The Zoologist/4th series, vol 6 (1902)/Issue 733/Notes and Queries

Notes and Queries  (July, 1902) 
various authors, editor W.L. Distant

Published in The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 6, issue 733, p. 278–280



Grasshopper-Warbler (Locustella nævia) near Laine, Co. Antrim.—On May 23rd, 1902, while walking up the Keelyglen Burn, my attention was called to the unmistakable notes of a Grasshopper-Warbler; it seemed to be close to the river among some thick bushes, but on approaching closer I discovered the bird sitting on the top of a furzebush among a thick tangle of brambles. I got very close to it, and lay down, when it started its peculiar song, and kept moving its head backwards and forwards. I watched it for a long time, during which it sang at intervals; the duration of each song, I should say, was fully thirty seconds. When I rose it dropped down amongst the brambles, and skulked away. On May 24th I spent over an hour watching and listening to the Grasshopper-Warbler at Keelyglen. I had a good opportunity of viewing it through glasses, although the wind was strong, and it did not sing from the topmost branches, but always kept a little lower down. I easily made out its spotted back and breast, and peculiar shaped tail, and could follow the quick movement of the beak and turning of the head to perfection. When alarmed it flew to another clump of brambles, and after a short interval started its ruling song again; I timed one—I think a short one—as it only lasted twenty-five seconds, the one previous being longer. Thompson says: "It is probably a regular summer visitant to suitable localities from north to south." I expect, from the peculiar skulking habits of the bird, and from the want of observers, it is overlooked in this locality.—W.C. Wright (Charlevoix, Marlborough Park, Belfast).

Holboell's Redpoll in Ireland.—In November, 1894, an immature female of this large—and, in my judgment, easily distinguishable—species was shot on Achill Island, Ireland, and is now in the Baylis collection. This is, I believe, the first instance on record of the occurrence of Cannabina holboelli in Ireland. This specimen, which has been certified by Dr. Bowdler Sharpe, was exhibited by me at the meeting of the British Ornithologists' Club, October, 1901.—F. Coburn (Holloway Head, Birmingham).

The Jay (Garrulus glandarius) in London.—On the 17th June I saw two Jays in a garden in West Kensington. My house is in a road which forms one side of a quadrangle with three other roads. All the houses in this quadrangle are back to back, and each house has a small walled-in garden, with trees in most of them. On the morning of the above date I was seated reading at the window overlooking the garden, when my attention was attracted by seeing two largish birds fly into a tree in the garden of the next house, and immediately afterwards I heard and recognized the harsh alarm-note of the Jay. Going into the balcony, and looking carefully, I made out the two birds. They were Jays. They were moving about restlessly in the tree, and more than once uttered their loud harsh call. I should think I had them under observation for three or four minutes, when first one, then the other rose and flew over the houses, taking a south-westerly direction. It seems to me strange that so very shy a bird as a Jay should be found alighting in a London garden. What wild Jays—for these looked like wild birds, and not escaped prisoners—were doing in the vicinity of London and bricks and mortar puzzles me.—C.T. Bingham (West Kensington).

Eggs of the Cuckoo in Nests of the Hawfinch.—On an evening near the end of May, while engaged in a natural history ramble, a set of eggs were shown to me by a youth. They were a clutch of five eggs of the Hawfinch (Coccothraustes vulgaris), with the egg of a Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). As I had never previously found this combination, I was somewhat dubious as to its genuineness; but, after a few questions had been asked and answered in a straightforward way, I felt assured on the point, and determined to make a careful and systematic search in the neighbourhood. The result of this was that within a radius of half a mile from the spot two other sets of eggs of the Hawfinch, each with a Cuckoo's egg, were discovered, and a few days later another was found. The Cuckoo eggs were all after the same type, and closely resembled each other in size and colour, and the nests in which they were found were all placed in very similar situations. In quoting this occurrence, may I state that during an experience of upwards of thirty years' active field-work, in the study of ornithology, I have never before found a Cuckoo choosing the Hawfinch as foster-parent for its young.—John Palmer (Ludlow).

Moor-hen breeding in a Rook's Nest.—At a large rookery near here some of the Rooks have again built in the tall Portugal laurels. Just before Rook-shooting commenced, I visited the spot in company with Mr. Michael J. Nicoll. We counted no fewer than seven nests in the laurels, but, so far as could be gathered from appearances, in only two of the nests—placed on very thin boughs—had the birds been fortunate enough to rear their young; that nuisance—the irrepressible boy—had been at work, and, though the rookery is close to the house, and strictly protected by the owner, the nests, except in the two cases above mentioned, had been robbed. One of the nests was placed very low down—certainly not more than about ten or twelve feet from the ground—and in this a Moor-hen (Gallinula chloropus) had evidently brought up her brood; a dead young one was on the edge of the nest, and several pieces of broken egg-shells were in the nest itself. There is a small pool of water close by, where for some years a Moor-hen has been accustomed to place her nest. Some little time ago the weeds and scrub round the pool were cleared away, and there is no doubt that in consequence of her usual nesting place being disturbed the bird availed herself of the empty, low-placed Rooks' nest, in which to lay her eggs.—Thomas Parkin (High Wickham, Hastings).

Grey Plover in Birmingham.—On the 3rd October, 1899, several specimens of Squatarola helvetica were observed within the boundaries of the city, and one procured and brought to me. This will be read with great interest in connection with Mr. J.H. Gurney's notes (Zool. 1900, p. 112) on the migratory rush of these birds to the east coast, which lasted for ten days, and covered the date of the Birmingham specimens. This is another valuable corroboration of my oft-repeated assertion that Birmingham lies in the direct line of migration of birds passing from east, to west, or south.—F. Coburn (Holloway Head, Birmingham).