The Zoologist/3rd series, vol 1 (1877)/Issue 11/Occasional Notes

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

Published in The Zoologist, 3rd series, vol 1, issue 11, p. 495–498

4366831Occasional notesNovember, 1877various authors, editor James Edmund Harting


Notes from Aldeburgh, Suffolk.—This has been a good autumn for waders, for there has beau no lack of water in the meres. On the 14th August I had a Greenshank and a Wood Sandpiper brought to me. I have noticed several of the latter about and heard their well-known note, and I believe the month of August never passes without some visiting their favourite haunts in the first mere. Several Black-tailed Godwits have been seen and four killed, two of which, both immature birds, were brought to me, one on the 24th August and the other on the 1st September. I had a good opportunity of watching a small party of four in the first mere early one morning. I have never met with these birds before, and have only seen one specimen in the flesh, which 1 recorded in 'The Zoologist' for 1871. On the 6th September 1 killed an adult Red-necked Grebe in the River Iken, and on the evening of the same day I had a young Shoveller Duck, two Turnstones, and a curious light-coloured variety of the Sand Martin brought in by one of the gunners. A Temminck's Stint and two beautiful Sanderlings were killed at Thorpe on the 8th September, all of which I obtained. I met with a flock of Curlew Sandpipers in the North Mere on the 10th, and shot two, both young birds. On the 26th I received an immature male Ruff, a Little Slint, and a Temminck's Stint from Aldeburgh.—Julian G. Tuck (Tostock House, near Bury St. Edmunds).

Waders near Aldershot.—The large piece of water known as "Fleet Pond," near Aldershot Camp, through which the South-Western Railway runs, between Farnborough and Fleet Stations, has recently been almost emptied for the purpose of destroying the weeds. These had grown to such an extent that the fishing was virtually at an end. The pen-stock was opened on the 17ih August, and has been closed about three weeks or so. As we have had little or no rain up to the present date (l'2th October) there is still very little water in the pond, and a large expanse of mud and sand continues to offer unusual attractions to various Wadei-s and Ducks. Besides Curlews, Green Sandpipers, Dunlins, Gulls, a stray Tern or two, Snipe, and a considerable accession of Ducks, Herons and Lapwings, we have had several more noteworthy visitors. On the 23rd August I observed three Greenshanks and shot one for identification; on the 27th September there were two Ruffs, of which I shot one (this is, I think, somewhat late for this species to remain with us); and on the 6th inst. I obtained a Gray Plover, which had been badly wounded by an officer there. I previously saw two of them together, both on the ground and on the wing, but could not be sure of their identity: this is a rare bird so far inland. The Herons, of which as many as twenty sometimes assemble in the shallow water, are doing considerable damage to the fish, and are having a rare time of it. So also are the Carrion Crows,—which feed greedily on the large freshwater mussels left exposed by the receding waters,—the Snipe, and the Ducks. Of the latter family I have only seen one stranger, which I think was a Tufted Duck; most of them are common Wild Ducks from Dogmersfield Park and Hawley Pond.—Savile G. Reid.

Young Thrush feeding a Cuckoo.—About two years ago, when staying at Bassenthwaite, near Keswick, where I had gone for a couple of months in search of those rare and interesting fossils of the Skiddaw Slate, the son of the person with whom I was staying informed me that two days previously he had discovered a Cuckoo, just hatched, in a Meadow Pipit's nest along with three young pipits. As I was very desirous to procure a Cuckoo, in order to observe its habits, I had it taken from the nest, when about eight days old, and placed in a large cage, where I also put a nest of Blackbirds of the same age. The latter in a few days got too quickly advanced, in proportion to the Cuckoo, for my purpose, and I therefore replaced them with a brood of Thrushes about a week younger. These in a day or two I reduced to two in number, finding that the parent, as I wished, had discovered them. I then left but one, and about ten days later T was surprised at seeing it pick up a piece of hard-boiled egg and feed the Cuckoo with it as it sat upon a perch, on which it had to hop for the purpose. The feeding was observed by others besides myself and continued for some days until the Thrush unfortunately escaped, and about a week afterwards the Cuckoo died. Was this action on the part of the young Thrush prompted by natural instinct, or was it mere imitation of its parent? I am inclined to believe the latter.—W. Kinsey Dover (Castle Connor, Ballina, Co. Mayo).

Scarcity of the Corn Crake.—It may interest the Rev. Murray A. Mathew to hear that I found the Corn Crake very plentiful in the island of Tiree, on the west coast of Scotland, while on a short visit there in May last. Their "crake, crake" was to be heard in every direction on this island, fourteen miles by three in extent. The keeper told me they had been very numerous last year. I also heard them several times in the neighbourhood of Greenock at the end of the month. My brother, while shooting near Penrith, Cumberland, came across a good many. Perhaps the bird is changing its habitat and gradually moving northward. It would be interesting to hear whether this has been noticed by others in the "North Countrie." I can quite corroborate Mr. H.T. Wharton as to the disappearance of the bird from the north-west district of Middlesex. It used to be very common in the grass-fields about Hampstead and Hendon, but the last time I heard it was on the 19th April, 1875.— Harry R. Leach (Oak Hill Park, Hampstead).

Baillon's Crake near Penzance.—On the 12th October Mr. Vingoe showed me a bird of the year of this species, which was shot on some marshy ground near the Marazion Station of the West Cornwall Railway, very near the spot where some years since the Yellowshank Sandpiper was shot. This is the third example of this small Gallinule that has been obtained in this neighbourhood. I may add it was shot by the eldest son of the Rev. D. Harrison, the Rector of the parish adjoining. In the two first specimens the adult character of the birds is shown by the pervading tint of ash-blue on the chin, breast and belly. In the present specimen there is nothing of this colour, but a general tone of ashy brown with striated lines of brown. One of the first two specimens referred to was brought alive to Mr. Vingoe, and he had a good opportunity of observing the colour of the iris, which was a bright vermilion. This, I believe, is the colour in the adult bird. In the specimen I examined yesterday the colour of the iris was bright yellow. The weight of this little bird was just over one ounce, and the length, with extended neck, to the end of the tail-feathers, exactly seven inches and a half.—Edward Hearle Rodd (Penzance).

Skua and Shearwater at Christchurch and Poole Harbour.—When at Bournemouth in August I saw, in the shop of Mr. Hart, the birdstuffer, a good specimen of the Common Skua, which he informed me had been obtained on the 6th January, 1876. A boy had observed it in a ploughed field at Christchurch, and knocked it down with a stick. It is an adult bird and in good plumage. Mr. Hart also showed me a specimen of the Greater, or Cinereous, Shearwater, which had been captured by some fishermen in Poole Harbour on the 7th June last, apparently a female bird, and also in good plumage.—Marcus S.C. Rickards (37, Cornwallis Crescent, Clifton).

Early Arrival of Wild Geese.—Brent Geese and White-fronted Geese appeared on the North Devon coast as early as the beginning of October. In the first week of that month four White-fronted Geese, all splendid birds, were shot out of a flock on Braunton Marsh.—Murray A. Mathew (Bishop's Lydeard).