great distance in a favourable light we followed them up, and had two opportunities of seeing them at close quarters, when the extremely dark mantles and upper surfaces of the wings showed in striking contrast to the large white patch upon the back. On one occasion they flew out of a willow tree (the branches of which overhung the river, and the roots of which were submerged), and were then joined by a third. We did not disturb them further that day, but at half-past five on Mondav morning we were again at the river-side. That morning we found no less than six birds, in all probability a brood, and four with their parents. They were extremely wild and quick on the wing, often on being Sushed rising at once to a great height, flying round, continually utering their low but clear notes, "Tsieu-it" or "Tsieu-it-tsui,"—notes which I do not remember having heard at their breeding-quarters in Norway, where Mr. Alston and I found them not uncommon in pairs near Skæien-i-Land in 1871. After circling round for some time they would descend almost perpendicularly, but on reaching to within a few feet of the surtace of the water would suddenly open their wings and skim away for quite a hundred vards before again lighting. Thus it was sometimes difficult to mark 'them down if willows or alders fringing the banks intervened. After nearly two hours' unsuccessful chase, I at last succeeded in driving a single bird which had separated from the others, high over my friend's head, and he secured it by a long shot. We noticed on several occasions how extremely quick-sighted these birds are, and how rapidly and swiftly they can alter the direction of their flight. On hiding behind the alder-bushes for the chance of a passing shot, as the birds were being driven up or down the river, they often came directly overhead, but with great rapidity shot perpendicularly upward, or suddenly diverged to the right or left, offering only a most puzzling shot. They seldom flew low over the river, but, as I have mentioned already, rose xwiftly over the tops of the willows and alders on the banks before flying horizontally. The clear notes were distinctly heard when the birds were quite three hundred yards off, and yet when heard much nearer they always sounded low and almost sibylline. Former occurrences of this species in Stirlingshire are recorded in Gray's 'Birds of the West of Scotland,' when somewhat of the same habits were observed by me, but I have not at present that work beside me for reference. My impression is that these birds now frequent our river as regular early autumn migrants, arriving in August and often remaining till the middle of September. They have been frequently seen by our gamekeeper's son, and were at once recognized by him when I showed him a skin; and he tells me he has seen them about this time of year frequenting the same part of the river on several occasions in different years. There is the possibility of their having bred here, but I scarcely think they would have escaped observation so long if they had. I think we may look upon them as "early autumn migrants" frequenting a favourite locality some weeks in passing, or until circumstances of food or season require them to move further southward again. The specimen obtained is now in the collection of the gentleman who shot it, Mr. G.E. Paterson, of Glasgow. Since then all the low country along the river-side has been flooded, and this may have caused the birds to leave; but when the water subsides I shall again search for them, and if there be anything further worthy of remark will report the same.—J.A. Harvie Brown (Dunipace House, Stirlingshire).

Migration of the Ring Ouzel.—On September 5th I saw a fine male Ring Ouzel in the garden of a house at the entrance of Wanstead Park, some six miles from London: having a good pocket- telescope and abundant opportunity for observation, there could be no question of the identity of this well-marked species. After remaining in view for about a quarter of an hour, it flew off in a south-easterly direction till lost to sight in the distance. I trouble you with this notice rather with the hope that other contributors to 'The Zoologist' will communicate any occurrence of the bird in this neighbourhood during September, and whether solitary or in company with others. About ten years ago I saw a single cock bird near West Ham. I have noticed them towards the end of September, in flocks of about twenty, on the wild uplands in the south-west of Dorsetshire, where they are regular visitants in spring and autumn, and may come from Dartmoor, where they are said to breed. White mentions them as visiting Selbourne in considerable numbers about Michaelmas; and it would appear that they are usually gregarious in their autumn migrations. On their appearance in Dorsetshire in the spring, they seem, as far as my own observations extend, to be more scattered. Among the Yorkshire dales I have watched them with much interest in the breeding-season, when the hill-sides echo the day through with their wild notes, and have observed the boldness with which they endeavour to repel any intruder from their nests: these are found in numbers at the base of the blocks of stone that are strewn over the moors, and on stooping down to examine the eggs I have been quite startled with the audacity with which the parent birds will fly in a direct line towards you, only diverging with a loud chatter when within a foot or so of your face. In that district they would not unfrequently be seen from the parlour windows, hunting for worms on the grass-plots much after the manner of our Blackbirds in the southern counties.—Arthur Lister (Leytonstone).

Hobby Nesting in Hampshire (p. 298).—From a short note in Wise's 'New Forest' it seems that the breeding of the Hobby was a wellrecognized fact at the time of the publication of that work, although its annual decrease was particularly noticed. That the species has become comparatively scarce cannot be questioned; but it is equally certain that it visits, if it does not breed in, the extensive woods of the New Forest almost every season, for scarcely a summer passes but one or more specimens are sent to me from that neighbourhood, and generally in June, when I conjecture they would be nesting. On the 5th of August, 1876, a gamekeeper in the Forest sent a beautiful pair of these birds for me to see, which he said he had shot from the nest; but on questioning him as to whether the nest contained eggs or young (being so late in the season), he eluded the question by saying he "believed" they were nesting near, but that he had not discovered the nest. In the previous year a young bird was sent me from the same locality, and its wing-feathers were not sufficiently grown to enable any extended flight, so it must have been reared somewhere near. The same year a pair built a nest, or rather appropriated an old one, in a wood within two miles of Ringwood, but the female was shot before she laid an egg, and subsequently the male disappeared. The Hobby is said to arrive in the New Forest, where it is locally known as the "Van-winged Hawk," about the same time as the Honey Buzzard formerly did; but I fear eventually it will share the fate of the latter bird, which has ceased to visit us for several consecutive seasons; and no wonder, since the epithet of "vermin" has been bestowed upon all its race; and the exorbitant price offered by dealers, both for birds and eggs, has gradually led to its extinction.— G.B. Corbin (Ringwood, Hants).

Hooded Crow in Norfolk in August.—On the 18th of August my father saw a Hooded Crow here. On the 20th I saw it again in my garden, and, as I was afraid of its depredations among the young Pheasants, I went after it with my gun and shot it. I found that it was a young bird, and not, as I at first suspected, an old one which had received a wound and had remained about all the summer.—J.H. Gurney, Jun. (Northrepps Cottage, Norwich).

White-tailed Eagle on the North Coast of Cornwall.—I think I may safely record the occurrence of this Eagle on our north coast, from information I received from an accurate observer and sportsman, who saw the bird at no very great distance, wheeling about in the air, and bending its course apparently from the northern cliffs near Tahidy Park towards the south. My friend Mr. Walter Pike, of Camborne, told me of this, and that he plainly observed the full white tail, and that it was very distinguishal)le against the sky. The bird looked very large, and in its wheeling flight sometimes was nearer than at others, and was closely mobbed by different smaller birds. We have occasionally had this Eagle on our coasts in the immature or cinereous plumage, but I do not remember an instance of its occurrence in the adult state.—Edward Hearle Rodd (Penzance).

Notes from South Devon.—The following Natural History notes were jotted down by me during a prolonged stay at Watcombe Park, South Devon, and may perhaps interest some of your readers. During March I saw several Hooded Crows, and one morning at the beginning of April a beautiful specimen of the Great Gray Shrike, which perched upon a Rhododendron, but I did not see it afterwards. The Cirl Bunting was by no means rare during the colder months, associating with the Yellow Bunting and Chaffinches. It is somewhat strange that I had never met with this species alive before. On the 12th of May 1 had a pair of them sent me from Leominster, where they had been shot a day or two previously. I believe Mr. Gatcombe has described a variety of the Yellow Bunting of an uniform yellow colour: I saw a very similar bird in April amongst some others of the normal type; in fact it differed so much from its relatives that at first sight I almost thought it was an escaped Canary. I saw it occasionally for several days, but it eventually disappeared, and I was unable to learn anything of its destiny. I could not say positively whether it was the Cirl or Yellow Bunting, but I believe the latter. To the credit of certain vigilant persons in this part of Devon, the "Wild Birds Protection Act" is emphatically respected, if we may judge by the number of placards and notices which are posted in all directions, and the frequent discussion of the subject by the rural classes and those otherwise interested in birds. Whether this is the chief cause of the increase of certain species I am not prepared to say, but it is pleasant to be able to record the sight of several small flocks of Goldfinches; and upon inquiry I found that their increase had been noticed, especially by the promoters of the Act, in several parts of Devon, where previously they had been getting very scarce. This I hope is the case throughout the country, for I Imve noticed that in Hampshire they are also gradually increasing. The " Slimmer visitors " certainly arrived here no earlier than they did in Hants; in fact a comparison of dates would indicate that the bulk of them were later, although perhaps they were rather backward in their movements this season on account of the cold and winter-like spring, if indeed that at all affects their migration, which I somewhat question, for it is certain that a mild spring is not always indicative of their early arrival, any more than a cold spring retards their flight. I did not see any Swifts until May 3rd, when I observed three coming up in a direct line from Torbay, and this would be several days later than I have recorded their first appearance for the past nine years at home; in fact I generally observe them between the 14th and 23rd of April.—G.B. Corbin (Ringwood, Hants).

Swan-marks.—The Manuscript Department of the British Museum has lately acquired, for the Egerton Library, two interesting manuscripts illustrating the history of marking Swans, and a short notice of them will, we think, be not unacceptable to our readers. The first is No. 2412, a small quarto paper book of eighty-nine folios, written apparently in a hand of the seventeenth century. It commences with an alphabetical list of the owners of the marks, among whom appear the King and Queen, the Dukes of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Richmond, Earls of Huntingdon, Essex, Oxford, Sussex, Surrey, and Leicester, with a large number of noble and private owners, amounting in the aggregate to several hundred. The diagrams of the marks follow, arranged in double columns, of six marks each to a page. A large proportion of the owners have two marks, and now and then three are attributed to the same possessor. Although the collection is a compilation of the time already referred to, it evidently incorporates some older work of the same nature, for among the names of Swan-owners occur the Prior of Spalding and the Abbot of Peterborough. The volume is inscribed with the autograph of Samuel Knight, a former owner of the book. The other manuscript, Egerton 2413, is an oblong octavo in vellum, containing thirty-eight folios, with double columns, of six marks each on either side, making a total of about eight hundred marks; some of the spaces having been left unappropriated. From the commencing mark being attributed to "I.R.," which in the previous manuscript is given to "The Kinge," there is little difficulty in fixing the date of the production of the book. These two manuscripts, lately acquired, are evidently copies of an older work, and it will be useful to mention here a few notes of similar records extant in the British Museum. In Harley MS. 433, at folio 217b, is a memorandum of "A Commission directed to al maners Shireffes, Eschetours, Baillieffes, Constables, Swanneherdes, and all hauyng the Rule of freshe Ryuers and waters in Somersetshire, especially in the freshe waters or Ryuers of Merkemore, Cotmore, etc., that the king hath geven al Swannes in the said waters late apperteynyng to the Marques Dorset and Sir Giles Dawbeney uowe in the kinges handes by reason of theire forfaictures, to my lord priue seale, geuen at Westm' the ix day of May anno ijdo." The date of this early note is probably 1485. Add. MS. 4977 is entitled "a book of the marks of Swans, with the names of the gentlemen who have right to make use of them," It is an oblong octavo in vellum, with an alphabet of names prefixed, and a large series of marks. It appears to have been written in the fifteenth century, but has several additions of a later period. The two swords which are given as a lung's mark in Eg. MSS. 2412, 2413, here figure as that of the Duke of Lancaster, a title which merged into the crown in 1399. Add. MS. 6301 is a fine large quarto in vellum, of twenty-eight folios, with fifteen marks on either side of the leaf. The two marks of the king are here styled—the first, "for the Crown," being a rude representation of that emblem; the second or Lancaster mark, "for the Sworde." There is an index at the end of this manuscript, and at the beginning some curious notes of Swans that "I have marked," " Swans sould this yeare of our lor 1628," and "The order for Swans," a collection of rules and observances with regard to the keeping and marking of these birds, with the penalties for infringement. The Harley MS. 3405 resembles this MS. very closely, but with occasional variations. Add. MS. 6302 is another vellum book, in octavo size., apparently of the time of Henry the Eighth; the king here has three marks allotted to his Swans. Some remarks by Sir J. Banks upon the age of the book are prefixed. Add. MS. 23782 is entitled "The orders for Swanne Bots by the Statutes and by the Auncient Orders and Customs used in the Realm of England," a vellum roll of the seventeenth century; followed by the Swan-marks used by the proprietors of lands on the rivers Yare and Waveney, co. Norfolk. Some of these are drawn vertically instead of on the more usual horizontal plan, and the greater number are rudely painted in red and black pigments. MS. Lansdowne 118 contains at folio 80 a list of "Swannes marked ye xii of June, 7° E. 6, 1553," in the handwriting of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Harley MS. 4116 gives, at p. 403, a curious note respecting the transfer of a Swan-mark in 1662. Some further illustrations of this peculiar custom may be seen by reference to the Classed Catalogue of Manuscripts in the British Museum; and a careful collation of the marks, with a view to publication, would reward the student of English manners and customs.—From 'The Atheneum,' 18th August, 1877.

Bewick's Swan and Canada Goose near Sheffield.—A few weeks ago I received a Bewick's Swan which had been shot two years previously on a dam at Wadsley, near Sheffield. It was seen in that neighbourhood in March, 1875, and was supposed to have strayed from an ornamental pond close by, which, however, was not the case. When first seen it was in the company of a number of tame ducks and geese, with which it associated during the day-time; but in the evening it took flight to Claywheel Dam at Wadsley Bridge, where it was shot and afterwards taken to a Natural-History dealer in Sheffield to be sold, the shooter not caring to have it mounted for himself, as it is considered unlucky in that neighbourhood to have a stuffed Swan in the house! It was purchased in the belief that it was an ordinary Mute Swan, by Mr. A. S. Hutchinson, now stuffer at this Museum, who had seen it on the dams, but when he brought it to the Museum I saw that it was an adult specimen of Bewick's Swan, Cygnus Bewickii, and obtained the above particulars from him and from the man who shot it. A Canada Goose, Anser Canadensis, was shot on the same dam at the beginning of 1875; and in June last I was informed that an uncommon bird had been shot on Clay-wheel Dam at Wadsley, and on making enquiries I found that it had been plucked and eaten by its utilitarian captor, so that I was not able to identify it, but the man who shot it immediately recognised it as the Canada Goose on looking through Morris's 'British Birds.'— E. Howarth (Curator, Sheffield Public Museum).

Pied Flycatcher in Epping Forest.—I bought the bird which accompanies this note of a dealer in Seven Dials. He told me it was caught in the neighbourhood of Epping Forest on the 13th September. I kept it for three days, and had got it to feed freely on chopped egg and meal-worms, when it suddenly died. I believe it to be a Pied Flycatcher, but am not sure. Will you kindly identify it for me?—Harry Lee (The Waldrons, Croydon).

[The bird is a female Pied Flycatcher.—Ed.]

Curious Death of a Swallow.—When out with the Sheffield Naturalists' Club at Kiveton Park, in June last, I found under an old oak tree a dead Swallow, Hirundo rustica, with wings and tail outspread. On examination, the cervical vertebrae appeared to be dislocated, and as it had evidently been suddenly killed whilst flying, it occurred to me that it had met its death by coming in contact with a branch of the tree whilst in too eager pursuit of its insect prey. As the Swallow is so keen of sight and rapid in movement, such an accident seems rather remarkable. There were no telegraph-wires near.—E. Howarth (Curator, Sheffield Public Museum).

Purple Gallinule at Hickling Broad.—In connexion with the correspondence which has been going on about the Porphyrios killed in this country, you will be interested in hearing that a specimen, in the most perfect plumage, was killed at Hiclding Broad last week, viz., on September 7th, and has been well mounted for its owner, Mr. Micklethwaite, by Mr. T.E. Gunn, of Norwich. I have little doubt it is one of my own, which made its escape during the summer. My bird was perfect when it got away, and the same may be said of this. As soon as I had the latter in my hand I saw that it was the green-backed species, like mine, that is to say, Porphyrio smaragdonotus of Africa. Hickling Broad is no great distance from Northrepps, and if it once got there it might easily maintain itself among the swamps in the neighbourhood.— J.H. Gurney, Jun. (Northrepps Hall, Norwich).

Partridge coming in Collision with a Train.—A few days ago a Partridge struck the engine-driver's bull's-eye of one of our Norwich engines and smashed it. The guard who produced the Partridge said that the glass was an inch thick. This was not a case of attraction by vivid light, but of simple collision.—Id.

Wood Sandpiper at Barnstaple.—A Wood Sandpiper, a bird of the year, was killed near Barnstaple about the middle of August. Among some Bartailed Godwits shot on the sand-flats of the Taw on September 13th was one which was already in nearly complete winter plumage. It was in company with others, which were still exhibiting some of the red livery of summer, and furnishes an example of a well-known phenomenon in the moulting of birds—that it is no uniform process, but one which varies both in time and degree in different individuals.—Murray A. Mathew (Bishop's Lydeard).

The Knot in Summer Plumage on the Exe.—A specimen of the Knot, with the prevailing red tint peculiar to the summer plumage of the adult, was brought to me on the 11th August, having been shot on the Exe below Topsham. This is only the second specimen in summer plumage which has occurred on this river. The other was killed in May, 1844.— W.S.M. D'Urban (Exeter).

Scarcity of the Corn Crake.—The Rev. Murray A. Mathew calls attention (p. 387) to the recent scarcity of the Corn Crake in the Weest of England. He correlates the fact with increased drainage in the district, and consequent diminution of the smaller Mollusca on which the bird lives. But it is worthy of notice that in the meadows to the north-west of London, even where there has been no change in the drainage and no failure in the crop of snails, it becomes rarer every year. This spring I have not once heard its familiar cry where ten years ago—under apparently precisely similar circumstances—it seemed ubiquitous. While so many birds are profiting by the recent Acts passed for their preservation, it is curious to find a retiring species like the Corn Crake deserting its accustomed haunts.—Henry T. Wharton (39, St. George's Road, Kilburn).

Hobby in Oxfordshire.—A tine male example of this bird was shot near Banbury on the 23rd July last. Its stomach contained lots of dragonflies. The Hobby's partiality for this food has often been noticed. When killed it was engaged in devouring a young Partridge which it had just struck down. Mr. Wyatt, birdstuffer, of Banbury, has it to preserve for me.—C. Matthew Prior (Bedford).

Cuckoo calling in September.—On the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th of September a Cuckoo was heard uttering its usual spring cry in this parish, to the no small consternation of some of the inhabitants; for in this retired village on the Downs anything unusual creates alarm, and this unwonted call of the Cuckoo in September is supposed to prognosticate I know not what calamities, one woman declaring that she cannot sleep at night for thinking of the troubles indicated! The fact, however (apart from its supposed omen) of a Cuckoo calling in September is sufficiently remarkable to deserve record. That it was a bonâ fide bird, and not a boy, I am perfectly certain, both because it was heard on the same day in widely separated parts of the parish, and because I listened to it in my own orchard, now at one end and in a few moments at the farther corner, to which no boy could have carried him in the interval, even if he could have escaped being seen. Moreover, 1 flatter myself that I can recognize the note of a Cuckoo, and distinguish between that and the vox humana, though I make no pretensions to accuracy of ear. At the same time I regret that the thick foliage intervening prevented my catching sight of the bird, as I vainly attempted to do; not, however, for my own satisfaction, for I was perfectly convinced, but for the more complete evidence to lay before others. Assuming that the call was undoubtedly that of a Cuckoo, the question arises, was it an old bird, who ought not only to have ceased his song (?) two months ago, but to have been well on his travels to the South long since? or was it a precocious bird of the year, assaying to imitate his real parent's note, to which he was not yet, by right of age, entitled? Whichever he was, he was very assiduous in calling during the four days he spent in this parish, and he called loudly and well, and with all the air of a practised performer.—Alfred Charles Smith (Yatesbury Rectory, Calne).

Blue-throated Warbler near Lowestoft.—Through the kindness of R.C. Fowler, Esq., of Gunton, near Lowestoft, who allowed me to see a specimen which has recently come into his possession, I am enabled to record another instance of the occurrence in England of the Blue-throated Warbler, Cyanecula suecica. It was obtained in July last, by George Boon (gamekeeper to Mr. Fowler), who found it strangled in a fishing-net strewn out on Gunton Denes, which lie off the shore just to the north of Lowestoft. It is a male bird, belonging to the Scandinavian form which has the spot on the breast red. Comparing this specimen with Yarrell's description of the species, I observe that the "line of white" he mentions below the black bar of the breast is in this example very indistinctly marked, indeed it is hardly traceable; and examining it by the side of Gould's plate of the species, the principal difference to be noted is that the black bar on the breast is much broader in the specimen before me than in the specimen figured, and is scarcely at all interspersed with any other colour. The lore is of a slaty blue colour; from the lore under the eye, and as far as the orifice of the ears, there is a tinge of chestnut intermixed with brown. The feathers, which form a chestnut band below the black bar on the breast, are nearly all tipped more or less with dirty white, and are black at the base. The flanks and under tail-coverts are dirty white, tinged with light chestnut; the under tail-coverts light chestnut.—G. Peter Moore (Blundeston Lodge, near Lowestoft).

Sand Martins Nesting in a Stone Wall.—A short time ago I wrote to you saying T had found Starlings occupying Sand Martins' holes in a quarry. Since then, in July, I was surprised to find a brood of young Sand Martins in a hole in a stone wall. I watched the old birds for some time, as I felt sure there was a nest close by, but did not know where to look for it. Soon one of them flew into a dense mass of ivy on a wall, and shortly reappeared. Pushing aside the ivy, I found the nest. This is a strange case of retaliation on the part of the Martins.—C.M. Prior (Bedford).

Peregrine Falcons on the Spire of Salisbury Cathedral.—I am glad to see that the Peregrines have again chosen our noble spire as their general roosting-place for the winter. There are almost always a pair that frequent it during the autumn and Winter months. On one occasion I noticed four soaring around the spire at the same time, one of which perched upon the summit of the weathercock. On another occasion, when I was up at the " Eight Doors," which open out on the roof at the top of the tower from which the spire springs (some 203 feet from the ground, the spire itself being 197 feet more), a fine Falcon pitched on the fretwork some thirty or forty feet above my head, and took not the slightest notice of my presence or voice. I once picked up a Snipe's leg there, which had evidently been left by them; and the workmen, when they were restoring the spire some eleven years ago, used to see them frequently bring Pigeons and Partridges there to eat at their leisure. A pair were shot there by the workmen in 1866, which afterwards came into my possession; the hen bird, a very old one, having at one time evidently been caught in a gin, having lost one of its toes, and the bill being much broken. Most people in the city know the look of the "Great Hawks" as they are called.—Arthur P. Morres (Britford Vicarage, Salisbury).

Crested Lark in the Isle of Wight.—In reply to the editorial queries (p. 343) as to when, where, and by whom this Lark was shot, and by whom identified, I am now able to state that it was killed the winter before last, in a field on the Priory Farm, St. Helens, by a man named Mark Orchard. As to the species, Mr. Careless was aware of it before I took it up, inquiring how it had been procured. That a Sky Lark with a good crest has been taken for a veritable Crested Lark I can readily believe, seeing how unobservant most people are; but no ornithologist could mistake it: besides the Crested Lark is a somewhat smaller bird—Temmiuck says half an inch shorter than the Sky Lark: this tallies with my observations, as recorded in 'The Zoologist,' 1874, p. 3946. It being a common, though not numerous, species in the North of France, the wonder is that so few cross the channel. A writer quoted by Yarrell says, "I am convinced I have frequently met them in the furrows and meadows of Dublin." Yarrell, apparently, was convinced too. According to old authorities there are two species; but Temminck (and seemingly Le Vaillant) considered the Grosse Allouette hupée a mere variety, saying, "Ce n'est qu'une variété constante du Cochevis ordinaire." With regard to the Greater Crested Lark I can say nothing, never having met with it. The Crested Larks seen in Brittany were decidedly smaller than the Sky Lark; so is this bird.—Henry Hadfield (Ventnor, Isle of Wight).

Toads in Ireland.—As there has been some little correspondence in 'The Zoologist' respecting the existence of Toads in this country, it may perhaps interest some of your readers to hear that when I was in Kerry, about three months ago, I discovered the Natterjack, Bufo calamita, at Ballycarberry, near Caherciveen, which is quite a new locality for it. I brought two specimens away, and have them now alive beside me in a large box, and they appear to be doing well upon the worms that they are fed with. The only other place where, I believe, they are known to exist is at a distance (over a mountainous road) of about twenty miles, in the same county, from Ballycarberry. They there extend from the sandhills of Inch and Rosbegh to Carrignaferry, a distance of about ten miles in length and breadth. At Ballycarberry the tract they occupy does not exceed one mile in extent, as far as I could make out from the appearance of the ground. Whether the Toad should be considered indigenous to Ireland or not, is a vexed question, as there is an old tradition that some ship brought a lot of them which were liberated in Dingle Bay.—W. Kinsey Dover (Castle Connor, Ballina, Co. Mayo).

Sunfish in the Bristol Channel.—At the end of August and beginning of September a number of Sunfish (Orthagoriscus mola) were observed about the mouth of the Bristol Channel. Some were seen close in by the harbour at Ilfracombe. A gentleman fishing for bass on Bideford Bay observed a couple basking on the surface of the water, and another was reported to have been seen on the same day from another boat. These fish are called "Herring Hogs" by the trawlers.—Murray A. Mathew. (Bishop's Lydeard).

Short Sunfish in the Exe.—On the 10th August last Mr. John Holman, of Topsham, was fishing, with a party of friends, in the estuary of the Exe, off Powderham, which is about three miles from the sea, when they caught in the net a small specimen of the Short Sunfish, Orthagoriscus mola. It measured twenty-three inches in length, sixteen inches across the body, and thirty-two inches from the tip of the dorsal-fin to that of the anal, and was brought to me the next day for this Museum. Its colour was a beautiful silvery gray on the belly and sides, and rather darker on the back. On examining it, I found adhering to the skin, so closely as to be hardly perceptible, one specimen of a round and flat trematode worm, Capsala Rudolphiana (Johnston), and many specimens of a fish-louse, Lepeoptheirus Nordmanni, as kindly determined for me by Prof. Rolleston, of Oxford. On removing the gills I found six specimens of Cecrops Latreillii clinging by their sharp claws to the horny laminae, and several masses of what I suppose to be their eggs. One female specimen was over an inch in length, and had a large male specimen attached on the under side. There was also another male, but it got separated from its partner. All these parasites were still alive, although the fish had been out of the water for many hours.—W.S.M. D'Urban (Curator, Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter).

Short-finned Tunny at Penzance.—By the kindness of Sir J. St. Aubyn, I am able to mention that a Short-finned Tunny, Thynnus brachypterus (Cuvier), has been taken off St. Michael's Mount, in this Bay. Its length is nineteen inches and a half. I am inclined to think that these fish occasionally find their way to market as large mackerel, from which species it is, however, quite distinct.—Thomas Cornish (Penzance).

Occurrence of the Pelamid On the Cornish Coast.—During the first week in August a specimen of that rare British fish, the Pelamid, Pelamys sarda, was taken by Mr. John Furse, of Mevagissey, in a groundseine in Hannah Bay. It was seventeen inches long, and weighed two pounds.—John Gatcombe (Durnford Street, btonehouse).

[This fish, in shape not unlike a Mackerel, is so rare, that Couch says (vol. ii., p. 103), "in two instances only has it been known to have been taken in Britain."—Ed.]

Boar-fish in the Isle of Wight.—The fish, of which I send an outline of the natural size, was picked up dead, but fresh, by my brother at Sandown, Isle of Wight, on July 4th. Its colours were a pinky vermilion, deepest along the back, and underneath reflections of purple and blue. The fishermen to whom I showed it considered it to be a very curiously coloured specimen of the Dory.—A.W. Rosling (20, Bootham, York). [It is the Boar-fish, Capros aper.Ed.]