The Zoologist/4th series, vol 5 (1901)/Issue 721/Notes and Queries
NOTES AND QUERIES.
Experiments in Hybridity at Pretoria.—I have at present five Zebras (Chapman's), three of which have been interviewed by a Donkey stallion; I am very anxiously awaiting results, which I will not fail to let you know in time. I have been very successful in breeding crosses between Mus chrysophilus and M. decumanus, and have about twenty-four at present. The result of a cross between the ordinary albino Mus musculus with the Striped Mouse (Arvicanthis pumilio) is a peculiarly cream-coloured, not striped specimen, which looks very much like a cream-albino Mouse with black eyes, which stand out very distinct against the cream-coloured fur. I have also bred Galago moholi (Otolicnus galago) and Eliomys nanus with great ease, and am now trying to cross Canis mesomelas with a Collie-Dog, but have not seen any pairing yet, notwithstanding many attempts.— J.W.B. Gunning (Director, Zoological Gardens, Pretoria, Transvaal Colony).
[The first experiment detailed above is very opportune, Mr. S.A. Deacon, of Cape Colony, having recently written in the 'Field' that he considers the Quagga to have been originally a cross between Donkey and true or Mountain Zebra.—Ed.]
The Winter Singing of the Song-Thrush (Turdus musicus).—I am glad that Mr. Warde Fowler has attacked this subject (ante, p. 212), and I hope that gentleman will work out the question involved to a final conclusion. But I must express surprise at the distinction drawn between the autumn and winter songs of the species. The Thrush is not alone in this matter—the Starling and the Robin are its companions; and I feel convinced, from close daily observation for years at Stroud and Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, and at Eltham in Kent, that in the case of each of the above species there is no definite change of voice from autumn to winter song, but only that gradual progressive development from feeble to strong notes, and from simple to complex strains, which occurs in all song-birds (quickly or slowly) when the season of song approaches. I should be glad if Mr. Warde Fowler would ascertain from several districts whether the Song-Thrush was in voice in October.
What of October singing? Is it autumn or winter song? In September I have heard only an occasional loud note from the Thrush, but some twittering. In October many Song-Thrushes begin to sing: and they don't stop, weather permitting, all the winter, but gradually attain all that excellence of variety and mimicry which makes their music as instructive as beautiful.
I beg humbly to protest, though my voice may sound as wheezy as those of Mr. Warde Fowler's female Thrushes (and I never heard such in song), against the separation of the autumn and winter singing of this species. So far as a number singing at once is concerned, emulation may have much to do with it, as it seemingly has with the sweet "chiming" of Willow-Wrens, and the musical rivalry of Robins.
For how much longer (and why) shall we continue to deny to the Thrush and other such songsters an artistic sense and love of their art—a sense which induces a marvellous variety when a dull repetition would seem as effective, and a love which leads to study hour by hour and day by day?—Charles A. Witchell (St. George's Place, Cheltenham).
The Occurrence of the Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) in Ireland.—When I was on the west coast of Ireland, on May 26th, 1895, I found, on a lonely mountain side in Co. Mayo, a Pipit which at the very first glance I was satisfied was quite new to me, being distinct in appearance to any Pipit I had ever seen before. The bird perched on a spray of a whin-bush, and looked full face at me, not more than fifteen yards away. The general outline of the bird, its buffish chestnut throat, extending also to sides of head and breast, and bold black-looking stripes on neck and breast, were so striking, that I was at once convinced that there was something new in front of me, and secured the bird. At that time I had never seen an identified skin of Anthus cervinus, and the only plate that of Bree ('Birds of Europe,' vol. ii. p. 155), which misled me somewhat, as he figures an adult male bird without much striping on neck and breast; and, being busy at the time of my return, the result was that my bird was placed away in a cabinet for future identification and overlooked, until I secured the autumn-plumaged specimen which was shot at St. Leonards, and identified by Dr. Bowdler Sharpe (ante, 1896, p. 101). An examination of this bird, and the investigation I then made, at once suggested to me what my own specimen was. I sent my bird at that time for identification to a gentleman who then did not fully confirm my views, stating only that it was a "queer specimen," which disconcerted me, as I was convinced from descriptions I had read that my bird must be A. cervinus; later, however, he has agreed with me, after another examination of the bird. My specimen is a male, and, according to Seebohm's excellent descriptions ('British Birds,' vol. ii. pp. 228–232), is in the second year's plumage, which is much worn and abraded, the tail especially showing signs of wear and tear, and would undoubtedly have been moulted that season. From this and its movements—it remained steadfastly on the same bush, following all my movements, and seemed loth to leave the spot, just as a breeding bird would have done—I suspected at the time that the bird was breeding, and regretted much that I did not watch it to its nest before killing it. A long search afterwards for a nest was fruitless, and as I did not see another bird like it while I was on the mountain side—I was there for several days—I may have been mistaken in this surmise, as the date—May 26th—would not be too late for it to be resting only on its way to its northern breeding haunts.
It will perhaps be as well to give here a description of this bird:—The general appearance is very dark, and bold in its markings, as compared with A. pratensis. The throat, upper breast, commencement of flanks, and lower part of cheeks was, in the living bird, a light buffish chestnut, deepest on throat; but this has now faded to buff. Lores and round the eyes buffish white, which contrasts sharply with the dark crown. On the under parts, which are creamy white, there is a series of bold, broad, black stripes extending from throat to end of flanks, which are of an obscure buff. Belly and under tail-coverts cream-white. Top of the head and mantle have bold blackish brown centres to the feathers, broadly bordered on mantle, and faintly on crown, with cream; but the borders to most of the feathers have been worn away, giving the back a very dark appearance. Back of the neck from nape much paler, being a buffish brown. Wing-coverts, greater and median, dark brown, broadly margined with cream, which would form two bars across the wing; but this, like the tail, is much worn and abraded. Outer tail-feathers have the outside portion white from the base, inside dark brown, as are all the others excepting two central ones, which are lighter brown; the tips only of second pair appear to have been white, but, as I have before said, this member is so worn and short, that not much can be judged of it. Legs and toes dark brown. Bill, upper mandible dark brown, lower pale brown. Axillaries yellowish white on outer portion, inner fringe greyish.
On Aug. 9th, 1898, Mr. H. Elliott Howard shot a Pipit in Co. Donegal, which he most kindly presented to me, while still in the flesh, on the following day, as it was on the morning of his return to England when he procured the bird. This bird at once arrested Mr. Howard's attention, from the conspicuous dark lines with nearly white margins on the mantle, which were distinctly observable both when the bird was on the ground and during flight. This specimen is remarkably distinct in its markings, and much easier to identify than the St. Leonard's bird; indeed, it could not be mistaken for a Meadow-Pipit, and directly Mr. Howard handed the bird to me I said that it was either a Red-throated Pipit, or the St. Leonard's bird was not correctly identified; but there need not be a shadow of doubt on this point. From Seebohm's description I should say that the bird is an adult male in winter dress, and was in full moult at the time it was procured. Mr. Howard saw others, and under circumstances which led him to suppose that they had been bred in the district. On this score also Mr. Howard's surmise may be wrong, and the birds he saw may very likely have been a small flock, or family party even, resting on their return migration, as the date in this case also favours this view. Nevertheless, it is quite possible that the bird may occasionally breed on the north-west or west coast of Ireland—Mr. Howard has not met with the bird since, although he has several times returned to the coast; neither did I see it the last time I visited Donegal, and paid special attention to Pipits—and has been overlooked by Irish naturalists, from the fact that the spot where the bird was found is very secluded, and the ground is strictly preserved, no person being allowed to carry a gun in the district without the permission of the lord of the manor. In this communication I have purposely clouded localities—the counties only are sufficient; but I am pleased to say that should any of the birds return at any time there is not much danger of their retreat being invaded by collectors.
During my journey across Ireland from west to east, I paid special attention to Meadow-Pipits, after procuring my specimen, and did not see any more like it; they were all of the type with which I am so thoroughly familiar, but perhaps slightly darker on the upper parts when nearest the east coast. On the west coast they struck me as being distinctly greyer on the mantle and upper parts generally than in the typical birds. The general appearance of Mr. Howard's bird is very bold and striking. The throat is pale buff, breast and flanks a rich brownish buff, graduating into cream on the middle portion of breast and belly, under tail-coverts rich cream; from the throat to end of flanks a series of bold black stripes, but not so broad as in the summer specimen. Crown dark brown, centre margined with fawn-brown, cheeks and neck an obscure greyish brown, tinged with buff on ear-coverts. Mantle broad, black, centres with very distinct buffish white margins on the scapular region; middle of back and rump a more obscure black, margined with fawn-brown; upper tail-coverts fawn-brown, with more dusky centres. Tail—two centre feathers missing—blackish brown, fringed with light fawn, excepting two outer feathers, which have the outer portion dusky white to the base; second pair tipped only with dusky white. Wing—closed—dark hair-brown, margined with buff, the median and greater coverts broadly margined with a lighter buff; axillaries palest straw-yellow on outer portion, obscure grey on inner. Bill dusky along culmen and tip, other parts pale brown. Legs and toes whitish buff, nails dark umber. The general appearance of the bird fully bears out its specific name cervinus—fawn-coloured.
It will perhaps be remembered by some how much controversy was, in 1896, centred round the assertion I made (ante, 1896, pp. 101, 193, 256, 300, 302, 353) in connection with the St. Leonard's bird, viz. that the markings were so distinct that I could distinguish the bird amongst a flock of Meadow-Pipits with or without the aid of field-glasses. After my experience with the Pipits here recorded, and increased observations here, and with other Pipits in Iceland and elsewhere, I repeat my assertion with redoubled emphasis. Any ornithologist who thoroughly educates his eyes to the outlines and general appearance of our native birds in the field ought to be able to distinguish between A. pratensis and A. cervinus in autumn or winter plumage—giving, of course, a moderate range—without difficulty. The Pipits are certainly a puzzling class of birds, and resemble each other closely in plumage; but there is, in addition to their distinct songs, a difference in build between them, which is most noticeable; for instance, the difference in build between A. trivialis and A. pratensis, when either may be feeding in small flocks in a meadow in early spring, ought to be clear to any acute observer without having to trust to the notes of the birds. This difference in build is also very striking in other Pipits I have seen abroad. I know that it must be most difficult for those who have to deal chiefly with skins in a cabinet to appreciate this difference; to do so there must be a thorough acquaintance with the birds in the field.
In conclusion, these two Irish examples of Anthus cervinus have remained in my cabinet unrecorded for unavoidable reasons, and waiting until I had an opportunity to send them to an authority to confirm my identification. Recently Mr. O.V. Aplin paid me a visit, and had no hesitation in pronouncing them specimens of this bird; and, as Mr. Aplin has shot dozens of them abroad, and is well acquainted with their general appearance and changes of plumage, his identification, added to the unmistakable descriptions of Middendorff, Bree, and Seebohm, may, I think, be taken as settling the point.—F. Coburn (7, Holloway Head, Birmingham).
Rosefinch released in Devon.—Having to proceed to England on leave, I took the opportunity of bringing with me some specimens of the Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), in order to release them in England. Two or three died on the voyage, and one escaped, out of the dozen I originally started with; but I was able to release the remaining birds from the train soon after it left Plymouth on June 16th, and had the satisfaction of seeing them go off strong on the wing, although they were not in very good condition of plumage, and could mostly be easily recognized as captive birds if shot by anyone at present. I did not like, however, to keep them longer, as in the cage—a fairly large one—they did nothing but eat and fight, and were getting grossly fat. I am sorry to say that all are males, females being almost unprocurable in Calcutta this year. But as the female Rosefinch has occurred in England, I hope they may find mates if they remain in the country. At all events, those who make a practice of destroying rare birds will hereby be warned to be suspicious of the Rosefinch in Devon at present, for such of these specimens as get successfully through the moult will, of course, be undistinguishable from wild arrivals. One bird's leg has been broken above the hock, and has healed again; so this individual may be recognized if procured.—Frank Finn (c/o Zoological Society, 3, Hanover Square, London).
A Stronghold of the Chough.—There is as much, if not more, satisfaction in recording the prosperity of a rare resident British bird as in announcing the capture of the most extraordinary stragglers to our shores. Pyrrhocorax graculus is a species whose distribution, on the sea-cliffs of our islands, has been steadily narrowed; and, as it is a very sedentary bird, there is no probability that once exterminated it will ever re-establish itself. I have within the last few years paid three visits to a spot on the western coast of Scotland, where the Choughs, if not abundant, are at least firmly established and prosperous. They suffered very severely during the hard weather at the beginning of 1895, but since then I am assured they have increased. They nest in three spots on this island—all very inaccessible cliffs on the seashore—and very likely these three colonies keep more or less distinct. I was anxious to ascertain how many pairs there were, which is obviously difficult to determine; and the gamekeeper assured me that there were "several hundred pairs," and that there was not the slightest danger of their becoming extinct. According to my observation, the birds hardly ever leave the sea-coast. I have seen small parties flying perhaps half a mile inland: their calls as they pass over immediately attract the attention of an ornithologist, and much resemble those of a small party of Jackdaws, but are rather shriller. I have also watched them on the rocks at low tide, apparently searching for food. The position of their nesting-places makes it practically impossible to rob them, and I do not think the birds are persecuted by anyone. The gamekeeper took some young ones, but failed to rear them; they make very engaging pets, I believe. A nest with eggs was also recently taken by the keeper for an American museum. The birds may be identified at a great distance with a glass, both when flying and perching, by their long red bill. As far as I can discover, the west coast of Scotland is now the chief stronghold of the Chough, though it has become extinct in some of the islands within comparatively recent years. There are still some in Ireland, in Wales, in Devon, and in Cornwall. Mr. Harting, in his admirable 'Handbook of British Birds' (p. 93, new and revised edition), mentions Dorsetshire. Without making public the exact locality (as I have purposely refrained from doing), I should be interested if some Dorsetshire correspondent would define the position of P. graculus in the fauna of Dorset at the present day. Harold Russell (16, Beaufort Gardens, S,W.).
Hoopoe at Reigate.—On the evening of June 22nd I happened to be wandering in Reigate Park, in Surrey. Entering the park by the gate opening into Bell Street, I had taken the path through the woods to the right near the meadows, and had not gone more than a couple of hundred yards when a bird flew across into the park from the low fields to the right. It settled on the ground about thirty yards off, and I had a good look at it before it flew on. It was a Hoopoe (Upupa epops). The occurrence at Reigate of so rare a visitor should, I think, be recorded.—C.T. Bingham (31, Earl's Court Square, South Kensington).
[This is a most interesting observation. The bird was recorded from the same spot in the 'New Flora of Reigate,' 1856 (cf. ante, p. 347).—Ed.]
Spoonbills at Great Yarmouth.—Scarcely a day has passed since early April to this day of writing (June 21st) but on what one or more Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) have been in sight on Breydon. First one was seen on April 10th, twelve on April 27th, and five more next day—seventeen in all! Seven observed on May 7th; I saw two on May 16th quite near my houseboat, and I sailed up to a couple on May 17th. Two asleep near my houseboat on June 2nd, in company with Saddleback Gull, on most amicable terms. Saw four again on June 7th, which were very tame, and with some two hundred Gulls on a flat quite near the bridge now being built across Breydon. On June 15th observed five being followed and disturbed by a Heron, and on June 21st four were still about.—A. Patterson (Ibis House, Great Yarmouth).
Wigeon breeding in Ireland.—Believing that the Wigeon (Mareca penelope) bred within a few hours' riding of my home, I decided, on May 1st, accompanied by my friend Mr. S. Savage, to make a raid on its breeding-place. We started at five o'clock in the morning on a lovely day. After a long ride and a longer tramp, we at last came on the object of our search—a nest with eleven eggs. The nest was in a dry meadow among rushes, about two hundred yards from a small lake. I also found another nest with three eggs, this time in a wet swamp. Later on Mr. Savage found another nest with nine eggs in a clump of rushes in a very dry meadow. We went home that night with very light hearts, having had, I believe, a very good day's experience. To make sure, I sent some of both down and eggs to Mr. Ussher, and also to Mr. Patterson, which they kindly identified as genuine Wigeon without any doubt. I think this is the first record of the Wigeon breeding in Ireland.—John Cottney (Hillsborough, Co. Down, Ireland).
Pairing Manoeuvres of Pigeons, &c.—With reference to Mr. E. Selous's remarks on the covering of the male domestic Pigeon by the hen after normal pairing, I may mention that I have frequently seen this action myself, and believe it to be not unusual. The behaviour of birds after pairing has not yet received sufficient attention from observers. I have myself noticed that the male Zebra Finch (Tæniopygia castanotis), after pairing, vibrates his tail so quickly that it is almost invisible; and that both sexes of the Larger Tree-Duck of India (Dendrocycna fulva), as soon as the action is performed, "tread water," with one wing raised, in a very curious fashion. These manoeuvres are, I think, simply due to general excitement; but such performances are worth recording, as often, if occurring before pairing, they would be set down as gestures designed for sexual attraction.—Frank Finn (c/o Zoological Society, 3, Hanover Square, London. W.).
Little Bustard in Derbyshire.—On May 14th a Little Bustard (Otis tetrax) was shot by a farmer on Middleton Top, near Youlgreave, North Derbyshire. He saw that his victim was something uncommon, and took it to a local stuffer. The sex was not determined by dissection, but no doubt the bird is a female, as the plumage is devoid of all ornaments. This is only the second recorded appearance of the Little Bustard in Derbyshire, the first being in 1797. This specimen is now in my collection.—W. Storrs Fox (S. Anselm's, Bakewell).
Birds in Lisbon.—Our ship came into the Tagus on April I7th, and the following notes refer to the birds observed in Lisbon or the neighbourhood during the five days I spent there. After some Gannets at the mouth of the river, the first remarkable bird was a Kite, who, in company with Sea-Gulls, flew up and down the river opposite the town. I saw it again on a subsequent occasion flying backwards and forwards in easy graceful circles, often within a few yards of the quays, now and again swooping down upon some scrap of offal which the current brought past. From its forked tail and mottled rufous plumage, I was able clearly to identify it as Milvus ictinus, the same species who used to perform the office of scavenger in London in the Middle Ages. The Gulls were for the most part in immature plumage. The vast majority of the adult birds were Lesser Blackbacked Gulls. Next in numbers came Herring-Gulls, which, I think, were all of the yellow-legged species—the Larus cachinnans of Pallas. In Vigo Bay, on the Spanish coast north of Lisbon, I was able clearly to see the brilliant yellow legs and rather darker mantles of these birds. Whilst on the journey home, at Cherbourg, I could see with equal certainty the fleshcoloured legs of the ordinary British Herring-Gull. A few birds seemed to be Common Gulls, and a great number, with hoods in various stages of completeness, belonged to the black-headed family, which, from the deep blackness of their heads, I put down as Mediterranean Black-headed Gulls. Lisbon differs strangely from the towns of Southern France and Northern Italy in being full of bird-life. From every garden came the notes of the Blackcap, already nesting, and on the whole the commonest songster. I had rather expected to meet with the Orphean Warbler, but it may be that (as none of this species pass the winter in Europe) it had not arrived, or that it is confined to the country and the olive-gardens. Goldfinches were abundant. The call-note of the Greenfinch was to be heard on every side. The Great Tit was vociferous, and I saw Blue Tits busily engaged in destroying the blossom on the trees. In the cypress-grove at the English Cemetery there were many Blackbirds, who seemed to find there a retreat from the heat, and an abundance of snails among the grave-stones. Thrushes, on the other hand, were remarkable by their absence. I saw a few Redbreasts, and heard one singing (a strange and powerful song it seemed to me) at Cintra. In the Botanic Gardens and elsewhere a Warbler of an unknown species was diligently searching the trees for insects, and singing a pleasant song; its habits and movements were those of a large Willow-Wren, and I identified it to my satisfaction as the Melodious Warbler. My only doubt is that so reliable an authority as Colonel Irby declares that it does not arrive in the south of the peninsula till April 25th. The sky everywhere was alive with Swifts, whirling and screeching overhead. Swallows and House-Martins were also plentiful, though neither had reached England when I left. I saw Swallows descend in the busiest street to gather mud from between the tramway-lines. The Chaffinch was a common cage-bird, but I saw none out of captivity. The absence of Chiffchaff and Willow-Wren was surprising, but still more the absence of Jackdaws; for, though most steeples fell in the great earthquake of 1755, there are still plenty of desirable nesting-sites. In the market I saw cages with Turtle-Doves, but, from their demeanour, they had been some while in captivity. From the train, a few miles out of the town, I saw a Stonechat. The woods of Cintra resounded with the call of a Woodpecker, very similar to that of our "Yaffler." I judged it to be that of Gecinus sharpii. The only Wagtail I Saw was near a pond at Cintra, and belonged to the beautiful blue-headed species (M. flava), varieties of which have received many different names. In the lodge of Gardens of Monserrate there was a much decayed specimen of a small raptorial bird which may once have been a Hobby. I looked in vain for the Iberian Sparrow, but the House-Sparrows were abundant. It is one of the ornithological sights of Lisbon to see them go to roost in the trees of the Avenida. They weigh down the acacias in their thousands, and their twittering is like the crash of a waterfall. It is said that people with nerves have to avoid apartments which look upon that street. The only signs of migration on the voyage out and back were many pairs of Puffins, which seemed to be making their way in couples to their nesting haunts, and a Tree-Pipit, which came on board in the middle of the bay half-way between Finisterre and Ushant on April 23rd. The sea was calm; the wind light, and from the north-east. The bird flew some way alongside of the ship before alighting in a ruffled, but not exhausted, state. In the English Channel small parties of Swallows were flying across, near above the water, and with great speed.—Harold Russell (16, Beaufort Gardens, S.W.).
With the Birds in May, 1901.—I can but very seldom take a holiday in May, but this year I was enabled to be absent from home for the month, and spent most of my spare time in observing the birds in and near the places I visited.
London and its Vicinity.—Here I visited some of the localities mentioned by Mr. Swan in his 'Birds of London' as likely to be fruitful, and found that Hadley Woods and Richmond Park were admirable hunting-grounds for the ornithologist.
Hadley Woods, between New Barnet and High Barnet, are 11½ miles from King's Cross, and in this delightful resort I found the Nightingale, Blackcap, Garden-Warbler, Willow-Warbler, Chiffchaff, Greater and Lesser Whitethroats, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, and many other birds less worthy of notice. Nightingales, Blackcaps, and Lesser Whitethroats were exceptionally numerous. I should think that nearly all our summer birds could be found in these delightful woods.
Wanstead Park and lakes will well repay a visit, and there too I heard the "three feathered kings of song"—the Nightingale, Blackcap, and Garden-Warblers; but the avifauna was not so rich as that of Hadley Woods.
At Richmond Park, I noted, in about three hours, thirty-four species, including Nightingale, Blackcap, Garden-Warbler, Wood-Warbler, Redstart, and Ray's Wagtail. This highly favoured locality will always repay a visit from the bird-lover, and, indeed, from any lover of nature. Windsor Castle was again plainly visible in the far distance.
My next visit was to that most delightful of all health resorts, Bournemouth, and there I found the lovely Talbot Woods full of bird-life. I have never heard the song, or rather songs, of the Wood-Warbler to such perfection as there. The Tree-Pipit also was much in evidence, and, what was very strange, I heard there a Chaffinch, which, after its three prefatory notes "fritz fritz fritz," sang the Willow-Warbler's song, and not its own.
At Christchurch, five miles from Bournemouth, I found many birds in a pleasant row down the River Stour towards Hengistbury Head. My list of thirty-seven species in about three or four hours included the Reed- and Sedge- Warblers, the Lesser Tern (also observed at Weymouth, May 13th), and other interesting birds.
The New Forest: In a walk through Lyndhurst to Emery Down and Brockenhurst, I only added the Stock-Dove and Nuthatch to my former lists; but I found the Wood-Warbler especially numerous there also.
At the close of our visit to delightful Bournemouth, we journeyed to Weston-super-Mare, which I found also an excellent station, especially in the Bleadon and Uphill direction. There I saw and heard more than one Cirl-Bunting, and at Brean Down had a fine view of a small flock of Sheldrakes disporting themselves in the sea. The Raven still breeds on this lofty promontory, and Mr. Pople, our boatman, assured us that about two hours before our arrival two old birds, accompanied by five young ones, had for some time hovered over their heads; unluckily they did not favour us with an appearance.
I have kept to the close of this rambling communication the following incident:—On Sunday, May 12th, when walking up the Vale Road, Bournemouth, I heard a bird in the shrubbery of Carlton House, whose note I believed I recognized at once as that of the bird I had heard only at Karlsbad and at Brunnen in 1893, and I said to my wife, "That's Bonelli"; alluding to Bonelli's Warbler, which was identified for me by Rev. W. Warde Fowler on the Axenstein some years ago. On the 14th I heard and saw the bird again, and called at Carlton House, where the proprietor, Mr. Hamlet Kinsey, received me most kindly, and said that he had been watching that bird for some days, that he had never heard one like it before, and wondered what it could be, as his attention had been at once arrested by its unfamiliar note. I wrote at once to Mr. Warde Fowler, and had a reply from him, in which he said: "Your description of the bird, as you saw it, is Bonelli all over; your account of the song is utterly puzzling. The only conclusion I can come to is that it is either Bonelli's or Benson's Warbler, and which I can't say." Nor can I, nor do I lay any claim to be the discoverer of this Warbler in England. My object is rather to direct the attention of other ornithologists to the matter, who may have longer opportunities of observing the migrants on the south coast of England than I had, or can have.—Charles W. Benson (Karlsruhe, Montpelier Hill, Dublin).
Black Adder in South Wales.—On Thursday, June 13th, I received, from the Rev. D.H. Davies, Cenarth, South Wales, a serpent for identification. It is a Black Adder, a variety of our poisonous reptile extremely rare in this country, there being only two British specimens at South Kensington. This specimen is 20½ in. long, a female. I hope to say more about this later on. A fatal case of Adder-bite in a boy 4½ years old is reported to me from Cumberland by Dr. Eden Cass (June 18th, 1901). — Gerald Leighton (Grosmont, near Hereford).
Spotted Ray at Great Yarmouth.—On March 18th I saw, in this town, a Spotted Ray (Raia maculata), which may be described as of the size of a dinner-plate. It possessed a complete and well-formed fin, the size of a business envelope, erect upon the centre of its back. It could easily be raised or depressed to one side, and may not have been greatly inconvenient to the fish when living.—A. Patterson (Ibis House, Great Yarmouth).
I am preparing a list of the Birds of Berkshire, and shall be very much obliged to any correspondents who will be good enough to forward particulars of rare or interesting wanderers that may have come under their notice.—H. Noble (Temple Combe, Henley-on-Thames).