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the different headlands along the coast to this latter subject, as these are the places usually resorted to by these birds. To this end I have drawn up, from Martin's Voyage to St. Kilda, the annexed statements; and, although I am aware that they may be very imperfect, I am induced, by the reflection that no other work offers so much information upon the subject proposed, to submit them; and I hope that they will prove a means of inducing a contribution of much information, additional, and, where necessary, corrective.
It will be perceived that the inhabitants of St. Kilda consider the state of the wind and weather as having a great influence on the arrival, &c., of some of the birds.
In relation to the subject generally, I may quote as follows, from a letter received, this summer, from a friend at the Isle of Wight:-“ The birds never leave the cliffs altogether, but keep coming, through the winter and spring, at short intervals, up to the time of breeding. The first eggs taken this year of the guillemots and razorbills were obtained on Mayol.; egys of the herring gull, on May 4. On May 13., I procured eggs of these in abundance, quite fresh. Puffins and shags sitting, the former having ceased laying.” Is it not probable that these short interrals are caused by the state of the weather, which may more or less affect their acquisition of food ?
Many species that are supposed to inhabit only the sea shore are to be found in other situations: the ring dottrel (Charadrius hiatícula), provincially called the stonehatch, is to be met with abundantly on all the rabbit warrens in the interior of this county [Norfolk] during the breeding season, usually making its appearance in the middle of February, and taking its departure in about the end of August. The first appearance of birds of this species, last spring, upon an adjoining warren was on Feb. 16.; they were sitting on March 30.; and had all taken their departure previously to August 25., to the sea coast, I presume.
Thetford, Norfolk, Sept. 10. 1834.
DATES of the Arrival, Breeding, and Departure of the Rock
Birds at the Island of St. Kilda, wilh some other Facts relative to them, as ascertained by M. Martin, Gent., during a l'isit to that Island, in the Spring of 1697.
Fulmar (Procellaria glacialis Lin.). - Arrival. In November; the sure messenger of evil tidings, being always accompanied with boisterous west winds, great snow, rain, or hail. Breeding. Commonly lays its egg about the 1st, 2d, or 3d day of May. The young ones are hatched in the middle of
June, and are ready to take wing before July 20. Departure. Stays there all the year, except the month of September, and part of October.
Remarks. A sure prognosticator of the west wind. If it comes to land, no west wind is to be expected for some time; but if it keeps at sea, or goes to sea from the land, whether the wind blows from the south, north, or east, or there is a perfect calm, its keeping the sea is always a certain presage of an approaching west wind.
Lavy, or Foolish Guillemot (Uria Troíle Lath.). — Arrival. With a south-westwind, if fair, Feb. 20. Breeding. No remark. Departure. Depends upon the inhabitants' taking or leaving its first, second, or third egg. Remarks. If it stays upon land for the space of three days without intermission, it is a sign of southerly wind and fair weather ; but, if it goes to sea before the third expires, it is then a sign of a storm.
Falk, or Razorbill (Alca Tórda Lin.). — Arrival. No remark. Breeding. Lays its egg in May; its young take wing in the middle of July. Departure. No remark.
Solan Goose (Pelecanus Bassanus Lin.). — Arrival. About the middle of March, with a south-west wind, warm snow or rain. Breeding. They continue to pluck grass for their nests from their coming till the young fowl is ready to fly in August or in September. Departure. According as the inhabitants determine the time, i. e., by taking away or leaving its first, second, or third egg. Remarks. There is a tribe of barren Solan geese, which have no nests, and sit upon the bare rock; these are not the young fowls of a year old, whose dark colour would soon distinguish them, but old ones, in all things like the rest.
Borger, or Puffin (Alca árctica Lin.).- Arrival. With a south-west wind, about March 22. Breeding. Lay their egg April 22., and produce a fowl May 22., if their first egg be not taken away. Departure. No remark.
Scraber, or Shearwater (Procellaria Puffinus Lin.). - Arrival. In March, and in the nighttime, without regard to any wind. Breeding. Its nest is very far under ground, whence the bird never comes in daylight. Departure. Goes away in August, if its first egg be spared. Remarks. It is never to be seen but in the night, being all the day either abroad fishing, or upon its nest.
Assilag, or Storm Petrel (Procellària pelágica Lin.). Arrival. About March 22., without any regard to winds. Breeding. Produces the fowl towards the middle of October. Departure. Goes away about the end of November.
Reddag, (supposed) Kittiwake (Larus Ríssa Lin.). - Arrival. April 15., with a south-west wind. Breeding. Lays its egg
about the middle of May. Departure. Goes away in the month of August. Remarks. There are three sorts of sea malls (gulls) here; the first of a grey colour, like a goose; the second considerably less, and of a grey colour; and the third sort white, and less in size than a tame duck, called reddag. Gair Fowl, or Great Auk (Alca impénnis Lin.). — Arrival. May 1, without regard to any wind. Breeding. Lays its egg upon the bare rock; and, if it be taken away, it lays no more for that year. Departure. Goes away about the middle of June. Jirma, or Oyster-Catcher (Haematopus ostrálegus.).-Arrival. In May. Breeding. No remark. Departure. Goes away in August. Remarks. If it comes the beginning of May, it is a sign of a good summer; if later, the contrary is observed. The inhabitants observe, that, when the April moon goes far into May, the fowls are ten or twelve days later in laying their eggs than they usually are. Every fowl lays an egg three different times, except the gair fowl (great auk) and fulmar, which lay but once. If the first or second egg be taken away, every fowl lays but one other egg that year, except the sea malls (gulls), and they usually lay the third egg, whether the first or second egg be taken away or not.
[In W. 415–425. there is a communication of much interest by Mr. Salmon himself, consisting of “Observations on the Eggs and Birds which were met with in a Three
Weeks’ Sojourn in the Orkney Islands.”]
[THE state of weather must much influence the movements of the rock birds. Mr. Macgillivray (in his account of the Outer Hebrides in Cheek's Edin. Journ. of Nat. and Geograph. Science, i. 249.), in a sketch of a winter tempest witnessed from a headland of the west coast of Harris, has these words : — “No sign of life is to be seen, save when a gull, labouring hard to bear itself up against the blast, hovers overhead, or shoots athwart the gloom like a meteor. Long ranges of giant waves rush in succession towards the shores. The thunder of the shock echoes among the crevices and caves; the spray mounts along the face of the cliffs to an astonishing height; the rocks shake to their summit, and the baffled wave rolls back to meet its advancing successor. If one, at this season, venture, by some slippery path, to peep into the haunts of the cormorant and rock pigeon, he finds them huddled together in melancholy silence. For whole days and nights they are sometimes doomed to feel the gnawings of hunger, unable to make way against the storm; and often, during the winter, they can only make a short daily excursion in quest of a precarious morsel of food.”
Similar storms may obtain at the time and place of the intended departure of any species of bird, and cause it to defer its migration until a more conducive state of weather is established.]
ART. VI. On the Habits and Note of the Grey Wagtail, and on the Note of the Spring Wagtail. By T. G., of Clitheroe, Lancashire.
We have the grey wagtail with us the whole year; but it is rather a rare bird at all times, and in all the localities for it with which I am acquainted. I very strongly suspect that Selby is mistaken about this bird when he says, that, “previous to its departure in September, it assembles in small flocks or families, which haunt the meadows or bare pastures.” This does not agree with my observations on it; although it is quite true, if applied to the spring wagtail. On the contrary, the grey wagtail, which stays with us through the winter, is a solitary bird, except in the breeding season; and the young ones, which certainly associate in broods for a month or two after leaving the nest, are dispersed before September. As to their frequenting the meadows and bare pastures, although I see them at all times of the year (and a pair or two breed, every year, near my house), and although they are birds with whose peculiar note and habits I am as well acquainted as I am with those of the house sparrow, yet I have never known them frequent the fields at any time. As far as I have observed them, they invariably seek their food on the beds of the rivers, brooks, and ditches; where their shrill note often betrays them to persons who would otherwise never see them.
This bird may be distinguished from the spring wagtail, very easily, by its note, at any time, but particularly when flying; yet, notwithstanding that the difference is very apparent to a person who hears both, it is not so easy to describe it. In attempting to do this, I hope, therefore, I shall be excused if I do not make it so obvious in the description as it is in reality. The latter part of the note of the grey wagtail is a little higher in the musical scale than the former part; and it is very staccato. Thus: —
Vol. VII.- No. 43. - P P
it being usually altered as the bird makes a spring in the air. * While the latter part of the note of the summer bird is lower in the scale than the former part; which is more prolonged than in the note of the grey wagtail, and is slurred into the latter part something in the following manner :
It is also softer and sweeter than the note of the grey wagtail; which bird, like the water ouzel, is fond of the letter z. I do not, of course, mean it to be understood that these notes are either of the same pitch, or that they bear the same relation to each other that the notes of the birds do, but intend the sketches as rude attempts at illustrating what I could not so well explain in any other way.
I have been amused with a singular habit which I have noticed in several individuals of the grey wagtail. They were fond of looking at their own images in the windows, and attacking them; uttering their peculiar cry, pecking, and fluttering against the glass, as earnestly as if the object they saw had been a real rival, instead of an imaginary one : or, perhaps, they were only admiring themselves, and testifying their satisfaction in this way. It is remarkable that two of these instances were in the autumn, when the same motives for either love or animosity, which would be likely to actuate them in the spring, would no longer exist. The first of these instances occurred when I was a boy, and was repeated daily, and almost hourly, both against the windows of my father's house, and those of that of our neighbour; who, being rather superstitious, was alarmed about it, and came to consult my mother on the subject. She said there was a bird, which, her brother had told her, was a barley-bird (Motacilla flava), which was continually flying against her windows; and, as
* Persons conversant with the habits of birds will readily comprehend me: for the sake of those who are not, I will just observe that the flight of all the wagtails is very peculiar; being a succession of great leaps in the air (if I may be allowed the expression), which form a series of curves; the bird rising considerably at the commencement of each effort, and sinking again at the close. (See, in IV. 418., Mr. Main's remarks on the mode of flight of the families of Lóxia, Pyrrhula, Emberiza, and Fringilla.")