The Zoologist/4th series, vol 5 (1901)/Issue 722/Notes and Queries
NOTES AND QUERIES.
The Whiskered Bat in Oxfordshire.—A Whiskered Bat (Vespertilio mystacinus) flew into one of the rooms here on the night of July 19th last. For several nights numbers of moths had been flying into the room, attracted by the lamp, and numbers of others were continually fluttering about outside. On several occasions I noticed two or three Bats flying backwards and forwards just outside the window, apparently in pursuit of the moths. Probably the Whiskered Bat was one of them. This Bat has been recorded from Godstow, near Oxford, but I had not previously met with it in the north of the county. Mr. Oldfield Thomas kindly confirmed my identification of the specimen. — O.V. Aplin (Bloxham, Oxon).
Bats carrying their Young.—On Sunday afternoon, the 7th July, a young Bat fell out of its home above our hall-door porch, and lay on the steps until evening. I placed it in a cardboard-box beside me, where it remained feebly squeaking as I sat with three other members of our family at dusk, when the elder Bats began to come out. They soon discerned the lost young one, and six or eight of them flew round and round us so closely that I turned it out on the gravel-walk about a yard from where I sat, when they continued to hover round it very closely. Anxious to witness its removal if possible, I placed it a little farther from us, and after more indecision one of the Bats alighted on the ground, and spread itself over the young one. I then covered it with a butterfly-net, and afterwards with a glass case, but, finding it did not move, I examined it without any covering for some minutes. Thinking it could not carry but intended to stay with the young one, I gently touched it, when it flew with its treasure into the shelter of a neighbouring group of trees.—R.M. Skipworth (Owmby Mount, Searby, Lincoln).
Lesser Redpoll nesting in Sussex.—On May 4th, 1901, a nest of the Lesser Redpoll (Linota rufescens) was found by Mr. Arthur Byatt, of Midhurst, Sussex, in a small fir-tree, about fifty or sixty yards from the river Rother, at a height of from twelve to fifteen feet from the ground. "When found it contained three eggs, of which one was taken at the time. The birds were watched and identified, and it was intended, when the full clutch of eggs had been laid, to take them, substituting small eggs of the Linnet for the Redpoll to hatch out, and then subsequently, when the birds had flown, to remove the nest for preservation. But on visiting it a week later (for the purpose of substituting Linnets' eggs as mentioned), the remaining two eggs were gone, as was also the lining of the nest, which consisted of vegetable down. There was no evidence of broken eggs anywhere on or around the tree, no signs of other visitants, and a Thrush's nest in the adjacent tree, low down and hard to overlook, was untouched, increasing the improbability of boys having found the Redpoll's nest, as their wont is to pull out every nest they can find, and to wantonly destroy or carry off every egg they can lay their ruthless hands upon. The theory of a passing Jay or Jackdaw or Magpie having carried off the eggs is hard to reconcile with the fact that the lining of the nest was gone. Mayhap the old birds may have removed it to line a new nest subsequently to the eggs being taken from the old one. It is believed this is the first recorded instance of the Lesser Redpoll's nest having been found in Sussex.Kent, Surrey, Hants are counties mentioned, but Sussex is not, as far as the books consulted may be taken as covering the ground. To revert to the wanton destruction of nests and eggs and young of birds by the ordinary boy nester, I may mention that recently Mr. Arthur Byatt, noticing a hole in a tree mudded up, remarked, "No Nuthatch has done that; some boy has closed it to prevent the birds sitting." He climbed up, removed the mud, was unable to enlarge the hole itself, but, finding the wood thin below it, made a counter opening some nine inches beneath, and dragged out from beneath a lot of rubbish, evidently pushed in through the original opening, six dead young ones of the Green Woodpecker. — C. Eastwick-Field (Hurst House, Midhurst, Sussex).
Common Roller in Sussex.—A Roller (Coracias garrulus) was shot on June 2nd at Ninfield, near Sidley, Bexhill, Sussex. The bird was taken to Mr. G. Bristow, of Silchester Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, for preservation.—Thomas Parkin (Fairseat, High Wickham, Hastings).
[Two other specimens of this bird, obtained in Sussex, have recently been recorded in these pages. One procured on Sept. 24th, 1897 (Zool. 1897, p. 469), and the other on Oct. 12th, 1898 (Zool. 1898, p. 24.—Ed.]
Cuckoos' Eggs.—Among the Cuckoos' eggs which I have seen this year are three which are undoubtedly the eggs of the same hen Cuckoo, but not with those of the same species of foster-parent. All three were taken in an adjoining parish—the first on June 8th, with two eggs of the Hedge-Sparrow; the second on June 21st, also with two eggs of the Hedge-Sparrow; and the third on June 24th, with three eggs of the Yellow Bunting; all three being similar in size, shape, and colour, and having a very clearly defined zone at the larger end. A Cuckoo's egg (the reddest I have ever taken), which I found on July 3rd with three eggs of the Reed-Warbler, showed decided traces of incubation when being blown; but the three eggs with it were all quite fresh. The contrary state of things would have been easy to understand, but this I am unable to explain.—Julian G. Tuck (Tostock Rectory, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk).
Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) in Norfolk.—On Jan. 24th, 1900, an adult female of this exceedingly rare and perfectly distinct species of Wild Goose was procured in Norfolk, and is now in my collection. During my experience I have seen not merely hundreds, but probably thousands of the ordinary White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) in the flesh, and my eyes are thoroughly accustomed to the general outline and appearance of the bird. When this A. erythropus came into my possession in the flesh, I instantly detected its strikingly distinctive characters, and could not help wondering how any person who had ever seen the two birds in a freshly killed condition could doubt for a moment their specific distinctness. This is, I believe, the second instance only on record for Great Britain.—F. Coburn (7, Holloway Head, Birmingham).
Great Black-backed Gull inland in Wales.—Can any reader of 'The Zoologist' say whether the Great Black-backed Gull still breeds on the islet in Llyn Llydaw, under Snowdon, or not? The Rev. W. Bingley, who ascended Snowdon in either 1798 or 1801, stated that a small island in Llyn Llydaw was "in spring the haunt of the Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus of Linnæus), which here lay their eggs and bring up their young" (North Wales, 1804). And Dr. Mavor's companions, when on Snowdon in 1805, near the edge of the precipice over the lakes, were enveloped in cloud, and heard the hoarse note of the Cob (vide Zool. 1886, p. 488, for this name), "a bird frequenting the alpine heights" ('The British Tourists' or Travellers' Companion,' 1809, vol. v. p. 276). Until the last few years these birds were reported to breed on an islet in an inland lake in Merionethshire; and this year (1901) I saw, on two occasions in May, a pair of fine old birds on the shore only a few miles from the said lake. Also, when was at Llyn Dinas, near Beddgelert, on May 13th, I saw three Great Black-backed Gulls pass over the lake, and go on up the valley, getting very high up in the air. One at least appeared to be adult, and I could see no dark marks on the tails of any of them. If they continued their flight for three miles up the valley, and then for about one and a half up a tributary stream, they would arrive at Llyn Llydaw. But they were perhaps rising in the air to go by a more direct route, crossing the wall of mountain. Llyn Llydaw is about twelve hundred feet higher than Llyn Dinas.—O.V. Aplin (Bloxham, Oxon).
Some Strange Nesting Habits in Holland.—The Oystercatcher, recorded as nesting on turf, is not the only bird in Holland to depart from its usual custom as known with us. The Common Tern, instead of nesting along the seashore, there nests as a Marsh Tern in fresh water, in company with Black Terns, as well as on short turf, in company or close proximity to the Oystercatcher. I have photographs of nests in both positions. The Common Heron, in one "meer" at all events, nests amid the reeds exactly like the Purple Heron, though elsewhere in Holland it nests in trees as in England.—R.B. Lodge (Enfield).
Birds in Nest-Boxes.—The following birds have nested in our boxes during the past season:—Nuthatch, Great Tit (seven or eight nests). Blue Tit, Tree-Sparrow (for the first time). House- Sparrow, Starling, and Wryneck. Going the round of the boxes one day, I found a Dormouse in one, which is nailed to an elm-tree about twelve feet from the ground, and I not unfrequently find Great Bats in them. These are undesirable tenants, as when they get into a box no bird will come there. In one box, the lid of which had been blown off in the winter, I found a Squirrel's nest. We find that our boxes here are most successful when put up at a height of about twelve or fourteen feet.—Julian G. Tuck (Tostock Rectory, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk).
Fossil Vertebrates from Egypt.—I have recently returned from Egypt, where, in conjunction with the members of the Egyptian Geological Survey, I have been collecting vertebrate fossils from the Tertiary Beds of the Western Desert. The most important collection was made during an expedition with Mr. H.J.L. Beadnell, and includes remains of primitive Proboscidians from Upper Eocene and Oligocene Beds. From the latter horizon the mandible of an animal closely allied to Mastodon was obtained. In this two premolars and three molars are in place simultaneously, and none of the teeth have more than three transverse ridges. From the Upper Eocene came portions of the skeleton of a heavily built animal, the teeth of which somewhat resemble those of Dinotherium, but there are three premolars and three molars in both upper and lower jaws, and all the molar teeth are bilophodont except the last lower molar, which has a well-developed talon. The mandible is provided with a pair of procumbent tusks. The especial interest of these new forms is that hitherto no Proboscidea earlier than the Miocene were known. At the beginning of that period Mastodon and Dinotherium appeared in Europe, the region from which they were derived being uncertain. It now appears that they must have originated in the Ethiopian region, the tertiary vertebrate fauna of which has up till now been almost unknown. Numerous remains of Sirenians, Zeuglodonts, and various reptiles and fishes were also collected.—C.W. Andrews (Geological Department, British Museum).