The Zoologist/4th series, vol 4 (1900)/Issue 713/Birds of Lleyn, Aplin

The Birds of Lleyn, West Carnarvonshire  (1900) 
by Oliver Vernon Aplin


No. 713.—November, 1900.


By O.V. Aplin, F.L.S.

The western part of the promontory of Carnarvonshire known as Lleyn is almost devoid of the mountainous features so characteristic of the eastern and northern parts of the county. After leaving the group of mountains lying south of Clynnog, and the triple-headed Yr Eifl, or "The Rivals" (the highest point of which rises no higher than 1849 ft.), and going westward, we see no more than occasional isolated semi-conical mountains (with supplementary hills) rising from the undulating plain. Of these Carn Bodfean and Carn Fadryn (1221 ft.) are the most remarkable. But the Rhiw hills, at the north-west end of the sweep of Hell's Mouth, cutting off the extreme west end of the promontory, and many other lesser ridges, break up the country; while the coast headlands grow bolder as we go westward, and reach their greatest height in Mynydd Annelog, a little to the north of the land's-end of North Wales, and Graig ddu and Penarfynydd, which run out from the Rhiw hills. The rushing mountain torrent is consequently wanting, and the little rivers, although quick in places, and clear as to their waters, flow often quite sluggishly through reeds and flags and lush green marshes, haunted by Snipes and Moor-hens and numerous broods of Wild Ducks, rather than by the Dipper. I cannot say that the Dipper is not found in the western parts of Lleyn; but, though I looked casually on many bits of stream, I did not see one during the time (June 15th to July 3rd, 1899) I spent in the district. Nor did I meet with more than one pair of Grey Wagtails (another bird one associates with the west). These seemed to be breeding under the arch of Pont Rhyd Gôch, on the Afon Erch. The Pied Wagtail was fairly common. I did not find Ray's Wagtail, but Mr. T.A. Coward (who has paid several visits to the district), to whom I am indebted for some most interesting notes on the birds of Lleyn, tells me he has seen it at Abersoch and Nevin. The Rock-Pipit is common about the rocky parts of the coast, and is found on some at least of the islands. It was more abundant on one headland than in any other spot I have visited—a charming grassy headland studded with grey rocks, and at that time gay with Silene maritima, Armeria maritima, and Erythræa littoralis; the home, too, of the rarer Scilla verna. The Pipits had, I think, hatched their young, and would sit on a stone, with an anxious manner, and utter unceasingly their cry of alarm or distress—a very high shrill "chip" or "chick"—as long as one's patience lasted. The call-note "sneek" or "snik" sounded all around, and some birds were in full song. This is "tig tig tig," &c. (rising flight), "swik swik," &c. (first part of falling flight), and then numerous more musical "tinks," uttered very rapidly, to finish up with. The plumage of these Rock-Pipits even at that date was worn and brownish; the head distinctly greyer; throat-patch light, a tiny eye-streak visible, and two bars on the wing conspicuous. The Meadow Pipit is very common—among sand-hills on the coast, on the headlands, moorlands, and mountains. When alarmed for the safety of its nest or young, the note is a very sharp quick "chittick," somewhat like the sound made by a House-Cricket. Its rapid song always sounds to me very monotonous, there being usually only one change in it; it consists of a short quick "chewit" frequently repeated, followed by a still more rapidly uttered "chit" or "chee." The name "Neighing-Bird," bestowed by Charleton on one or other of the Pipits, seems an appropriate one for this bird ('Exercitationes,' 1677). I saw and heard the Tree-Pipit on several occasions. One near Llwyn-gwyn sat on a low flat-topped wall to sing the perching-song, then soared and returned to the spot.

Mountain birds were, of course, rarely seen. As I ascended Yr Eifl to look at Carn Trer Ceiri, that wonderful ancient town of misty history, I came upon a pair of Ring-Ouzels carrying food; but a very long watch failed to reveal the exact place of their nest, which was either in thick bracken or a waste of grey rocks in the midst of it. The actions of the birds several times completely deceived me into making a descent on some spot, only to cause the birds to take up once more a commanding position, and resume their loud hard "tac tac tac." Late in the afternoon I heard a few wild whistling notes. Probably this group of mountains is the westernmost outpost of the Ring-Ouzel in Carnarvonshire, from which county it has been known since the days of Willughby and Ray. "It is frequent on the high mountains of Caernarvanshire and Merionydhshire, where they call it Mwyalchen y graig, quasi dicas, Merula rupicola" (Ray's 'Synopsis Methodica Avium,' 1713). Although Ray distinguishes between the Rock-Ouzel and the Ring-Ouzel, it is obvious that his description and Willughby's, to which he refers, applies to the latter. The Song-Thrush was common, and the Blackbird still more so; to be found at the base of the headlands as far as a few bushes extended. The Mistle-Thrush I saw two or three times near Pwllheli. Mr. Coward has also met with a few. The Wheatear is a common bird. On the mountains and headlands and islands, as well as in some spots along the lower coast, the shrill highly pitched "ece" or "ees," followed by several hard "tacs" or "tecs," was a familiar sound as the pair of Wheatears, accompanied by their full-grown brood, flitted on before me. The only birds which enlivened the dry, stony, barren (the season had been unusually dry) top of Carn Fadryn were a family of Wheatears. I only saw the Whinchat twice—once at Abersoch, and once in a low pass among the hills near Nauhoran. Mr. Coward has seen a few near Abersoch. The "seet seet seet" (high), "chuch" or "gurch," or "seet-gurch," of the Stonechat was to be heard in all suitable places—among the gorse along the sandhills, on the moorlands, mountain slopes, the headlands, and about the drier edges of the marshes. Evidently the soft climate of Lleyn enables this resident to increase as it never can when exposed to the severe winters of parts of England, or obliged to migrate. I saw one bird with the white on its wing unusually largely developed; so much so that, seen at a distance, the bird formed a conspicuous white spot on the stretch of moorland it inhabited. It was probably a partly white variety, but it was wild, and I could not get very close to it.

Lleyn is thickly populated by small farmers, whose white houses are scattered all over the country, most of which is cut up into small fields. Inland we find hedges of blackthorn and hawthorn, hazel, rose, and honeysuckle; but these are less frequent as we go west, and west of the Rhiw hills, as well as in other exposed parts of this windy country, the high stone and turf banks which enclose the fields are topped with little more than low gorse and bracken. Gorse, indeed—wide stretches of it—is a great feature of Lleyn. The grounds of the country houses are well planted, and there are many small woods and belts of plantation; so that, although the country is not an ideal one for Warblers, there would be (except in the far west) sufficient accommodation for them. The Robin is very common, but I did not see a Redstart. The true Warblers, with one exception, are remarkable for their scarcity or absence. The Whitethroat alone is common. I never identified either the Blackcap, Garden Warbler, or Lesser Whitethroat; but Mr. Coward observed a pair of the last named breeding at Abersoch in May, 1893. This noisy bird, with which I am very familiar, must, however, be very rare. Once I thought I heard the alarm-note of the Blackcap; but, if it is present, it must be scarce. In the course of an afternoon's walk at Dolgelly, on my way home, I heard two in song; so that I do not think it would have been silent in Lleyn during the time I was there, although the period of song of birds does vary in different districts in Great Britain. The Wood-Wren could be heard in several localities in oak and mixed wood, at Carn Bodfean, Bodegroes, Llanbedrog, &c. The Chiffchaff I noticed in five localities, but neither this bird nor the Willow-Wren could be called abundant, although the latter was common, and sang at all times in the day right through the latter half of June (and at Dolgelly on July 3rd). The Sedge-Warbler is common about the bogs and wetter marshes, and Mr. Coward has noted the Grasshopper-Warbler in two years at Llanbedrog. I did not consider the Hedge-Sparrow normally common, but this bird, like some others, is more in evidence earlier in the year. This remark applies especially to Tits, of which I only observed the Greater and the Blue, both fairly common. The Wren is remarkably abundant. The Tree-Creeper I saw once at Bodegroes. I saw no Red-backed Shrikes, but Mr. Coward found a pair breeding near Llanbedrog in June, 1887; a very interesting occurrence. The Spotted Flycatcher is fairly common; I saw it in five localities on or near the south coast. But the Pied Flycatcher was looked for in vain. The Swallow is, I think, only fairly numerous, and the House-Martin rare. I saw one as far west as a pond between the village of Aberdaron and Braich y Pwll. The Sand-Martin is quite common, haunting the seacoast so much as to make the name of "Shore Bird," bestowed upon it by some early writers, seem natural and appropriate. There are colonies of Sand-Martins in the sand-cliffs near Llanbedrog, and the wasting earthy cliffs of Porth Nigel (Hell's Mouth). The Greenfinch and Linnet exist in fair numbers. I watched a pair of Goldfinches feeding their young in a nest built in an old plum-tree in a garden hedge at Efail-newydd, and saw a pair at Llanbedrog, and other birds at Pwllheli. Mr. Coward has seen a few at Abersoch, so it is probably not uncommon. The House-Sparrow would not seem numerous to anyone coming from a wheat-growing country, there being too little corn for it; but it long ago extended its range into the utmost limits of Lleyn. The Rev. W. Bingley, who travelled in Carnarvonshire in 1798, was told of Bardsey Isle:—"Till about four years ago no Sparrows had been known to breed here; three nests were, however, built during the same spring, and the produce has since completely colonized the place." The Chaffinch is common, and Mr. Coward adds the Bullfinch to my list. He has also seen a caged Lesser Redpoll, caught near Nevin in the winter. When I was on Yr Eifl, I noticed one or two birds which I thought were Twites from their notes; but I could not identify the birds making the note, as they were very wild. Mr. Coward, however, saw "flocks on 'The Rivals' and Carn Madryn" (in late summer); I could see no Twites about the latter mountain (in June).

To rear black cattle, tall white Pigs, and many grey Geese, with some useful low Horses, and a certain number of Sheep on the hills, is the occupation of the Lleyn farmer, rather than corn growing; but many of the small fields right up to the foot of Mynydd Mawr are cropped with oats and barley. It seemed strange at first, in a climate so mild and soft that myrtles, hydrangeas, fuchsias, and large bushes of escallonia flourish in the cottage gardens, to be told that wheat is hardly worth growing; but in Lleyn almost every wind comes off the sea, and it must be rarely that it enjoys a summer so hot and dry as that of 1899, when haymaking was in full swing at Aberdaron at the end of June. But, notwithstanding the comparative scarcity of corn, the Corn-Bunting is an abundant bird as far westward, and as far on to the headlands, as the little fields extend, even unto the last of the fields before we climb the heathery slopes of Mynydd Mawr. I think the curiously local distribution of this bird does not depend on the presence or absence of corn; but the bird undoubtedly shows a liking for open cultivated ground near the sea-coast. The Yellow Bunting is a common roadside bird, and seemed richly coloured. I saw one with a particularly rich and brilliant yellow head. On June 28th I watched, and listened for some time to the song of, a male Cirl Bunting at Llanbedrog. I could hear another bird singing at a little distance. I noticed it again two days later (vide Zool. 1899, p. 322). The Reed-Bunting is common in the marshes. The Sky-Lark, as far as I saw, is not very numerous; and I do not think Lleyn would prove a good Partridge country, although I happened to put up two some distance apart from the side of a field-path in one day, and one does not see much of Partridges in June. Pheasants are to be heard in the covers, and I found the broken shell of an egg on Pwllheli sand-hills. The Eifl group is probably the western outpost in Carnarvonshire of the Red Grouse. I did not expect to see any Grouse there, and was much startled, as I was looking among the bracken for the young of a pair of Ring-Ouzels, at springing a pair within a few yards of my feet. They went away with a loud "bek bek bek," just like that of the Willow-Grouse. They had been scratching in the peaty soil, and I picked up some dark and richly coloured small feathers.

The Corn-Crake is very abundant in Lleyn, almost every field with suitable covers holding one. A Corn-Crake used to crake from a little close quite in the new town of Pwllheli. It has been so much less common of late years in Oxfordshire than was formerly the case that I quite enjoyed hearing so much of it, and being able, as of yore, to hear its cry while I was in bed. The distribution of the Corn-Crake in the British Islands has been, and is, rather peculiar. It has always favoured the western parts and the north. The older writers on our ornithology (except Turner) seem to have been but little acquainted with it, and their knowledge of its identity even was not too clear. Turner described its habits, &c, well from observations in Northumberland (I quote from Ray's 'Willughby'), but the latter authors rely on his description, merely adding that, "although this bird be more rare in England, yet it is found everywhere in Ireland in great plenty." It is fairly well figured in the 'Ornithology' as "Ortygometra; the Rail or Daker Hen." Charleton (whose first edition was published in 1668) knew next to nothing about it. He applied the name Daker Hen of Turner wrongly, but has the bird under the name Ortygometra, the Raile. "Raro... est cursus velocissimi. Inter herbas & gramen sese abdit ut raro appareat" ('Exercitationes,' 1677). Ray's 'Synopsis' takes us but little farther. "Daker Hen or Rail. In Anglia rarior est. In Hibernia frequens habetur." Pennant writes:—"They are in greatest plenty in Anglesea, where they appear about the twentieth of April, supposed to pass over from Ireland, where they abound; at their first arrival it is common to shoot seven or eight in a morning. They are found in most of the Hebrides, and the Orknies." The Corn-Crake seems to have been always somewhat local in England. In White's day it was quite rare at Selborne, though abundant in Wilts, and about Oxford, where it has become more scarce of late years. The name Corn-Crake (by which the bird is almost invariably known in spring) was not general a century ago. The bird is the Crake Gallinule of Pennant and Montagu, the latter giving Corn-Crake, Crek, or Cracker as provincial names. But Corn-Crake is an old name, and apparently originated in the north. We find "Corn-crek" as early as 1684 in the 'Prodromus H. N. Scotiæ' of Robert Sibbald, and "Corn-craker," in 1716, in Martin's 'Description of the Western Islands of Scotland' (Pennant). Forster, in his 'Catalogue' (1817), however, has Corncrake as his first English name.

Along some parts of the southern coast we find some grass marshes, noisy in June with the constant screams of numbers of breeding Peewits, and from which you may, at the end of the month, put up small flocks of wary Curlews. And on the banks of the more sluggish streams there are other lush green marshes, adorned with great clumps of yellow iris, crossed by ditches grown up with marsh-plants, and flecked here and there with cotton-grass, which tells of places which in a less dry season would be deep and boggy. At Abersoch there is a nice marsh, with a lot of reed-grown water, where Moor-hens chuckle, and the Wild Duck's subdued quack may be heard in the evening; Reed-Buntings chant, and Sedge-Warblers chatter, and Herons come down to feed. Snipe, too, may be flushed from thickets of fragrant bog-myrtle (Myrica gale), where the spongy turf is full of bog-loving plants, and in June was gay with spikes of deep purple Orchis incarnata, pink 0. maculata, and pale, sweet Habenaria bifolia. Moor-hens are common in the district, and haunt quite small streams. Herons are often to be seen in the marshes and harbour, or flying over. Snipes breed in the marshes, and I flushed one from a meadow of good grass, and saw another "drumming" over the high moorland on Cilan headland. Peewits are quite common, having a sufficiency of semi-waste ground to breed on. On the moorland at Cilan a mobbing bird came within a yard of my head as I was innocently gathering and washing a rare bog plant. In some of the narrow green marshes along the coast Peewits are very abundant, and their cries become most wearisome in time. Some were already in flocks at the end of June. The Ringed Plover is found all along the pebbly and sandy parts of the coast, their soft clear "pe-ip" (syllables hardly divided) or "peep" being a constant accompaniment to a walk along the beach. When two birds run together (perhaps to congratulate one another on their young having escaped observation), a chorus of "tooley tooley tooley" breaks forth from them. Oystercatchers are to be found all round the coast, at the base of rocky cliffs, on outlying rocks, and on the islands. I saw some, too, in Pwllheli harbour, and on the sands. Considerable numbers frequent one long raised pebble beach, in two terraces, which merges on the landward side in short turf or sand-hills. From the way they mobbed me (flying round rather high up, with a painfully monotonous cry, and anon coming straight at me) they seemed to have young. The mobbing cries are a short squeaky "quik" and "que-ah," sometimes uttered together, "quik-que-ah," uttered quickly and peculiarly squeaky, and, under great excitement, fairly screamed; but the note is always a short one. There is no prettier ornament to a rocky coast than these Sea-pies, conspicuous from afar, and their ordinary high clear whistle "fy-feet" or "feet" is always a pleasing sound. I saw birds with and without the white collar, and six flying together (some of which were dull birds) might have been a family party, the young hatched early.

Lleyn is too well cultivated for much moorland to remain, but there are some little bits to be met with, inland as well as on some of the headlands, and at the bases of the mountains, where the soil has proved too barren for a race of farmers who wrest from every bit of land what goodness lies in it. I saw no signs of Curlews breeding when I was in Lleyn, but their nesting season was probably past. Curlews were there, both on the coast and on inland fields, in flocks; once I saw a score together. I did not often hear the breeding-call, but the ordinary resonant flying note "k'lyike" or "k'like," uttered about three times, could be heard frequently at Pwllheli, when they resorted to the harbour muds at low tide. I saw one Whimbrel. Four Dunlins, in the dress of birds hatched in the previous year, were so tame, on the sands at low tide, that I walked within three or four yards of them. Each one was resting on one leg, and they did not even trouble to put down the other one at first, but hopped away on one; so long did one bird remain thus that I began to think it had lost a leg. Afterwards they fed belly deep in the sea, and were occasionally lifted off their legs by the lap of a very gentle wavelet. Mr. Coward has seen flocks along the beach. This completes my list of waders. But Mr. Coward saw five Purple Sandpipers on St. Tudwal's Island on May 26th, 1893. Curiously enough, I received, a good many years ago, a pair of these birds, which were shot on May 14th on this island. A Turnstone was seen at the same time.

But, if Lleyn cannot boast of much in the way of mountains, few districts in southern Britain can match it for bold coast scenery; for, as Leland observes so quaintly, "Al Lene is as it were a pointe into the se." Many fine headlands stretch out into Cardigan and Carnarvon bays, and into St. George's Channel. West of Pwllheli we have Llanbedrog Point, Trwyn yr Wylfa, Trwyn Cilan (or Penkilan Head), Mynydd Penarfynydd, Trwyn y Penrhyn, Pen y Cil, Mynydd Mawr, from which one looks across to Ynys Enlli, or Bardsey Island, and across to Ireland in clear weather; while on the northward shore are Braich Annelog, Penrhyn Mawr, Penrhyn Golman, Dinlleyn Point, Penrhyn Glas, and many minor points. On some of these headlands the graceful buoyant flight, with airy curves, of the Chough may still, though rarely, be admired; but the bird is getting very scarce, and it is seldom that one gets a chance of watching a pair feeding on a broken cliff or hillside, with their quick walk and hops, poking their bills into the earth and under the stones. We have few more beautiful birds on our list than the Chough, with its glossy purple plumage and elegant form. Choughs sometimes join Rooks and Jackdaws when feeding, but, as they rise together, their more highly pitched note, clearer and more melodious, as well as their widely separated pinions (upturned at the tips), looking like a fringe of feathers, at once distinguishes the Choughs, even at a considerable distance. They certainly do cry "k'chouf" sometimes, but their more usual cry is a clear ringing "k'chare." Another note, uttered on the wing, is "k'queue." I heard also some weak "kares" from five birds flying together (perhaps a family party), which were possibly the cries of the young birds. It is probable that upon observations made in Lleyn was founded the statement in Willughby's 'Ornithology' and Ray's 'Synopsis,' that the Chough was found not only in Cornwall, but also in Wales. It is certain that one of these authors (I think, Ray) penetrated Lleyn as far as Aberdaron, for they mention seeing there a Starling with a black head and the rest of the body white. It is at first surprising to meet with the name of Aberdaron in this early work on birds; for it is now perhaps as remote as any village in Wales, and it entails a drive of seventeen miles from the nearest railway station before you sight its housetops, its low Norman church, and its tiny bay, below a hill so steep and stony as to try the surefootedness of one of Lleyn's own horses. But Aberdaron was probably much better known in the days when Ynys Enlli was still accounted a holy isle. The Starling is numerous, but I only once noticed Jays; and Mr. Coward's experience is the same. Magpies are common.

I saw Carrion-Crows on "The Rivals," and about Pwllheli Harbour. A pair, much agitated for the safety of a young one which could barely fly, on the seaward face of Mynydd Mawr, afforded a study in geographical distribution; for, unless the eyesight of those Crows was inferior to my own (which is not likely), they could look out that day on a land which is not inhabited by their race. On that bright clear afternoon, across the blue channel, we could just catch sight of the Wicklow mountains; and, although the Carrion-Crow is recorded as breeding sparingly in some parts of the sister island, this particular bit of Ireland is, I believe, not one of them. And to this day the words of Giraldus Cambrensis, written in the twelfth century, hold good of Ireland: "Also there are no black Crows in this country, or they are very rare; they are all parti-coloured." The Hooded Crow is, I believe, uncommon on the Welsh coast, even in winter; but I have seen a hybrid between the two forms, which was killed in Merionethshire. A pair of Ravens were wheeling about the tops of "The Rivals," uttering a few "corps," and I saw another pair round one of the headlands. A pair is also said to swell the list of birds breeding on the stupendous cliffs of Pen Cilan. The Jackdaw is one of the most noticeable birds in this part of Wales. It breeds abundantly in the cliffs, as well as about buildings, and in the villages may be seen sitting on the houses and chapels. A pair were breeding in a chimney, for bits of nesting material were sticking out of an ordinary chimney-pot, on which a Daw was perched, and the cries of the young came from within. The Rook was in fair numbers. A little flock feeding on the upper slopes of "The Rivals," and wishing to descend to the lower grounds, flew out from the mountain side until they had a clear drop below them, and then suddenly whizzed down with short zigzag flights, making a rushing sound like a rocket.

Ring-Doves did not seem to be abundant. Stock-Doves are to be found round the coast, about the cliffs and sand-hills. Neither Mr. Coward nor I met with the Turtle-Dove. The Swift is numerous. Numbers were wheeling round Trer Ceiri, or one of the summits of Yr Eifl. Possibly they breed among the mass of grey rock forming the steep ramparts on the east side. I saw them nowhere on the mountain, except just over the ancient town. One afternoon some hundreds were flying over the craggy heights above Pwllheli. Swifts were flying over the highest parts of Mynydd Mawr, some way from the most outlying cottage. Possibly most of the West Lleyn Swifts breed in natural sites. Mr. Coward has noticed the Nightjar in three localities. The Cuckoo was everywhere in average numbers, and a great many haunted the sand-hills at Abersoch, which are bordered on the inland side by a mass of bracken. Five were in sight at one time, beating over the fern. Whenever I passed I saw some, and one got up at my feet from under a bush. I noticed the Green Woodpecker several times, and saw some holes in an old ash at Llanbedrog. This is rather a common bird in suitable localities in North Wales, in my experience. For an early record of it in North Wales, we may refer to Giraldus Cambrensis, who, while travelling with Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the year 1188, seems to have heard a Green Woodpecker in a wood near the Menai Strait. It is true that some of the party declared it was an aureolus, and Giraldus thought rightly so; but other people since those days seemed to have been unable to distinguish between a Green Woodpecker and a Golden Oriole. It is a pity that Giraldus, who tells us something of the birds of Ireland, has so little to say in this respect about Wales. He refers, indeed, to the large and generous race of Falcons at Pembroke, and casually mentions a Kite being killed by a Weasel on which it had pounced. Also, in conversation during his travels, the absence of the Nightingale was commented upon, causing the Archbishop (who evidently did not like Wales) to observe that the bird was wiser than they were!

Birds of prey were scarce. A female Merlin rose, not ten yards away, from a low turfy cliff on one of the headlands; and Mr. Coward has seen two or three, and mentions a nesting site. He has also seen the Sparrow-Hawk once, but I did not. Kestrels are to be seen along the coast, as well as inland. At least one pair of Peregrines (called simply "Falcon") breed on the cliffs. Their eggs escape on account of the difficulty of discovering their whereabouts, but directly the whitish downy young are hatched they are usually detected, at least so an old cliff-climber told me. A Falcon comes to one of the islands occasionally to fetch a Puffin. Cormorants are not uncommon about the harbour and most of the rocky parts of the coast. They breed on St. Tudwal's Island (in April), where I saw empty nests; but about fifteen birds, old and young, sat about the rocks. Some of the former were magnificent birds. A small double-headed point near Afon Wen is the resort of Cormorants. The smaller (west) point and a partly detached rock were slightly "washed"; but on the east rocks, when I came in sight of them, sat nineteen old and young birds. The upper parts of the rocks were strewn with fish-bones and bits of crustaceans, and the hollows were thick with wash, the stench being appalling. Possibly the birds nest on the lower rocks, which I could not see, the upper parts overhanging. I saw a few Shags on various parts of the coast; they breed on St. Tudwal's. A few fine old birds in shining green dress sat peering out from the ledges in the little caves, and were unwilling to move. Wild Ducks seemed fairly numerous about the sluggish parts of Afon Penrhós and Afon Rhyd Hir, and in the marshes.

Adult Black-headed Gulls in full summer dress were not uncommon on the sands, and their laughing cry was sometimes heard, but I saw only two or three immature birds (not young of the year). I know of no breeding place anywhere near here. None breed at Mochras Island now, if they ever did. There is a colony in Merionethshire, forty miles away. It is difficult to say what adult birds were doing here in June. Herring-Gulls breed in small numbers on various parts of the coast. The mobbing cry of this bird, as the birds fly straight at you, rising with a curve as they pass over, rather high up, sounds like "ag-cag" or "ag-cag-cag"; it is not nearly so pleasant a sound as the ordinary "akow" or "kow-wow." Some Gulls breeding on a little island called Gull Island (Ynys Gwylan) are probably, partly at all events, of this species. A nest on one of the islands was on a broad ledge, close to the rock face, and not far above sea-level. It was a large thick-walled, cup-shaped nest, made of grass-roots and dead grass, with a few odd feathers worked in; it contained only one egg. I only saw the Lesser Black-backed Gull twice, but it is said to breed on one of the islands. Mr. Coward saw them at one of the southern headlands, and plentifully on the north coast. One pair of the Great Black-backed Gull is said to have bred on one of the islands; indeed, I have seen an egg which was taken on Mercrosse two or three years ago. I saw an adult bird in Pwllheli harbour. The Kittiwake breeds on one range of very high cliffs; I saw the eggs. Mr. Coward mentions two other breeding stations. The Lesser Tern seemed scarce. I found two pairs some miles apart, and spent a long time watching these beautiful birds hawking over the shallows, with their beaks pointing straight down, to descend presently with a splash, and rise with a small fish held crosswise. The ordinary cry is "squek," uttered rapidly two or three times, or a single "kik," which changes to a loud angry "jek" when the birds are aroused. Mr. Coward has seen either Common or Arctic Terns off the coast.

Although the headlands of Lleyn are bold and high (Cilan, 340 ft.; Mynydd Mawr, upwards of 400 ft.; Mynydd Annelog, 500 ft.; Graig ddu, 700 ft.), sheer cliffs dropping at once from the highest level, like those of Flamborough Head, do not occur. The way of these is rather to slope down—often rapidly, indeed, with a face more or less broken—for some distance, and end in a sheer cliff of, comparatively speaking, no great height, and perhaps an outwork of jagged rocks formed by the wearing of the sloping strata. Sometimes little rocky holms, parted from the cliff, lie just off shore. When these steep slopes are covered with heather or dwarf gorse, or much broken, with outcropping rocks, it is easy to approach the cliff-edge; but when, as is often the case, these great slopes are steep as a house-roof, somewhat hog-backed, and merely covered with short turf (doubly short and slippery when I was there after a long spell of dry weather), the risk of a slip, with small chance of a recovery, becomes too great. On one of these slopes I caught the Irish Burnet Moth, which Mr. Coward discovered there some years ago. Swarms of Puffins inhabit St. Tudwal's Island. As you approach the island you pass through great numbers scattered over the sea, and they sit in masses on the land; the turf in places is riddled with their holes, and the air is full of birds coming and going. Towards dusk many more come in from distant feeding grounds. There is also another great colony on Mercrosse, on the west side, and in a less degree on the grassy slope up from the landing-place. Puffins were sitting there, thickly gathered, on the flattened-down turf and sea-pink; perhaps a third as many more were on the sea, and at least another third underground, incubation being in full swing. The Puffins come to the islands about March 28th or 29th (or, as another man said, "about the tail-end of the month") for a few days to look about them, but not many come then. They come in full force at the latter end of April, and come to land about May 10th; they leave about Aug. 15th, but late breeding birds will stay nearly a fortnight later for the sake of their young; but if the latter are not ready to go then they are left. Marked birds have been known to return, and it is believed that they return to their old holes. The burrow of one old marked bird was blocked up with small stones one spring before the Puffins returned. The same bird after a time removed all the stones to a distance, and occupied its old home. I noticed that the Puffins did not rise well from flat ground, unless they could get a clear run, or the wind was against them; but they get up very readily with the least slope in their favour, unless the grass is long. Stray pairs were breeding where there was long grass, and these, on emerging from their holes, brushed the grass with frantic efforts for some distance, striding out vigorously with their orange legs. They prefer a sloping spot and short turf, or a bit of ground covered with sea-pink; probably they keep the turf short when they nest in great numbers, for they trample it flat, and in some places it is brown and looks dead. Here they run quickly and well. A sour smell comes on the wind when it blows over the burrows in such places. The silence of the Puffins was remarkable; it was rarely that a hard "arrr" was heard. Sometimes a grating guttural "go-ay" or "garr" could be heard from a bird below ground; but this is heard much more frequently when the birds have young. But when I stood close to hundreds of birds I did not hear a sound from them, until, as I approached within a few yards, they rose with a rattle and rush of wings, and filled the air like bees round a disturbed hive. A single bird will admit of an approach within two or three yards without moving, merely regarding you intently with its dark grey eye. On June 23rd the eggs (much discoloured with brown earth stains), some of which lay within arm's reach, were hard sat, and some young were just hatched. In this state, with the pip on the bill and the egg-shells under it, the young is covered with long down, black all over except the white belly. Bill dark horn-colour, and much longer than it is deep. I think only a few young were hatched; I saw no old birds carrying fish. The nests I examined consisted of a small quantity of grass-roots and dead grass—never more than a little, and in some cases hardly any. Accounts given of a Puffin's bite differ. They bite hard, and can draw blood from the soft parts of the fingers if they nip up a small piece of flesh; otherwise the bite is merely painful, though it is said that if you snatch you hand away the flesh is sometimes torn. Puffins can scratch also. They are ferocious fighters; I saw two fighting at the mouth of a burrow, and they only left off when I came close to them. A keen observer told me he had seen them grapple with one another, and roll over and over down the slope until they fell over the low cliff and into the sea, still hanging on like bull-dogs.

Guillemots breed at Cilan, on St. Tudwal's, and, as Mr. Coward tells me, near Nevin. Of thirty eggs which had been taken at Cilan for food, the dark green type, heavily marked with black, outnumbered all other varieties by five to one. At St. Tudwal's, too, this variety prevailed. The Guillemots, sitting upright on the ledges, had to be pelted with small stones in some cases before they would leave their eggs, and even then they shuffled the eggs carefully from under them, leaving the big end next to the wall, before dropping off the ledges. They dislike leaving the eggs for fear of being robbed by the Gulls; and, sure enough, a Lesser Black-back appeared on the scene almost at once, speering about the cliff. Two birds sitting on eggs only a foot apart were very interesting, for one was of the ordinary type, and the other a well-marked example of the Ringed Guillemot (as brown, though, as its neighbour). When at last I induced them to leave their eggs, I saw that both these had a green ground colour, marked with black.

Rock birds, I think, of all three species inhabit one or two small islands off the westernmost part of Lleyn. I hope to visit them next spring. Gulls breed there too, which is not surprising, as the Welsh names signify Great and Little Gull Island. Some Razorbills breed with the Guillemots about the great cliffs about Trwyn Careg y tîr and Mynydd Cilan. From above, the birds on the sea were only just visible to the naked eye; yet the cry, like that of an angry barn-door cock, came up fairly loud at times. With the aid of the glass, I made out (judging from the birds on the sea) that there was about one Razorbill (easily distinguished by its neater shape, head drawn back and tail raised, from the paler and browner Guillemots) to every six or eight of the latter birds. A few Razorbills breed on St. Tudwal's, and at the date of my visit were sitting on eggs in shallow cracks and covered ledges for the most part, but one or two were on open ledges. They all occupied detached places, and did not sit two or three close together like Guillemots. In every case but one the birds sat or lay on the eggs in a semi-horizontal position; the exception was half upright, but, as I could see its eggs, it was probably alarmed. When sufficiently alarmed they shuffled their eggs from under them, stood up, and dropped off the ledges. As Mr. Coward found Razorbills plentiful at sea near Nevin, they probably breed on the north coast also. As to the Manx Shearwater, I am unable to add anything of importance to what Mr. Coward has already recorded in 'The Zoologist.' There is, however, no doubt that "Mackerel Cocks" breed on the mainland, and some of the islands of western Lleyn. This is not surprising when we remember that a great breeding haunt of this species lies off the southern horn of Cardigan Bay. I saw remains of two or three dead birds, and when off in a boat one morning saw five skimming low over a rather lively sea; but they are chiefly nocturnal. They strike the light sometimes, and flutter down into the court. They are very stupid, and make no attempt to escape, but fly away when thrown up into the air. I was told that when the Mackerel come into one of the bays in July and August lots of Shearwaters were seen over the shoals.

I have only to add that this paper applies to the western part of the Carnarvon promontory, and that it is offered as a small instalment towards the history of the Birds of North Wales. During the spring of 1900 I hope to continue my observations.