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Art. IV.- A few Obserrations on some of the Natural Objects in
the neighbourhood of Cheadle, Staffordshire. By JAMES CARTER,
Esq. As it is only by the accurate recording of facts and observations made by individuals on the objects of the districts in which they reside, that a general knowledge of the natural history of any country can be acquired, I am induced to publish the following scattered notes, made during the years 1836,-37, and part of 1838, in the intervals of time left unoccupied by the discharge of professional duties, and by so doing add another mite to the information on local natural history, at present “rudis indigestaque moles," but from which, at some future period, general laws of great interest may be deduced.
The country in the vicinity of Cheadle is highly picturesque, being very hilly, and intersected in various directions by narrow valleys, the sides of which are frequently very abrupt and rocky, whereby the scenery is rendered romantic. The general features of the country are in fact intermediate between those of the southern and of the northern counties.
The Flora also, as might be expected from the situation of the county, consists of a mixture of the plants common in the south with those characteristic of the north of England.Thus, Clematis Vitalba entirely disappears, and Acer campestre is by no means common or abundant: and on the other hand we meet with Empetrum nigrum, Parnassia palustris, Saxifraga hypnoides, Vaccinium Vitis Idea, and other northern plants. The difference however consists rather in the degree of abundance of the same plants, than in the occurrence of different species; for instance, Vaccinium Myrtillus, which occurs sparingly in the south, grows in the greatest profusion in many of our fir plantations and commons, even to the exclusion of almost every other plant, with the exception of Calluna and Erica.
Many of the tracts of common in this part of the country are still very extensive, although within the last few years a vast quantity has been enclosed and planted with firs. Grouse are found in tolerable abundance on some of the large heaths in the possession of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and also on those belonging to the Duke of Devonshire near Buxton, Derbyshire. Besides the plants usually met with on the heaths in the neighbourhood of London, Eleocharis cespitosa, Juncus squarrosus, and Digitalis purpurea are extremely common and abundant, as are also Jasione montana and Empetrum nigrum. Plantago Coronopus and Genista anglica occur sparingly: in the moist spots Eriophorum angustifolium,
polystachion? (I cannot affect to be able satisfactorily to distinguish the latter species from angustifolium) and vaginatum, Oxycoccus palustris and Viola palustris are found. Vaccinium Vitis Idea is tolerably abundant, and Vac. Myrtillus extremely so, as already mentioned; the fruit of the bilberry when ripe is gathered by the poor, and carried to the neighbouring markets; mixed with currants, or even by themselves, they form a very palatable tart. The wood-pigeon also feeds upon them, and on account of the peculiar flavour which its flesh then acquires, this bird is considered excellent eating during the bilberry season. The principal plants which
occur in boggy situations are Hydrocotyle, Viola palustris, Drosera rotundifolia and longifolia, Menyanthes trifoliata, Narthecium ossifragum, and, in elevated positions, as about Cotton and Whiston, Parnassia palustris in abundance, but, as Mr. Luxford remarks in the November number of this Magazine, always confined to li
There is a ridge of limestone hills,—the Wever Hills, on which some rather uncommon plants are met with ; among them may be enumerated Draba muralis, Spiræa filipendula,
Lathræa squamaria (near the lime-kiln), Arabis hirsuta, Trifolium striatum, Primula elatior, Spergula nodosa, Arenaria tenuifolia, Carduus nutans, Asplenium Ruta-muraria and Asp. Trichomanes, and the common limestone plants Helianthemum vulgare, Poterium Sanguisorba, Saxifraga tridactylites, &c. Several species of land shells also occur abundantly; as Helix crystallina, pulchella, rupestris, (in the crevices of the rocks); Pupa umbilicata, Clausilia rugosa, and a variety something similar to Cl. dubia. In a pasture on the same range of hills, near the Three Lows toll-gate, Gentiana campestris grows plentifully, in company with Platanthera viridis, which latter plant is rather common in gravelly pastures. On the right hand side of the road leading from the toll-gate above spoken of, to the village of Oakamoor, is a lovely romantic ravine, which will well repay the naturalist for his researches. The sides are rugged and steep, but wooded, and on them are found Pyrola minor, Luzula sylvatica, pilosa, and congesta, Polypodium Dryopteris, Hieracium sylvaticum and umbellatum: I was also highly delighted to discover, by the side of a stream which runs along the bosom of the valley, Valeriana Pyrenaica, growing in tolerable abundance; it occurred for a considerable distance up the stream, but was out of flower, (August 5th). I have not been able to find any recorded English habitat for this plant; it is, I am aware, considered as one of our certainly
Vol. III.-No. 26, n. S.
not-indigenous plants, but no one who sees it in the locality here given, will hesitate to pronounce it decidedly wild, or at least perfectly naturalized. The vegetation generally in this spot was particularly luxuriant; Asplenium Filix-foemina was especially fine, and the leaves of the Arctium Lappa were so large that I stood erect under them during a shower of rain. Myrrhis odorata occurred in the same spot, but rather sparingly: where also I took Helix fusca and Scarburgensis; of the latter I found only four specimens, which were among dead beech-leaves.
Another very picturesque valley called Demon's Dale, or Dimsdale, extending from Alton Towers, the seat of the Earl of Shrewsbury, in the direction towards Cheadle, affords l'iola palustris, Chrysosplenium oppositifolium and alternifolium in great profusion; also Adoxa moschatellina, which indeed is much more abundant in many places in this neighbourhood than I ever observed it elsewhere; it abounds on every moist, bushy bank. Angelica sylrestris, Lycopodium inundatum, Polypodium Dryopteris, Pol. calcareum (one specimen), Gnaphalium rectum, Empetrum nigrum, Pyrola minor (by the side of the private coach-road), and Orobanche elatior occur in the same locality, as does Circea lutetiana, but of so dwarf a stature, although growing in a damp situation, and with leaves so decidedly heart-shaped, as to be easily mistaken for, if indeed it be not, Cir. alpina. In the woods which cover the sides of this valley I found several colonies of Helix nitens, of a very large size, occupying rounded excavations under stones, which in three instances also contained a rather uncommon beetle (Cychrus rostratus). Pupa edentula is very common, adhering to the back of the barren fronds of Blechnum boreale; and on the luxuriant herbage which grows on the moist spots by the side of the rivulet traversing the valley, Helix fusca is found sparingly.
In the summer of 1837 I took many specimens of Hylobius straminea ; indeed this beetle was abundantly met with in many localities in the latter part of the summer of last year. This insect afforded a singular instance of tenacity of life: I plunged two specimens into a phial filled with spirits of wine, at the bottom of which they lay apparently dead for three days; on the evening of the ihird day I transfixed them with a pin, and stuck them on a setting-board ; the next day, to my surprise, I found them alive, and as active as when I first took them.
In the barren pastures Gentiana Amarella grows plentifully; and in several localities, as about Wootton, Cheadle Common, and Dilhorn, that elegant little fern Botrychium
Lunaria occurs in profusion; in a pasture near Wootton I saw hundreds of plants in the space of a few yards : I also had the pleasure of collecting it in Cheadle Park,-the very spot where it had been found many years since by Sir Joseph Banks, who was then Lord of the Manor of some large estates in this neighbourhood. In the same pasture wherethis fern occurred so abundantly, I took two specimens of Ludius cupreus.
Needwood Forest has been given as a habitat for that rare plant, Euphorbia Characias; I fear however it is now extinct there : many botanical friends who have searched the spot have not been able to discover it, and the Rev. T. Gisborne, who has lived in that neighbourhood nearly fifty years, and has made botany a particular study, states in a letter, with a copy of which I have been favoured, that he has been equally unsuccessful. Eu. amygdaloides grows there abundantly.
Among the peculiarities of our Flora I may mention that the place of Papaver Rhæas is supplied by Pa. dubium ; so exclusively so indeed, that out of a large number of red poppies which I caused to be gathered from several localities, I could not discover a single specimen of the former species.Another plant which is common in the south, but with which I never met in Staffordshire, is Malra rotundifolia ; Malva sylvestris is much less common than M. moschata. A whiteflowered variety of Calluna vulgaris grows sparingly on Cheadle Common; I am informed it is abundant about Buxton, Derbyshire.
The following is a list of some of the plants occurring about Cheadle which have not already been incidentally mentioned. Those marked with an asterisk are on the authority of various botanical friends. RANUNCULUS hederaceus
GERANIUM pusillum -auricomus
-lucidum, Alton arvensis
RHAMnus catharticus, Dovedale -flammula
angustifolia CARDAMINE amara, Dimsdale Orobus niger
impatiens, Dovedale Geum rivale, Cresswell
arvensis -(not hirta)
SANGUISORBA officinalis, near the -flavicornis, near Draycott Delph House *SILENE nutans, Dovedale
EPILOBium angustifolium, on a ARENARIA rubra
Ribes alpinum, Needwood Forest
umbellatum EUPATORIUM cannabinum Tussilago Petasites ACHILLEA Ptarmica TANACETUM rulgare CAMPANULA latifolia
- rotundifolia, A. albo *POLEMONIUM cæruleum, Wetton LITHOSPERMUM officinale Lycopsis arrensis Atropa Belladonna, Alton Castle VERONICA scutellata
versicolor, Draycott Stachys annua
-ambigua, Alton *Anagallis tenella, Chartley POLYGONUM Bistorta
ANDROMEDA polifolia, Chartley
ART. V.-Analytic Descriptions of the Groups of Birds composing
the Order Strepitores. By EDWARD Blyth, Esq. No. IV.-Zygodactyli Levirostres, or the Toucan family
(Rhamphastide), and the Touraco and Coly family (Mu
sophagide). THE second principal division of the Strepitores, or the Zygodactyli, comprises every member of the class, save only the parrots (Scansores) and jacamars already described, which has the outer toe reversed, in consequence of which the middle or longest toe becomes the external front one; differing in this respect from the yoke-footed Heterodactyli, or the trogons (Accurvirostres), wherein the first and second toes are