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Full text of "The birds of the British Isles and their eggs"

THE BIRDS 

OF THE BRITISH ISLES 

AND THEIR. EGGS 



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FOR THE PEOPLE 

FOR EDVCATION 

FOR SCIENCE 






LIBRARY 

OF 

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM 

OF 

NATURAL HISTORY 





THE WAYSIDE 
AND WOODLAND 
jtf jtf SERIES 



THE BIRDS 

OF 

THE BRITISH ISLES 
AND THEIR EGGS 




2 /y. I. 



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THE BIRDS 

OF THE BRITISH ISLES 
AND THEIR EGGS 



BY 



'X (Hi. 



T. A. COWARD, M.B.O.U. 

F.Z.S., F.E.S. ,i-q.<i 

AUTHOR OF ^^ \ • 

IIIRDS OF CHEbHIRP," "VERTEBRATE FAUNA OF CHESHIRE," 

"migration OF birds" 



SECOND SERIES 

comprising 
FAMILIES A NATION TO TETRAONID^ 

WITH 

213 ACCURATELY COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS 

BY ARCHIBALD THORBURN AND OTHERS 

REPRODUCED FROM LORD LILFORDS WORK 

COLOURED FIGURES OF THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLANDS 

AND 69 PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS 

BY E. L. TURNER, R. KEARTON 

AND OTHERS 



LONDON 

FREDERICK WARNE & CO. LTD. 

AND NEW YORK 
1920 



COPYRIGHT ' 

^ ' 1920 
{All rights reserved) 



FRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



PREFACE, 



The reception of the previous series justifies the continuation 
of a work which provides accurate coloured figures of all but 
the very rare birds ; the ornithological draughtsmanship of 
Archibald Thorburn, by whom most of the pictures were drawn, 
speaks for itself. In a book of this size it is not possible to 
figure a sufficient number of eggs to represent the great range 
of variation, but a type of egg of most birds which nest in 
Britain has been included, drawn to average size ; in the 
present series white or very light self coloured eggs have been 
omitted, size being stated in the text. To figure all variations 
of eggs of certain species would fill every plate and still the 
range would be incomplete ; the book is not intended solely for 
the egg collector. 

All birds on the British list are dealt with in this and the 
previous series, but more space has intentionally been devoted 
to those which are likely to be met with than to rare stragglers 
and lost wanderers whose accidental occurrence on our shores 
entitles them to a place as birds which have occurred in Britain 
rather than as British birds. The list of reputed species might 
be swelled by the inclusion of many erroneous records ; it is far 
too long as it is. 

Classification and nomenclature are, in the main, as in the 
B.O,U. List of 191 5, but after consideration the Committee 



vi PREFACE. 

engaged upon revision has decided to adhere to the Inter- 
national rules, and a few alterations appear in the present 
volume. I have, moreover, slightly deviated from the list, in- 
cluding some species and excluding others, stating my reason 
for this change. In order that nomenclature in the First Series 
may also agree with the recent and it is hoped final decision of 
systematic ornithologists throughout the world, the following 
names should be altered : — 

Sylvia orphea, page 165, should be S. hortensis (Gmelin). 

Tjirdus musicus^ page 196, should be T. philomelus Brehm. 

T. iliaciis, page 199, should be T. musicus Linn. 

Pha'nicurus tifys, page 212, should be P. gibraltariensis 
(Gmel). 

Accentor, pages 232, 235, should be Prunella. 

Flainmea flamniea, page 289, should be F. alba (Scop.). 

Asio accipit7-imis, page 294, should be A.flammeus (Pontopp.). 

jSyctala, page 300, should be Cryptoglaux. 

Astur palninbarius, page 322, should be A. gentilis (Linn.). 

In the forthcoming British List and in the suggested List of 
Birds of the World, to be compiled by British and American 
ornithologists, other alterations may be found necessary, but the 
above are the most important. 

]\Iy object throughout has been to give more space to the 
life history and appearance in the field of the species described 
than to distribution or detail of plumage ; the salient colour and 
form as seen through a field-glass is of more value to the out- 
door naturalist than minute particulars detected in examination 
of museum skins. Nevertheless the museum collection has not 
been neglected, and all descriptions have been checked. 

Where my experiences difter from those of others, as recorded 
in te.xt-books, I have adhered to my own observations, risking 
criticism ; many a statement, quoted as a rule, is really founded 
on an exception, and slavishly copied again and again because 



PREFACE. vii 

the original observer had a well-earned reputation. I would 
rather state what I believe to be true and be corrected if in 
error, than copy an orthodox view which may, some day, be 
shown to be misleading. 

To all who have provided photographs for the black and 
white plates I am grateful, and for the assistance in field 
observation given by many personal friends. Miss E. L. 
Turner supplied the photographs for Plates 3, 22, 25, 30, 34, 37, 
47, 49» 52, 58, 60, 88, 90, 99, 109, 121, 122, 125, 127, 128, 139, 
144, 146, and end papers i and 2 ; Mr. T. Taylor for Plates 8, 
II, 40, 67, 76, 79, 83, 86, 92, 97, loi, 102, 104, 106, 118, 148, 151, 
153, 155, and end paper 3 ; Mr. R. Chislett for Plates 16,43, 5o> 
63, 65, 70, 72, 84, 134, and 142 ; Mr. R. Kearton for Plates 33, 
69, 75, 81, 113, 141, and end paper 4 ; Mr. O. J. Wilkinson for 
Plates 95 and 132 ; and Mr. A. T. Mole for Plate 5. Plate 6 is 
from a photograph by the late Canon Bower, and is reproduced 
by the kind permission of Mrs. Bower; Plate no is from my 
own photograph. 

T. A. COWARD. 



THE BIRDS 
OF THE BRITISH ISLES 

AiND THEIR EGGS. 

Order ANSERIFORMES. 

Family AN AT I D.^. Geese, Swans, and Ducks. 

The Anatidcp, all swimming birds, have the three toes in 
front connected by membrane ; they are web-footed. 

Grey Lag-Goose. Anser anser (Linn.). 

The geese which occur in Britain fall into three natural 
divisions or groups, the first consisting of five species, known 
as the "grey geese." Of these the Grey Lag (Plate 2) 
is the only one that nests with us ; the others are winter 
visitors. A century and more ago the Grey Lag bred on moors 
and marshes in various parts of England ; now it nests only 
in the north of Scotland and some Hebridean islands. It 
breeds in northern Europe and Asia, and winters in the 
Mediterranean and southern Asia. 

Grey geese are exceedingly variable in size and plumage ; the 
assertion that any species may infallibly be identified by certain 

Series II. B 



2 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

characters is apt to mislead. Passing " skeins " of grey geese 
usually fly too high and fast for identification, and "gaggles " 
feeding or resting are too alert to permit close scrutiny. Even 
in the hand a bird, especially if immature, may puzzle an expert 
by its variation from type ; disputes over species, sub-species, 
and races are never ending. 

The typical characters of the Grey Lag are lavender-grey 
shoulders, lower back and rump, and flesh-coloured white- 
nailed bill and legs. The Bean-Goose, which approaches it in 
size, has a brown rump, its legs are pink, and its bill black and 
orange. From the White-fronted Goose, with orange, white- 
nailed bill and orange legs, it may be told by its pale shoulders 
and rump ; the Pink-footed has a dark rump, though its 
shoulders are blue and its legs pale and fleshy, but its bill is 
black and yellow and the terminal nail black. These characters 
look simple, but immaturity and individual variation have led 
to errors. 

The origin of the name is obscure. The New Oxford 
Dictionary supports the view of Prof. Skeat that it was the 
goose that lagged behind when others migrated, but Mr. 
Harting suggests that it is derived from the Old English lea, a 
field, and others have cited the Middle English lac^ a lake. 
An old sporting term for a flock of geese was a lag. 

The general habits of all grey geese are similar ; they are 
normally diurnal feeders, cropping grass and gleaning grain. 
When, however, the fields are disturbed by farmers or others, 
or on moonlight nights, they adapt themselves to circumstances, 
and after spending the day on the banks or tide-line, flight 
inland at dusk. On the coast the uncovered banks are their 
usual nocturnal haunts, and inland the gaggles sleep in some 
open country or quiet water ; at daybreak they go off to feed, 
flying in ordered lines or in chevron formation. If forced to 
remain in the estuar)- or on the shore during the day they are 
unsettled and restless, skeins repeatedly taking short flights to 




■if 




2 P/. 2. 



Grey Lag-Goose. 
Bean-Goose. 



B2. 



GREY LAG-GOOSE. 3 

reconnoitre. Grain, grass, clover, and other vegetable substances 
are their regular food ; in many places they can find sufficient 
grass on the saltings without risking trips to the cultivated land. 

Migratory Grey Lags reach us from mid-September onwards, 
and remain until April or May. Certain localities attract the 
bird, which is more plentiful on the west than east coast ; even 
in the west and in Ireland it is local. The call in flight is loud 
and sharp, a deep sonorous ackh, ackh, almost exactly the note 
of the domestic goose, of which it is probably the most direct 
ancestor ; when the birds settle, the clonking clamour resembles 
that of other greys. During the breeding season the pair con- 
verse in familiar language, the contented undertones of the farm- 
yard. On land it walks with ease and dignity, without the waddle 
of the overfed domestic bird ; it swims lightly, and if threatened 
during the moult, when through the simultaneous loss of the 
flight feathers the bird is helpless, it dives with skill. In flight 
the slow, measured beats betoken strength, and the speed 
attained has astonished many an inexperienced sportsman. 

The nest is large, placed in thick heather, rushes, or other 
vegetation. Little or no lining is provided when, in mid-April, 
the four to six yellowish-white eggs are laid, but the goose con- 
stantly adds down until the eggs are concealed. The average 
size, according to the Rev. F. C. R. Jourdain, is 3*4 ins. by 
2*3 ins. The sitting goose (Plate 3) is shy and nervous, turning 
her head from side to side, her neck feathers dividing in sinuous 
creases ; she is on the alert to sight or scent danger, as Miss 
E. L. Turner found when photographing the bird figured. 
The down-clad yellowish-brown and yellow goslings are usually 
hatched in May ; their under surface is at first a wonderlul 
golden yellow. 

The head and neck of the adult bird is light brown, the 
upper parts, greyish brown, darkest on the wings and scapulars ; 
the shoulders, lower back, and rump are blue-grey. The ashy- 
grey tail is tipped and bordered with white, and the upper and 



4 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

lower tail-coverts are pure white. The breast is suffused with 
brown, and the belly is dull white with a few dark blotches and 
bars. There are often some white feathers at the base of the 
bill. The sexes are alike and there is no marked seasonal 
change. The white-nailed bill and the legs are flesh-coloured, 
the irides dark brown. The immature bird is darker and lacks 
the spots and bars on the under parts and the white above the 
bill, whilst the bill is yellow or orange and the legs are piler. 
Mr. Abel Chapman found great variation in the colour of legs 
and bill in both old and young ; it ranged from almost white 
to yellow and, exceptionally, orange. The gander is the bigger 
bird, but the size varies greatly, and all measurements of this 
and other species must be treated as averages. Length, 
30-34 ins. Wing, 18 ins. Tarsus, 3*3 ins. 

Bean-Goose. Anser fahalis Latham. 

The Bean-Goose (Plate 2) is a rather uncommon winter 
visitor to most parts of Great Britain and Ireland, though 
locally it is numerous. It breeds far north in Europe and 
Siberia, and occurs in winter throughout Europe and in many 
parts of Asia. Bean-geese with much yellow in the bill have 
been separated as A. arveiisis, but there is great variety in the 
soft parts of all grey geese. 

The back bill crossed by an orange band, and the orange 
legs serve to identify the typical Bean ; the legs of the Pink- 
foot, which has a somewhat similar bill, are flesh-coloured. 
The general colour, especially on the shoulders and rump, is 
darker than that of the Grey Lag ; on the wing its head and 
neck look very dark, darker even than the Pink-foot, and the 
white upper tail-covcrts show up against the brown rump. To 
my ears the call, honk^ honk, is softer and more bell-like than the 
note of the Pink-foot. The flight is strong and direct, the 
wing-beats slow ; on the water the bird looks large but rather 



WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. 5 

slender, and its weak bill long ; as in other greys, 'iihe feathers 
on the nape and back of the neck stand out in a mane. When 
the bird is feeding the neck is not curved as in the swans, but 
has a sharp kink or angle ; this is noticeable in any greys, when 
with neck stretched and beak open one bird attacks another in 
play or anger. 

Immigrant Beans arrive in September and October, and 
some linger until April or later. They share the field-feeding 
habit with the Grey Lag, and both near the coast and inland 
the bird is a hanger-on at the harvest. 

The upper parts of the mature bird are greyish brown, darker 
than in the Grey Lag, but the shoulders are sometimes grey, 
though never so blue. The pattern or barring on the wings 
and scapulars, due to the pale and often white edgings of the 
feathers contrasting with the brown, is more distinct than in 
the previous species. One March-killed male examined was 
almost as grey as a Grey Lag, but the rump was distinctly 
brown. The under parts are pale brown on the breast, passing 
to dirty white, often showing obscure bars. The bill is black 
at base and tip, including the nail, crossed by an orange or 
deep yellow band, the size and shape of which varies individu- 
ally. The legs are orange or pinkish yellow, the irides dark 
brown. There are sometimes white feathers at the base of the 
bill. The goose is smaller than the gander ; the young bird 
is darker except on the rufous-tinged neck. Length, 31-34 ins. 
Wing, 17*5-19 ins. Tarsus, 3 ins. 

White-fronted Goose. Anser albifrojis (Scop.). 

The White-fronted Goose (Plate 4) is a winter visitor, often 
numerous, especially on the west coast and in Ireland. Its 
northern breeding area extends from Greenland and Iceland to 
northern Siberia, including most Arctic islands ; in winter it 
reaches southern Europe, northern India, and north Africa. 



6 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The North American bird, often described as a sub-species, 
winters so far south as the Gulf of Mexico. 

The White-fronted Goose, at any rate when mature, is easy to 
identify ; it is smaller than the Grey Lag and the white at the 
base of the bill is a broad and conspicuous band. The beak is 
orange with a white nail, distinguishing it from the Bean and 
Pink-foot, and the legs are darker than those of the Grey Lag ; 
the only species with which it can be confused is the smaller 
and darker Lesser White-fronted Goose. There are broad 
dark bars on the breast and belly, and the note, from which 
it gets its name of " Laughing Goose," is distinct, louder and 
harsher than the metallic cry of the Pink-foot. W^hen the two 
are flying together the White-fronted is easily picked out by its 
frontlet and dark flanks. Immature birds, however, have less 
white on the forehead, and in some, young females probably, 
there are no bars ; the nail maybe not white but brown, though 
never black. 

The habits are similar to those of other greys ; it feeds on 
grass and clover, but is perhaps more of a marsh than cornfield 
species, and may be seen in estuaries moving with the tide, 
flighting to the marshes and fields at high tide and returning 
with the ebb. It arrives and departs at the same seasons as 
other greys, and is not infrequent in inland marshes and river 
valleys ; the bird is most abundant in December and January. 

The plumage is ashy brown with pale edges to the feathers 
of the back, and the under parts are crossed by dark brown or 
black bars and blotches ; the flanks are dark brown, the under 
tail-coverts white. The legs and bill are orange, the nail white, 
the irides dark brown. Length, 27-28 ins. Wing, 16-17 ins. 
Tarsus, 2'6 ins. 

Lesser White-fronted Goose. Anser erythropus (Linn.). 

This small goose was added to the British list by Alfred 
Chapman, who shot one in September, 1886, near Holy Island. 






j^^ 






. '^.^ -J^ 



2 PL 4. 



White-fronted Goose. 
Pink-footed Goose. 



B 6. 



PINK-FOOTED GOOSE. 7 

Others have since been reported, but the exact status of 
the species is uncertain. The range of the bird is restricted ; 
it is known to breed in Lapland and Novaia Zemha and in 
eastern Siberia, and winters rather further north than the last 
species. It is smaller, darker, and has a shorter bill than the 
other, and sometimes has a greater extent of frontal white ; 
the validity of the species has, however, been questioned, and 
it might, with some reason, be treated as a small race of A. 
albifrons. Chapman's bird was immature ; the breast was 
"warm reddish brown " and the belly grey dappled with black. 
The bill was pink, the legs yellow-ochre. Length, 20-24 ins. 
Wing, 15-5 ins. Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Pink-footed Goose. Afiser brachyrhyncJms Baillon. 

The Pink-footed Goose (Plate 4), a winter visitor, is in 
many parts the best known of our grey geese ; though most 
numerous on the east coast it is locally abundant in the west, 
but only a straggler to Ireland. It breeds in Iceland and 
Spitzbergen and perhaps in other islands, and winters in 
western Europe. 

As the specific name implies, the bird may be recognised by 
its short bill, black at base and tip and with an intermediate 
pink rather than orange band, usually smaller than that on the 
bill of the Bean. The legs are flesh-coloured or pink. Although 
a brownish bird it looks very light in sunlight, this being partly 
due to the blue-grey shoulders and greyish back, darker than 
those of the Grey Lag. 

The Pink-foot is gregarious; the gaggles are frequently huge. 
The skeins fly in lines, V's, or double chevron formation ; the 
birds call constantly as they fly ; their metallic voices carry for 
great distances. The quality varies, some are harsh, others 
shrill and musical. When following the tide the birds alight 
on the uncovered banks and stand alert with necks uplifted. 



8 TEIE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

When satisfied that they are secure, they rest or preen their 
plumage, but when driven off by the tide immediately begin to 
call and rise with a mighty rush of wings and babel of voices. 

Many birds reach the west coast about the third week in 
September, but the skeins come in gradually and it is usually 
the end of October before the winter flocks are complete. 
Emigration begins in March, and most have left before the 
end of April. As soon as they arrive the birds visit the fields, 
gleaning in the stubbles in the early morning and at dusk, 
but when forced by circumstances to avoid the cultivated land 
they crop the grass on the saltings : they are always shy and 
nervous, and the approach of a man sends them off "honking" 
to the banks. 

The Pink-footed Goose was long confused with the much 
larger Bean, but in the majority of examples the colour of the 
bill is noticeably darker than the legs. Ridgway's "vinaceous 
pink " was the shade of the bill of most birds that I have 
examined. In one bird the pale pink legs were distinctly 
tinged with vermilion. The head and neck are seal brown, the 
upper parts greyish brown, darkest on the wings and scapulars, 
and with bars formed by the pale feather tips ; the rump is 
brown. The breast is brown, the belly suffused with grey 
shading to pure white. The irides are dark brown. The 
young bird is darker. Length, 27-28 ins. Wing, 16*5-1 7*5 ins. 
Tarsus, 2*8 ins. 

Snow-Goose. Chen hyperborcus (Pallas). 

As a winter visitor from the Arctic of eastern Asia and 
western America the Snow-Goose (Plate 10) has been reported 
so frequently as to claim a place in our avifauna, though it is 
always rare and uncertain. Two forms occur in America, the 
Lesser C. h. hypcrboreus being the western race, and the 
Greater Snow-Goose, C. h. nivalis (Forster), breeding in Green- 



SNOW -GOOSE. 9 

land, yet it is curious that the latter, which migrates south along 
the Atlantic seaboard so far as Florida, has only once been 
known to visit us — an example obtained in Ireland in 1886. 
The smaller bird ranges south in winter to the western States 
and Mexico, and has been met with in various parts of 
Europe ; it is therefore probable, especially as Gatke knew the 
bird in Heligoland, that the autumnal movements of the 
species are westward and that our visitors do not reach us via 
Greenland. 

The Snow-Goose, white with black wings, is conspicuous 
and unlike any other wild goose ; its black flight feathers 
prevent confusion with the swans, and the only other large 
white bird that in any way resembles it is the Gannet, whose 
short neck, cigar-shaped body, and easy sailing flight are 
distinctive. No wildfowler would be misled, and though there 
are more reports of birds seen than obtained, records by such 
observers as Sir R. Payne-Gallwey, H. A. Macpherson, and Mr. 
G. Bolam leave no doubt in the mind. Furthermore, in severe 
winters, flocks have been observed in different parts practically 
at the same time. The bird has been seen or shot on both the 
east and west coasts of England and in Ireland. 

The flight is strong, and Macpherson noticed it as 
"leisurely " ; the voice is described as harsh. The visits have 
usually been during exceptionally hard weather, but a bird was 
seen in the Solway on August 22nd, 1S84. 

The adult bird is white with black primaries. The legs and 
bill are red, the latter with a whitish nail ; the irides are dark 
brown. The young bird is brownish grey, darkest on the upper 
surface ; its bill is almost black, and its legs plumbeous tinged 
with reddish yellow (Dresser). Length, 25-28 ins. Wing, 
15-17 ins. Tarsus, 3 ins. Greater Snow-Goose: Length, 
30 ins. Wing, 174 ins. Tarsus, 3*25 ins. 



lO THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Brent Goose Branta bemida (Linn.). 

The Brents and Barnacles are collectively known as " black 
geese " to distinguish them from the " grey "' group. They are 
more maritime in their habits than the grain-eating greys and 
feed largely on Zostera and other marine plants. Two, if 
not three geographical races of Brent have been recorded 
as winter visitors to our islands, and the B.O.U. Committee, 
though rejecting the Black-bellied Pacific B. nigricans 
(Lawrence), with a complete or almost complete white collar, 
as having been recorded on insufficient evidence, retain the 
dark B. b. bertiicla and the Pale-breasted American B. b.glaiico- 
gaster (Brehm), which the editors of the " Hand-List" now 
consider as varieties, since, as shown by M. Alpheraky, they 
nest in the same area. 

The Brent (Plate 7) is, on the wing, a small dark goose, 
stumpy and almost duck-like. The small white patches on its 
neck, and the white tail-coverts and abdomen show con- 
spicuously in contrast with the black head and neck and 
general dusky plumage ; the white stern is specially notice- 
able, for the coverts above and below almost screen the dark 
tail. The bird is very gregarious ; huge packs visit the east 
coast and Ireland, and it is met with in smaller numbers all 
round our shores. 

October is the usual time of arrival, though a few come 
in September; Mr. Abel Chapman considers the 17th of 
the latter month exceptionally early for Northumberland, 
and says that the numbers are seldom large until after 
Christmas. In two consecutive years the first reached the 
Yorkshire coast on October 6th and September nth, but 
in the former case one bird only, some days before I saw 
others. Most leave in March or April, but stragglers may 
remain until May or even later. The Brent feeds by day, but 
it rarely leaves the shore, finding its vegetable, and occasionally 



/^^f^f^l* f^^l^ 





€ 



::^^ 




2 /'/. 7. 



Brent Goose. 
Barnacle-Goose. 



B II. 



BARNACLE-GOOSE. II 

animal food — molluscs and worms — on or In the ooze of tidal 
estuaries. Naturally its movements are largely regulated by the 
tide, and it occasionally feeds in the dusk. The birds, in long 
lines, follow the receding water, their angled necks bent as 
they gobble the sea-grass, or are slowly driven back by the 
flood, still feeding ; in shallow water they swim and dip their 
heads to drag up the weed, or upend like ducks, their white 
sterns alone visible. The Brent walks gracefully, can run 
fast, and flies with considerable speed. A disturbed pack 
flies hither and thither, taking ordered formation only when 
travelling for a distance. The flight call is loud and metallic, 
a double note frequently repeated. At high tide the birds 
swim in the open, avoiding the shore, but return as soon as 
the banks are exposed. 

Adult Brents have the head, neck, upper breast, and back 
slate-black, a small white patch, in which black is often 
mingled, on either side of the neck. This patch varies in size, 
and occasionally meets in front, forming a more or less complete 
ring. The lower neck is slate-grey, the sides of the rump and 
upper tail-coverts white. In the dark-breasted form the under 
parts below the breast are slate-brown, showing distinct whitish 
bars on the flanks ; in the paler form the lower breast is brown 
and the rest white or suffused with grey. The bill and legs 
are almost black, the irides dark brown. Immature birds are 
browner, and the neck spot is hardly visible. Length, 22 ins. 
Wing, 135 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Barnacle-Goose. Branta kucopsis (Bechst.). 

The Barnacle-Goose (Plate 7) nests in Greenland, Spitz- 
bergen, and probably elsewhere in the Arctic, and in winter is 
common in northern European seas, and occasionally reaches 
the Mediterranean and Azores. It is more frequent in the 
Hebrides than the Brent, and is plentiful on the west coast of 



12 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Scotland and the north of Ireland ; in the Solway it is less 
numerous than formerly, and though it used to visit the 
Cheshire Dee in some numbers it is now only a rare straggler. 
Its winter quarters are more northerly than those of the Brent. 

The Barnacle, though a marine feeder, is less strictly addicted 
to salt water than the Brent, for it will feed on marshes and 
cultivated land bordering bays and inlets. Larger and paler 
than the last species, its black crown and neck and white face 
are its noticeable features ; its under surface is greyish white. 
The first Barnacles arrive towards the end of September, but 
the bird is stldom numerous until late October ; they leave in 
March and April, but emigration is often delayed in the north. 
It is a nocturnal feeder, at any rate on the pastures ; during 
the day it rests on flats or marshes, but I have disturbed 
birds which were apparently feeding by day, and the flocks 
will visit the edge of the saltings to graze. Dr. Patten de- 
scribes the voice as low and " pl-easing to the ear," though 
it has been likened to a "coughing grunt," and a gaggle can 
raise a clanging clamour of sharp yelping cries. Not only is 
the bird easy on its feet, but it can run swiftly, scampering 
across the flats with outstretched neck after a companion in 
anger or play. The flight is powerful and often at a height ; 
indeed, it is likely that it is at times above the range of vision. 
When in April, 1913, eighteen birds were killed by lightning 
in the Solway, Mr. Portal records that none was seen or heard 
until their bodies crashed to the ground. The name is not 
derived from its food, though, like the Brent, it will eat molluscs 
and crustaceans, but from the ancient myth that the ship- 
barnacles gave birth to gee-e. 

The white face and forehead of the Barnacle is set off by its 
black cap and neck, and there is a black mark from the bill 
through the eye. The upper back and breast are black, the 
lower back and rump brown, but the upper parts generally are 
lavender-grey barred with black and white. The under parts 



CANADA GOOSE. I 3 

are white, as are the sides of the rump and upper tail-coverts ; 
on the flanks are faint grey bars. The bill and legs are black, 
the irides dark brown. The blacks in the old bird are replaced 
by brown in the young, and the whites are suffused with buff 
and spotted ; the barring on the flanks is often more distinct. 
Length, 25 ins. Wing, 16 ins. Tarsus, 2'2 ins. 

Canada Goose. Branta canadensis (Linn.). 

The Canada Goose (Plate 5) is usually denied a place in the 
British avifauna on the ground that when it has been recorded it 
must have ** escaped from captivity or from ornamental waters.' 
The bird, which has several well-marked forms, is a native of 
North America, migrating so far south as the Gulf of Mexico. 
Our bird is referable to the large eastern race. 

Though there is no actual proof that the Canada Goose ever 
reaches us as a migrant, birds which have appeared in the 
Hebrides may have been truly wild. Yarrell included it as 
British because it has been known as an introduced species 
for more than two centuries. hideed it is, at any rate in 
certain areas, so firmly established as a free-living and not 
domestic bird, that its claim seems to be as sound as that of 
the Mute Swan, the reintroduced Capercaillie, the Little Owl, 
and the Pheasant. 

The Canada differs from the smaller Barnacle in the pattern 
and extent of the white on the face and the smaller amount of 
black on breast and neck. The upper parts are brown, not 
grey. In many parts of our islands the bird is merely a 
straggler, always treated with suspicion, but in East Anglia, 
Lancashire, and Cheshire, and a few other areas, it lives a wild 
life, nesting on the borders of broads, meres, or pools, and living 
gregariously during the greater part of the year. In Cheshire 
no one claims them, no one attempts to capture and mark 
them ; flocks of a score to two hundred birds wander from 
mere to mere. 



14 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The nest, usually close to water, is a large structure of reeds 
or other waterside plants, thickly lined with down. I have 
found from four to seven eggs. The gander swims on guard, 
though often at a distance, but the clanging alarm of the goose 
will bring him at once ; then both will swim near the nest 
honking and extending their necks in sinuous curves, en- 
deavouring to terrify the intruder. The whitish eggs are usually 
laid early in April. 

The normal migratory instinct appears to have been lost, but 
the birds are wanderers during the winter, and the numbers to 
be met with in any particular haunt vary greatly. When the 
young are on the wing in July, the Cheshire birds, in flocks, 
flight nightly towards the hills, returning to the meres in 
the early morning, but whether the object is to roost on the 
reservoirs or to feed at night on the moors I have failed to 
discover. Normally the birds feed by day on the borders of 
the meres, cropping the grass, and they also visit cultivated 
fields. These passing flocks of " wild geese " are frequently 
noticed in the first half of July, but seldom later, though the 
birds move freely during autumn and winter. The note is a 
resounding ho)ik, honk^ sounded if the feeding birds are 
approached, and as they walk towards the safety of the water ; 
they take wing if followed. 

The face to behind the ear-coverts, and the chin and throat, 
are black, and the sides of the face are white, a marked cravat 
in contrast to the black neck. The upper parts are brown, 
pale feathtr-edgings forming bars ; the Hght brown flanks and 
belly are faintly barred. The legs and bill are black, the irides 
brown. Length, \z ins. Wing, 19*5 ins. Tarsus, 3 ins. 

Red-breasted Goose. Branta nificolUs (Pallas). 

The Red-breasted Goose is a western Siberian bird which 
visits and winters on the Caspian and other waters and 




2 yy. s. 



/; 14. 



Young Sheld-duck. 




=^i-Jf 




2 //. 9. 



Bis- 



Whooper Swan. 
Bewick's Swan. 



WHOOPER SWAN. I 5 

occasionally wanders westward. Half a dozen or so of the 
reported occurrences of the bird in England are supposed to 
be due to genuine migration, but others are either errors or 
may be due to wandering from private waters. The showy 
bird appears on mural paintings in Egypt. This goose is 
sociable and a vegetarian ; it has been shot when consorting 
with both Brents and Barnacles. The upper parts are black, 
and the sides of the face and neck and the breast are rich 
chestnut bordered with white. There is a large white patch at 
the base of the bill, separated from the cheeks by a black line 
which passes through the eye from the crown to the chin. The 
belly is black, the flanks and tail-coverts are white. The short 
bill, legs, and irides are dark brown. The immature bird has 
less rufous on the face. Length, 21 ins. Wing, I4'5 ins. 
Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Whooper Swan. Cyg?ms cygnus (Linn.). 

Three swans are on the British list, but two only, both 
winter visitors, can be counted as really wild. The Whooper, 
or Hooper (Plate 9), breeds in northern Europe and Asia and 
ill Iceland, and winters in Europe, central Asia, and occasionally 
north Africa. It is frequent in Scotland and occurs round our 
coasts, though much rarer in Ireland than the smaller Bewick's 
Swan. 

Size, when there is no chance for comparison, is insufficient 
as a means of identification in the field, and there is little 
difference between the Whooper and Mute. The best character 
is the beak. In the Mute this is black at the base, where 
there is also a prominent knob or tubercle ; the rest, except 
for a black line along the cutting edge, is orange ; the black 
reaches to the eye. In both Whooper and Bewick's the 
pattern is reversed and the lemon-yellow extends from the «ye 
to the nostril ; in the former, however, the patch is larger and 



l6 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

more angular, a wedge passing forward into the black tip 
beyond and below the nostril. A curious optical illusion is 
caused by the pattern of the Whooper's bill ; when the bird is 
some distance away the black tip appears to overhang. 

The Whooper seldom arrives before November, for it is, as 
a rule, a severe weather visitor, the conditions in its northern 
haunts rather than those prevaiHng here regulating its appear- 
ance. Its stay depends largely upon its reception ; undisturbed 
birds sometimes linger until June. It is perhaps a more 
frequent visitor to inland waters than its smaller congener. I 
have watched it on meres when Mute Swans were present, but 
have not seen it consort wiih them, but on the Eden at Carlisle 
a single bird came for several years in succession, and finally 
brought a family or companions to swim and feed with the 
Corporation herd of Mutes. Mr. L. E. Hope records that the 
visitors arrived at varying dates from November to February, 
and the latest stay of the original bird was until May 8th ; 
when the numbers had risen to seven and eight the birds left 
in March and April. I saw these birds with the Mutes actually 
in the town at the end of December (Plate 6). 

On the water the shy bird carries its neck stiffly erect, its 
bill at right angles as it turns its head sharply from side to 
side ; its wings rest flat upon its back and are not arched as 
in the Mute. From behind the wings show like two smooth 
cushions ; the short pointed tail is carried horizontally. When 
the head is lowered to feed, the neck has a goose-like angle 
and not the graceful curve of the Mute. Like other swans the 
bird upends, submerging the head and fore parts, paddling 
slowly to hold itself in position ; its wing tips are slightly 
raised. The food, aquatic weeds, molluscs and other animals, 
is mostly obtained from the bottom. When the bird rises, head 
to wind, it flogs the water for some distance. Once under way 
it flies with great speed and power, its neck extended, the swish 
of its long wings producing a whistling sound quite distinct 



BEWICK'S SWAN. 1 7 

from tte throb of the flying Mute. It is, I believe, from this 
and not its call that the bird gets its name, "Whistling Swan." 
The ordinary name is derived from the note, a distinctive 
character. The call is variously described as a " deep-toned 
whistle," a trumpet, bugle, or bass trombone sound ; surely it 
must vary. My own notes say — " a clanging wu-iick or luoo-iick, 
the ending sharply rising." On its breeding ground in Iceland 
Mr. Jourdain heard a nasal, goose-like cry of alarm, and "a 
low but musical song of about seven distinct notes." 

All the swans are white when mature ; their bills vary as 
described above. The legs are blackish, the irides brown. 
The male is the larger bird. The young is pale brown, palest 
beneath ; the bill is flesh-coloured ; the legs at first are fleshy, 
but gradually darken. Length, 60 ins. Wing, 25 ins. Tarsus, 
4'3 ins. 

Bewick's Swan. Cygnus hewicki Yarrell. 

Bewick's Swan (Plate 9) breeds further north in Arctic 
Europe and Asia than the Whooper, and in winter, though it is 
found in various parts of the two continents, its range is more 
northerly. Tt is a winter visitor to our islands, most numerous 
in Scotland and the north and west of Ireland. 

Although much smaller than the Whooper, the shape and 
size of the yellow patch on the basal portion of the short bill of 
Bewick's Swan is the best mark for identification. This patch 
is somewhat rounded in front and does not extend so far as the 
nostril. The colour of the patch is variously described as 
yellow, deep yellow, lemon-yellow, and orange in both this 
species and the Whooper, but in living examples that I have 
seen, usually, at any rate, has been lemon-yellow. Possibly 
these birds were young, for the shade certainly deepens with 
age, but I suspect that in some cases the writers have been 
misled by the dark colour of a dry skin. One distinction 
between the two wild swans, not always clearly shown in 

Series II. C 



l8 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

fij^uies and seldom mentioned, is that there is one patch in the 
Whooper and two in Bewick's ; that is to say, the black on 
the bill of the Whooper only reaches part way up the culmen, 
whereas in this bird it extends to the forehead. This black 
line bordered on either side by yellow is very noticeable when 
the bird faces the observer. In the Whooper a band of colour 
crosses the base of the bill. 

In general habits, food, flight, and appearance Bewick's 
resembles the larger bird, with which it was long confused, but 
on the average its visits are shorter. There are records of its 
arrival in October, and Dr. Eagle Clarke gives November as its 
usual month for Scotland, but as a rule it is in December, 
January, and February that we see it ; it seldom remains until 
March. It is more gregarious than the Whooper ; herds of 
two or three hundred are not unusual, and in Ireland it is said 
to be often present in thousands. It frequents salt-water lochs 
and inlets, and though it occasionally wanders inland is on the 
whole more maritime than the Whooper. Its flight call is 
quite distinct, a sharp, repeated, barking note, loud and 
metallic ; a puntsman I knew described a herd as yelping 
'just like a lot of poodle puppies." Mr. H. W. Robinson 
records that at night, on one of the Inner Hebrides, he re- 
peatedly heard the " song," which "consists of the full octave, 
and both ascends and descends " ; once he heard it in the 
daytime. 

Many writers slate that wild swans sometimes show a reddish 
or ochreous tinge on the head and neck, and Mr. W. P. 
Pycraft has seen a dark copper hue. Years ago, however, 
Stevenson pointed out that this is due to peroxide of iron 
staining the plumage when the bird is feeding in certain 
waters. Mr. Jourdain saw a Whooper deeply stained after 
feeding in a peat bog, and I have seen Mutes deep red on the 
head and neck on a pool where the weed and mud is thickly 
covered with iron deposit. 





•^^^"i 



-W" 



"W^ 



<J 




2 /y. lo. 



C li 



Snow-Goose. 
Mute Swan. 



MUTE SWAN. 



19 



The legs of the adult bird are black and its irides brown, but 
in the young they are reddish, even after the greyish-brown 
dress is lost. The patch on the bill is at first fleshy, and is 
paler in the second year than when fully mature. Length, 
about 50 ins. Wing, 21 ins. Tarsus, 3'8 ins. 

Mute Swan. Cy(:;ims olor (Gmelin). 

The wild Mute Swan (Plate 10) nests in northern Europe 
so far south as Denmark and north Germany, and migrates in 
winter to the Mediterranean and northern Africa ; it also 
breeds in central Asia, and occasionally reaches north-west 
India. Probably some of the birds which visit our shores in 
winter are wild migrants, but the Swan has been so long 
domesticated or semi-domesticated, and so many live a free 
and independent life, that the origin of any particular bird is 
obscure. Home-bred birds may become feral, may even erai- 
grate and return as winter visitors, or our resident stock may 
be recruited from the Continent. 

The Mute Swan may at once be known by the black knob or 
*' berry" at the base of its orange bill ; this tubercle is smaller 
in the female. It may also be recognised by the graceful S 
curve of its head and neck, and its frequent habit of swimming 
with the wings half raised and the tail pointed slightly upwards. 
Young birds as a rule carry the neck straighter, and the alert, 
perhaps migrant birds that I have seen on the shore stiffened 
their necks when approached and readily took wing. In flight 
the wing strokes are deliberate but very powerful, and throb 
rather than whistle ; the noise reminds me of horses galloping 
on hard ground. The name Mute is misleading, for the 
bird, especially the male or " cob " when guarding the nest, 
has a defiant trumpet note — an explosive grunt. The sitting 
bird will hiss defiance. The song — -Yarrell's " soft low voice " — 
is only heard in the breeding season. The food consists 



20 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

largely of aquatic plants ; on private waters the bird is a 
useful check to the troublesome American weed, Anacharis. 
Insects are eaten, and, it is said, frogs, but these and toads it 
will worry and discard, and it will kill the young of other 
water fowl. 

The nest is a large structure of rank vegetation lined with 
down, and is usually placed near water, on an islet if one is 
available. The five to twelve greenish- white eggs, laid as a rule 
in April, average in size 4-3 by 2*9 inches. The bird pairs for life, 
and the cob shares in incubation, but usually guards the nest, 
" busking," as it is called, when approached. In this terrifying 
performance the wings and scapulars are further raised, and the 
neck is drawn back until almost hidden by the wings ; the bird 
forces itself forward in rushes with simultaneous strokes of its 
feet, ploughing up the water. The ash-grey downy young are 
at first carried on the parent's back. The male will at times 
monopolise domestic duties, refusing to allow his mate to 
relieve him during the long incubation. 

The bill, already described, is black at the tip and along the 
cutting edge as well as at the base and on the lores. The legs 
are black, the irides dark brown. The young in first plumage 
are sooty grey, the legs are lead-coloured, and the bill, without 
any berry, is greyish black. When over a year old and nearly 
white, the bill is still fleshy rather than orange. White cygnets, 
by no means uncommon, gave rise to the so-called Polish Swan, 
which is now known to be a variety. Length, 60 ins. Wing, 
27 ins. Tarsus, 4"5 ins. 

Common Sheld-Duck. Tadoma tadoma (Linn,). 

The Common Sheld-Duck (Plate 12) breeds near salt 
water in northern Europe and Asia, It reaches north Africa, 
India, and south China in winter. Its distribution in the British 
Isles is general but uneven ; it is a sand and dune haunting 



COMMON SH ELD -DUCK, 21 

species, locally abundant on the east coast and in Somerset, 
and exceedingly plentiful in some parts of Wales and Scotland. 
In Lancashire and Cheshire, where writer after writer has 
stated that its numbers are greatly reduced, it is steadily on 
the increase. 

This large and handsome duck has certain goose- and swan- 
like characters, and is not easily confused with other species. 
When flying over the distant banks it looks black and white, 
but if nearer, the broad chestnut band across the white chest 
is conspicuous, and the scarlet bill with its prominent knob 
is characteristic. The drake Shoveler when sleeping shows 
the same stout white breast and chestnut band, but is a 
squatter, short-necked bird with a lower pose on the water. 
The name means pied, and has no connection with shield ; the 
bird is often called the " Sheldrake," irrespective of sex, or 
" Shell-duck " or " Mussel-duck," from its food. 

Tidal flats, whether of sand or mud, are favoured feeding 
grounds ; it is said to feed by night, but certainly also feeds in 
the daytime ; doubtless its times are regulated by the tides. 
It is gregarious, but the '* droppings," the sporting term for the 
flocks, are seldom large ; though at times of migration, for 
many immigrants come in autumn, it congregates in thousands. 
The birds scatter over the banks hunting for molluscs, worms, 
or crustaceans, even racing after sand-hoppers. Mussel-beds 
are frequented, and some marine weeds are eaten. Like 
gulls, the Sheld-Duck will mark time or paddle in shallow 
water to bring worms or other animals to the surface, but 
much of its food is obtained when swimming by dipping 
the head and neck, and upending like other surface feeders. 
On dunes and marshes, frequented at high tide and during the 
breeding season, land molluscs and other animals are eaten. 
The bird walks easily, and its flight is slow and regular, 
suggestive of a goose rather than a duck. The drake has a low 
whistling call, and the duck a subdued barking quack, which 



22 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

when rapidly repeated has a laughing ring. I have heard the 
drake utter a laughing croak, and a deep angry iiwrk^ as well 
as the whistle when alarmed for the welfare of the young. 
The drake may be distinguished by his superior size and the 
large knob on the bill. The bird swims lightly, sitting high on 
the water ; it seldom dives unless wounded or when threatened 
by an enemy. 

Though exceptionally the nest is in a crevice in rocks or in 
dense undergrowth the normal site is in a burrow, generally 
that of a rabbit, whence its name, "Burrow-Duck" and the 
corruption, " Bar -duck." A small collection of grass, moss, and 
often bracken, with a plentiful lining of pearl-grey down, is 
placed in a hollow at a variable distance, two to twelve feet, 
from the entrance. Occupied burrows may be told by the foot- 
prints left by the birds. Mr. W. H. Hudson says " the strange 
and beautiful Sheldrake" leads his mate to the burrow and 
courteously but firmly persuades her to enter. There is an 
element of romance in his account of the April gatherings, 
but these communal meetings on the dunes are continued 
until June or July. In early spring the birds collect for pair- 
ing display ; the drakes stretch up their necks and dip them 
suddenly, and walk round the ducks, their necks depressed and 
bent, their shoulders hunched up. When rivals meet there is 
a short tussle, the combatants springing clear from the ground, 
but one soon gives in and is chased away on foot or wing by 
the victor. Later, according to Mr. Hudson, the drake drives 
or leads his mate to the nest after her daily meal, but these 
parliaments meet long after incubation has begun, the members 
resting, preening themselves and chattering softly on the 
grassy levels amongst the dunes. I have counted thirty-five 
birds at the meetings ; Mr. F. W. Holder has seen more 
than seventy. 

The eggs, usually laid early in May, are creamy white, and 
measure about 2-6 by i'9 inches. The usual clutch is seven to 





2. PL 7 2. 



C2: 



Sheld-duck. 
Ruddy Sheld-duck. 





fl^B 



COMMON SHELD-DUCK. 2$ 

twelve ; the large numbers occasionally reported are doubtless 
produced by two ducks. The nests are often in colonies. On 
Brean Down and in some Welsh localities the bird nests on 
high ground — on Put^n Island on the cliff loo feet or more 
above the sea — but as a rule sandhills and hnks are favoured. 
Inland nesting, especially since the marked increase of the 
species, is not uncommon ; the statement that those that nest 
at a distance from the coast have escaped from ornamental 
waters has no foundation. The young bird figured (Plate 8) 
was hatched in a burrow at the edge of a Cheshire mere nine 
miles from salt water ; for many years a brood has been 
hatched at this spot. Within a day or two of leaving the egg 
the ducklings are taken to the sea by their parents, and an 
annual attempt is made to conduct these inexperienced pedes- 
trians from their fresh-water home. Naumann and others 
affirm that the ducklings are conveyed in the beak or on the 
back of the old birds, and though such aid may have to be 
given to birds hatched on high ground, walking is the usual 
method. The little procession is watched for and intercepted 
by fishermen, who can sell the young into captivity. On one 
occasion I met the ducklings with their parents just after they 
had left the burrow, and the inexperienced infants came cheep- 
ing to meet me, heedless of the agonised cries and extravagant 
behaviour of their parents, and allowed me to take them in my 
hand. Later they learn wisdom, and on the shore run with 
wonderful speed ; on the water they dive with skill, and I have 
seen a brood tire out an energetic retriever and never be in 
danger. 

Both parents attend the brood, and either there is some 
nursery-school arrangement or frequent adoption of orphans, 
for it is not unusual to see a single pair escorting two or more 
combined families ; I have seen twenty-one, by no means all 
of one age, and heard of over forty and even sixty-two. In 
each case only a pair of old birds tended the young, though 



24 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

many others were about. When famihes meet on the banks 
the attending old birds usually fight, so that it is possible that 
kidnapping may explain the phenomena. So far as is known, 
only single broods are reared. 

The adult bird has a metallic green-black head, but the 
plumage generally is white and black ; a white neck collar is 
followed by a broad, rich chestnut band ; the back, coverts, 
and flanks are white, the primaries and scapulars black. On 
the wing is a chestnut and bronze-green speculum, and a black 
band passes down the centre of the belly. The bill is scarlet, 
the legs pink, the irides brown. Immature birds are browner, 
have a good deal of white about the face, and their under parts 
are mottled ; for over a year their bills are flesh-coloured. The 
duckling is clad in white down with a sepia band from the 
crown to the tail, crossed by a band at the shoulders and 
another, less complete, to the thighs. The bill is lavender-grey, 
the legs olive-grey, and the irides chestnut. Length, 25-26 ins. 
Wing, 13 ins. Tarsus, 2*3 ins. 

Ruddy Sheld-Duck. Tador?ia casarca (Linn.). 

There is always a suspicion that any Ruddy Sheld-Duck 
that is seen in Britain in an apparently wild state may have 
wandered from private waters, for the bird is a favourite 
ornamental fowl much addicted to wandering. On more than 
one occasion, notably in the spring and summer of 1892, the 
bird has spread northward and westward throughout Europe, 
and numbers have invaded our islands. It is an occasional 
but irregular visitor. From south Spain and north Africa, 
through south-eastern Europe to west and central Asia the 
bird breeds, and is common as a winter visitor to India and 
Burma. During the irruption of 1892 it was met with in many 
parts of Great Britain and Ireland in small flocks, and wanderers 
even reached Iceland and Greenland. In June, 1909. one was 
killed at Suliskerry, Orkney. 



RUDDY SHELD-DL'CK. 2$ 

Even those who do not know the Ruddy Sheldrake (Plate 12) 
in captivity cannot fail to identify the bird ; its orange-brown 
and buff plumage, and the square white patch which shows 
plainly on its open wing, are distinctive. On the water it swims 
with the breast and fore parts low and the stern high, showing 
a raised and rounded lower back above the deep counter of its 
black tail and coverts ; the neck is carried well erect. On the 
wing it is heavy and slow. It has a loud double call and a 
barking cry. In India, where it is common in the cooler months 
and is known as the Brahminy Duck, it is rather troublesome in 
growing crops, and in our parks and public gardens it walks 
easily, cropping the grass like a goose ; insects, worms, and 
frogs are also eaten. 

I have watched the bird on a Cheshire mere early in July, 
and from its behaviour and the time of its appearance it may 
have been a wild visitor ; but Lord Newton, who has a number 
of unpinioned birds in his park at Lyme, tells me that they get 
restless in summer and often wander off in August and return, 
if allowed, in October. Though a month earlier than the usual 
time of this semi-migratory movement, it is possible that it had 
wandered from Lyme, for in the same summer three were shot 
in the neighbourhood, and some of Lord Newton's birds never 
returned. 

The general colour of the adult male is orange-brown, paler 
below ; the head is buff, there is a black neck collar, and the 
wing-coverts are white. When swimming the white is hidden 
by the scapulars, but in flight shows plainly a large square 
patch. The speculum is bronze-green. The legs are blackish, 
the bill lead-grey, the irides yellowish brown. The female and 
young male have no black collar, and it is asserted that the 
male loses this distinctive mark in winter. Length, 25 ins. 
Wing, I4"5 ins. Tarsus, 2-25 ins. 



26 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Mallard or Wild Duck. A?ias platyrhynchos Linn. 

The Mallard (Plate 15) is our most abundant and best-known 
duck ; it occurs throughout the Holarctic region, and in winter 
is found in northern Africa, India, Burma, and the Gulf 
of Mexico. Resident throughout our islands, it is also an 
abundant migrant, winter visitors arriving in autumn, when 
some of our home-bred stock leave for the south. 

The really masculine name Mallard is more distinctive than 
the older comprehensive Wild Duck, and is now applied to 
both sexes. The drake is not difficult to identify when in full 
dress, with glossy bottle-green head, white collar, grey scapulars 
and flanks, and the perky upcurled feathers on the tail. His 
breast is warm brown, whilst that of the dark-headed Shoveler 
drake is white above a chestnut band. The duck, in mottled 
browns and buffs, is less distinctive, and may be confused with the 
Gadwall, Shoveler, or even Pintail ; in summer, when the drake 
has donned his extra or " eclipse" dress, a protection during the 
moult, he is more sombre and feminine. But the Gadwall has 
a greyer, more vermiculated mantle and a white patch on the 
wing, the Shoveler a broad and heavy bill, a short neck and 
a marked tip forward when swimming, whilst the Pintail duck 
is long-necked and slender, and her pointed tail is generally 
visible. In flight drake or duck may be told by the wing 
pattern, a purple green-shot speculum, bordered above and 
below with black and white — two distinct white bands, one the 
outer edge of the wing. The white borders of the wedge-shaped 
tail are also plain. 

The haunts of this duck are varied ; in winter it abounds 
along our shores and on marshes, on large or small sheets of 
water in the lowlands, and on reservoirs and moors on the hills. 
Its usual feeding-time is from dusk to dawn, and during the 
day it rests in packs or scattered flocks on open water, swimming- 
id ly with head drawn back or snoozing with its bill tucked 




\ 




Eider. 




Pochard. 



2 PI. 14. 





i-^v - 



MALLARD OR WILD DUCK. 27 

amidst the feathers of its back. It will sleep on the bank or 
dawdle about, picking- a scrap here and there, and at times a 
few birds will feed at the water's edge ; but it is not until 
the evening that " flighting " takes place. Then in couples, for 
the Mallard pairs for life, the birds go off to the ponds, ditches, 
or fields to seek food, returning at dawn. Food, animal or 
vegetable, for it is omnivorous, is sifted from the mud which 
passes through its laminated bill. In the fields it picks up 
grain, in the woods acorns, and worms, snails, slugs, and insects 
are all accepted ; it plucks ripe berries from the brambles 
or the seablite seeds on the marsh, and on the sandbanks 
devours cockles and other shellfish. In frost the majority retire 
to salt water, but some will linger, roosting on the ice ; should 
snow fall the oblong, half-thawed patches mark their chilly 
beds. At all times gregarious, the winter flocks of Mallards, 
especially on the coast, are sometimes immense, and even when 
the ducks are sitting the drakes form little bachelor groups on 
the water. During the diurnal rest the birds are alert, and, 
if disturbed, all rise in a body with a rush of wings, and, 
splitting into twos and threes, fly to and fro high above 
gunshot. 

The flight is swift, the wing-beats, rapid and strong, produce 
a swishing whistle. The bird springs clear of the water when 
disturbed, shooting upwards, and when about to alight comes 
down with head well forward, but with the body upright, striking 
the surface with the feet and tail, ploughing up the water as 
it checks its pace with open wing. It seldom if ever dives for 
food, but when at play a number will splash together and take 
short superficial under-water excursions, and a wounded bird 
will tr}' to escape by diving. In June I disturbed a drake in 
eclipse ; it tried to fly but failed, and was promptly chased by 
an irate Moorhen, when it dived, followed by its pursuer. 

Immigrants arrive from August onward, but the largest 
numbers collect on inland waters in December and January ; 



28 THE 15IRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

many remain until April and May; parties of migrants are 
about long after our resident birds have begun nesting. All 
sportsmen agree that "foreign" Mallards are smaller and 
lighter than our birds, but no racial difference has so far been 
discovered. Marking birds has demonstrated that some of our 
immigrants come from Scandinavia, Lapland, and Holland, 
and British birds have been found in Germany and Fiance. 
The voice of the drake is a low, conversational chuckle during 
the breeding season, with an occasional sonorous quack. But 
when the birds are startled it is the duck which quacks in alarm, 
but in a different tone. Seebohm spells the male note quark, 
and the female quark, a good distinction. When pairing the 
drake also whistles. Pairing begins early ; I have often 
watched display in October. A number of drakes swim round 
a duck, posturing in various ways, but the sequence of actions 
is not always the same. The bird sits up in the water, as if 
making its seat more comfortable, and dipping the head, strokes 
its breast with its bill. It raises and fans its tail, showing 
off the white, and stretches its neck along the water as a final 
compliment to its selected mate. 

Incubation often begins in March. The nest is usually at 
a short distance from the water, in thick vegetation, in woods, 
dry reed or willow beds, hedgegrows, or in heather on the 
moors. Sometimes it is in the fork of a tree or the deserted 
nest of some large bird. Grass and dead leaves are the usual 
materials used, and a lining of dark brown down is added as 
incubation proceeds, with which the eggs are covered when the 
duck leaves them ; when she is silting (I'late ii) her sombre 
dress is sufficient protection. The eggs (Plate 13), eight to 
fourteen in number, are variable — greenish blue, olive-brown, 
cream, or white. The normal moult begins in August, and by 
the end of September most drakes are in full dress. The 
spring moult of drakes is incomplete, but in ducks it even 
includes the down. In May the drakes assume the so-called 



GAD WALL. 29 

eclipse plumage and moult the flight feathers ; this dress is a 
mixture of that of the female and young male. 

The downy juveniles are brown and buft, with a few white 
patches and a noticeable dark streak through the eye beneath 
a stripe of buff, also a dark mark on the ear. They are 
carefully guarded by the duck alone, and if threatened she 
strives to lure away the intruder by extravagant performances, 
flogging the water with her wings, taking short rushing flights, 
quacking vigorously, indeed any action that will call attention 
to herself. The ducklings scatter, some dive in the rushes or 
grass and hide, others run out over the water, their light bodies 
unsubmerged, and dive when well clear of the bank ; when 
they reappear they show only head and neck and again go 
u!)der. 

The drake in winter dress, already described, has the upper 
and under tail-coverts black. The bill is yellowish olive, 
occasionally orange in old birds, the legs reddish orange, 
the irides brown. Young males closely resemble the mottled, 
olive-billed females, but their heads and backs are noticeably 
darker. Wild hybrids with Gadwall, Pintail, and Eider have 
been described. Length, 23 ins. Wing, 11 ins. Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Gadwall. Aftas strepcra Linn. 
The breeding range of the Gadwall (Plate 17) is almost as 
wide as that of the Mallard, practically the northern temperate 
regions south of the Arctic circle ; in winter it is found in 
Africa as far south as the Sudan, is well known in India and 
China and throughout North America. In the British Isles it 
has been successfully established as a breeding species in East 
Anglia, the first attempt made some sixty years ago by pinion- 
ing birds that had been captured in decoys ; not only did these 
birds rear young, but wild immigrants were attracted and 
remained to nest. Within recent \ears a few pairs have been 
found nesting in Scotland, even in the extreme north ; indeed 



30 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

there, as in Norfolk and Suffolk, the bird seems to be increasing. 
For the most part, however, the Gadwall is a rare and irregular 
but widespread winter visitor to all parts of Great Britain and 
Ireland. 

Superficially the Gadwall resembles a rather dark female Mal- 
lard, but may always be told by the black and white speculum ; 
the overhanging scapulars or the flufifed-out flanks often almost 
conceal the white. Ducks, if watched long enough, usually 
rise in the water to flap their wings, and then the white flashes 
into view. As it frequently swims with Mallards, opportunity is 
given of comparing size ; it is distinctly smaller and greyer 
than the ducks, and in flight its wings look more pointed. 
Crescent-shaped marks, grey in the drake and brown in the 
duck, show on the head and neck. It swims buoyantly and 
flies swiftly, its wings whistling, but its feeding and other 
habits differ little from those of other surface-feeding ducks. 
Normally nocturnal, it may, however, be seen feeding in the 
day, paddling gently as it holds itself vertically in the water 
with its fore parts immersed. Migrants, which reach our shores 
from the end of August onwards, may be noticed at sea, but the 
favourite haunts are fiesh-water lakes and pools, where, shy 
and retiring, it seeks the shelter of the aquatic vegetation. 
The note is described as a cackling quack, and by Lilford as '' a 
sharp rattling note continually repeated " ; an amorous drake, 
which with its neck affectionately stroked its mate's back, con- 
stantly uttered a clear and deliberate, though not loud, ep^ ep^ 
pair. The duck has a Mallard-like quack. 

The nest (Plate i6), seldom far from water, is as a rule 
well concealed by its surroundings ; it is built of grass or other 
dry plants, and is lined with dark greyish-white down, lighter 
than the nest-down of the Mallard. The eight to tliirteen eggs 
are huffish white (Plate 13), and are usually laid in May. The 
down of the juveniles is similar to, but a little darker than that 
of the Malbrd. 









3!i * '"lire: »^* . -^U ^ / 




^' .* '> 



















2 /v. 10. 



50. 



Gadwall's nest. 





2 /'/. I 7. 



Gadwall. 
Pintail. 



GARGANEY. 31 

The adult drake, in winter, has the head and neck greyish 
brown with darker speckles and most of the upper parts dark 
brown with crescentic grey markings ; the wing-coverts are 
dark chestnut shading to black, the speculum black and white ; 
the inner secondaries are noticeably pointed, and the upper 
and under tail-coverts conspicuously velvet-black. The breast 
is dark brown with pale markings shading to the whitish 
abdomen, and the grey pencilling of the flanks commands 
attention. In May an eclipse dress is assumed, approaching 
that of the duck, but the chestnut coverts are retained. The 
bill is lead-blue, the nail black, the legs dark orange, and the 
irides brown. The duck is a browner bird, and the feather 
centres and markings are more pronounced ; she lacks the 
chestnut on the wing and her under tail-coverts are speckled 
with grey and brown. Her bill is darker and banded laterally 
with dull orange. Immature birds have reddish-brown marks 
on the head and neck, and though young drakes are said to 
resemble the duck, one, shot in August, that I examined in the 
flesh, showed chestnut on the wing-coverts, and its under tail- 
coverts were thickly mottled with black. The bill was dull 
orange, black in the centre, the legs yellowish, and the webs 
dusky. Length, 20 ins. Wing, 10-5 ins. Tarsus, r8 ins. 

Gar^aney. Qucrquedula querguedula (Linn.). 

South of the Arctic circle the Garganey breeds throughout 
the Palaearctic region, and in winter visits tropical Africa and 
southern Asia. Its range is rather more southerly than that of 
the other surface-feeding ducks. To England it is a summer 
visitor, for it breeds regularly in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Kent, 
and has, within recent years, nested in other counties, even 
so far north as Durham and west as Somerset. Elsewhere in 
England and Wales, and in Scotland and Ireland, it is a rare 
and irregular visitor on spring migration ; few are noticed 
on the leiurn passage, and in winter it is most unusual. 



32 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The Strikingly beautiful plumage of the drake Garganey 
(Plate 1 8) cannot be confused with that of the Teal, a bird of 
about the same size. The noticeable features of the drake are 
the broad white stripe, shown up by a dark crown, which passes 
from above the eye in a graceful curve to the nape, and the blue 
shoulders, blue as in the Shoveler. Indeed, from a distance the 
whole wing appears to be blue-grey ; I have noticed this on birds 
on the wing as well as on the ground. Long pointed black and 
white feathers droop over the wing, and one commanding 
character is that the warm brown of the breast ends abruptly 
and does not shade into the white of the abdomen. A metallic 
green speculum, often concealed by the grey thanks, is bounded 
by white bars, also present in the duck, though the speculum 
itself lacks lustre. The brown duck has less character, but as 
she usually travels with her mate he does the advertising. Pale 
edgings to her feathers, however, give her a much lighter 
appearance than the duck Teal. 

The migratory Garganey is often called the " Summer Teal" ; 
it usually reaches the Kentish coast in March, and, according 
to Dr. N. F. Ticehurst, departs about August. In habits it 
differs little from other surface-feeders, but is certainly not 
exclusively nocturnal. On the wing it is even swifter than the 
Teal ; I noticed this particularly in breeding birds in Norfolk. 
In flight the wings look lightish, but do not show clean patches 
or bars as do those of the Goldeneye and Tufted Duck. When 
scared it springs clear from the water with the agility and 
velocity of the Teal. Several observers assert th^t the bird 
sits high in the water, swimming buoyantly, but this has not 
impressed me ; not infrequently it swims low, and with neck 
extended " bibbles " along the surface like the feeding Shoveler, 
a bird with which it has much in common. More animal 
than vegetable matter is consumed, and in addition to 
crustaceans and aquatic insects it has been known to catch 
small fish. Although both sexes have a sharp quack, it is 



GARGANEY. 33 

the distinctive male breeding note that has earned it the 
name of "Cricket-Teal"; Merrett calls it "a kind of teale 
which some fowlers call crackling teale from the noyse it 
maketh." This is a rattling or clicking note, Hkened by 
Saunders to the whirr of a child's rattle, but to my ears it more 
closely resembles the popular imitation of a pig's grunt, or 
a feeble, vibrating version of the note of the male Mute Swan. 
Captain A. W. Boyd, however, who listened to the same birds 
that I heard, inclines to the rattle simile. 

When making their toilet the drakes of a little party paid 
special attention to their sickle-shaped scapulars, but they did 
not indulge in any elaborate postures to exhibit these to the 
ducks. They occasionally swam round the ducks, rattling and 
grunting, and now and then sparring, but were little excited. 
Immature drakes are slow in attaining full dress, and old ones 
remain late in the eclipse plumage. In England the nest 
(Plate 22) is usually in a marsh, a depression amongst thick 
herbage thinly bordered with grass ; the down, added as incu- 
bation proceeds, is blackish tipped with light buff. The creamy 
eggs (Plate 21), six to thirteen in number, are laid in the latter 
half of April or in May. The duck attends to domestic duties. 

The crown of the drake is dark brown, emphasising the 
tapering white superciliary streak ; the lower part of the face is 
chestnut flecked with white. The brown neck and breast are 
beautifully pencilled with black, and this breast, variously 
described as light, dark, or yellowish brown, sandy buff or pale 
chestnut, struck ^Ir. T. Hadfield and me as being distinctly 
vinaceous ; Montagu speaks of the neck as " purplish." Below 
the sharp line of demarcation the abdomen is white, and the 
greyish flanks are finely vermiculated. The wing is described 
above. The bill is black, the legs leaden tinged with brown or 
green, the irides brown. The duck is brown and buff ; her 
markings are bolder than in the drake. The eye-stripe is buff, 
and the chin and under parts are white faintly suffused with 

Scries II. D 



34 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

buff ; the face is speckled with brown. The wing-coverts are 
g-reyish, and the absence of a distinct speculum distinguishes 
her from the duck Teal. The brown drake in eclipse retains 
the blue shoulders and speculum ; young birds are at first like 
the duck. The down of the ducklings is rich brown and buff, 
shading to dirty white. A dark stripe passes through the eye, 
and another across the cheek. Length, 15-16 ins. Wing, 7*8 
ins. Tarsus, 1*3 ins. 

Blue-winged Teal. Qitcrq^iedula discors (Linn.). 

This American Teal breeds in Canada and the northern 
States, and winters so far south as Colombia and Peru. Four 
examples have been obtained in the British Isles, and the bird 
has once occurred in Denmark ; all are considered to have 
been genuine wild birds. In the spring of 1838 a female was 
killed in Dumfries, and about the same date one was shot on 
the Cheshire Dee; in September, 1910, a third female, a 
young bird, was obtained near Cork, and in the spring of 19 19 
Mr. L. R. A. Gatehouse shot a male on a fresh-water pool in 
Anglesey, and kindly permitted me to examine the skin. 

The distinctive mark of the drake is a prominent white 
crescentic patch in front of the eye on its black and slate-grey 
head, and in both sexes the China blue shoulder, differing from 
the blue-grey of the Garganey. The clove-brown back of the 
Anglesey drake had U-shaped buff marks, and the sepia rump 
was bordered with white. The under parts were huffish white, 
warmest on the breast, which was crossed by a cinnamon 
black-barred band ; the flanks were spotted. The buff and 
black streaked scapulars were glossed with green, and the 
metallic green speculum bordered with white; in various lights 
the speculum showed black, metallic bronze, or brilliant green. 
The bill was black and glossy, the legs reddish, inclining to 
yellow on the feet. The irides are described as brown. The 
female is a brown and umber bird, pale on the speckled head 



TEAL. 35 

and neck, and white on the chin. Length, i6 ins. Wing, 7*3 
ins. Tarsus, 1*15 ins. 

Teal. Querqiiednla crecca (Linn.). 

The Teal (Plate 18), our smallest duck, is resident in varying 
numbeis throughout England, Wales, and Ireland, commonest 
in the north, and in Scotland it breeds freely. As a winter 
visitor it is abundant, large numbers reaching our shores 
in August and September. Abroad it nests throughout northern 
Europe and Asia, and ranges south in winter into Africa, India, 
and China. 

The most noticeable mark on the drake is the long white line 
on the wing, emphasised by the black line below it, showing as 
a longitudinal btreak on the swimming bird, and as two lines 
down the back when in flight. At closer quarters a conspicuous 
buff-framed metallic green patch, from the eye to the neck, 
is visible on the rich brown head, the finely vermiculated back 
and flanks are seen, and a prominent black-bordered warm 
huffish triangle below the tail. The open wing exhibits a broad 
band of white above the velvety black and metallic green 
speculum, and a narrower rim of white at the edge of the flight 
feathers. The brown and buff duck has less distinctive colour- 
ing, but her white-bordered green speculum distinguishes her 
from the Garganey, and her small size from the Mallard. 

Though in winter found in considerable numbers in tidal 
estuaries the general haunt of the Teal is fresh water ; it 
frequents lakes and quiet pools, especially where there is 
abundance of cover. In autumn and winter the numbers 
increase as the coast birds move inland, and though there is 
some emigration of our home-bred stock in autumn, the idea 
that the whole body of Teal moves southward is mere guess- 
work ; some of our birds, but not all, are replaced by more 
norihern visitors. The system of marking birds has shattered 



36 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

some of the older dogmatic theories ; individual variation is 
evident amongst Teal as in other species. Some Teal, reared 
in Cumberland, after having been temporarily pinioned were 
released in February in Essex ; one was reported in August 
in Schleswig, but another was recaptured in Cumberland at 
the place where it first chipped the shell. The return passage 
in spring begins in March. 

In its feeding habits the Teal is by no means always nocturnal, 
though where it is much persecuted it feeds at dawn and dusk. 
On inland waters it spends some time dozing on the bank or 
open water, but it also upends in the shallows, and sifts the 
plankton from the water with its laminated bill. Rotifers and 
minute Crustacea form a considerable part of its varied diet, 
and vegetable substances are not neglected ; indeed, decoy-men 
find corn a tempting bait. In flight the Teal is distinctly swifter 
than the Mallard ; when put up, Teal keep together, flying to and 
fro in a compact flock, turning and twisting with the precision 
of waders. No birds leave the water with greater skill and 
velocity, shooting directly upward ; a flock may well be called 
a " spring " of Teal. At full speed, which has been estimated 
as over 140 miles an hour, though this is not proved absolutely, 
a flock will suddenly and with unanimity take a short corkscrew 
dive of a few feet and instantly resume horizontal flight. As 
the birds turn with one accord their light under parts flash like 
those of waders. These dives do not necessarily mean a change 
of direction ; indeed, a swiftly flying Teal will turn its head, 
and even look behind it without losing speed or altering the line 
of flight. When the flocks intend to ali-jht they will often shoot 
downwards with great speed, almost falling obliquely, but when 
near the water they throw the feet and tail forward and check 
their pace with widespread fluttering wings. 

There are few more talkative ducks than the Teal ; birds in 
the winter flocks chuckle conversationally, and on the meres the 
loud clear call, a short sweet whistle, rings out incessantly. 




fel^ 








2 PL 19- 



Wigeon. 
Shoveler. 



Dll. 



TEAL. 37 

When the drakes are courting the low double whistles run into 
a musical jumble, a delightful chorus. The duck, especially 
when alarmed, has a short harsh quack. In nuptial display 
a favoured duck, ready for admirers, is surrounded by several 
drakes, who constantly raise themselves in the water, shooting 
up the head and neck and lowering it at once, with an action 
that suggests a hiccough ; for a second the facial glories are 
displayed, and as the bird resumes its normal pose it exposes 
the long white side streak. During this competitive exhibi- 
tion the whole flock will rise for a flight round the lake, and 
after wheeling, turning, and twisting, return to the display ; 
both rival drakes and ducks from time to time chase one 
another with open bill, but there is no serious fighting. These 
displays may be witnessed in autumn, but from January to 
April the birds are really busy. 

The nest, of the ordinary duck type, may be in a marsh, a 
dry wood, or amongst heather on a moor ; it is lined with very 
dark down with hardly noticeable pale tips. The creamy eggs 
(Plate 13) are often tinged with green ; they are usually eight 
to ten, but sometimes more in number, and are laid between 
April and June. The young have light chocolate down, 
yellowish buff beneath, and a dark line passes from the eye 
to the ear and thence down the side of the neck, and a second 
borders the cheek. When the duck is alarmed for the safety of 
her brood her behaviour is often extravagant. On one occasion 
I scattered a brood of ducklings which at once vanished in the 
rushes, but the anxious mother flew and swam opposite so long 
as I watched, constantly calling whelp, whelp. In her short 
flights with head curiously held back, her almost upright body 
hung heavily, and she repeatedly dropped on the water, flogging 
it with her wings. The white bars on her wings showed more 
conspicuously than usual, as if intentionally exhibited to catch 
the eye. 

The main points of the drake plumage are described above. 



38 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The white breast is spotted with black, the abdomen is white. 
The bill is blackish brown, the legs dusky, and the irides brown. 
In eclipse a plumage not unlike that of the duck is assumed, 
but the back is darker and the under parts more spotted. In 
the brown duck, mottled and barred with buff, the white breast 
and under parts are spotted after her spring moult. Immature 
birds are darker on the upper parts and their markings are 
less defined than those of the adult duck. Length, 14-15 ins. 
Wing, 7*25 ins. Tarsus, i in. 

The American Green-winged Teal, Q. c. caroline?isis 
(Gmelin), the transatlantic representative of our species, has 
been reported at least three times in our islands, and is not 
unlikely to occur occasionally. The drake lacks the distinctive 
white side streak, but has a whitish crescentic band between 
the breast and flanks, and the buff frame of the facial ornament 
is incomplete. In size and habits it agrees with our bird ; the 
female cannot be distinguished with certainty. 

Wigeon. Mareca pe?ielope (Linn.). 

As a regular nesting species the Wigeon occurs in northern 
Scotland, but, though odd pairs have nested in England and 
Wales, it is in most parts of the British Isles a common winter 
visitor. Abroad it nests in northern Europe and Asia, and in 
winter visits Africa, southern Asia, and occasionally North 
America. 

On the water an old drake Wigeon (Plate 19) is a con- 
spicuous bird, his large white wing-patch never concealed ; a 
yellowish-buff or creamy crest forms a wide parting on his 
warm burnt-sienna head, and his back and flanks, divided by 
the white line, are finely pencilled with black on grey. His 
pinkish breast shades somewhat abruptly into white, and as he 
swims with pointed tail a little elevated, the white contrasts 
noticeably with the velvet-black of the under coverts. The 
more sombre duck shows but little white on the wing when 



WIGEON. 39 

swimming, but her rufous head, well-marked back, and white 
under parts separate her from the much larger Mallards and 
the smaller Teal, her frequent companions on inland waters. 
When the birds rise, white shows distinctly on the wnng of 
either sex ; on the drake it is a great oblong patch, 32 by 2 
inches, formed by the black-tipped greater wing-coverts, on the 
duck a conspicuous double bar. 

A few Wigeon reach our shores and inland waters in August, 
but they are seldom numerous until mid-October. Though 
often abundant on meres and lakes at some distance from 
the coast, the Wigeon is a salt-water duck ; in muddy and 
sandy bays and inlets it feeds in thousands, and floats off-shore 
in great packs and lines, looking from the land like undulating 
collections of floating wrack as the birds rise and fall on the 
waves. Even in a rough sea they sleep peacefully, and where 
their feeding grounds are liable to be disturbed they spend the 
day at sea, flighting inward at dusk. Although on the banks 
the bird picks up molluscs, crustaceans and marine worms, its 
main food is the sea-grass, Zostera^ which grows in profusion 
on tidal flats. Whether the Wigeon is normally a diurnal or 
nocturnal feeder is a disputed point, but certainly when un- 
molested it will feed by day, and its times are to some extent 
regulated by the tides. The weed is dragged up by the roots, 
the bird swimming or wading in shallow water and only 
dipping the head and neck ; it seldom feeds in the vertical 
reversed position common to most surface-feeders. Some 
observers state that it never dives for food, others have seen 
it do so ; it will, however, like most ducks, dive and splash 
in play, and a wounded " cripple " dives with great activity. 
Grain it will eat ; I have found a considerable quantity in 
birds that had been shot at sea, proving that they make 
occasional excursions to the fields, and Mr. Dockray has found 
them in autumn crammed with blackberries which they had 
doubtless gathered on the edge of ponds and ditches. 



40 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

i 
The Wigeon i^ perfectly at home on land, walking with ease 

and running swiftly ; the drakes race after one another, open- 
mouthed, on the grass or sand. On the wing it is quicker than 
the Mallard, though hardly so swift as the Teal. A flock will 
turn and twist in flight, but the evolutions are less erratic than 
those of the last-named bird. The call of the drake, from 
which the bird gets its name, and the fowler's names — " Whew- 
duck" and "Whistler," is a long musical whistle, ivhcc-oo. 
Throughout the winter this call is constantly uttered ; the 
bill is opened wide when the bird calls. The contented 
purring note of the duck is very different from her quack of 
alarm, a harsh growling kraak, kraak, for Saunders was in 
error when he said that "the birds rise in silence.'' During 
courtship, when the drake is most musical, his neck is carried 
stiffly erect, and he frequently sits up in the water to flap 
his wings, advertising the glory of his white patch. 

The majority depart north at the end of February or early in 
March, but passage flocks are met with in April and May, and 
I have seen them on Cheshire waters in early June. Some, at 
any rate, of our home-bred birds emigrate ; out of a brood 
marked in June in Sutherland one bird was recovered in 
September in Holland, though another was taken in Lincoln- 
shire in the following January. 

The nest, built in grass, heather, or other herbage, is seldom 
far from water ; the down is dark with pale centres. The eggs, 
six to ten, are creamy white, similar to but lighter and a little 
larger than those of the Shoveler ; they are laid from April to 
June. The duckling in down is almost uniform brown above 
with rufous cheeks and neck, and lacks the distinctive eye 
streak of the infant Mallard and Teal. 

On the brown face of the adult drake in winter are flecks of 
metallic green and a mark of the same colour crosses above 
the eye; the chin is black. The speculum on the wing is 
velvety black and bottle-green, bordered by black. The bill is 



AMERICAN WIGEON. 4 1 

lavender-grey, the legs olive-grey with darker webs, and the 
irides brown. The head of the duck is pale rufous spotted with 
black, and her chin is pale ; her upper parts generally are 
brown barred with buff; her wings, smoke-grey on the shoulder, 
have the greater coverts drab, edged with buff and white, and a 
white border to the green speculum. The flanks are rufous, the 
belly white. The slate-grey bill is darker than that of the 
drake. Other characters of the plumage are already described. 
In eclipse in summer the drake is more rufous than the duck, 
but he loses most of his masculine characters. Immature 
males are at first very like the duck in winter, but by November 
and December they are in very intermediate dress, brown and 
vermiculated grey feathers mingled on back and flanks, and 
the black chin almost concealed by umber tips ; the bill was 
lighter in some birds I examined than in the adult, though 
that of the duck is darker. Length, 18*5 ins. Wing, 10 ins. 
Tarsus, 175 ins. 



American Wigeon. Mareca americana (Gmel.). 

The American Wigeon, which nests in Canada and the 
northern States, and winters so far south as the West Indies, 
has wandered three or four times to Great Britain and Fiance ; 
it has been recorded from the Azores. Some records of its 
occurrence are questioned, and now that the bird is kept on 
private waters and breeds, the young being allowed freedom, 
any occurrence may be due to introduction. 

The most marked differences between this bird and the 
Wigeon are on the head of the drake. The central crest is 
yellowish white, and below it is a dull green stripe from the eye 
to the nape ; under this again the whitish face and throat are 
speckled with black. The rest of the plumage corresponds in 
pattern, but is browner and more vinaceous. The head of the 
duck is yellowish white speckled with black. The bill is 



42 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

greyish blue, the legs and irides brown. Length, 185 ins. 
Wing, io'5 ins. Tarsus, i'5 ins. 

ShoYeler. Spatula dypeata (Linn.). 

The handsome Shoveler (Plate 19) is increasing as a resi- 
dent in all parts of our islands, though still rare in English and 
Welsh counties ; recently it has begun to nest regularly in 
fresh localities, and in certain Welsh bogs is now plentiful. As 
a passage migrant and winter visitor it is common on many 
inland waters. Its range is Avide, practically Holarctic, and in 
winter it reaches tropical Africa, southern Asia, and South 
America. 

The long, broad, spatulate bill of the Shoveler, from which it 
gets a local name, " Spoonbill," is its most noticeable feature ; 
but the blufif white breast of the drake, followed by rich 
chestnut on the lower breast and belly, make it a conspicuous 
bird, even on a pool crowded with other fowl. A nearer view 
reveals a glossy green head and neck, light blue shoulders, 
and, a rare character of surface-feeders, a yellow eye. Except 
for her blue shoulders, duller than those of her mate, the 
mottled brown duck differs little from the female Mallard, but 
the slimmer, long-necked Ivlallard should never be confused 
with the stocky, short-necked, big-billed Shoveler, which, even 
when at rest, floats down in the bows, and with its heavy bill 
resting on its breast. From March to May, when the passage 
birds are bound north, and again from August to November, 
the numbers are greatest ; far more pass through our islands 
than remain to nest or winter. Britain is its half-way house, a 
food-providing hostelry ; April and September are the busiest 
months. Though its wings move with great rapidity the flight 
of the Shoveler is neither so swift nor strong as that of the 
Mallard ; the flying bird looks what it is, heavy and unwieldy. 
Yet the flight is not always straight ; the Shoveler will swoop 



SIIOVELER. 43 

and change direction like the Teal, though with much less skill, 
and Lilford noticed what has often struck me, how frequently it 
turns its head from side to side ; possibly the broad bill, 
silhouetted against the sky, catches the eye more than in 
smaller-billed ducks. On the ground it is less agile than 
many species, for, in proportion, its feet are small and weak. 
The flight call is a repeated iuk^ tuk, but both drake and duck 
have a deep quack, lower than the resounding note of the 
Mallard. 

On the water the bird is often remarkably active, swimming 
in short rushes this way and that as it scoops the water 
with its spoon, "bibbling"' as the fowlers call it. Water, 
especially when full of weed or mud, is passed rapidly through 
the bill, and visible and invisible contents are sifted and retained 
by the well-developed lamella ; the bill of the Shoveler is an 
effective sieve. It by no means confines itself to planktonic 
feeding, well equipped though it is for this form of diet. The 
bird is most excited when catching insects, either on or just 
above the water, cleverly intercepting those that i^.y near ; Mr. 
J. G. Millais noticed it watching for and snapping up the water 
beetles and other aquatic insects when they came up for air. 
The assumption of the vertical pose, head down and tail up, is 
not popular with the Shoveler, nor does it dive often. It feeds 
at night and by day, though it often spends hours asleep on 
the water, its head tucked in its scapulars, its white upper 
breast puffed out, as it swings slowly round and round. Frost 
drives it to salt water, but small pools, bogs, and marshes, 
be they ever so dark and muddy, fresh or brackish, are its 
favoured haunts. 

The nest is often in a marsh, and where the ground is wet is 
a large structure of grass and rushes, but in a dry site, which it 
prefers, is not above the level of the ground, though well 
concealed by surrounding vegetation. In Norfolk it is seldom if 
ever in the reeds. Mr. F. W. Holder saw cne in Lancashire, 



44 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES 

where the bird is increasing, built on the top of a haystack. 
In the Cheviots it is often in heather or dwarf willow. The 
nest down is blackish brown with faint white tips. The eight 
to twelve eggs (Plate 21), usually greenish, are laid in April or 
May. The nestling is clad in yellow and brown down like that 
of the Mallard, but without the buff on the wings. At first the 
small bills show little lateral expansion. When the young have 
passed the flapper stage, they and the old birds leave many 
of the nesting haunts, though on some bogs and pools Shovelers 
may be met with all the year round. 

The main features of the nuptial dress are already described. 
In the drake the bill is slate-grey, the legs are orange-red, and 
the irides yellow, but in the duck these are respectively olive- 
brown with orange at the base, dull orange, and dark brown. 
In eclipse the drake closely resembles the duck, but Mr. F. W, 
Smalley points out that the pattern of the flank differs, and the 
belly is tinged with rufous. The shoulder blue, which is 
retained, is brighter than in the duck. At first the plumage 
of all young is feminine, but drakes in all stages of intermediate 
mottled dress are often on the water in winter. Length, 
20'5 ins. Wing, 10 ins. Tarsus, 1-4 ins. 

Pintail. Daft/a acuta (Linn.). 

As a breeding species the Pintail (Plate 17) is extending its 
range in Scotland and the northern isles ; it has been reported 
as nesting in Ireland. In England and Wales it is a regular 
but not abundant winter visitor, more frequent on the sea than 
inland. It is found nesting throughout Europe, northern Asia, 
and North America, and in winter reaches Africa, southern 
Asia, and the West Indies. 

The Pintail is just as slender and elegant as the Shoveler is 
bluff and heavy. Naturally the two elongated central tail 
feathers of the drake, whence one local name, " Sea-Pheasant," 





-'S^' 



2 PL 20. 



Red-crested Pochard. 
Pochard. 



Z>44 




c!-??%s. 



,#" 



PINTAIL, 



45 



are his most distinctive character, but his long neck and high 
forehead give him a somewhat misleading short-billed appear- 
ance. A narrow white stripe passes down each side of his long 
neck, starting at the back of the face and extending to and 
joining the pure white breast and under parts ; the rich brown 
of the head and upper neck throw this streak into prominence, 
and it catches the eye, even when the bird is at a distance. 
The pointed tail of the duck is shorter, but her speckled head 
and slender neck, and long narrow wings give her character in 
flight. Immigration begins in September, but it is seldom until 
October that any appear in the Dee and Mersey ; to both these 
estuaries the bird is a regular and sometimes common visitor. 
Most appear to leave the west coast in March, but on the east 
coast they have been recorded so late as May. November to 
January are the months of greatest abundance. Though un- 
common far inland, the Pintail is partial to fresh water near 
the shore, and is frequently lured into decoy pipes ; in one west 
coast decoy it is, in some years, captured in greater numbers 
than the Mallard. It is, however, a shy and cautious fowl, 
spoiling the sport of the fowler, straining its long neck over 
the low banks and sighting his approach. 

The Pintail is quick on the wing, pulling ahead of its 
companions. Mallards and Wigeon, and its pinions move with 
unusual rapidity. On the water it is buoyant and graceful, 
carrying its tail slightly elevated. It certainly often feeds 
by day, though it has been described as nocturnal, and when it 
tips its body and immerses head and neck to secure food from 
the bottom, the long tail is depressed as if to preserve the 
balance. Crustaceans and molluscs are eaten, but its main 
food is vegetable ; it will visit the stubbles for grain. As a rule 
it is a quiet bird, though it has a quack of alarm, and a low 
chuckle when undisturbed, but during courtship it utters a 
musical double guuck, quuck, which Mr. J. A. Uockray aptly 
describes as " violin-like notes." The courtship of the Pintail, 



46 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

noticeable in January and February, is an interesting perform- 
ance ; several drakes will swim round the duck, their necks 
stiff, bills depressed, and tails elevated skyward. With that 
quick rise and fall, as if settling themselves more comfortably 
in their aquatic seat, they posture before the apparently bored 
female, repeating the mellow, deep pairing call. Sometimes, 
with open bill, the duck drives away a too importunate admirer. 
If this performance is disturbed every tail goes down at once, 
for when alarmed the bird carries it horizontal. 

The nest in Scotland is usually on dry ground, and is not 
always carefully concealed ; it is lined Avith sooty-brown down 
as incubation proceeds. The eggs (Plate 13), seven to ten in 
number, are yellowish green as a rule, and are smaller than 
those of the Mallard ; they are laid in April or early May. 
The duckling in down is whiter beneath than the juvenile 
Mallard. 

The drake in winter has the back and flanks vermiculated 
with grey on white, and long-pointed, black-centred, buff-edged 
secondaries ; the sides of the abdomen are buff, showing 
distinctly against the velvet-black of the under tail-coverts. 
The speculum is glossy bronze-green, bordered above with buff, 
and below with black and white bands. The mottled duck is 
light on the under parts, but her breast and abdomen are 
speckled and her flanks boldly marked with dark brown. Two 
white bars cross the wing, but the space between is dull. Her 
tail feathers are obliquely barred with buft" and brown. The bill 
of the drake is blue grey with a black central stripe, but in the 
duck the marginal streaks are light yellow, fading to grey at 
the tip. In both sexes the legs are slate-grey and the irides 
brown. In eclipse, from July to October, the drake is brown, 
though duskier than the duck ; a few vermiculated feathers 
may remain, and the speculum does not lose its brightness; I 
noticed this particularly in one drake which I watched through 
his post-nuptial dress : he was not in full breeding plumage 



RED-CRESTED POCHARD. 47 

until the middle of October. The brown immature drake is 
duck-like at first, though he shows a tendency to slate about 
the head and neck, and, later, vermiculations and other 
masculine characters. Length, 28 ins. Wing, 11 ins. Tarsus, 
175 ins. 

Red-crested Pochard. Netta nipm (Pallas). 

Those ducks which habitually obtain their food by diving 
are collectively known as the Diving Ducks, as opposed to 
the Surface-feeders. The Red-crested Pochard (Plate 20), an 
uncommon visitor to Britain, is one of this group. The majority 
of its occurrences have been in the eastern and southern 
counties, though it has been met with on single occasions in 
Scotland and Ireland. Its home is the Mediterranean area, 
eastward into western Asia. At times flocks wander northward 
into Europe. 

Compared with the familiar Pochard this bird is large, but 
apart from that it has several distinctive characters. The adult 
drake has a crimson, yellow-tipped bill, and a conspicuous 
golden bay crest on his otherwise rich chestnut head ; the crest 
shows distinctly in flight as well as on the water. At the base 
of the wings, on the shoulders, and on the flight feathers, are 
three distinct white patches, the last, often slightly tinged with 
pink, represents the speculum or wing spot of the surface- 
feeding ducks. The neck, breast, and abdomen are so dark 
a brown as to look black from even a short distance ; the rest 
of the upper parts are yellowish brown and the flanks greyish 
white. The duck has no crest, but her very dark crown con- 
trasts with her grey cheeks, whilst her upper parts are almost 
uniform pale brown, her under parts grey ; her wing spot is dull 
white, and her bill reddish brown. 

Its habits roughly correspond with those of its congeners ; 
it is a diurnal feeder, diving for its animal and vegetable iood 



48 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

in fresh water. It rises from the water with apparent labour, 
and flies with rapidly whirred wings ; on the ground it is not 
as good a walker as most of the surface-feeders, for the feet of 
all diving ducks are better fitted for under-water progression 
than for exercise on land. Its rote is harsh and grating, 
another common character, though the drake is said to whistle. 
The legs of the drake are red, the webs blackish ; those of 
the duck, and her bill, are reddish brown. The male irides are 
red, the female brown. In eclipse the drake resembles his 
mate, though he retains indications of the crest ; young males 
at first closely resemble females. Length, 22 ins. Wing, 
io'5 ins. Tarsus, i'$ ins. 

White-eyed Pochard. Nyroca nyroca (Giild.). 

The White-eyed Pochard or Ferruginous Duck (Plate 15) is 
another southern European and western Asiatic bird which 
occasionally varies its normal south or eastward migration by 
a northward wandering, and from time to time appears in our 
eastern and southern counties, and more rarely still in the 
west, or in Scotland and Ireland. In Egypt and India it is a 
familiar winter duck. 

There is some excuse for confusing this species with the duck 
Pochard, for its general colour pattern is similar, but birds of 
either sex or at any age may be told by the presence of a white 
wing bar. In addition, the drake has a much browner chestnut 
head and neck than that of the drake Pochard, and his back is 
umber, not grey with vcrmiculations, like that of the common 
bird. On his chin is a small but distinct white spot, whilst the 
white iris, from which he gets his name, is very noticeable ; in 
the duck it is tinged with brown and her plumage is duller, 
whilst young birds are even more dingy. The flanks of the 
drake are more chestnut than the back, and the rest of the 
under parts are white crossed by a greyish-brown band at 



POCHARD. 49 

the vent, very conspicuous in flig-ht. The under parts of the 
duck and young- bird are greyer. The bill and feet are slate- 
blue to leaden. 

The Ferruginous Duck is an expert diver, seeking its food — 
weeds, aquatic insects, molluscs, and crustaceans — in fresh- 
water pools in marshes and other quiet spots, for it is shy and 
retiring, and even when kept on private waters lurks in those 
parts where vegetation is thickest. Its call on the wing is 
similar to that of the Pochard, a harsh, growling kurr. It is 
not specially quick on the wing, leaving the water with much 
splashing, and on land is decidedly awkward, but when 
swimming or diving is perfectly at home. Length, i6 ins. 
Wing, 775 ins. Tarsus, V2 ins. 

Pochard, Nyroca ferina (Linn.). 

Within recent years there has been a remarkable increase of 
the Pochard (Plate 20) as a resident species in England, Wales, 
and Scotland, though it has not yet begun to nest, regularly 
at any rate, in Ireland. The range of the bird is Palaearctic, 
though it does not nest far north ; it winters in northern Africa, 
and eastward to India and China. Great numbers visit our 
islands in winter, congregating in flocks on the larger waters 
inland, and, unless frozen out, seldom appear on salt water. 

The " Red-headed Pochard " or " Poker," as it is often called, 
is also known as the " Curre," from its note, or the " Dunbird." 
The pronunciation of Pochard is an unsettled point ; the ch is 
often hard, but at times the first syllable is sounded as if spelt 
poach. It is not a difficult bird to identify, for the head and 
neck of the drake are rich chestnut-red, and most of the upper 
parts lavender-grey, finely pencilled with undulating black lines. 
It has no central paler crest as in the Wigeon, nor any distinct 
wing patch ; yet there are many gamekeepers and others who 
fail to realise the difference. The back of the Scaup is vermicu 

Series II. E 



50 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

lated like that of the Pochard, but it has a black head, and 
the absence of wing bar prevents confusion with the rare White- 
eyed Duck. Probably it is the carriage of the head and neck 
of the Pochard which causes the impression that the bill has a 
slight but distinct upward tilt, for in the hand this is no more 
noticeable than in several other species. 

September or October are usually stated to be the months in 
which the immigrant Pochards reach most districts, but of late 
years some have been on Cheshire waters, which are much 
frequented, early in August. Indeed, though so far the bird 
has not been proved to nest in the county, a few at times remain 
all summer. From year to year the numbers of winter visitors 
varies, and during the season there is much fluctuation on any 
particular water, at one time only a few small parties being 
present, but at others hundreds or even thousands of birds. 
The Pochard is sociable, and flocks move from water to 
water. The flight is fairly quick and direct, but the rapid 
movements of the short wings give the impression of greater 
speed than is actually attained. When about to alight the 
whole flock will suddenly slide down diagonally at great speed, 
the wings producing a startling rushing sound, skim above the 
surface, and enter with a splash. Diving ducks do not spring 
clear like surface-feeders when rising, but beat along the water 
for some distance like Coots, striking with wings and running 
feet. The bird is, as a rule, in no hurry to rise, and when 
approached draws off into open water, sinking its body until 
the wavelets wash across its neck, and glancing back over 
its shoulders as it swims swiftly away. With a httle care 
it is possible to get close to a party feeding inshore. The 
manner of diving varies individually, probably according to 
the depth the bird desires to work ; at times the bird springs 
up and with a graceful curve takes a header, but frequently it 
slips below the surface, often kicking up a little shower of spray, 
and swims so superficially that its under-water progress can be 



POCHARD. 51 

followed by a ripple on the surface. It is difficult to estimate 
the size ot a feeding flock, for the birds bob up and go under 
again at once ; two or three, a dozen, or none may be visible 
at any moment. Weeds are dragged from the bottom, vegetable 
food being preferred, but molluscs and water insects are also 
taken. The alarm note is a guttural qu-a-a-a-ak^ but the flight 
call is a harsh currah. When courting, the drake extends his 
head along the water and whistles softly to the duck. On land 
the Pochard is ungainly, its large feet, set far back, are adapted 
for subaqueous progression. The hind toe in the diving ducks 
is lobed. 

The nest is usually in a very wet or boggy situation, never far 
from and often actually over water ; in consequence it is a 
bulky structure of rushes, reeds, or flags, raised well above the 
surface like the nest of the Coot. The quantity of blackish 
down, acquired in the spring moult, varies considerably, and in 
some nests, even when the young are hatched, is scanty. The 
eggs are remarkably large (Plate 14), especially when compared 
with those of Mallard and other large-sized surface-feeders. 
They are greenish, six to ten in number, and are laid from 
April to June. The nestling is olive-grey above and buft' 
beneath, and has a buff eye-stripe and small patches on the 
wing. 

Below the chestnut on the drake in nuptial dress is a band of 
black, narrow above and broad on the breast ; the lower back, 
beyond the grey, and the under tail-coverts are also black. 
In the duck the head and neck are a darker brown and the 
cheeks and chin greyish white ; the breast and upper parts are 
reddish brown, the latter shading into greyish brown, crossed 
by undulating grey lines. The browner male in eclipse is 
indistinctly barred with grey, but is not strikingly different 
in this plumage. Young males resemble the ducks, but soon 
show grey feathers on back and wings ; the black breast is not 
gained during the first year. The bill is black, crossed by a 



52 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

band of slate-blue, much broader in the drake than the duck ; 
the legs are slate-grey. In the young drake the irides are 
yellow, but become redder as the bird matures ; in the duck 
they are brown. Lyddcker states that the iris is reddest when 
the bird is excited, and Mr. Millais noticed that the pupils were 
contracted till the eyes "blazed" red when the male was sex- 
ually excited. In the previous series (page 302) I referred to 
the effect of excitement upon the iris of the Eagle- Owl. Length, 
19 ins. Wing, 8'25 ins. Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 

Scaup. Nyroca marila (Linn.). 

Although the Scaup (Plate 23) has, within recent years, been 
discovered nesting in Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, it is 
mainly a winter visitor, often abundant, to our coasts. It 
seldom appears on inland waters, but when it does so consorts 
with other diving ducks. It breeds in both the Pala^arctic and 
Nearctic regions, but has been " split " into geographical sub- 
species by some systematists ; it only breeds in the moie 
northerly and often Arctic portions of its range. 

The Scaup is as partial to salt water as the Pochard to fresh. 
Its black head and breast, grey mantle, and white flanks show- 
up well on quiet water, but when at a distance, tossed on a 
rough sea, it is not so easy to distinguish from the much larger 
Scoter or even other marine ducks. It is a typical diving duck, 
short and squat, and, as in the Pochard, its bill slightly uptilts. 
From this bird the drake Scaup can be distinguished by its 
black, green-shot head and the distinct white bar on its wing, 
very noticeable in flight, and the female by a broad white 
mask surrounding her lead-blue bill. From the black-backed 
drake Tufted it can be told by its larger size, grey back, and 
absence of crest, but with females more care is needed. The 
immature Tufted Duck, in brown uncharacteristic dress often 
has a patch of white at the base of the bill. The wing bar is 




/ 













'f/ 









Nest of Garganey. 



■4*^^ 



JL 52. 




^ 




^ 



SCAUP. 53 

present in both ; indeed, the main difference is in the size of 
this frontal patch, which in the Scaup reaches to the level of the 
eyes. On rising from calm water the bird splashes along the 
surface, paddling with its feet, but from the crest of a wave it 
has less difficulty in getting on the wing. It is sociable, but 
usually swims in small parties, a dozen or so together, though 
at times these little gatherings are scattered everywhere, thou- 
sands of birds in sight at once. Except when resting on the 
banks it seldom packs closely like the Wigeon. Being a deep- 
water feeder it can obtain food in rough weather and is not 
forced ashore by storm ; it feeds where the depth is not too 
great for it to reach bottom to hunt for molluscs, worms, and 
crustaceans, or to pull up the sea-grass. The name is sup- 
posed to be derived from the habit of frequenting the " mussel- 
scaups " or " scalps," the rocks or estuarine mud-banks where 
these bivalves live. Cockles and other " shell-fish" are eaten. 

If Seebohm's interpretation of sound is to be relied on, the 
name may be derived from one of its notes, which he describes 
as loud and discordan-t, like a man "with an exceptionally 
harsh, hoarse voice screaming out the word scaup at the top of 
his voice." But his description is rather discounted by his 
further remarks about " a peculiar toss of the head," borrowed 
from Montagu, who states that the bird when it so tosses its 
head in spring utters a " grunting noise." Mr. Millais, who 
describes the display in detail, says that when the male throws 
up its head it utters a gentle note. Indeed, there is much 
diversity in the description of the sounds uttered by the Scaup, 
and as I have never heard any except the grating call of alarm, 
very similar to that of the Tufted Duck, I offer no opinion. 

Scaup congregate to rest on exposed banks in estuaries and 
bays, and are then difficult to approach, but the small parties 
met with near the shore are not so shy. I have watched the 
bird feeding in the marine lake at West Kirby, close to the 
promenade, and Mr. F. W. Holder tells me that sixty-five 



54 THE BIRDS OF THE ERITISH ISLES. 

frequented the lake at Southport for some days in April. The 
usual time for arrival of migrants is from the middle of 
September onwards, but birds are often noticed in August, 
and I have seen it in mid-July. Passage birds are most 
numerous in October. Many return north in March, but some 
linger until May or even June. 

Very few birds have been found nesting in our islands, though 
in Iceland it breeds freely. The immediate neighbourhood of 
water is usually selected ; the eight to eleven eggs, greenish but 
darker than those of the Pochard, average 2'43 by 171 inches 
in size (Jourdain). Eggs in Scotland have been found in June. 

The adult drake has the head, neck, and breast black with a 
green sheen, the upper parts white with fine vermiculations of 
black and grey, and the flanks and under parts white. On the 
wing is a white bar. The parts black in the drake are chocolate 
in the duck, except the facial patch, which is white. The upper 
parts are dark brown with grey pencilling, the sides dull brown 
and also lined, and the under parts tinged with brown. In both 
sexes the bill is greyish blue, darker in the female, and the 
legs lead-blue ; the irides at all ages are yellow. The drake in 
eclipse is said to resemble the duck, but an old drake in July, 
swimming with a Tufted drake, had no trace of a mask. Its 
greyish back was browner towards the ramp, and its wings 
brown. The broad mask of the young birds is suffused with 
brown, but still indistinct, and in immature drakes the head is 
sooty. Length, 19 ins. Wing, 8-5 ins. Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 

Tufted Duck. Nyroca fuligida (Linn.). 

The increase of the Tufted Duck (Plate 24) within the last 
fifty years is more striking than that of the Pochard ; in all 
parts of the British Isles, including Ireland, where the Pochard 
is yet feeling its way, the Tufted Duck is establishing itself as 
a permanent resident. It is a fresh-water species with a 



TUFTED DUCK. 55 

breeding range extending across northern Europe and Asia, 
and a wintering area in southern Europe and Asia and northern 
Africa. 

The black and white " Magpie-Diver," as some sportsmen 
call it, black above and white below in the drake, is not a 
difficult bird to tell ; the long, graceful crest in winter sets 
•it apart from other ducks. The female and young birds are 
less distinctive ; they are dark brown above, and have dull 
white under parts, whilst the crest is but slightly developed. 
It is not, at first sight, always easy to separate them from 
Pochards, especially when their lavender-tinted flanks obscure 
the white wing bar. On the wing, however, this white bar is 
very plain, though less noticeable than that of the Goldeneye. 
On account of the Tufted's golden-yellow irides, it is often 
called the " Goldeneye," leading to confusion with the next 
species. The residents receive large additions from oversea in 
autumn, October being the month when most arrive or visit 
our waters on passage ; but the numbers, at any rate in Lanca- 
shire and Cheshire, begin steadily to increase in August. 
From then onwards there are flocks of varying size on all the 
larger waters, but these diminish from March to May, and in 
June and July the only birds in evidence are the breeding stock 
and a few which for some reason show neither inclination to 
nest nor migrate. The summering of non-breeders has, during 
the last ten to twenty years, become an almost regular habit, 
preceding the settlement of a few nesting pairs. 

Undoubtedly the Tufted is our best-known diving duck, and 
it is expert at the art. Some consider that it is a cleaner 
diver than the heavier Pochard, which they say has to spring 
out of the water before going under ; but the spring is a habit 
of both species, and is merely used when the bird wishes to dive 
deep. The Tufted may take a header or merly slip out of sight, 
but like the Pochard it usually kicks up a parting jet of water. 
Ussher states that the bird has been caught in Lough Neagh in 



56 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

nets sunk to fifteen fathoms, but confirmation is desirable ; in 
clear water the bird may be watched swimming easily at a depth 
of ten feet or more, but it is difficult to believe that it would, if 
it could, dive so deep as ninety. Normally the dives do not 
exceed fifteen seconds in duration. The Tufted's habits are 
fairly regular ; as a rule most of the day is spent idly on the 
water, the birds slumbering with the blue bill tucked into the 
black back, floating lightly, small black and white buoys 
swinging in the wind. Others attend to the toilet, rolling on 
one side and showing the white under parts to perfection, as 
they scratch neck or flank with a foot. Small wonder that 
they are called "White-sided Ducks." Grebes careen to preen 
and flash white in the same way, but even at a distance there 
is a difference in the silky gloss of the Grebe and the dead 
Chinese white of the Tufted drake. The social habit is well 
d-evelopedjand flocks of considerable size consort with Pochards ; 
the bird is seldom met with in any numbers on the sea. Towards 
evening the flocks fly or swim to the feeding ground, which may 
be on another lake or the shallower parts of that on which they 
have spent the day, and again in the early morning the birds 
usually feed. Tufted Ducks, however, may be seen diving for 
food at all hours, often in little groups close inshore, vanish- 
ing one after the other until the water swirls and eddies. 
Aquatic weeds are their main food, but molluscs and insects 
are taken. If alarmed the birds sink the body, stiften the neck, 
and make for open water, but are slow to take wing ; when 
they do they splash with wings and feet. Flocks on the wing 
flash as they turn, but aerial gymnastics are not frequent ; 
at times a flock will suddenly drop diagonally to a lower level 
and at once resume horizontal flight, and the descent to the 
water is swift and accompanied by a loud rushing sound. The 
flight and alarm note are, to my ears, similar — a growling 
currah or kiirr, but the breeding call is a soft, liquid puk^ with 
a little of the Pintail twang. I have heard this from drakes as 



TUFTED DUCK. 57 

they circled round the selected female in February and March. 
As the drake calls he rises vertically in the water and jerks his 
head upwards. A duck, if uneasy when conducting her brood, 
utters a frequent short grunt. 

The nest is placed in various situations, usually dn.' spots 
near water, and is well concealed by rushes, reeds, heather, or 
other herbage ; it may be in a hollow or beneath a bush, but is 
occasionally exposed ; I have seen it on a fallen log. It is 
formed of dry grass, sedges, and leaves, and the dark down 
varies in quantity. The eight to ten eggs (Plate 21) are large, 
greenish or olive-brown. They are laid late in May or in June, 
and it is often well into July on Cheshire waters before the 
sooty-brown little balls of down venture out into the open. The 
duck in charge shows her anxiety by her stiffly upright neck, 
and though prior to sitting she was constantly attended by her 
mate, she is usually left to take all family responsibilities. Drakes 
in eclipse swim together well away from the brood, though 
I have seen one join the duck when the young had nearly 
reached flapper stage. The juveniles crowd after their mother, 
often pressing against her flanks, and if alarmed she by no 
means always lures them to deeper water, as has been stated 
to be her habit, but will lead them into the shelter of the 
aquatic fringe. As the young grow the down becomes browner 
— less sooty — and the eyts, at first brown, change to dull white, 
and much later to yellow. Many birds in first plumage have 
a marked white patch at the base of the bill, and adult females 
at times retain a few white feathers ; the amount of white varies 
in birds of the same brood. An interesting sidelight on the 
spread of the species is suggested by the record of a nestling, 
ringed in Northumberland, which was caught in Finland in 
June two years later, where presumably it had gone to nest. 

The bill of the drake is slate-grey, almost blue, that of the 
duck a little darker ; the legs are slate, the irides golden. The 
male in eclipse is brown, but not so brown as the duck, and he 



58 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

shows white when he rolls, but his flanks are suffused with 
lavender; his crest is short. Young males resemble females, 
but even before they can fly are whiter on the flanks than the 
young ducks. Length, 17*25 ins. Wing, 8 ins. Tarsus, i in. 

Goldeneye. Glaiuion dangtda (Linn.). 

The smart Goldeneye (Plate 23) is a well-distributed, though 
not very abundant winter visitor to salt and fresh water ; it has 
not been proved to have nested in a wild state in Britain. It 
nests, however, in Scandinavia and across Arctic and sub- Arctic 
Europe and Asia, and a closely allied form occurs in America. 
Its winter wanderings do not, as a rule, extend so far south as 
those of other diving ducks. In our islands immature birds are 
much more abundant than fully mature drakes, and fowlers 
often insist that " Morillons," as they name the grey birds, are 
not the same species as " Magpie-Divers." These local names 
are apt to confuse, for Moriilon has been applied to other 
species, and the Tufted Duck is called in some parts the 
Goldeneye and Magpie-Diver. 

The adult drake Goldeneye is a very black and white bird, 
with a large white spot at the base of the bill, below and in 
front of the eye, which shows clearly on his glossy green head. 
The round shape of this spot at once distinguishes him from 
Barrow's Goldeneye, a bird that is reputed to have occurred in 
Scotland, for in this species the spot is semi-lunar. The female 
and young are brown on the head, grey, mottled with darker 
brownish grey, on back, wings, and flanks, and have a white 
collar. They have no face spot but a broad white wing bar 
divided by a black line ; the white on the back and wings of 
the adult drake is in three parts. There is, however, little 
difficulty in identifying the Goldeneye of either sex at any age, 
once we have become familiar with its short squat shape and 
"buffel head." It swims with head well up, the long mane-like 



GOLDENEYE. 59 

feathers of the nape standing out, giving it a peculiarly big- 
headed appearance ; on the wing this is just as prominent, for 
the feathers stand out round the short, thin neck. The 
difference in size between the feniales and males is very 
remarkable, but the young drakes do not look so big as the old 
pied birds. As a winter visitor the Goldeneye is frequent, but 
it is as a passage migrant that it is most abundant, at any rate 
in Cheshire, where little parties may constantly be seen 
throughout October and November, and again in March and 
April. The first birds usually reach the inland waters in 
August, and some linger until May or even June. The Golden- 
eye is nervous, and unsociable so far as other species are 
concerned ; it swims and feeds by itself or with a few of its 
own kind, but seldom consorts with other ducks. When a man 
approaches the lake it is the first to rise, and is quicker in 
getting on the wing than other divers, though it often scutters 
across the water, splashing with its feet. Once on the wing it 
flies swiftly, often close to the surface, and does not drop until 
it reaches the farthest extent of the pool. " Rattlewing " and 
" Whistler " are two descriptive local names, for the noise it 
makes in flight — more of a whistle than a rattle — is far louder 
than that produced by other ducks ; it reminds me of the ring 
of thin ice cracking under the bows of a boat. I have heard 
the whistle of an old drake's wings across water from fully half 
a mile away. Vocally the bird is not demonstrative, though I 
have startled it into uttering a harsh grunting expostulation, 
deeper than that of the Pochard, but with the same guttural 
suggestion of ^r. It has also a nuptial note, emitted with the 
head thrown upward, but this I have not heard. Gould figures 
drakes, flat on the water, with wings half spread so as to 
show the white pattern to advantage, and with the head drawn 
back and bill pointed upward as they call. 

The Goldeneye is thoroughly at home on the water ; it 
seldom comes to land; ashore it stands in a more upright 



6o THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

position than most ducks. Even where there are a number of 
lakes in one district the bird usually shows partiality for certain 
waters, probably because they provide some particular food. In 
Lakeland, Macpherson found it the commonest diving duck, and 
this is still the case. As an expert diver it is distinctly ahead 
of its relatives ; my notes give an average of twenty-three 
seconds below the water, and of three or four seconds on the 
surface between each dive. Thus when the bird is busily 
feeding it is much longer invisible than visible. Often if 
surprised it dives, swims out for a distance and takes wing 
when it comes to the surface, and does not sink its body and 
draw off from the shore like Tufted or Pochard. It is mainly 
an animal feeder, diving for molluscs and crustaceans, and, in 
fresh water, aquatic insects ; Prof Newstead counted over 150 
water beetles of one species in the stomach of a bird. In its 
nesting habits it differs from other ducks, for choice selecting 
a hole in a tree ; it can be induced to make use of nesting-boxes. 
The bill of the drake is blue-black, that of the duck darker 
and tipped with dull yellow ; the legs are yellow, often orange 
in old drakes, the irides golden. One summer I was able to 
watch the progress of the moult into eclipse dress, for a 
" pricked " drake in, I should say, its second spring, was 
unable to migrate. In April its head was green, though with 
less sheen than in an older bird, and the patch near the bill 
was small though distinct. The head was quite brown by the 
second week in July, and the cheek spot had entirely vanished, 
though some authorities insist that it is retained ; white showed 
on the neck, though flecked with grey, but the wing patch was 
unaltered. At the end of August the bird reached its greatest 
obscurity, and early in September the head darkened, and the 
white patches showed more clearly on one side ; probably the 
reason was that the damaged wing did not recover so quickly. 
The bird was shot before it had attained full dress, and when 
last seen in September the face spot had not developed. 





^ PL 24. 



Tufted Duck. 
Long-tailed Duck (male and female, winter). 



E60. 



HARLEQUIN DUCK. 6l 

Immature drakes show more white than ducks. An immature 
duck in December had head and neck mummy brown and an 
incomplete white collar, mouse-grey shoulders and mottled-grey 
wings, and smoky-grey breast. The bill was brown tinged with 
yellow, the legs dull yellow, and the irides brown. Male : 
Length, i8 ins. Wing, 8*25 ins. Tarsus, I'S ins. Female : 
Length, 16 ins. Wing, 775 ins. Tarsus, i'4. ins. 

Buffel-headed Duck. Glaucion albeola (Linn.). 

Buffel-head, a contraction of buffalo-head, is descriptive ; it 
conveys the idea of a heavy-maned head like that of the 
American bison, and this, with a slight stretch of imagina- 
tion, is what is suggested by the elongated head feathers of the 
Goldeneyes and their near relatives. The Buffel-head breeds 
in the north of America and wanders so far south as the West 
Indies ; on two or three, and probably more, occasions it has 
strayed to Britain. It is a smaller bird than our Goldeneye, and 
both drake and duck may be recognised by the white patch or 
band which runs upwards from behind the eye to the crest. In the 
drake this mark is larger and more distinct on his glossy green 
head than on the more soberly coloured duck. Females and 
immature birds, in addition to showing this mark, are browner 
than Goldeneyes in similar dress. The bill is bluish, tipped 
with yellow, the legs yellowish, and the irides brown. Length, 
14-16 ins. Wing, 6-5 ins. Tarsus, i in. 

Harlequin Duck. Histrionicus histrioniais (Linn.). 

Mr. J. H. Gurney investigated the many reputed occurrences 
of this bird and relegated some twenty to the obscurity they 
deserved, leaving only two or three trustworthy records. The 
drake Harlequin, as the name suggests, is a gay, parti-coloured 
bird, utterly unlike any other, but the sombre duck is apt to be 
confused with the female Long-tailed Duck. Perhaps it is strange 



62 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

that the bird has not more frequently been met with, for it nests 
in some numbers in Iceland. It is not common in north-western 
Europe, but ranges eastward through Asia into North America. 
In Iceland it appears to be resident, merely migrating in winter 
from the north to the south of the island. 

The drake is a showy bird, blue-black in general coloui- of the 
upper parts, rich chestnut on the flanks and with a streak of 
the same colour on either side of the crown, boldly marked with 
white on the sides of the face in front of the eye, on the cheeks 
and sides of the nape, and with a white collar, incomplete 
breast band, and patches on the wings. The bill is blue-black, 
the legs brownish slate, and the irides orange. The female is 
almost uniform brown above, and on the throat and under parts 
brownish white with darker mottlings. In front and behind the 
eye are dull white patches ; in the duck Long-tail the face is 
whitish, the cheek patch brown. Length, 17 ins. Wing, 8 ins. 
Tarsus, i "3 ins. 

Long-tailed Duck. Clangiila hyanalis (Linn.). 

The Long-tailed Duck (Plate 24) is a winter visitor all round 
our shores, though more plentiful in Scotland and on the east 
coast than elsewhere. It is, almost certainly, an occasional 
nester in the Shetlands and Orkneys, where it is frequently met 
with in summer. Mr. O. V. Aplin's statement that the bird 
nested in Orkney in 1911 was questioned, as he refused to dis- 
close his evidence, though the eggs and down — not taken by 
him — were examined and confirmed as those of this species ; 
his reticence was justified, for attempts were made by collectors 
to discover the nesting site ; he was silent for the sake of the 
birds. The breeding range of the Long-tail is circumpolar and 
mainly Arctic ; it is abundant in Iceland. In winter it reaches 
southern Europe, and Florida in America. 

There is always something characteristic about the Long- 
tailed Duck whatever plumage it is in ; it is small and squat 



LONG-TAILED DUCK. 63 

and its bill is noticeably short. It swims buoyantly, and when 
the bill does not show clearly may be confused with the young 
Smew. In both winter and summer dress, which markedly 
differ, the drake has the two central tail feathers four or five 
inches longer than the others, and as a rule he carries his tail 
proudly erect. In winter his plumage is mainly black and 
white, but with a pronounced brown mark on the side of the 
neck. His head and neck are otherwise white. Much of 
the white is retained on the face in summer, but the crown and 
practically all the upper parts are rich brown. In winter the 
scapulars and inner secondaries are elongated and white, but in 
summer they have black centres and broad rufous edges. The 
brown females have no very salient characters, but a brown 
patch shows plainly on the greyish-white cheek. In old females 
the head is often very white. Long descriptions of the immature 
plumages are apt to confuse, for no two birds are exactly alike, 
and the drake is often in a curious mixture of winter and 
summer dress. The usual time of autumnal arrival off our 
shores is September, and of departure, March or April, but 
there are many records of early birds in August or even July, 
and of belated ones in May. One female arrived on a Cheshire 
mere at the end of July and remained for two months ; an 
unusually long stay, for the bird is distinctly a sea and not fresh- 
water duck. 

The Long-tailed Duck is perfectly at home on the sea, ap- 
parently rejoicing in a rough day. Facing the wind it rides 
buoyantly up the advancing wave, breasts the breaking crest, 
and glides into the hollow ; from the shore we see the small 
bodies for a moment, then they vanish to appear immediately 
on the next crest. Its feeding grounds are, as a rule, well 
off shore; it dives fearlessly in the troubled water above some 
sunken reef, seeking molluscs on the rocks and crustaceans in 
the tangle. Even rocks and seaweed are not necessary, for it 
subsists largely on the plankton — finding sufficient nourishment 



64 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

in pela.2;ic eggs and larvae of fish and crustaceans. " Sea- 
Pheasant " is a name that it shares with the Pintail, and indeed 
in some parts of Scotland this bird is the " Pintail," but a 
commoner and better Scottish name is " Calloo." The Long- 
tail is a noisy bird, especially in winter and early spring, and it 
is from its oft-repeated musical cry that it has earned this name, 
though at times the Scots go further and affirm that it says — 
" coal-an-can-le-licht." The lively conversational calls may be 
heard at any time, and often through the night ; when it calls 
it throws the head upward and opens wide its b'll. 

The bird is a lively and neat diver, and swims under water 
with the feet alone, though the wings may be opened in turning, 
at least that is my experience when I have seen it in shallow 
water. One bird I watched swam so superficially that I could 
trace its course by the occasional splashes, and now and 
then a foot protruded. Nearer inshore, where the water was 
only a few inches deep, it swam with the back exposed and 
its head beneath the surface. If suddenly alarmed on reaching 
the surface the bird rises more cleanly than other diving 
ducks, and on dropping to the water it will sometimes go 
under at once. The duration of dives has been estimated at 
over forty seconds, but birds I have watched hardly remained 
so long, though when busily feeding they were much oftener 
below than on the surface. The courtship attitudes of the 
drakes have been described, and the display is frequently 
interrupted by squabbles, though these slight differences of 
opinion are not confined to the breeding season. In display the 
long tail is carried almost at right angles to the back, and, it is 
said, vibrated. The duck has a low note which is drowned by 
the clamour of the drakes. The eggs are elongated, greyish 
green to buff, and average 2*i by 15 inches. 

The difficulty of describing the plumage is, as already stated, 
complicated by the varying phases due to season and progress 
towards maturity. The adult drake in winter has the head. 



STELLER'S EIDER. 65 

neck, scapulars, inner secondaries, flanks, and under parts 
white, the rest of the plumage brownish black, the most notice- 
able mark being the large oval brown patch on the side of the 
neck. The elongated tail feathers are black, the others white. 
The short bill is rose-pink, black at the base and tip. I have 
not handled an adult drake and cannot express an opinion 
about the legs and irides, but the accounts vary so much that 
possibly the colours differ individually, and even in the same 
bird under different stimuli so far as the eyes are concerned. 
The legs are said to be pale lead coloured, dull yellow, red and 
reddish brown ; the irides red, yellow, or brown, and Thorburn 
figures them as brown, Gould as whitish yellow. Probably 
Saunders is correct when he says "varying from yellow to hazel 
and red." In its summer dress the drake is reddish brown, as 
already mentioned, and the short-tailed brown female has an 
incomplete white collar. One female that I saw in December, 
evidently an old bird, had the head distinctly greyish white, 
except on the dark crown and oblong brown patch below the 
lead-blue bill. The legs were slate and the irides pale brown, 
certainly not yellow, in a female watched at close quarters. An 
immature bird in October had the head and neck delicately 
shaded with grey on white, and an immature drake, with a 
fairly long tail, was greyer on the back and browner on the 
nape than the duck with which he was swimming. The bill 
of immature birds is bluish grey, the legs look dark, and the 
irides are brown. Male : Length, 20-23 iris. Wing, 9 ins. 
Tarsus, i'2 ins. Female : Length, 16 ins. Wing, 8 ins. 
Tarsus, I'l ins. 

Steller's Eider. Heniconetta stelleri (Pallas). 

This beautiful little duck has occurred twice on our east coast. 
It is a circumpolar species, which has not been proved to nest 
in Europe, but is found off the shores of Norway and in the 

Series II. F 



66 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Baltic in winter. The drake has the head and neck white, 
the chin black, and a glossy purple-shot black collar joins its 
black back ; the wings are black and white, the lower breast 
and flanks rich chestnut, and the abdomen dark. It is much 
smaller than the other two eiders, but has the same art green 
on the head — in front of the eye and on the nape. The duck is 
dark brown mottled with buff, and has a brown-black speculum 
narrowly bordered with white. The bill is bluish grey, the 
legs dark grey, and the irides brown. Length, 17 ins. Wing, 
85 ins. Tarsus, 1*4 ins. 

Eider-Duck. Somateria mollis sifna (Linn.). 

The Eider (Plate 26) nests abundantly in Iceland, Scandi- 
navia, and the western Paliearctic region generally, and in 
winter wanders south along the Atlantic seaboard, occasionally 
to the Mediterranean. The eastern American sub-species is 
closely allied to ours, but the western, Pacific form, S. in. 
v-nigra Gray, has a distinct black chevron on the chin ; the 
presence of indications of a similar mark on some examples 
was responsible for the erroneous idea that this bird occurred 
in British waters. On the Scottish coasts, in the Shetlands and 
Orkneys, and some of the Hebrides, the Eider is a resident, 
and on the north-east coast of England some numbers nest 
annually, most plentifully on Holy Island and the Fames. 
Except for one nest recorded for Ireland, it is elsewhere a 
winter visitor, more frequent in the east than the west. 

The Eider is a large, heavy duck, with a bill sloping from 
the forehead. Down the centre of the bill, about half-way to the 
nostrils, is a feathered peak, but even more noticeable than 
this is the angular tract of feathered skin that runs forward on 
each side of the bill, dividing the upper mandible, as far as the 
nostrils, into two portions. The handsome drake, white above, 
except on the crown and lower back, which, Hke most of the 



EIDER-DUCK. 67 

under parts, are black, can hardly be confused with any other 
species, for the King-Eider has an entirely different bill. 

The brown duck, mottled and barred with black, has little 
beyond her size and shape that can be called distinctive when 
she is seen at a distance. The female King-Eider has a longer 
peak on the bill, but this is not easily seen on a bird tossing on 
the waves. The sea, and usually a restless sea, is the place 
where we are most likely to meet with the Eider, for no duck, 
not even a Scoter, is more maritime ; an Eider inland is excep- 
tional. Off shore, especially at high tide, fleets of Eiders cruise 
in any weather ; the birds lift on the waves, ride through the 
curling crests, and dip into the troughs without raising their 
sleepy heads from their breasts. Birds in these flocks are often 
in puzzhng plumage, old white drakes and brown females, and 
in between young males in various stages of immaturity, 
mottled, streaked and banded with white, black, and brown. 
When white foam indicates sunken reefs the birds draw in to 
feed, diving fearlessly in the rough water for molluscs on the 
rocks or crustaceans in the weed. They swim close to the 
exposed rocks, without apparent effort floating back when a 
wave threatens to dash them on to the reef. As the tide 
sinks some mount to rest upon the reef, and others, with head 
and neck below, but not with the body uptilted, investigate 
the sand in shallow pools. Small molluscs are swallowed 
whole, but larger ones and crabs are crushed in the powerful 
bill ; starfish and small cuttles are also eaten. 

On the wing the Eider looks heavy, but its speed is consider- 
able ; it often flies straight, just above the waves. In flight 
it has a harsh grating call, but this is less noticed than the 
low coo, which the drakes utter with head thrown up with a 
jerk, as if gulping. During courtship this note, frequently 
repeated, becomes a crooning love-song as, bobbing and jerk- 
ing, the amorous drakes swim round the duck, unconcernedly 
swimming, her tail a little elevated, as if bored by their overturci. 



68 THK BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

In the performance, it is asserted, the drake constantly raises 
himself in the water to flap his wings so as to display his 
best "points," but after watching the birds for several con- 
secutive days I came to the conclusion that the duck and 
immature drakes flapped as often as the suitors. At all and 
any time ducks raise themselves in the water and flap their 
wings, just as we and other animals stretch and yawn. 

In many places the Eider gets more or less protection on 
account of the value of its well-known grey down ; indeed, the 
misguided duck is shamelessly exploited, tempted to nest under 
protection and thus induced to pluck herself, and when the 
eggs most need the heat-retaining down, it is stolen, and the bird 
has to begin again. The nest, constructed of grass, heather, or 
seaweed, is placed in various situations, sometimes in heather 
or thrift in the open, but often under the shelter of a wall or 
rock. The large greenish eggs (Plate 14) usually number four 
or five, but much larger clutches are recorded. Fresh eggs 
may be found from May to July, but late broods may be due to 
the earlier eggs having been taken for food. Where the bird is 
protected it is a close sitter and absurdly tame ; it is possible 
to stroke the sitting " St. Cuthbert's Duck " on the Fames. In 
the Hebrides, however, Miss Turner found it rather camera 
shy. The sitting or rather crouching position of the bird on 
the nest, shown on Plate 25, suggests a desire to gain conceal- 
ment. It might well express nest weariness, for Mr. W. H. St. 
Ouintin found that his captive Eiders sat for twenty-eight days 
without taking food or water, and apparently never left the nest. 
Long before the eggs hatched the old duck was '' buried over- 
head, nest and all, in a mass of luxuriant chickweed." The 
young in down are brown with grey or yellowish eye-stripes 
and under parts, and their bills and feet are blue-grey. The 
duck leads them to the water at an early age, and sometimes 
joins forces with other old birds. Some observers state that 
the drake, like other ducks, deserts the female during incuba- 





^ PL 26. 



7^68. 



Eider. 
King-Eider. 




^=< 




2 PL 2\ 



F&^. 



Common Scoter. 
Velvet Scoter. 



KING-EIDER. 69 

tion and leaves her to take charge of the young, whilst others 
have noted him anxiously keeping guard. Probably there is 
individual difference in the behaviour ; I have, however, seen 
many ducks, unaided by any drake, convoying their little fleet 
of four or five young, and in mid-June forty-eight mature drakes 
together. 

The forehead, crown, a stripe on either side of the bill, 
lower back, and under parts of the drake Eider are black ; a 
white stripe divides the crown, and the neck, face, upper parts 
generally, and a patch on either side of the abdomen are white. 
The breast is a beautiful rose-buff, but the most delicate colour 
is the pale green on the nape and cheeks and the yellow of the 
elongated inner secondaries. The bill is olive-green, at any 
rate shortly after death ; there is difference of opinion as to the 
actual shade during life. The tip is pale yellow. The legs are 
olive, the irides dark brown. In the brown duck the bill is 
bluish grey, the feet and eyes as in the drake. The drake 
in eclipse has irregular marking on the back and scapulars, 
and is much blacker than in his winter dress. Young drakes 
vary so much that only a specialist could tell the age of most 
individuals, for the bird is not mature until its third year ; there 
would be a suspicion of guesswork in any case, for it is most 
unlikely that the various feminine characters are lost and the 
spots and mottles on the whitening portions gained at the same 
age in every bird. Length, 25 ins. Wing, 12 ins. Tarsus, 
175 ms. 

King-Eider. Somateria spectabilis (Linn.). 

The Arctic and circumpolar King- Eider (Plate 26) travels 
south in winter and consorts with the commoner bird ; in 
British seas it is uncommon, merely an occasional visitor. 
Some numbers have, however, been observed in the Orkneys 
and Shetlands, and a few on the east coast and in Ireland. 



JO THE niRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Rather smaller than the Common Eider, the drake can, 
without difficulty, be recognised by the prominent orange boss 
or lobe on its flesh-coloured or orange bill ; a fringe of black 
frames the knob, showing it up. The drake is also blacker on 
the wings and back than the Common Eider. The duck 
cannot be safely distinguished on the water, but in the hand 
the length of the wedge in the centre of the bill is a good 
character — it reaches to the nostrils. The habits and food, so 
far as they have been observed, differ little from those of the 
Eider ; it is ungainly, especially on land, but flies quickly, 
close to the water. Seebohm and others thought that a few 
pairs may occasionally nest on outlying British islands, but the 
evidence, the presence of birds in summer, is inconclusive. Off 
the Fames and in other places drake King-Eiders have 
remained with other birds until June or even July, and Slater 
noticed the same habit in Iceland, but points out that these 
drakes are not fully mature. The natives imagined that the 
presence of the rarer birds favourably affected the fertility of 
the other Eiders. 

The head and neck of the adult drake are white, with black 
round the knob on the bill and a strong black chevron on the 
chin ; the crown is lavender, the cheeks suffused with delicate 
green. The upper back, a patch on the wings, and another on 
the sides of the abdomen are white, the breast is buff, and the 
rest of the under and upper parts, including the elongated 
secondaries, are blackish brown. The duck is brown, palest 
on the head and neck, and redder than most female Eiders, but 
these last vary considerably. The legs of the drake are orange, 
of the duck greenish grey, and her bill is greenish tinged with 
yellow. The irides in both sexes are usually said to be yellow, 
though others, including Coues, affirm that they are brown ; 
observation of the living birds should decide it. Length, 22-24 
ins. Wing, 10*5 ins. Tarsus, i*8 ins. 



COMMON SCOTER. 7 1 

Common Scoter. CEdemia nigra (Linn.). 

The Common Scoter or Black Duck (Plate 27) nests regularly 
in the north of Scotland, and has nested in at least one place in 
Ireland for some years. It is, however, best known as an 
abundant visitor to our shores, not merely in winter but at all 
seasons, for many immature or otherwise non-breeding birds 
remain during summer. The breeding range extends across 
northern Europe and Asia, and in winter it is abundant along 
the Atlantic coasts. 

The black Scoter, blacker than any other duck, is a heavy- 
looking bird, even when, like a cork, it rides buoyantly on the 
waves. It is seldom very near shore, therefore difficult to see 
clearly, but in a good light its one colour spot, an orange patch 
upon its bill, is conspicuous ; it is the drake only who sports this 
label, and the base of his bill is much swollen ; the duck is 
a grey-cheeked brown bird. Drake and duck alike, when 
swimming at ease, carry their pointed tails elevated like the 
Pintail ; this pose catches the eye when the birds are with 
other diving ducks. When swimming fast the tail is lowered. 
The absence of white marks on the head prevents confusion 
with the Velvet-Scoter, the absence of the wing bar is less 
reliable, since that of the Velvet is often concealed by the 
flanks of the swimming bird. The majority of the winter birds 
reach our seas in September, but August arrivals are common ; 
in September and April there are large passage movements. 
All winter the birds are common, and, at any rate off the 
Lancashire, Welsh, Northumberland, and Yorkshire coasts, 
numbers of immature or other non-breeding birds remain the 
whole summer. How long the Scoter takes to reach maturity 
does not seem to be known, but many of these summering birds 
are apparently in full adult dress. 

The Scoter is certainly a salt-water duck ; except when 
nesting, many writers affirm, it seldom if ever voluntarily goes 



72 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

inland. Either the bird has changed its habits or been over- 
looked, for it frequently visits the Cheshire meres, and Mr. 
C. Oldham has often seen it in Hertford and 'Buckingham. 
Not only are these visits in April, when there is an occasional 
and possibly regular overland migration, but little parties 
appear from time to time in July. Off the North Wales and 
Lancashire coasts the bird is frequently in immense num- 
bers, the sea, so far as the eye can reach, dotted with 
ducks, or lined with little strings flying swiftly close to the 
waves. I have watched what Mr. Bolam describes, the birds 
feeding on a falling tide, those furthest out rising to fly shore- 
wards over their companions and dropping \vhere the waves are 
breaking. I have seen them flying in long lines far out, 
undulating like distant steamer smoke, their numbers countless ; 
yet we are told that the bird is uncommon on the west coast ! 
At close quarters the buoyancy of the swimming bird is very 
noticeable ; it constantly uplifts itself to flap its wings after 
its frequent dives and shakes a shower of drops from its bill. 
If disturbed it swims quickly, the head well forward, bobbing 
like that of the Moorhen, and utters a low tuk^ tick. In flight, 
when its wings whistle, it has a harsh, grating call, but the 
courtship note is more melodious. 

The duration of timed dives varied from sixteen to forty-nine 
seconds. Molluscs of various kinds are the chief food ; one young 
bird that I examined had fed exclusively on Tellina balthiai, 
but Mr. G. Bolam found one full of nothing but small marine 
crustaceans. Mr. R. W. Jones notices that the summering 
birds in North Wales regularly pass in flocks in the morning 
and afternoon between their feeding grounds near shore and 
some night haunt at sea, suggesting that they are normally 
diurnal feeders. Dr. Patten says that when diving the Scoter 
*' disappears without warning or splash," and does not take a 
header ; but surely the amount of effort depends upon the 
depth of the water. I have seen the bird dive with a graceful 



VELVET-SCOTER. 73 

forward curve. Under water the leg- strokes are lateral like 
those of a grebe. 

Usually in wet surroundings, the nest is a slight grass-lined 
hollow, well concealed ; the five to eight creamy-white eggs 
are laid in June, and surrounded with very dark down. They 
measure about 2"5 by r8 inches. The duckling is dark brown 
above and on the breast, and white beneath. 

The drake is glossy black above, very dark brown beneath, 
and his bill is lead-blue, with an orange line on the prominent 
basal knob and a wider mark below ; the legs are brownish 
black, the irides dark brown. The brown dress of the duck is 
relieved by the pale cheeks and whitish chin, and the young 
have the under parts white mottled with brown. A young male 
I examined in the flesh in March showed a small patch and 
line of lemon-yellow on his but slightly swollen black bill ; his 
legs were olive-brown, with darker webs. A younger bird, in 
November, had the bill black and the legs dull yellow, the 
dusky webs very noticeable between the yellow toes. Sir R. 
Payne-Gallwey noticed that birds in their first winter often 
show white feathers on neck and breast ; the young male above 
had white patches, small and irregular, on its face and odd 
white feathers on the nape. Length, 19 ins. Wing, 9 ins. 
Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Yelvet-Scoter. CEdemia fusca (Linn.). 

The Velvet-Scoter (Plate 27) breeds in northern Europe 
and north-western Asia, and in winter visits the Atlantic and 
Mediterranean. To our shores it is a winter visitor in small 
numbers, but is sometimes rather numerous off the east coast. 

The broad white wing bar of the glossy black Velvet-Scoter 
shows well on the flying bird, or when, raising itself in the 
water, it flaps its wings, but, as in other wildfowl, it is commonly 
concealed by the secondaries or fluffed-out flank feathers when 



74 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the bird is on the water. Distance — for scoters keep well off 
shore— adds to the difficulty of identifying species, but in a 
good light the Velvet may be told by its superior size, the 
broader band of orange on the bill, the white spot immediately 
below the eye of the drake, and the two almost white patches, 
one behind the eye and the other at the base of the bill, on 
the face of the brown duck. In habits^ time of arrival' and 
departure, and general behaviour, this bird differs little from 
the Common Scoter, its frequent companion at sea. Pairs are 
said to swim more together, but in the huge flocks of Common 
Scoters, as in packs of Mallards, this marital constancy is Httle 
evident until the birds rise, when the pairs often fly together ; 
I have, however, seen Velvets fly in little parties. The flight 
is quick and near the water, the grunting note very similar to 
that of the other bird. Though very much a sea duck, I doubt 
if there is much in the assertions, both of which are made, that 
it is more, and less frequent on inland waters than *the Common 
Scoter ; it is occasionally seen inland, and the fact that it has 
been more often recorded may have given the idea of more 
frequent occurrence, whilst its smaller numbers and conse- 
quently rarer appearance have conveyed an erroneous impression 
to others. Young and non-breeding birds, probably immature, 
though the less glossy summer dress of old drakes is hard to 
distinguish from that of nearly mature males, sometimes linger 
through the summer off our northern shores. One point in 
which it differs from the Common Scoter is that the plumage of 
the young bird is not strikingly different from that of the duck. 
The amount of yellow on the bill of the drake Common 
Scoter varies considerably, but in the Velvet-Scoter the pattern 
is different. Practically the bill is orange and red with the 
basal knob black, and a black line running through the nostril 
towards the light nail, where it meets the black line along the 
edge of the upper mandible ; or we may say that the bill is black 
with a central and two lateral patches. The bill of the duck 



SURF-SCOTER. 75 

is leaden, and the basal knob but slightly developed. In both 
sexes the legs are orange-red, but much brighter in the male. 
The irides of the drake are greyish white, but in the duck and 
immature bird they are brown. Length, 21 ins. Wing, 11 ins. 
Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Surf- Scoter. (Edemia perspicillata (Linn.). 

The Surf-Scoter (Plate 28) is a North American bird, breed- 
ing far north, and in winter migrating south by both overland 
and coastwise routes. From time to time wanderers reach our 
shores and consort with other scoters, from which, so far as 
has been observed, they differ little in habits. The bird is 
always a casual, but it has been more frequently detected in 
the Orkneys and off the west coast than elsewhere. 

As in the eiders, a triangular feathered tract runs down the 
centre of the swollen and rather massive bill towards the 
nostrils. The basal protuberance is long and sloping and not 
a knob. In the drake the bill is showy, shading from deep 
red to orange and pale yellow ; on the sides are white spaces 
and large squarish black patches. Even more distinctive and 
conspicuous are a rectangular white mark between the eyes 
and triangular white patch on the back of the neck ; the rest 
of the plumage is glossy black. The duck is a brown but 
variable bird, sometimes showing the neck mark more or less 
clearly and occasionally two whitish spots on her pale brown 
cheeks. Young males and old females have much in common, 
but the distinctive male marks appear before the birds attain 
glossy dress ; young birds of either sex have white under parts 
mottled with brown. From the duck Velvet the female may be 
told by the absence of the white wing bar, and from the Common 
Scoter by the neck marks and facial spots. The bill of the 
duck is dark olive ; the legs of the drake are reddish orange, 
and the webs are dusky, but those of the female are dull 



76 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

orange, and in some birds are said to be yellowish green. 
There is also difference of opinion about the irides, which 
Gould figures as yellowish white in both sexes ; descriptions 
vary from " bright yellow " to white, but in some females and 
young birds they are said to be brown. Length, 21 ins. 
Wing, 9"5 ins. Tarsus, i'$ ins. 

Goosander. Mergus merganser Linn. 

Although several ducks will occasionally eat fish, the " saw- 
billed ducks '' are the only ones that habitually fish for a 
living ; their long, narrow, serrated bills are well fitted for 
catching and holding slippery prey. The Goosander (Plate 29), 
the largest of the group, inhabits northern Europe and Asia, 
migrating south in winter, and regularly visits estuaries and 
inland waters in Scotland and northern England. Elsewhere 
in Britain and Ireland it is more casual. In the north of 
Scotland a number nest annually. 

The Goosander shares with the Red-breasted Merganser the 
popular name of" Sawbill." The handsome drake, with glossy 
green-black head, black and white wings, grey lower back, and 
salmon-pink under parts, cannot be confused with the long- 
crested and ruddy-breasted Merganser drake, but the brown- 
headed, grey-backed females are very much alike. The 
Goosander is the larger bird, but size is of no value when the 
two are not together ; the wing patch is not, as has been stated, 
single in one and double in the other, but in both a black line 
crosses the white. Perhaps the best distinction is in the mane- 
like crest, which in the Goosander is graduated from the nape 
to the lower neck, whereas in the Merganser it is long at its 
highest and lowest point and short between ; when it stands 
out it looks more ragged. On the west coast and on western 
inland waters the Goosander is far more of a fresh-water duck 
than the other ; it seldom appears on the shores and estuaries, 





2 PL 28. 



Surf-Scoter. 
Smew. 



F-te. 



■^-^^mk]^:! 




h 




PL 2Q. 



Goosar.der. 
Red-breasted Merganser. 



Fll. 



GOOSANDER. 77 

where the Merganser is common. Goosanders reach Britain in 
October, but few appear in Cheshire before December ; even 
then their visits are irregular. April is the month of emigra- 
tion, but birds on passage will linger for a few days, even in 
mid-May. 

The elongated, cigar-shaped body is well adapted for rapid 
progress in the air, on or under the water ; the bird swims with 
great speed, easily forging ahead of Mallards, even when not 
hurried. With neck awash and head well forward it slides 
through the water, its rounded back just showing like a small 
submarine travelling on the surface, but if suspicious it sinks its 
deck and leaves only its periscope visible. When resting on the 
water its attitude is similar to that of the sleeping Great Crested 
Grebe, the head and neck laid back between the wings ; the 
white coverts and flanks then hide the dark portions of the 
wing, and the back merely shows as a crescentic line above 
the white side. The rosy tinged under parts show when the 
bird raises itself and flaps its wings, and when it rolls to scratch 
its blood-red bill an orange leg appears. The ducks, both 
when swimming and flying, look much darker than the drakes, 
although their backs are ashy grey, for the white under parts 
on breast and flanks are tinged with grey. Goosanders rise 
heavily, splashing like diving ducks, but when clear of the water 
fly straight at great speed ; they will fly high above an inland 
water. The only note that I have heard is a harsh karrr, 
but in spring the drake is said to utter a " soft, low croak." 
When a party is fishing, the water swirls as the birds pop up 
and dive again one after the other ; so far as I have seen, the 
wings are not used for under-water swimming, though they may 
be slighdy opened, like those of the Cormorant, as the bird 
rises. Fish are, frequently at any rate, swallowed under water. 
The duration of the dives varies ; the shortest that I have timed 
lasted only 10 seconds, the longest 110. A minute below is 
common, and the bird will often travel tlfty yards or more before 



78 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

reappearing. Seebohm affirms that on land it stands like a 
Cormorant and walks clumsily. It is neither so upright nor 
awkward, but is easy on its feet and, considering the far back 
position of the legs, remarkably horizontal in pose. The court- 
ship performances differ little from those of other ducks ; there 
is the same head throw and gulp as the competing drakes swim 
round the duck, the same occasional squabbles, and now and 
then the bird forces itself forward with a strong stroke, after the 
manner of the cob Swan. 

The Goosander nests in holes, often in hollow trees, under 
rocks or in peat banks, and but little nesting material is 
collected. Eight to twelve creamy eggs, not unlike those of 
the Sheld-Duck, are surrounded with light down, and the 
clutches are often complete early in May. The average size is 
27 by 1*8 inches. When the ducklings, brown above, white on 
wings, sides, and under parts, and with chestnut heads, hatch 
out, they are led to the water ; if the nest is in an elevated 
position, the young require help in descending. Mr. O. A. J. 
Lee witnessed this performance, and saw that the duck brought 
down some in her bill, others pressed against her breast — a 
lesson for those who insist with regard to other species that 
only one method is followed. 

The irides are red. An eclipse dress is assumed ; the wings 
are whiter than those of the duck, and a dark collar shows. 
Young drakes have shorter crests than ducks ; in the adult 
drake there is no noticeable crest, though the head looks large, 
but that of the female is long. Immature drakes can often be 
recognised when swimming with ducks by their superior size. 
Male: Length, 26 ins. Wing, 11 ins. Tarsus, 1-9 ins. Female: 
Length, 24 ins. Wing, 9*4 ins. Tarsus, 17 ins. 



RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. 79 



Red-breasted Merganser. Mergus serrator Ijnn. 

The Red-breasted Merganser (Plate 29) breeds in northern 
Europe, Asia, and America, and reaches north Africa and India 
in winter. In many parts of Scotland, the Scottish islands, and 
Ireland it is a common resident, but in England and Wales is 
only a winter visitor and regular bird of passage, more abundant 
on the west than the east coast. 

The drake is smaller than the Goosander, from which it may 
at once be told by its chest band, reddish brown streaked with 
black, by the noticeably longer crest, and the conspicuous white 
and black patch on the shoulder. When swimming it shows 
a creamy streak on the wing. The female closely resembles 
the duck Goosander, but when with Mallards looks smaller, 
whereas the Goosander is larger \ her neck is browner and 
she shows a much darker and more distinct bar across the 
wing patch than the female Goosander, but as she swims low 
in the water the bar is often hidden and only visible when she 
flaps or takes wing. When swimming she moves her head 
forward and backward, after the manner of the Moorhen, a trick 
I have not noticed in the other bird. The Merganser is far 
more a sea duck than the Goosander ; indeed, in Cheshire I 
have only occasionally seen it inland, though it is often plentiful 
in the Dee and along the coast of North Wales. Its food, fish 
of various kinds, is hunted below the surface, but in shallow 
gutters it will swim with the head alone below, picking up small 
flat fish and crustaceans. It is said that captured fish are 
brought to the surface to be eaten, but probably this is only when 
the captive is too large to be at once swallowed, and is so lively 
that it has to be subdued. When the fish has been swallowed 
a sip of water is taken, a common habit of fish-eaters. Sand- 
eels are favourite food ; for these the birds dive excitedly near 
the shore. 



8o THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

If disturbed the Merganser sinks its body or dives, but when 
it rises scutters along the surface for some yards. On the wing 
it is quick, flying straight and usually low. It has a grating 
flight call, not unlike that of the Goosander, but as a rule it is 
not noisy except when pairing, when it constantly coos as it 
stretches its head upwards, after the fashion of the Eider. 
Some of the winter visitors arrive in September, and the 
largest numbers are passing in October and throughout May. 
In spring the drakes go through display long before they leave 
the coast ; I have seen them very fussy in January, as many as 
half a dozen showing ofif before one duck, who frequently 
dashed at one of her too attentive admirers. There is a family 
likeness in all duck displays, but they differ according to the 
colour or pattern adornment of the drake ; he strives to exhibit 
his best points. Thus the Merganser slightly raises his wings 
so as to extend the black-barred white secondaries, and 
stretches up his neck to show his collar ; when he raises himself 
in the water, as if seating himself more comfortably, the breast 
band is exhibited. I have seen the drakes force themselves 
suddenly through the water when striving to frighten away a 
rival. The habit of rising in the water, with or without wing 
flapping, is by no means confined to the pairing season. 

The nest in most cases is well concealed by brambles or 
other bushes, or by rank herbage ; the bird sits closely. It is a 
slight structure, well lined with grey down when the clutch of 
eight to twelve drab or slightly greenish eggs (Plate 21 ) is 
complete at the end of May or in early June. Sometimes many 
nests are in a small area. The ducklings, brown with white 
spots on wings and sides and with rich chestnut cheeks, are 
led to the nearest water, and a few days later conveyed along 
the outflow stream to the sea. If falls or rapids bar the way 
the duck walks them down to quieter water. In the estuary or 
on the shore the ducklings share the strange habit of the 
Sheld-Duck and Eider ; some of them leave or are left by the 



HOODED iMERGANSER. 8 1 

parents, and join forces with other broods ; thus a single old 
bird may be seen tending two or more families. 

The drake Merganser is an exceedingly handsome bird. 
His head and neck are glossy green-black, his crest long and 
tufted ; a line down the back of the neck passes through the 
white collar to the black upper back, and the lower back and 
flanks are finely pencilled with grey. The wings are black and 
white, the white crossed by two black bars, and on the shoulder 
is a patch of black and white feathers. Beneath the breast the 
under parts are white. The bill and irides are red, the legs 
orange. The duck has a brown head and neck, grey back, and 
a bill duller than the drake, but red at its base. In eclipse dress 
the drake shows more grey on breast and flanks than the duck. 
Length, 24 ins. Wing, 9*5 ins. Tarsus, i'5 ins. The female 
is rather smaller. 



Hooded Merganser. Lophodytes cuaUlahi^ (Linn.). 

The Hooded Merganser is a North Americai bird which in 
winter has been met with so far south as Cuba. There are 
more than a dozen records of its occurrence in Great Britain 
and Ireland, but only four are generally accepted. The drake, 
however, is so distinctive wiih his upstanding and outstand- 
ing crest, white with a black margin behind the face, and 
with two curved black marks on the side of his white breast. 
that birds seen by reliable and experienced observers, even 
though not shot, may be accepted. For instance, at the end 
of March, 191 1, Prof. K. J. P. Orton saw a drake drifting on 
the tide in the Menai Straits, and tells me that the hood and 
markings were very distinct. It was in these Straits that 
E\ ton, in the winter of 1830-31, obtained his historical specimen. 
The drake swims with the crest fanned out, but Sir R. Payne- 
Galhvey, who shot three in Ireland, says that a crippled bird 
swam low *' with the crest laid flat and smooth." 

Scries II. G 



82 THE BIPDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The head and neck of the drake are black glossed with 
green and purple, and with the fan-shaped white patch from 
the eye to the nape. The head is a little like that of the Bufifel- , 
headed Duck, but the white patch in this bird is not edged 
with black, nor has it the breast marks or merganser bill. 
Otherwise the Hooded Merganser is mainly black and white, 
with grey vermiculations on the brown flanks. The female is 
brown above and on the breast, and the crest — without any 
white — is smaller and more of the merganser shape. The 
under parts are white. The bill is black, the legs dark red, 
the irides yellow. Length, 19 ins. Wmg, 775 ins. Tarsus, 
rS ins. 

Smew. Mergelliis albellns (Linn.). 

The Smew (Plate 28), the smallest of the mergansers, is a 
native of north Europe and Asia, and in winter visits the 
Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts as well as the larger 
European lakes. Although more abundant as a winter visitor 
to our east coast, it occurs from time to time in all parts of 
Britain, visiting bays, estuaries, and inland waters. Immature 
brown-headed birds are commoner than old drakes. 

The adult drake, about an inch and a half longer than the 
duck, is without being really white one of the wiiitest looking 
of our birds, for the velvet-black markings enchance the snowy 
appearance. The "White Nun," as it is called to distinguish 
it from the female and immature " Red-headed Smews," has a 
drooping white crest with two converging green-black lines; 
round the eye, from the short and slightly uptilted blue-grey 
bill, is a circular patch of black, and as the bird swims with all 
its feathers in place and with the finely grey lined flanks 
concealing most of the black on the wings, the general effect is 
of a white bird with fine and regular black lines. The back 
shows as a black line above the scapulars, another narrow line 
marks the edge of the wing, and two inward curving lines cross 



SMEW. 83 

the side of the white breast. Pictures drawn from skins suggest 
irregularity and interruption in these lines, but in the living 
bird they are wonderfully regular. When, however, the drake 
raises itself and flaps its wings the black on back and wings 
shows plainly ; the effect is black and white instead of white 
and black. The female is, at first sight, a little like the Long- 
tailed Duck, but her head and neck are bright chestnut and 
she has a decided crest. The back is grey, the under parts 
white, greyer on the upper breast, and, except when hidden by 
her low pose on the water, there is a noticeable double wing 
bar. The points which attract the eye are the very white 
cheeks and chin. 

On Cheshire meres I have seen a drake consorting with 
Goosanders, and brown-headed birds swimming and diving with 
Goldeneyes. When the former flew with its companions it 
actually outstripped them, its wings moving with great rapidity. 
When swimming, if unsuspicious, the Smew is buoyant and 
carries the neck gracefully arched, but if alarmed, at once 
straightens the neck and sinks the body ; it swims rapidly 
away or rises, splashing with its feet for a few yards ; the flight 
note and call of alarm have the family grating character. 
Although the legs are set far back, the bird takes the water feet 
first like other ducks. I have seen the Smew diving in very 
shallow water, so superficially indeed that its back was often 
exposed. Probably it was hunting for small crustaceans or 
insects, for these as well as fish are eaten. 

The bill and feet in both sexes are slate or blue-grey, the 
irides red in old birds, but browner in the young. The back 
and wings are more or less mottled in immature birds, and the 
dark mark round the eye less distinct. Length, 16-17 "5 ii^s. 
Wing, 7-6 ins. Tarsus, i"25 ins. 



84 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Order PHCENICOPTERIFORMES. 

Family PHCENICOPTERID^. Flamingoes. 

Long-legged Stork-like birds with many Duck-like characters. 
Serrated bill much bent. 

Flamingo. Phcoiicoptems antiquortim Temm. 

The claim of the Flamingo, an African, Asiatic, and south 
European species, to rank as British is founded upon a few 
records of apparently wild birds killed or seen in England. 
The Flamingo is often kept in captivity, and numbers are 
known to have escaped or have been given freedom ; it is 
practically impossible to say which of the records should be 
trusted. There is no reason to doubt the occasional wandering 
of a bird that nests in Spain and southern France, especially as 
it has many times been met with in western Europe, but to 
trace the history of any particular bird is most difficult. 

The Flamingo is a tall pinkish-white bird with black flight 
feathers and scarlet coverts ; its neck is long and its heavy 
pink and black bill, lamellated like that of a duck, is curiously 
bent downwards. Its very long legs are pink and its feet are 
webbed ; the eyes and the surrounding skin are yellow. Young 
birds are barred on the wings, show much less pink, and have 
leaden bills and legs. The size is variable. Length, about 55 
ins. Wing, 16 ins. Tarsus, 13 ins. 

Order ARDEIFORMES. 

Family ARDEID^. Herons. 

Wading birds with long legs and strong, straight bills ; toes 
Dn same level ; claw of middle toe with a comb. 



r 



mi' ^2 



\ ...... 



n 



^^ 



HERON. 85 

Heron. Ardea cinerea Linn. 

The Common Heron (Plate 31) has a wide Old World range 
and is migratory in the northern portion. In our islands it is a 
resident, though numbers of immigrants reach us in autumn. 

The specific name of the Heron is descriptive ; when it 
stands patiently in the shallows it looks a grey bird, and greyer 
still when it perches, as it often does, on the dark branch of 
some fir. Its French-grey mantle, dark slate, almost black 
flight feathers, white forehead, head and neck with black 
markings and trailing black crest, its filamental bushy breast- 
plate, and stout yellow bill, are unlike those of any other British 
bird. In many parts it is called the " Crane." The Heron is a 
water bird, but whether fresh or salt, clear or muddy, does not 
matter so long as it will yield something worth waiting for. It 
does not, however, always wait for its quarry, but stalks through 
the water with long, deliberate strides (Plate 30), ready to dash 
its pick-axe bill upon any unsuspecting fish, frog, beetle, or other 
animal. Young wildfowl are killed, and indeed in hard weather 
full-grown birds ; a Water-Rail has been found whole in its 
stomach. Mice and rats are eaten, and, judging by the fur in 
cast-up pellets, large numbers of water-voles. In its nesting 
habits the Heron is gregarious, and though a solitary Heron 
is a common sight, it is often sociable ; three or four will feed 
close together or stand in a group on the bank as they preen 
their feathers. 

In its characteristic resting position the bird stands very 
upright, often on a mooring post, stump, or dead branch, with 
its neck drawn in and its head sunk between its hunched-up 
shoulders ; when feeding the carriage is less upright, the head 
and neck and even the body tilted forward. If prey is sighted 
the dart downward, swinging as if hinged on the legs, is very 
rapid. The bird stabs its prey, sometimes several times, to 
" knock it out," and large fish are carried to the bank and the 



86 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

flesh picked from the bones. The Heron will wade until the 
body is afloat and even swim for a short distance ; I have 
several times seen a bird alight on the water and swim, once to 
rob a Grebe of its meal. The head and neck of the bird 
shoots up at once on the least suspicion of alarm, and the 
great wings are unfolded, but the actual launch is slow ; the 
flight is deliberate, but the strokes are so powerful that the 
speed attained is considerable ; in a few seconds, croaking in 
alarm, the bird is far away. Almost immediately the head is 
drawn back and the long legs trailed, the normal position 
in flight. The call, a resounding /r^;//^, differs only slightly 
from the cry of alarm ; it is frequently uttered on the wing. 

The nuptial dances of cranes are well known, and possibly 
the Heron may join with others in display at times. I 
have, at the end of January, seen a bird perform a pas seul 
before five companions. It skipped lightly along the bank, 
beating the air with its wings, first in one direction and then 
back, but the performance created no visible enthusiasm. At 
the heronry, where the birds gather in January, groups stand 
together on the grass, attending to their toilet. On the sides 
of the breast and in other places the Heron has patches of what 
are called " powder down," the use of which has caused 
discussion ; they are powdery brittle feathers of a waxy nature. 
Mr. J. M. Dewar, who has watched the birds carefully, believes 
that the powder is transferred on the bill to the plumage, 
used as a cosmetic, and probably acts as " proofing" against 
wet. 

The nests are usually in a colony, huge platforms with shallow 
cups, in the branches of tall trees ; occasionally they are built 
on the ground, on rocky cliffs, or in marshes. Large sticks are 
used, with smaller but seldom soft material for lining ; Prof. 
Newstead found dead stems of purple loosestrife, and I have 
seen large twigs and bracken. By the middle of February or 
early in March the four to five pale greenish blue eggs (Plate 44) 





\ . 



2 /'/. 22. 



Squacco Heron. 
Amepican Bittern. 



i 
I 









'4 







-* . 







o' S7. 



Purple Heron s nest. 



PURPLE HERON. 8? 

are laid, and a few weeks later the heronry is lively. So large 
are the nests that the old birds look small when they alight 
upon them, uttering a deep growling gwrronk, answered by a 
feeble pipe from newly hatched young. The hunger call of 
older nestlings is an incessant chittering tac^ tac, tac, very like 
the roosting note of the Blackbird. The nestlings are quaint, 
half-naked little objects, with short, thick, blunt bills, showing 
a trace of yellow, and stout lead-coloured legs. Prof. Newstead 
found them " handy " with their bills when climbing amongst 
the branches, hooking them over twigs when foothold was 
insufficient. 

The bill of the adult bird and the irides are yellow, the legs 
greenish brown. Length, 37 ins. Wing, 17*25 ins. Tarsus, 
675 ins. 

Purple Heron. Ardea purpurea Linn. 

The Purple Heron (Plate 31) nests in many parts of Europe, 
even so near England as Holland and France, in western Asia, 
and Africa, but in our islands is only known as an uncommon 
visitor on migration. 

In general build it resembles our Heron, but is smaller 
and more richly coloured. Its crown and crest are purplish 
black, whereas in our bird the forehead is white ; its back 
and wings are dark slate-grey, but the elongated plumes 
on the back are chestnut, and those overhanging the purple- 
red breast are black, white, grey, and chestnut. The bill and 
irides are yellow, the legs greenish yellow. Our Heron is shy, 
but the Purple Heron is skulking ; indeed, in its love of dense 
cover it resembles the Bittern more than the Heron. It has a 
very long, thin neck, lined with black, and as it stands amongst 
reeds is difficult to detect ; its feet are large in proportion, well 
fitted for marsh walking. Its position in flight, its note and 
food, are similar to those of our bird ; it feeds after dark when 
its prey is most active. One bird, killed in Cheshire in April, 



88 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

had in its stomach a number of small fish, half a dozen mice 
and shrews, and a quantity of frog-spawn. The nest (Plate 33), 
often in a dense reed-bed, is a large platform raised well above 
the water ; the nestlings have yellowish-green bare skin and 
white down. Most of the birds seen in England are in immature 
dress, when the long plumes are absent, and the general colour 
is more rusty above and a whiter brown beneath. Length, 
33 ins. Wing, 14 ins. Tarsus, 5*2 ins. 

Great White Heron. Egretta alba (Linn.). 

The Great White Heron, which has on a few occasions 
wandered to Britain, breeds in south-eastern Europe and Asia, 
and migrates to Africa. Closely allied forms and species occur 
in Asia, Africa, and America, and all are in danger of extermina- 
tion, for these birds and the egrets provide, at the expense of 
their lives, the " osprey " plumes and " aigrettes " of commerce. 
Many large colonies have been destroyed by the rapacity of 
dealers, who are no more to blame than the women who, 
thoughtlessly no doubt, persist in wearing these decorations. 

Mr. J. H. Gurney, by careful investigation, proved that this 
bird is much rarer as a visitor than reports suggested ; he 
disposed of a large number of erroneous records, retaining only 
five as reliable, though one or two others have been added 
since. Inexperienced people, seeing our grey Heron against a 
dark background, often describe it as white. This bird, about 
the size of our Heron, is snowy white ; long, graceful plumes 
hang over the back in the breeding season, and there is a 
smaller tuft at the base of the neck. The bill is black in 
summer, yellow at other times ; the legs are reddish black, the 
irides yellow. The young bird has no plumes, and those of 
the female are shorter. Length, 35 ins. Wing, 17 ins. Tarsus, 
775 ins. 



BUFF-BACKED HERON. 89 

Little Egret. Egretta garzetta (Linn.). 

This small white heron breeds in southern Europe, Asia, and 
Africa, and a few stragglers have apparently lost their way and 
wandered to England ; only two or three of the records are 
reliable. 

Two slender plumes project beyond the nape of the Little 
Egret, and on its back and breast are soft filiform plumes, 
which are even more sought for than those of the larger white 
herons. These are the commercial " ospreys,'' worn by the 
unfortunate bird during its courtship, and, after its untimely 
death, by a less rightful owner. The young bird is greyer and 
sports no plumes. The beak is black, the legs black, and the 
toes marked with yellow, which is also the colour of the irides. 
Length, 21 ins. Wing, ir25 ins. Tarsus, 4"5 ins. 

Buff-backed Heron. Ardeola ibis (Linn.). 

From 1805, when a young female Buff-backed Heron was 
shot in Devon, as recorded by Montagu, there was no satis- 
factory record of the species as a British visitor until October, 
1917, when Mr. F. W. Smalley saw a male that had just been 
killed on Breydon Marshes, Yarmouth. It was shot when 
feeding amongst cattle, a common habit of the bird in the 
Spanish marshes, its only breeding-place in Europe ; like the 
Starling, it settles on the backs of the cattle to obtain ticks and 
other parasites. In summer the plumage is white, but the crown, 
crest, and elongated plumes on back and neck are buff. In 
winter, when the plumes are absent, it is almost white ; the 
Norfolk bird had only a tinge of buff on the crown. Its bill 
was chrome yellow, its irides golden yellow, and its legs " brown- 
black." Saunders says that the legs of young birds are olive, 
and Mr. Smalley believes this bird to be mature. The measure- 
ments as taken by Mr. Smalley were— length, 20*5 ins.; wing, 
io'25 ins. ; and tarsus, 3*25 ins. 



90 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Squacco Heron. Ardeola ralloides (Scop.). 

The Squacco Heron (Plate 32) is a summer visitor to southern 
Europe, and it breeds as well as winters in Africa. It is a 
frequent visitor to central Europe, and over sixty, mostly 
immature, are known to have occurred in different parts of our 
islands, the majority, naturally, in the south. 

The Squacco is a small skulking heron, hiding in thick 
aquatic herbage during the day and feeding at night ; it is a 
silent bird when away from its breeding haunts. It has the 
usual varied diet, but takes more insects and crustaceans than 
the larger herons. The general plumage in summer is buff and 
white ; on the head and hind neck are dark streaks, and it has 
a drooping crest of long, black-edged, white feathers. The buff 
is richest on the neck and elongated breast feathers, browner 
on the back and long, narrow plumes, and very pale on the 
coverts. The bill is cobalt-blue with a black tip, the legs are 
yellowish pink, the skin surrounding the eyes green, and the 
irides yellow. In winter the plumes are lost and the back is 
browner, and it is still darker brown in young birds, whose 
neck streaks are more pronounced. Length, 20 ins. Wing, 
9 ins. Tarsus, 2"6 ins. 

Little Bittern. Ixobrychus m'uiutus (Linn.). 

The Little Bittern (Plate 35) breeds in central and southern 
Europe and Asia and winters in Africa. To the British Isles, 
where it has occurred in all parts, even in the Shetlands, it is 
an irregular visitor on migration, and, though actual proof is 
lacking, probably nested within recent years in Norfolk and 
perhaps elsewhere. As birds have been killed, regardless of 
the close season, in spring and summer, there can be little 
doubt that if unmolested the bird would nest. 

The small size — a heron about as big as a Lapwing — should 



LITTLE BITTERN. 91 

prevent confusion with any other bird, but it is not an easy bird 
to see, for it skulks all day in the herbage and feeds at night. 
Apart from nocturnal habits, it is an expert at camouflage, 
clever enough to deceive the expert bird watcher. Heron-like, 
it stands motionless with its head sunk in its shoulders, but 
if approached turns its buff breast towards the intruder, and 
pointing its bill skywards, slowly stiffens itself upward. As it 
stretches it becomes attenuated, gaining several inches in 
height, until it is hardly distinguishable from a dead reed blade. 
When feeding or protecting itself it can dart its head and bill 
forward with dangerous speed, but this lengthening trick is 
slow, so also is the rotation of its body as it keeps its breast 
towards and its eyes upon the moving observer. Mr. R. B. 
Lodge found a bird lying stretched out upon the water as if 
dead, but when he picked it up it was uninjured ; indeed, the 
bird will allow itself to be caught by man or dog, trusting to 
being missed so long as it remains still. It can, however, run 
swiftly through dense herbage. In flight its wing-beats are 
more rapid than in the larger herons. 

The nest, which may yet be discovered in England, is not 
unlike that of the Moorhen, and, though occasionally in a low 
bush, is usually in a reed-bed. The eggs are muddy white. 
The male has a call which corresponds to the boom of the 
Bittern ; it has been heard in England. It is sometimes 
described as a grunting croak, but Lilford calls it " a sort of 
deep guttural cough." Mr. J. H. Gurney was reminded of '' a 
paviour ramming stones," and Mr. Jourdain of " the impact of 
a heavy mallet on a pile," repeated three times in succession 
and then a short pause. 

The crown, hind neck, and back of the male are greenish 
black, the primaries and tail browner, the wing-coverts pale 
buff, and the face and under parts rich buff; on the breast and 
flanks are dark streaks, which aid in concealment. The bill 
and legs are greenish yellow, the irides and bare skin round 



92 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the eyes yellow. The female and young bird are brownish black 
on the crown, brown on the back, and have the hind neck 
rufous and the under parts bufif streaked with dark brown. 
Length, 13 ins. Wing, 6 ins. Tarsus, 175 ins. 



Night-Heron. NyctUorax nydicorax (Linn.). 

The Night-Heron (Plate 35) is a summer visitor to central 
and southern Europe, and at one time nested in colonies in 
Germany and Holland, where, however, most of its former 
breeding haunts have been destroyed. It ranges through 
southern Asia and Africa. Its visits on migration to the east 
and south coasts are almost regular, and it has occurred in all 
four kingdoms as frequently in spring and summer as in autumn. 
Whether it has ever nested in England or would do so if 
permitted is uncertain, though there is evidence that it has 
made the attempt, and the least we can do is to give it a 
chance. It is hardly to the credit of "the cloth" that a 
clergyman's name should be handed down to posterity as 
being responsible, on his own showing, for the slaughter of six 
out of eight birds — tour pairs — obtained in Devon in a single 
May and June. 

The build of the Night-Heron is short and dumpy ; it looks 
about a third shorter than the Common Heron as it stands 
with its head deep in its shoulders. The long, white, narrow 
nuchal plumes are perhaps its most noteworthy character ; 
these vary in number from two to five, and even ten is recorded. 
Mr. J. Moore, who watched a bird in Cheshire, tells me that the 
contrast of black on head and back with grey on the neck, 
wings, and tail, struck him when the bird flew. Its very broad 
wings flap deliberately, but it is buoyant in flight, and carries 
its head drawn back and its legs trailed. A swamp bird in 
habits, it feeds at night, spending the day in silence in some 
secluded spot, but often standing on a branch, partly screened 




V 




BITTERN. 93 

by the foliage. At dusk it becomes more lively, and the male, 
at any rate, is a noisy bird, constantly uttering- a harsh croak, 
monotonous, and, to some ears, plaintive. A Cheshire man, 
whose father shot a Night-Heron, said that he remembered 
hearing it in the evening " at hay-making time, making a noise 
hke a man vomiting." If disturbed during its diurnal rest it 
will not always take wing, but, raising its crest in anger, strike 
at an intruder with its bill. 

Most descriptions of plumage differ more or less from the 
notes I made of the only one I have had opportunity of examin- 
ing in the flesh — a mature bird killed in Anglesey at the end of 
]May. The head, back of neck, and back were plumbeous to 
slate, with a distinct indigo^ not green sheen, though many skins 
I have examined show green. The neck and breast were drab- 
grey, the wings and tail cinereous, the forehead, a marked super- 
ciliary stripe, and the under parts below the breast white, but 
the last distinctly washed with yellow. There were only two 
white plumes, one longer than the other. Along the ridge of the 
upper mandible and at the tip of the lower the bill was black, 
but the rest was 7'eddish fleshy and the bare skin on the lores 
and round the eyes was daj-k green, not blue. Gould figures it 
blue, but in nestlings it is described as sea-green. The legs 
were ochre-yellow. The female is duller and her plumes are 
shorter than in the male, and the young bird has no plumes 
and is browa, streaked with buff and spotted with white on the 
upper parts, and with the white under parts broadly streaked 
with buff and brown. In the old bird the irides are ruby red, 
in the young brown. Length (of bird described above), 22 ins. 
Wing, 1 1 "25 ins. Tarsus, 31 5 ins. 

Bittern. Boiaiirus stellaris (Linn.). 

The Bittern (Plate 36) is found throughout Europe and most 
of Asia, and is a partial migrant. In the first half of the last 



94 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

century it nested in many parts of the British Isles, and, in 
spite of persecution, survived in Norfolk until the end of the 
sixties. After 1868, except for one young bird which had 
evidently been hatched in the neighbourhood, reported in 1886, 
it was extinct as a breeding species until 1911, when Miss E. L. 
Turner and James Vincent located a nest. How many pairs 
managed to rear young in the next few years is uncertain, but 
in 19 1 8 and 19 19 a number of broods were safely reared. 
Collectors and not drainage were responsible for the loss of 
the Bittern ; when under protection it found a safe area it 
quickly increased. To Britain the bird is a spring and autumn 
migrant and a winter visitor, and undoubtedly the present 
breeding stock had origin in oversea immigration ; yet, out- 
side strictly preserved districts, ruthless shooting of Bitterns 
continues. 

The only bird with which the mottled and barred Bittern can 
be confused is its American representative, described later. It 
is a large heron, rich buff, barred, mottled, and vermiculated 
with black and brown. Most local faunas contain mere 
obituaries, the shooter having no time to study habits. In the 
more recent journals we get some insight into the home life 
of a shy and elusive bird ; to Miss Turner's vivid pen we owe 
most, and in my more recent experiences of the Bittern I have 
had the benefit of her guidance. In Cheshire, where it might 
recolonise if left alone, the birds appear, often in pairs, in 
December and January ; once, in spring, I heard a bird boom- 
ing at night. In Norfolk the birds begin to boom in January 
and continue until the young are hatched in June. During 
the day the Bittern hides in reeds or other vegetation, and 
unless disturbed is not seen on the wing until the young require 
attention. When approached it assumes protective attitudes, 
pointing the bill upward so as to expose to view the thin buff 
neck with its irregular brown streaks, which, in reeds, confuse 
the eye. The first young bird Miss Turner found assumed this 



BITTERN. 95 

pose and " was transformed into the semblance of a bunch of 
reeds." It will crouch amongst the dead and broken litter 
in winter, with its long neck outstretched, or flatten itself 
out with the head resting on the shoulders and the bill alone 
pointing up. In this position, with crest erect and breast frill 
spread, it is prepared to defend itself; it is unwise to handle it 
without caution, for a Bittern can shoot up to full height with 
great suddenness, and aims for the eyes. When I have walked 
the bird up in the reed-bed it has risen a yard or two beyond 
me in a heavy disjointed manner, its long grass-green legs 
dangling awkwardly, but soon drew back its neck and trailed its 
legs in orthodox heron flight. When feeding young the female 
is less cautious, flying to and fro all day between the nest and 
the feeding ground. On the wing the bird looks light brown, 
cinnamon in sunlight, compact, and short necked. The flight 
is slow and owl-like, though direct ; the wings move faster 
than the measured beats of the Heron. Some individuals fly 
fairly high, calling a deep agh^ agh, but others hardly clear the 
reed tops and are difiicult to see. One bird I put up rose with 
a short sharp cry of alarm, but another, suddenly sighting me 
amongst the reeds as it passed to the feeding ground, gave a 
disyllabic nawark^ nawark, as it swerved, then, rising, wheeled 
high overhead. In the vegetation the Bittern walks or runs, if 
disturbed, with the shoulders high and the head lowered ; it 
slips with ease out of sight. On alighting it will stand for a 
few moments, bill up and neck stretched, as it turns its head in 
all directions, before sinking out of sight. 

The boom of the Bittern, familiar in literature and fable, is 
the call of the male — a deep, bovine, resonant note, certainly 
audible for over a mile. I have heard it all day and all night 
in May, and listened to three or more birds answering one 
another. The boom is repeated three or four times in succession, 
with a one or two second interval between each note, then a 
pause of variable duration. One bird boomed six or seven 



96 THE DIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

times before the pause, another eight or nine, and once I 
heard twelve booms in quick succession, but suspect that an 
answering male had taken up the challenge before the other 
had finished. At close quarters, two or three preliminary 
grunts or coughs are audible, followed by a sound like an 
inspiration ; the boom bellowed only a few feet away, was not 
very loud ; it is its carrying power that is so remarkable. When 
booming, the bird points the bill upward. The male booms 
in the vicinity of but not very near the nest, but whether his 
notes are intended for the edification of the female, are a 
challenge, or merely a social signal, is hard to determine. 
That male answers male is certain, and Miss Turner witnessed 
one high aerial skirmish between two birds, but could not tell 
the sex of the rivals. The Bittern feeds on the smaller 
animals of the marsh, and is a great eel-catcher. When the 
young are hatched the female makes frequent journeys to some 
dyke, deep bog, or other selected feeding ground, perhaps a 
mile from the nest, where for half an hour or more she collects 
food, returning with her gullet visibly distended. Miss Turner 
saw one nestling disgorge an entire eel nine inches long, and 
seven inches of another. 

Most of the nests are in reeds and built of reeds, but one I saw 
was in sedge of no great height. It was a very large platform, 
about thirty inches across, trodden down by the birds, supported 
in its wet bed by the bent outward stems ; Miss Turner has 
seen nests wide at water-level, but only fourteen inches across 
at the top. The eggs (Plate 44), usually five in number, are 
olive-brown and match the dead reeds or sedge. In the nest I 
saw were five young and an addled egg. Eggs are laid from 
the end of March until June. The young when first hatched 
are quaint little "animated golliwogs"; those in the nest 
shown on Plate 34 had been hatched from two to three days, 
but the smallest and weakest less than twenty-four hours. The 
three oldest sat well up, with their thick, ungainly slate-blue 



AMERICAN BITTERN. 97 

feet sprawling, often holding themselves in position by using 
their naked wings as hands, the " thumb " very noticeable as they 
pushed against the sedges. They rested on the whole leg, not 
merely on the tarsus. The long soft down, Mars brown to fawn, 
rose like a golden halo, filmy when stirred by the wind, 
above their diabolical bare faces. On back and shoulders it 
was thicker and warmer in tint, but through it the skin looked 
greenish. Their bills were livid blue-green, and from the chin, 
down the scraggy neck to the breast and belly was a naked 
tract, livid blue. The browns, blues, and greens were wonder- 
fully in harmony with the surroundings. The irides were very 
pale brown, but they appear to vary, changing to greenish blue, 
and later to the yellow of maturity. The birds did not appear to 
be frightened ; indeed, they looked as if they wished to frighten, 
and they kept up an incessant quaint cackling, impossible to 
describe. Older birds (Plate 37) have a bubbling cry. The 
youngest bird had the bill rose-pink, and in adult birds it is 
greenish yellow. Two days later these young birds were more 
active, the bigger ones constantly leaving the nest to hide, and 
when they are some days old they wander and are difficult to 
find, though keeping near the nest so long as they need the 
help of the parent. 

The sexes are alike in plumage. The head is blackest, the 
back streaked and barred with black, the lighter under parts 
boldly streaked with brown. Length, 28 ins. Wing, 13 ins. 
Tarsus, 3'8 ins. 

American Bittern. Botaums lentiginosns (Mont.). 

About forty examples of the American Bittern (Plate 32) 
have wandered to Britain ; at least fifteen of these are recorded 
for Ireland. The bird is found throughout North America, 
and in winter in the West Indies. Where the date of occur- 
rence is known it has been, with very few exceptions, during 
the normal time of migration, between October and February. 

Series If. H 



98 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The American Bittern is a smaller bird than ours, and the 
main distinction is in the primaries, which are uniform greyish 
brown and not barred as in the Common Bittern. There is, 
too, less black on the head and back, the markings, though 
profuse, being finer. The food, voice, and general habits are, 
in the main, similar to those of our bird. The colours of the 
soft parts differ little from those of the Common Bittern. 
Length, 24 ins. Wing, 12 ins. Tarsus, 3'5 ins. 



Family CICONIID^. Storks. 

Long-legged, strong billed-birds ; slight membrane at base of 
front toes ; no pectination on middle claw. 

White stork. Ciconia ciconia (Linn.). 

The White Stork (Plate 38) is a Avell-known inhabitant of 
Holland, Germany, and southern Scandinavia, where it is 
protected and encouraged to nest on and amongst the houses, 
being a useful scavenger ; meat, alive or dead, pleases the 
Stork. It occurs throughout most of Europe and western Asia, 
as well as north Africa, and in winter reaches South Africa. 
In spite of the fact that it nests freely in Holland, it is only 
known in England as an irregular visitor on passage migration ; 
it has most frequently appeared in East Anglia, but has been 
noted in Scotland and Ireland, usually on spring passage. 

Familiarity with pictures may cause error ; Herons are 
often called Storks. The White Stork is a tall, stately bird, 
dignified in movements, white with black flight feathers, 
scapulars, and greater coverts, and with very red bill and legs. 
In western Europe the arrival in spring and departure at 
the end of August of the migratory Stork create as much 
interest as the movements of the Swallow and Cuckoo here. 
The bird moves by day, usually at a great height, flying 





^^' 



4 



I 1*^ 









2 /'/. 39. 



N gg. 



Glossy Ibis. 
Little Bustard. 



SPOONBILL. 99 

with slow and measured wing-beats, but on the wing can 
immediately be distinguished from the Heron, for it carries its 
neck outstretched, and though the red legs trail behind they 
sag a little and are not in a straight line with the long axis of 
the body. The Stork is a silent bird ; it has no flight call ; but 
in the breeding season and under excitement it claps or clatters 
its bill, at times so rapidly as to produce a trill. 

The sexes are alike and the young bird is browner on the 
wings, and its bill and legs are duller. The irides are brown. 
Length, 40 ins. Wing, 23 ins. Tarsus, 8*8 ins. 

Black Stork. Ciconia nigra (Linn.). 

Less frequent in its visits than the last species, the Black 
Stork (Plate 38), which has a wider but roughly similar range, 
has occurred, chiefly in southern counties, in England, but not in 
Scotland or Ireland. Its whole plumage, except for a white 
lower breast and abdomen, is black, with variable metallic 
sheen— purple, green, or coppery. Its bill and orbits, bare 
skin on the pouch, and legs, are bright red ; its irides aie 
brown. In general carriage, flight, and food it differs little from 
the White Stork, but is as shy as the other is trusting ; it shuns 
houses and delights in the wilds. In England it has been met 
with on both spring and autumn migration. Length, 38 ins. 
Wing, 22 ins. Tarsus, 7*5 ins. 

Family PLATALEID^. Spoonbills. 

Bill wide and flat at end ; toes partly webbed. 

Spoonbill. Platalea kiicorodia Linn. 

The summer range of the Spoonbill (Plate 36) extends over 
central and southern Europe, Asia, and northern Afiica. It 
breeds in Spain and Holland, but many of its former haunts 



lOO THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

are deserted, amongst these Britain, where until the seven- 
teenth century it nested in East Anglia, some southern counties, 
and South Wales. One of the earliest birds to receive legal 
protection, it was even unlawful to take its eggs, but these 
efforts failed to save it. To-day it is a more or less regular visitor 
to Norfolk and Suffolk, on spring and autumn migration, 
sometimes appearing in small flocks. To other parts of our 
islands it is a casual visitor. 

Tall, white, crested, and with a long bill broadly spatulate at 
the tip, the Spoonbill is unlike any other bird, yet confusion 
has arisen through duplication of names. Its old name was 
"Shovelard" or " Shoveler," and the Shoveler Duck is still 
called the " Spoonbill" ; indeed, one old wildfowler distinguished 
it as the "White Spoonbill." Now that the Breydon tidal mud 
is under the eye of a v.atcher, passing Spoonbills wisely halt on 
this safe water when their migration route carries them over 
East Anglia ; if they wander further afield the protection laws 
seldom save them from the '• sportsman." So conspicuous 
a bird is an easy mark. E. T. Booth rightly states that gulls 
will mob a Spoonbill, but I have seen a Spoonbill sleeping on a 
spit of sand surrounded by tired and equally peaceful gulls. 
Its bill was tucked away in its scapulars, but its long crest 
showed very distinctly ; one tucked-up leg was invisible, the 
tarsus of the other perpendicular, its body horizontal, though, 
as a rule, the pose is upright (Plate 40). I was near enough 
to see a ruddy tinge on its white breast. Then it woke, 
yawned, and stretched a wing along its raised leg, and lazily 
flapped across the Broad, alighted in shallow water, and 
began to feed. Dipping its paddle bill, it scooped for molluscs 
or crustaceans, moving it round with a circular motion ; in 
deeper water the bill was immersed to the base, but the same 
circular sweep from side to side was made. Small fish and 
frogs, as well as worms and insects, are eaten. I found it again 
on the sand next morning, and watched it depart, its great 



GLOSSY IBIS. lOI 

wings flapping slowly, its neck outstretched, and its long legs 
trailing in a line with the body. Dr. Patten describes the 
flight as heavy, and says that the neck is slightly inclined 
upward. I have twice watched the bird on the wing, and 
the flight was easy and buoyant ; and though the bill was 
carried straight, pointing in the direction of flight, the neck 
was slightly curved downwards, as if sagging a little. Both 
birds soared on motionless, widespread wings, sweeping grace- 
fully round, and when at a great height, mere specks in the 
sky, alternately showed as white spots and vanished, the sun- 
light reflected at certain angles. The Spoonbill is not a secre- 
tive bird, hiding in dense vegetation ; it feeds in open marshes 
and shallow lagoons, especially near the sea ; Breydon flats 
and its mud-frequenting crustaceans are just to its taste. Like 
the Stork, it is a silent bird, though it has been heard to call 
softly near the nest. Its feet are slightly webbed, and it 
occasionally swims. 

There is a tinge of yellow on the drooping crest and upper 
breast of its otherwise white plumage. The bill is yellow, 
spotless on the spoon, but above mottled with irregular bars of 
black ; at the base of the under mandible is a large orange 
patch. The legs are black, the irides red. The crest of the 
female is shorter than in the male ; in the young bird it is 
absent, and the primaries are blackish at the tip. Length, 
36 ins. Wing 14-5 ins. Tarsus 5-5 ins. 

Family IBIDIDyE. 
Bill long and decurved ; legs long ; toes united at base. 

Glossy Ibis. Plegadis falc'mellus (Linn.). 

The Glossy Ibis (Plate 39) breeds in south Europe, Asia, 
Africa, and the United States ; in winter it occurs far south in 
Africa and Asia, and is occasionally met with in Australia. 



I02 THE EIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

With US it is a not uncommon visitor on passage in autumn, but 
less frequent in spring. The southern and eastern coasts are 
visited more regularly than other parts, but it has been met 
with in Scotland and Ireland on many occasions. It is still 
unexplained why a bird travelling, presumably, from southern 
Europe to still more southern winter quarters, should in 
autumn frequently pass through Britain ; it has also wandered 
to Iceland and Scandinavia. Either many Ibises and other 
birds are unable to orientate, or they are wind-borne far from 
the route they desire to follow. 

There is another possible explanation, suggested to me 
by the disgustingly long list of birds shot in Britain. In 
certain years so many were killed that we should call them 
Ibis years, and often the birds were noted in small flocks. 
The majority obtained were immature. Thus, when in the 
autumn of 1907 twenty visited Orkney, all the ten that were 
shot were young birds. Are not these autumnal wanderings of 
young birds in the nature of *' irruptions," and an effort to 
extend the range ? This seems more reasonable than the 
theory that they are visiting a long-deserted breeding area. 
That marshmen and fowlers used to call and still call it the 
" Black Curlew " need not imply that the Ibis was ever really 
common ; occasional irruptions or invasions would be reason 
enough for keen fowlers to create a name. 

The curved bill and general shape of the Glossy Ibis certainly 
suggest a dark-coloured Curlew or Whimbrel. The legs are 
trailed and the neck outstretched ; the wings move rapidly, 
with intervals when it glides ; the quick beats cause a whizzing 
sound. The bird is at all times sociable ; flocks move in 
bunches, lines, and chevrons. On the ground it walks like a 
Heron, and it frequently perches in trees. Lilford kept a 
number in captivity ; from these Plate 39 was drawn. The 
birds frequently basked in the sun, elevating one wing. Mr. 
Thorburn noticed that the long axillaries showed below the 



• ^ 






PL 40. 



H xoi 



Spoonbill. 




2 /'/. 41- 



Crane. 



H K 



CRANE. 103 

wing of the standing bird. The food consists of worms, 
crustaceans, and molluscs, picked up in the tip of the bill and 
swallowed with a single upward jerk, or probed for in the mud. 
The note, seldon] heard, is a guttural croak. 

The adult bird in summer is dark maroon on head, neck, 
back, and under parts ; the head is burnished green, and the 
blackish wings are glossed with green and purple. The bill, 
five or six inches long, is brown, and on the lores and round the 
brown eye the skin is green ; the legs are greenish grey. The 
female is smaller than the male, but there is much variation in 
size in both sexes. The winter dress is duller, and that of the 
young i)ird brown and barely glossed, whilst on the head and 
neck are greyish-white streaks and mottles. Length, 22 ins. 
Wing, 1 175 ins. Tarsus, 4 ins. 

Order GRUIFORMES. 

Family GRUID.^. Cranes. 
Tall birds with long, straight bills ; hind toe elevated. 

Crane. Alegaloniis grus (Linn.). 

The tall and graceful Crane (Plate 41) is a lost British bird, 
but so long lost that we cannot tell why it deserted its ancient 
home. It nests in Europe and western Asia, and in winter 
travels as far south as Nyassaland ; in Britain, where it bred 
in the sixteenth century, it is now a rare passage migrant, but 
so many birds are kept in private parks that all recent occur- 
rences are suspicious. How regularly migrating parties pass 
we do not know, for the Crane is known to travel at a great 
height, far above the range of vision. Laws passed in the six- 
teenth century failed to preserve it, but as its visits appear to 
be growing less frequent, we may believe that some factor 
other than persecution is responsible for the decrease. 



I04 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The Crane is long-necked and heron-like in build, but has 
little else in common with the group. Its general colour is 
slate-grey, relieved by a white streak on the side of the face 
and neck, but the most striking character is the large bunch 
of drooping blue-black plumes — the inner secondaries — which 
gracefully curves over the wings and tail. It walks sedately, 
as a rule, and flies with neck extended and legs trailing, but 
below the line of the body. Migrating flocks keep regular 
order, flying in V and W formation, or with a line leading from 
the apex of the chevron, an inverted Y. The loud trumpet 
blast of the bird is sounded as it flies, and also when on the 
ground. I have heard this strong note from captive birds, and 
watched the quaint dance, for the Crane is not always sedate. 
It will trip lightly with uplifted and slightly fanned wings, leap 
into the air, and stop, point the bill skyward, and sound its 
horn. Whether this is purely nuptial display or a normal 
pastime I cannot say, but Wolley saw a pair dance after the 
eggs were laid ; I have heard visitors at Regent's Park pity the 
"poor birds" that were trying to fly. In this dancing habit, 
as well as in other ways, the Crane shows similarity if not 
relationship to the rails. The Crane eats anything from grass 
and grain to insects, small birds, and mammals. 

On the crown of the adult bird is a warty red patch devoid of 
feathers ; the bill is greenish, the legs dark green, the irides red. 
Immature birds at first have no red patch, but their heads are 
rusty, and the slate is mixed with brown. One of the more 
recent examples — a young female killed in Anglesey in May 
1908 — had the red on the head well marked, but the feathers of 
the back margined with rufous. The size given is that of this 
bird. Length, 44 ins. Wing, 21 ins. Tarsus, 875 ins. 



GREAT BUSTARD. I05 

Order CHARADRIIFORMES. 
Family OTIDID.^. Bustards. 

Long-legged running birds with three toes, united at the base 
and fringed with membrane. 

Great Bustard. Otis tarda Linn. 

Up to the end of the eighteenth century the Great Bustard 
(Plate 42) nested in wild open spaces in England and south-east 
Scotland, and the " droves " which roamed over the Yorkshire 
wolds, Salisbury Plain, and similar uncultivated areas were 
often immense, but the bird was too big and edible to survive. 
Early in the nineteenth century it vanished from Salisbury, and 
though a few pairs lingered in East Anglia and Yorkshire until 
the late 'thirties, spread of cultivation, increase of population , and, 
perhaps more than either, improvement in sporting guns, swept 
them away. So to-day the Great Bustard is only an occasional 
winter visitor to our eastern counties, sometimes arriving in 
such numbers as to suggest invasion, or, possibly, repopulation. 
In central and southern Europe, notably in Spain, and in 
western Asia, it survives locally, but everj-where suffers where 
man can outwit it. It is not, apparently, a regular migrant, but 
an occasional wanderer. 

The large size of the Great Bustard renders it an easy bird 
to see and identify, and a tempting mark for the gunner, for a 
male is as big and tasty as a Turkey, and may weigh over 
30 lbs. Indeed, when in 1900 Lord Walsingham turned a 
number of birds down, they foolishly wandered and were soon 
accounted for. The Bustard walks with " stately and dtliberate 
gait," carries the body horizontal and the head well erect ; in 
Spain it frequents cornfields, and is thus often partially hidden. 
It feeds largely on grain and other vegetable substances, but 



I06 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

also eats insects, especially grasshoppers, worms, and other 
small animals. It seldom runs, even when pursued, for its feet 
are small ; if alarmed it takes a few quick steps and unfolds 
its ample wings, flying quickly, though with slow, strong beats, 
and seldom at much altitude. There is so much white in the 
bird's wings and on its under parts that, Col. W. Verner says, 
when flying at a distance it looks as white as a gull. 

Naumann affirmed that the Bustard is monogamous, but 
Lord Lilford, Mr. Abel Chapman, and Col. Verner found it 
polygamous. The droves, including more females than males, 
have their favoured haunts — a habit which proved fatal in 
Britain and is little to its advantage elsewhere — and there 
the birds feed day after day, or sit with the head sunk in the 
breast, Turkey-like, resting in the sun. In spring these gather- 
ings are not always peaceful, for the male has a wonderful 
display, an exaggeration of the silly performance of the domestic 
Turkey-cock, and this swagger usually ends in a fight with a 
rival. Though there is little bloodshed, feathers fly and are 
broken, and at times, after a bout, a cock is incapable of flight 
and is an easy victim for the hunter. The display consists of 
many contortions ; the tail is spread and brought forward, often 
meeting the head, which as the bird puffs out its breast and 
inflates to the full a curious gular pouch or air bladder, is drawn 
far back. At the same time the wings are drooped, inverted, 
and apparently dislocated, so that the white axillaries and 
under surface hide all the coloured feathers ; a brownish bird 
is " converted into a mass of snowy white, double its natural 
size." The bird grunts or barks during this performance, but 
as a rule it is very quiet. Even after the hens have withdrawn 
to sit their two to four large eggs in a shallow scrape, the 
cocks, retiring in little groups, continue their foolish rivalry, 
threatening one another, but if a challenge is accepted the 
challenger frequently retires ; indeed, as in the fights of the 
Ruff, much of the show is mere bluster. 





m-iP. 


i 


*•' 


k 


t^±i 



.■HX 



y 



m'*'^! 




stone Curlew's egg and chick. 



LITTLE BUSTARD. I07 

The male is much larger than the female ; his head and neck 
are slate-grey, and on his chin are tufts of long whitish bristles ; 
his upper parts are yellowish barred with black, but with the 
coverts mostly white. The breast is brown and barred, the rest 
of the under parts dead white. The female has no bristles and 
her breast is white. The young resemble her, but there are 
bhck bars on the coverts. The bill is slate, dark at the tip ; 
the legs are brown and the irides dark brown. Male : Length, 
44 ins. Wing, 24 ins. Tarsus, 6 ins. Female : Length, 30 ins. 
Wing, 19 ins. Tarsus, 575 ins. 

Little Bustard. Otis tetrax Linn. 

A more southern species than the last, the Little Bustard 
(Plate 39) is a rare winter visitor to England, notably to the east 
coast, and is very occasional in Scotland and Ireland. Its 
range extends from central and southern Europe to western 
Asia and northern Africa, and it is a more regular migrant than 
its larger relative. On a few occasions birds, even males in 
breeding dress, have been noticed in spring, but it is not known 
to have nested in Britain. 

In winter dress, in which it usually appears in England, the 
Little Bustard is a yellowish-brown bird, delicately vermiculated, 
barred and streaked with black, and with white under parts. 
It looks like a game-bird, and has many game-bird habits. It 
rises on whirring wings, and, to quote Mr. Chapman, " cackles 
like a cock-grouse." It runs like a Partridge, and when flushed 
rises high, eluding the sportsman ; flocks will wheel at a great 
height with plover-like evolutions. Col. Verner says that on 
the wing it looks even whiter than the Great Bustard. The 
rapidly moving wings make a loud swishing sound, from which, 
Col. Verner suggests, the Spanish name Sison^ pronounced 
*' see-sone," is derived. In the breeding season the cock, as he 
struts with head drawn back against his uplifted and expanded 



Io8 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

tail, and with throat distended, utters a repeated call, which 
Lilford writes prrnt After calling, he frequently leaps from 
the ground. The females are competed for with pugnacity, but 
the fights are seldom serious. The food is largely grain and 
insects. 

The distinctive summer dress of the male is attained in April. 
The chin and upper throat are then lavender, the lower throat 
and neck almost black, crossed obliquely by two white bands 
on either side ; the upper bands meet in a peak in front. The 
sandy head is striated, the back and upper parts finely marked 
with wavy black and brown lines. The outer wing- coverts and 
under parts are white. In autumn the neck ornamentation is 
lost, and in distribution of colour the male agrees with the 
female, though her back is at all times more boldly blotched, 
and her neck and breast are barred and speckled. She has no 
dark throat ; neither is this present in the immature bird, which 
is like her, but has more barring on breast and upper tail- 
coverts. The bill is horn, dark at the tip, the legs are yellow, 
and the irides brown. There is little difference in the size of 
the sexes. Length, 17 ins. Wing, 9*5 ins. Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Macqueen's Bustard. Chlamydetis U7idulata jnacqueeni 
(Gray). 

Macqueen's, often called the Houbara Bustard, though this 
name is also given to the African form, C. u. undulata (Jacq.), 
in which the crest and breast frill are white, is a native of 
western Asia, and in winter is known in India. On many 
occasions it has wandered into Europe, and three examples 
are recorded from England and one from Scotland. The black 
and white crest and the drooping frill or ruff, partly black, 
partly grey, are sufficient to distinguish it from other bustards. 
It is about the size of the female Great Bustard, to which in 
general colour it is similar. Length, 28 ins. Wing, 15-5 ins. 
Tarsus, 4*9 ins. 



STONE-CURLEW. I09 

Family CEDICNEMID/E. Thick-knees. 

Bill short and straight ; legs long, with three toes, united to 
second joint. 

Stone-Curlew. CEdicnenms oedicnejuus (Linn.). 

The Stone-Curlew, Great Plover, Norfolk Plover, or Thick- 
knee (Plate 45), has many names, none of which is specially 
local. In many ways it resembles the plovers, but in others — 
its choice of habitat, for instance — is more of a bustard. It is 
found in suitable places in central and southern Europe, Asia, 
and northern Africa, and is a partial migrant. Even in England, 
where it is normally a summer visitor, some remain to winter, 
occasionally in Yorkshire and East Anglia, but more frequently 
in Cornwall and Devon. To Scotland and Ireland it is only a 
wanderer, and in eastern and southern England is decidedly 
local, haunting only wide, open spaces — wolds, chalk-downs, 
and the " brecks " of Norfolk and Suffolk. 

The large, bright yellow eye of the Stone-Curlew is its most 
salient character ; it attracts the eye when the surroundings 
obliterate the lines of the motionless bird. It is a long-legged, 
large plover, giving an impression of a round head framing a 
very round eye. Whether its colour hides it or gives it away 
depends entirely upon the nature of the ground, but in most of 
its usual haunts it is a very inconspicuous bird. 

When in flight, the double wing bar, obscure when the wing 
is closed, strikes me as very noticeable. If disturbed in the 
daytime the flight is direct and low, but at night, and especially 
in autumn, it is often erratic. I have seen the bird run quickly, 
with head low, but neck drawn in, for a long distance before 
taking wing. 

Birds occasionally arrive in March, but April is the usual 
month ; most leave in October. Though not continuously 



no THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

gregarious, several pairs will nest in one restricted area, but in 
autumn, shonly before departure, the social habit becomes 
marked. Mr. W. Farren has seen about 200 together. At 
these autumn gatherings the birds are very lively, and go 
through a performance which, if in spring, would be called 
nuptial display ; the birds run rapidly with uplifted wings or 
posture as if courting. 

Normally the Thick-knee is crepuscular, and, certainly on 
moonlight nights, nocturnal ; it 4s sometimes known as the 
" Night-Hawk," a name also given to the Nightjar. In the day- 
time it is a shy, silent, secretive bird, but at dusk it becomes 
lively, and its weird, wailing, but musical calls are responsible 
for its name Curlew. It feeds on nocturnal insects, but does 
not refuse a frog or mouse. 

The nest is a scratched hollow and the hning seldom more 
than a collection of rabbit-droppings, the number of these 
varying considerably. The ground colour of the two — seldom 
more — eggs, usually laid late in April (Plate 54), varies from 
buff to stone-colour, and the markings may be only specks and 
blotches or a network of lines. On stony ground, a favourite 
site, the eggs are difficult to see ; indeed, from the egg onward 
the life of the Stone-Curlew is spent in hiding itself from view. 
The crouching habit — that of lying still and trusting to colour 
and form to produce invisibility — is assumed so soon as the 
chick is hatched, but at first is imperfect. 

The newly hatched bird (Plate 43) is a naturally protected 
ball of sandy down, patterned with black, but when it lies still 
in the presence of an imagined enemy it crouches in the position 
adopted by many other young plovers, and not for some days, 
according to Mr. Farren, does it flatten itself with outstretched 
neck in the characteristic attitude of older juveniles (Plate 47) 
and adult birds. When lying prone these shammers will allow 
themselves to be touched or even lifted without moving. The 
parent birds slip away and wisely leave the motionless young, 



Heron. 



\ 





Dunlirio 



Red-necked Phalarope. 




2 PL 44- 



Bittern. 





2 PL 45- 



Slone-Curlcw. 
Woodcock. 



H \\\. 



CREAM-COLOURED COURSER. Ill 

unlike many plovers, which by their noisy or fussy behaviour 
reveal the presence of eggs or young. From the young bird, 
with its large, apparently swollen heel (not knee) — the top of 
the tarsus — the name Thick-knee is derived, though a similar 
enlargement is present in many young plovers. 

The adult Stone-Curlew of either sex is sandy brown, streaked 
with dark brown ; the chin, throat, and a line below the eye 
are white. The neck, breast, and flanks are paler, and the 
abdomen almost white and unstreaked ; the under tail-coverts 
are reddish buff. The bill is yellow, black at the tip, the legs 
greenish yellow, and the irides golden yellow. Young birds 
have the bars on the tail more distinct than when mature. 
Length, i6 ins. Wing, 9'5 ins. Tarsus, 3 ins. 



Family CURSORIID^. Coursers. 

Bill short and decurved ; three toes, the middle elongated. 

Cream-coloured Courser. Cursor'ms galHcus (Gmel.). 

The Cream-coloured Courser (Plate 46), not a native of 
France though the type was obtained there, is an inhabitant of 
sandy deserts in Africa and southern Asia, but wanders in 
autumn into Europe, and quite a number — certainly over a 
score — have been noticed, and mostly shot, in England and 
Wales, and at least one in Scotland. 

The English name of this bird is descriptive ; it runs well, 
and is noticeably light coloured. It is easy to identify ; there 
is no mistaking the isabelline colour, the long, almost white 
legs, curved bill, and white and black stripes on face and neck. 
Being a desert- bird, it naturally remains on our sandy shores ; 
it has seldom been noticed far from the coast, where it eats 
insects and small molluscs. On the wing it is strong and swift, 
and Mr. H. G. Alexander, who met with it on Dungeness beach, 



112 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

was Struck by the contrast between the black wing feathers and 
the rich buff upper parts when it rose. The axillaries and under 
wing-coverts are black and show in flight. This bird, which 
reminded Mr. Alexander in some ways of the Golden Plover, 
allowed a near approach, running some distance in front of him, 
and only taking wing when he was about twenty yards away. 
All the information about the more recent records, with this one 
exception, refer to the appearance of the bird after death. 

IMost of the visits of the Courser have been in autumn and 
winter, between September and December, but there are two 
recent records, one for February, the other for May. In each 
case a pair in summer dress were obtained. If there is no 
error about the facts — that the birds were seen in the flesh is 
not absolute proof— what is the excuse for the slaughter ? Why 
may a man shoot birds which, so far as any one can tell, might 
nest ? Collectors could prevent this destruction if they would 
refuse to buy from shooters who are ever on the look-out for 
victims, and sometimes victimise the purchaser. 

On the nape of the adult Cream-coloured Courser is a slate- 
blue patch, and the back of the head has a line of black. 
Below this is a while streak passing from above the eye down 
the side of the neck, and from the eye to the nape a blackish 
line. The young bird has the eye streak buff, and the breast 
and back marked with wavy brown lines. The bill is dark 
brown, the legs creamy or dull white, and the iriaes brown. 
Lengih, 9 ins. Wing, 6*3 ins. Tarsus, 2*25 ins. 

Family GLAREOLID.E. Pratincoles. 

Bill short and curved ; wings long ; legs long ; hind toe 
present, middle and outer toes connected. 





2 PL 46. 



Cream-ooloured Courser. 
Collared Pratincole. 



H 112. 



COLLARED PRATINCOLE. II3 

Collared Pratincole. Glareola prafuicola (Linn.). 

As an irregular wanderer from southern Europe or western 
Asia, the Collared Pratincole (Plate 46) has occurred nearly 
thirty times in England, Scotland, and the northern islands, 
for it has even reached the Shetlands and the Flannans. 
Most of the records are from southern and eastern counties, but 
the earliest were from Lancashire and Cumberland. Normally 
it winters in Africa. 

The long, narrow wings and forked tail, together with the 
swift, sustained flight, suggested the Swallow to Linnaeus ; but 
in general appearance, and in its harsh angry voice if its 
breeding colony is invaded, it has much in common with the 
terns. The long legs and excellent running power of the 
Pratincole are those of a plover ; it is a tern-like plover with a 
short, curved bill. The forked tail alone is enough to put it 
apart from other plovers, and, as if to emphasise this character, 
it jerks its tail up and down when at rest. The times of its 
appearance in Britain are varied ; it cannot be looked upon as 
a regular spring and autumn migrant ; it has also been noted 
in summer and winter. As our islands are far from its usual 
winter quarters, we must consider it a repeatedly lost rambler. 
The collar, from which the bird gets its name, is a black line 
bordering its dull yellow chin and upper throat. The general 
colour of the mature bird is clove brown on the upper parts, 
yellower brown on the breast, and white on the abdomen ; the 
tips of the secondaries and the base of the tail are also white. 
Under the wing the axillaries and coverts are reddish brown, 
and in flight this is sufficient to distinguish it from the only 
other pratincole on the British list. The bill is dark brown, red 
at the base, the legs are blackish, the irides brown. Young 
birds have bars of black and buff on the back and wings. 
Length, 10*5 ins. Wing, 7-5 ins. Tarsus, 1-25 ins. 

Series II. I ' 



114 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Black- winged Pratincole. G /areola nordtnanni Fischer. 

The range of the Black-winged Pratincole is rather more 
easterly than that of the last species, though apparently both 
occur in south-eastern Europe and western Siberia. In May 
and June, 1903, and again in May, 191 3, small parties were seen 
in Kent and Sussex, were ruthlessly shot down, and passed 
into the hands of the taxidermist and eventually into private 
collections. Only one other bird is recorded, a bird of the 
year killed in August, 1909, in Yorkshire. It was feeding with 
Lapwings when shot. 

The main points of difference from the Collared Pratincole 
are that the axillaries and under wing-coverts of this bird are 
black, and that the secondaries have no white tips. Length, 
io*5 ins. Wing, 7*3 ins. Tarsus, 1*4 ins. 



Family CHARADRIID.F:. Sub-family 
PHALAROPODIN.E. 

Three anterior toes with membranous lobes. 

Grey Phalarope. Phalaropus fuHcarius (Linn.). 

" Coot-footed Sandpiper " is a fowler's name for the Grey 
Phalarope (Plate 48), and a similar reference to the Coot is 
implied in both generic and specific names. The imperfect 
web, forming distinct lateral lobes on the distal joints of the 
toes, is a character that separates the phalaropes from the 
other sandpipers. The Grey Phalarope has an Arctic circum- 
polar range ; the nearest breedmg haunts to Britain are 
Greenland and Iceland. After the breeding season it is a long- 
distance traveller, for it has been noted in the Falkland Islands 
and New Zealand. Though it occurs in winter on inland 
waters in all parts of Europe, its migratk)n travels are often 



GREY PHALAROPE. II5 

oceanic ; it can rest when it wishes and find sufficient food for 
its needs in the surface-swimming marine organisms. On 
autumn migration large numbers, probably of birds from 
Greenland, must frequently if not regularly pass our islands, for 
if contrary winds— usually gales from the south-west— are en- 
countered, many are forced upon the southern and south-western 
shores of England and Ireland. So numerous are these unwilling 
visitors in some years that it has been suggested that the 
irruptions are similar to the occasional westward movements 
in mass of birds hke the Crossbill and Sand-Grouse, but 
the direction of wind seems alone responsible. In some years 
hardly any Grey Phalaropes are recorded, but in others the 
numbers thoughtlessly slain with shot and stone are very great ; 
Mr. J. H. Gurney estimated that over 500 were killed in the 
autumn of 1866. Spring visits, though recorded occasionally, 
are rare, and the bird has been noted in winter ; the majority 
are seen between August and December. 

Naturally most of the Grey Phalaropes seen in Britain are 
in autumn and winter dress, and a large number evidently 
immature. On the water the bird swims very lightly, looking 
more like a tiny gull than a sandpiper — a pearly grey and white 
bird. So tame, or rather indifferent, it is, that inland, when it 
often settles to rest and feed on small ponds, it may be 
examined at close quarters, and is then often stoned to death 
by fools Avho cannot look at a bird without wanting to kill it. I 
have watched it more than once flitting over the water and 
swimming only a few yards away ; it swims ill a zigzag course 
and with a quaint bobbing action of the head and neck, darting 
this way and that as it snaps at gnats and flies, its favourite 
food inland, though it will pick small molluscs from the 
weeds. It rises frequently, flitting rather than flying, and in 
the air darts from side to side like a wagtail, often hovering for 
a second. In these short flights the small lobed feet hang 
limply, but are trailed when longer distances are undertaken. 



Il6 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

One I watched always jumped clear of the water when it took 
win^ and did not run, paddling along the surface, as it is said 
to do when frightened ; indeed, it is difficult to frighten. This 
bird, when swimming amongst the weeds, often mounted anjd 
tripped across a floating lily-pad, but was not long enough on 
its feet for me to notice " the quaint perky dignity of the Moor- 
hen," which struck Miss M. Haviland when she saw it on the 
land on the Yenesei. Its action when swimming, however, 
certainly suggested Moorhen. The notes of the bird are 
variously described, but no combination of letters conveys to 
my mind the short, low whistle that the bird repeatedly gave 
when on the wing. Miss Haviland, who saw the bird in its 
breeding haunts, speaks of a rapidly repeated zhit, zhif, as the 
bird flitted round "rather like a big red moth." 

In winter dress the back is clear pearl grey, the wings more 
smoky and mottled ; the forehead, crown, and under parts are 
white, and on the wing is a well-defined white bar. From the 
eye a dark streak runs back towards the slate nape. White edges 
show on the wing-coverts and dull streaks on the flanks. The 
bill is black, the legs dark grey, the irides brown. In summer 
the female, which, according to Herr Manniche, does all the 
courting and bullies the male into undertaking the more 
feminine domestic duties, is the more brightly coloured bird. 
The warm chestnut of the under parts is the most noticeable 
colour ; it is a grey bird in winter, a red bird in summer, a 
not uncommon sequence in sandpipers. The upper parts are 
brownish black streaked with buff or chestnut ; Miss Haviland 
noticed the protective value of the longitudinal buff streaks on 
a male which she photographed on a nest. The dark colour- 
ing is relieved by white superciliary stripe, cheek, and wing 
bar. The bill is yellow, dark at the tip, the legs are greenish 
yellow, yellow or orange on the toes, and the irides brown. In 
autumn the chestnut is gradually lost ; it is not always easy to 
say if a bird is mature in transition dress or young when 






^ 





2 /'/. 48. 



/ 116. 



Grey Phalarope (Summer and Autumn). 
Red-necked Phalarope (Summer and Winter). 







1' 



.'.v^; 




RED-NECKED PHALAROPE. 117 

there are buff margins to the feathers of the upper parts, but as 
a rule the young are redder on breast and wings than a bird 
which is losing summer dress. Length, 8*25 ins. Wing, 5 ins. 
Tarsus, 0*9 in. 



Red-necked Phalarope. Phalaropus lohahis (Linn.). 

The circumpolar breeding range of the Red-necked Phalarope 
(Plate 48) is rather more southerly than that of the Grey, and 
in winter the bird has not been recorded so far south. To the 
Orkneys and Shetlands, the Outer and Inner Hebrides, and 
one district in western Ireland, it is a summer visitor, nesting 
in small and scattered colonies, but elsewhere only an un- 
common passage migrant, more frequent in autumn than spring, 
and a rare winter visitor. 

The diminutive size of the swimming Red-necked Phalarope 
is striking ; it looks about half as big as a Dabchick. It swims 
as buoyantly as the Grey, with the same restless, jerky energy, 
darting from side to side after insects. Its slender sandpiper 
head and neck bob as it swims — wonderfully strongly for so 
small a bird. Characteristically tame or indifferent to the 
presence of man, it will alight on a wayside pond and feed with 
confidence. The colour scheme of the summer dress is very 
neat, a combination of slate grey, fox-red, and white. What 
struck me most in a female that I watched on two consecutive 
days was the contrast between the white chin and the rich 
chestnut throat, and the long, slender bill. The white of the 
under parts ran up to a peak on the breast, and above the eye 
was a small white spot. This spot is not always distinct, and 
in skins is lost by shrinkage ; it is not shown in Gould's, 
Dresser's, or Lilford's plates, but Mr. Thorburn noticed it 
when drawing for his " British Birds," and it is clear in Miss 
Turner's photograph (Plate 49). With difficulty Mr. Oldham 
and I made this bird fly ; at first it j-miped into the air and 



Il8 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

dropped again when startled by clods thrown into the water, 
and when at last we got it up, it flew swiftly, rather like a 
Ringed Plover, but soon returned to the water. As it flew, a 
long angled white stripe — the edges of the coverts — crossed the 
open wing. Sometimes it dipped head and neck when feeding, 
sometimes jumped to catch a flying insect, and it constantly 
uttered a short weak pipe— //<?^/, pleep — but this was the only 
note we heard. Other notes are described, including a trill 
like the Ringed Plover when courting. This bird did not 
swing round and round as if on a pivot, a habit noticed by some 
watchers, the object being to stir up the bottom or draw insects 
and crustaceans into the eddy formed by the movement. 
Probably a similar result follows the rotary motion of the 
Spoonbill's bill, previously referred to. When bathing, the bird 
will swing the body to and fro, hinged on the legs, or quaintly 
roll from side to side, as it throws the water over the plumage. 
The Red-necked Phalarope arrives at its British breeding 
haunts early in June, and seldom remains after the end of 
August. It is never numerous on passage, and either the 
nesting area is reached by a somewhat circuitous sea-route or 
by a high, uninterrupted, overland journey. The female usually 
courts ^nd often bullies the male ; however, on one pool Mr. 
P. H. Bahr saw two females worrying one rather reluctant male, 
and two males circling round another female. Miss Best and 
Miss Haviland watched four or five females forcing attentions on 
one apparently annoyed male. During these competitions the 
rival hens often fight. Even when the male has yielded to the 
wiles of a successful suitor, he is not in a hurry to take over his 
effeminate duties ; Miss Turner watched one being conducted 
by his mate, and whenever he strove to have a short nap 
(Plate 49), she literally " henpecked " him into activity. The 
nest is as a rule well concealed, and after the four eggs (Plate 44) 
are laid, most if not all the incubation is performed by the male. 
The nestlings, clad at first in golden down which soon pales. 



RED-NECKED PHALAROPE. II9 

have two white stripes on their darker backs. They are 
cared for by the cock bird, though the hen will mount guard 
and warn him to slip off the nest if danger threatens, when he 
will join her on the water and pretend to feed (End paper i). 
The nestlings, with large fleshy legs and flesh-tinted bills, can 
swim at once, though Mr. Bahr found some drowned. Mr. 
H. S. Gladstone, who visited the Irish colony and noticed its 
rapid growth from year to year so long as it was well protected 
and its position kept secret, has some strong things to say 
about the selfishness of collectors. Two well-known ornitholo- 
gists (if they deserve the title) visited the place, illegally shot 
two birds, and took, so he heard, forty eggs. Nothing can 
justify such wholesale robbery, and it has, unfortunately, not 
ended with the one deed, for the natives have learnt that there 
is value in the eggs. 

In summer the adult bird has the head, lower neck, and 
most of the upper parts slate-grey, darkest on the back where 
there are buff edges to some of the feathers. The chin, eye- 
spot, and abdomen are white, and on the neck, extending to 
the lower part of the face, is a rich chestnut band. The bill is 
almost black, the legs greenish, yellower on the feet, and the 
irides brown. The male is duller than the female, and in both 
sexes there is considerable variation in the white on the chin 
and chestnut on the gorget. The autumn moult is gradual, 
and when the winter dress is complete the sexes are difficult to 
distinguish. The forehead, cheeks, throat, and breast are then 
v.'hice. The back of the head and eye-streak are dark brown, 
and the upper parts greyish marked with white and buff. The 
backs and wings of young birds are warmer — more buff and 
chestnut — than in old birds in winter dress. Length, 7*5 ins. 
Wing, 4" 4 ias. Tarsus, o*8 in. 



I20 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Sub-family SCOLOPACIN.-E. 
Bill moderate or long, straight or slightly decurved ; hind 
toe usually present, anterior toes free or slightly webbed. 

Woodcock. Scolopax riisticola Linn. 

The literature of the Woodcock (Plate 45) is extensive ; it is 
tlie bird of the sportsman. In the British Isles it is a resident, 
a winter visitor, and a passage migrant from northern Europe 
and Asia to winter quarters lurther south. Statements that all 
British-bred birds winter here or that all migrate do not cover 
the ground ; the only conclusion that can be reached if we 
examine the reports of recovery of ringed birds is that there is 
no fixed rule, and that Woodcock, like many other species, 
show individuality. Some young birds remain near the place 
of birth, others wander in autumn, even travelling north, and 
others again go abroad. What proportion emigrate we do not 
know ; the fact that more are reported from near home than 
from the Continent is natural ; the chances of marked birds 
being reported from abroad are small. Many birds marked in 
England and Scotland are found in Ireland. 

The Woodcock has a noticeable character — a big eye set far 
back on a round head ; this coupled with a long bill, a dark 
stripe from bill to eye, black bars on head and neck, and soft 
marbled and barred buff, brown, and black plumage, are a 
combination which even the r.ovice cannot mistake. As a matter 
of fact, however, our visions of the living Woodcock are as a 
rule fleeting. By day it shuns the open, crouching quietly in 
the woods, its colour and markings in such harmony with its 
surroundings that it is invisible unless disturbed. Then, rising 
with a swish of wings, it dodges through the trees, to drop at a 
safe distance. We may come upon it again, squatting in a 
ditch with long bill depressed and eye upon us, but the chances 
are that we shall not see it until it again takes wing. The 



WOODCOCK. 121 

sound, as the bird rises, resembles to my ears the sharp ripping 
of stiff paper ; when on ihe ridge at Spurn on the night when 
the Woodcock arrived I heard every few yards this sound, and 
in the lighthouse beam caught sight of ghostly birds skimming 
into the darkness. The flight varies ; it is swift and dodging 
when the bird is scared, or when, in spring, the males are 
" rod'mg " as the nuptial sport is called. But it can be slow, 
uncertain, and owl-like as the birds return from their nocturnal 
feast to the shelter of the wood. The bill is carried pointed 
downwards. At times the speed is great, for on migration 
a bird, some years ago, crashed through the lantern at the 
Flamborough light. 

A few immigrants reach the east coast in September, but the 
biggest flights are ia October and November, and hard or 
rough weather abroad brings the laggards later. In winter 
westward movements to Ireland are common. At dusk the 
bird leaves the wood, usually by some well-used glade, to feed 
in the marshes or muddy ditches, and even in hard weather 
finds some soft spot in which to push its sensitive bill to feel for 
worms, its main food. It has been said that the Woodcock 
stamps to bring worms to the surface, and the statement has 
been freely copied ; it is not easy to see how a nocturnal bird 
feeds. It does, however, turn its probe from side to side, and 
can evidently tell when it touches its victim, which is then 
gripped by the curiously prehensile portion of the upper mandible 
and dragged out. I do not believe that when its head is turned 
sideways it is listening for the sound of worm movement ; 
the lateral position of the eyes of many birds causes them to 
turn the head when they concentrate upon one spot. Doubt- 
less the Woodcock has good hearing ; though exactly why the 
position of its ear, which is in front of and below the level of the 
eye, differs from the normal has never been discovered. In 
autumn the "Cock "is a silent bird, and often it rises without 
a sound ; Seebohm says that it will, at times, utter a note like 



122 THE BIRDS OF TflE BRITISH ISLES. 

that of the rising Snipe, and I have heard a short ^?V;', which 
reminded me of the winter flight note of the Skylark. In spring, 
when the males are " roding'' in the early morning or at dusk, 
they have more to say. Mr. C. B. Moffat states that the bird 
gives " a deep, constantly repeated croak— croho, croho —varied 
at regular intervals by a shrill screech— r/^2>2zV." The birds 
roll and twist, dart and dash, during this courtship flight, and 
Mr. Moffat has seen rivals fly alongside, chirruping loudly, 
apparently in defiance. When displaying on the ground the 
cock struts with uplifted and spread tail, drooped wings, and 
puffed-out feathers. 

In the winter wood the colour of the plumage hides the 
Woodcock ; on the nest it is almost invisible. The nest in 
itself is little more than a depression in the fallen leaves, often 
of oak or beech, still plentiful in March when the four eggs 
(Plate 54) are laid, for the Woodcock is an early nester ; our 
breeding birds are usually sitting before the emigrants have left. 
Though I knew that a bird was sitting under a particular 
honeysuckle spray a few feet from where I was standing, I only 
saw it when the warmer tints of a patch amongst the leaves 
led my gaze to the big brown eye and thus to the outline of 
the sitter. It never moved so long as I watched it. The 
nestlings are rich buff with dark longitudinal bands on head 
and back, and a dark band crosses from eye to eye ; the down 
is flecked with white. It is not certain that the old bird carries 
them to and from the wet feeding ground, but she will carry 
them away if the nesting site has been discovered. As to how 
this is accomplished is one of the ever-fruitful themes for 
ornithological squabbles ; it does not seem to occur to most 
people that birds of one species or even an individual may 
employ different methods. I have not been lucky enough to 
see the act myself, but I have the evidence of eye-witnesses in 
whom I can rely. St. John's original statement that the young 
are held in the feet, the legs hanging, is at times correct ; Mr. 



COMMON SNIPE. I23 

C. B. Simpson saw this method from a hide only four yards 
away and sent me a sketch. St. John corrected (?) himself 
after later experience, and said they were held between the 
thighs, and others have added, kept in position by means of the 
depressed bill. Mr. Moftat saw the young thus held against the 
breast, but without any bill support, and Mr. Mackereth saw 
both bill and feet used. This last bird was attacked by a 
Sparrow-Hawk, and depositing its burden, led the hawk away 
for some distance and then threw itself into a terrifying attitude. 
It lowered its bill, hunched its wings forward, puffed out its 
feathers, and uttered a "harsh jabbering" note. The hawk 
retired, and then the Woodcock saw that a man was watching ; 
it altered its tactics at once, and went tumbling along the ride 
as if wounded ; then when the supposed human enemy had 
been lured away, returned to the young. 

Variation in the plumage of Woodcocks is common, but I 
am unconvinced that British birds are darker and larger than 
migrants, as is frequently asserted by sportsmen and keepers. 
The colours are a wonderful combination of black, buff, 
chestnut, and grey in bars, mottles, and fine wavy lines. The 
bill is reddish horn, browner at the tip, the legs fleshy, the irides 
dark brown. There is no difference between the sexes, and 
young birds can only be distinguished by an expert, and then 
not always with certainty. Length, 14*5 ins. Wing, 7*5 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 

Common Snipe. Galli?iago galli?iago (Linn.). 

The breeding. range of the Common Snipe (Plate 51) extends 
over a great portion of Europe, Asia and north Africa, and in 
winter it visits Africa and southern Asia. From autumn until 
spring our resident stock is greatly increased by winter visitors, 
and there is also a passage migration. The bird is found in 
suitable localities throughout our islands, but is least abundant 
in the south. 



124 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The Common. Full, or Whole Snipe, names by which the 
sportsman distinguishes it from the Jack and Great Snipe, is a 
bird of moor and marsh, perhaps most remarkable for its very 
long, sensitive bill. Its shot-battered corpse is a familiar object 
in the poulterer's shop, but few trouble to identify the species 
of a table bird. A bird in the hand, provided that it is neither 
mutilated nor moulting, can be told by its tail ; the Great Snipe 
has sixteen tail feathers, and the greater part of the outer ones 
is white towards the tip ; the Common Snipe has the basal 
portion of its fourteen feathers black, and the tips red, only the 
outer pair having white ends, and all the feathers are marked 
with a subterminal black band. The twelve feathers of the 
Jack, especially the central pair, are pointed ; they are dark 
brown with rufous margins. In the field such distinctions are 
seldom of value, but the behaviour of the Common Snipe differs 
from that of the Jack. When disturbed, it dashes into the air 
with a loud, harsh call — scaap — and immediately begins a rapid 
zigzag flight, which often saves its life ; its dodges are irregular 
and not always in the same plane ; when just out of gunshot it 
straightens its route, but does not alight until some distance 
away. The Jack, on the other hand, often rises silently, and 
its call, if uttered, is not so loud ; its turns and twists are more 
moderate, and it drops into cover within a few yards ; it may 
be put up again and again. 

The Snipe spends the day in some marsh or thick cover near 
water, and at dusk " flights " like a duck. One by one, or in 
" wisps," as the small parties are called, the birds shoot up 
from the marsh, calling, and vanish in the dusk, making for 
muddy ditches, the edges of ponds, oozy bogs, or other spots, 
where, probmg the mud, it can feel for worms. The slightly 
swollen, pitted tip of the long bill is a wonderfully useful and 
flexible pair of forceps ; the last inch of the upper mandible can 
be raised or depressed at will. Worms are the main food, 
though insects and, in hard weather, some seeds are eaten. 



rf 'T{ 




2 PL 50. 



1 124. 



Snipe sitting. 





2 /■/. 51' 



Common Snipe. 
Great Snipe. 



/ 125. 



COMMON SNIPE. 12$ 

Large numbers of " foreign " Snipe arrive in October and 
November, and some of our home-bred birds go south ; a hard 
frost or heavy snow causes westward movement, filling the 
Irish bogs with refugees. Return migration begins in March 
and lasts until after our birds have begun to nest. Display 
usually begins in March, but the strange "drumming," frequently 
heard during display, is by no means confined to the breeding 
season, nor, do I think, is it exclusively masculine. The dis- 
playing bird rises with strong, rapid wing-beats in towering 
circles, alternated with sharp descents, vol-planing steeply with 
wings half open and tail widespread. As it shoots down, the 
outer tail feathers stand out at an angle of about 45", and the rush 
through the air causes these to vibrate with a booming note ; 
this noise reminds me more than anything of the bleat of 
a kid, and on northern moors the bird is known as the 
" Heather-bleater." It is probable that the vibration of the stiff 
primaries helps the sound, though the two tail feathers are 
mainly responsible. Mr. F. J. Stubbs saw one bird repeatedly 
descend back downward, and others have noticed the same 
strange action. Often in the air and commonly on the ground 
the Snipe has a vocal note, a deliberate chip-per, chip-per, 
chip-per J this is often uttered from a post, rail, or other elevated 
perch, when the rythmical movements of the head can be seen. 
I saw one bird calling when perched on the top sail of a 
motionless windmill. 

The nest (Plate 50), a grass-lined cup, is well concealed in 
rushes, long grass, or, on the moors, cotton-grass and ling. The 
pyriform eggs, usually four, placed with their small ends inward, 
often have the dark smears and blotches more oblique than in 
the one figured (Plate 54) ; they have been found early in March, 
but clutches are usually complete about the middle of April. 
The nestling (Plate 52) is a ball of reddish-brown down, barred 
and streaked with darker brown and black, and plentifully 
frosted with specks of silvery white ; the short, soft, greenish- 



126 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

black, or leaden bill has the under mandible wider to\va»-ds the 
tip ; the thick le^^s are lead-blue, the irides dark brown, as in 
the adult bird. In the heather it looks like some brightly 
coloured, hairy caterpillar of a large bombycid moth. Trusting 
instinctively to its colouring for concealment, it crouches silent 
and motionless, even if threatened by a boot or taken in the 
hand. Though the young can run as soon as dry, the parents 
continue to feed them ; it is said that at times they carry them 
to the feeding-place, but certainly they sometimes conduct 
them on foot, calling to them as they strut ahead with flirting 
tail and slightly drooped wings. 

The adult has the head dark, with a median stripe and two 
lateral stripes of buff; there is a dark streak from the bill to 
the eye. The back is dark brown, with lighter streaks on the 
mantle ; the wings are mottled and barred with black, buff, and 
brown, and the flanks barred with brown and white. The bill 
is horn, browner towards the tip, the legs greenish brown. 
Sabine's Snipe is a melanistic variety, still considered by some 
as worthy of specific rank. Length, 10-5 ins. Wing, 5 ins. 
Tarsus, 1-25 ins. 

Great Snipe. GalUnago media (Latham), 

The Great Snipe (Plate 51) nests in northern Europe and 
north-western Asia, and winters from the Mediterranean south- 
ward to the Cape. In the British Isles it is a passage migrant 
rather than winter visitor, for it has been most frequently 
observed in August, September, and October ; in spring it is 
infrequent. It has been found in all parts, even in St. Kilda 
and Fair Island, but in Scotland and Ireland it is decidedly 
rare. 

There is often confusion between the Double Snipe, as this 
bird is called, and the Full or Common Snipe, for the markings 
and colour are similar on the whole, but as the tail is usually 



JACK SNIPE. 127 

spread in flight the white terminal portion of the more outer 
feathers of the Great can generally be seen. These are not so 
white in immature as in mature birds, and most of those which 
visit us in autumn are birds of the year ; but at any age the 
under parts, even the abdomen, of the Great are more barred 
and speckled than those of the Common, in which the centre of 
the abdomen is white. SoHtary Snipe is one rather misleading 
name for this species, for though " wisps " are not noticed in 
Britain, couples may rise together. Its usual haunts are drier 
than those of either the Common or Jack Snipe ; it may be 
found in fields, amongst bracken, or even in woods. From this 
choice of habitat, and from its manner of flight, without the 
sharp zigzags, it is at times called the " Woodcock Snipe." It is 
slower on the wing, and flies heavily ; indeed, it looks a bulkier 
bird than the resident species, though its actual length on the 
average is about the same, for the bill is proportionately short. 
So far as is known, it feeds rather more on what it can pick up 
than upon worms, for which it has to probe ; insects and their 
larvae have been found in its stomach. During the breeding 
season abroad it has several notes, but is not known to " drum " ; 
in Britain it is a silent bird, rising without any call of alarm. 

The plumage closely resembles that of the last species, except 
in the points already mentioned — the tail and under parts. The 
bill is brown, almost black at the tip, the legs are greenish 
brown, the irides very dark brown. Length, 1 1 ins. Wing, 
5-5 ins. Tarsus, i'35 ins. 

Jack Snipe. Linuiocryptes gallimda (Linn.). 

The Jack or Half Snipe (Plate 53) has a more northern and 
eastern breeding range in Europe and Asia than the last 
species ; it winters in southern Europe and north Africa, in 
India and Burma. To Britain it is a common and regular 
winter visitor and passage migrant, usually arriving during 



128 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

September and leaving in March or April, but occasionally a 
few non -breeding birds remain all summer. 

"Jack "is a diminutive, and thus well applied to this very 
small snipe ; indeed, its size alone is sufficient for identification. 
But when seen on the ground — no easy matter, for it loves thick 
cover — the absence of the central buff streak on its dark-brown 
head separates it from the other two snipe. Its twelve pointed, 
dark, pale-edged tail feathers are an even surer distinction, and 
its bill is short, nearly an inch and a half shorter than that of 
the Common Snipe. Though most sportsmen affirm that the 
bird rises silently and does not zigzag, neither statement is 
strictly correct. I put up a wisp of five and each bird uttered 
a low, weak, but perfectly distinct call as it rose ; another bird 
called the first time I flushed it, but though disturbed two or 
three times later made no further sound. Seebohm emphatically 
declares that it zigzags as much as the Common Snipe, but this 
is not my experience ; it is slower on the wing, and its uncertain 
dodges do not appear to have such sharp angles ; it changes 
direction more deliberately. Mathew aptly speaks of its " butter- 
fly flight." It seldom flies far, often not more than twenty yards, 
before it drops abruptly into cover, and, unless again forced to 
take wing, remains in hiding. Indeed, it will sometimes crouch 
so as to baffle the searcher, and even allow a dog to pick it up. 
When drumming, the Common Snipe certainly appears to carry 
its bill straight before it, but it is not easy to see the position 
\\hen the flushed bird flies from the observer ; I have, however, 
seen the slower Jack hold its bill inclined downward like that 
of the flying Woodcock. Not infrequently nests, said to be of 
the Jack Snipe, have been reported from our islands, but when- 
ever investigation has been possible they have been shown to 
be those of some other species, usually the Dunlin. 

The most marked difl*erences between the plumage of the 
Jack and Common Snipe have been mentioned, but in addition 
this bird has a broad buff stripe over the eye and two dark 



^"-^ 




'^■n 




2/'/. 



Jack Snipe. 
Knot (Winter). 



BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER. I29 

marks across its speckled face ; the upper parts are glossed 
with green and purple. The buff and chestnut longitudinal 
streaks on back and wings are even more distinct thin in the 
Common Snipe. The bill is brown, the legs yellowish brown, 
the irides blackish brown. Length, 7'5 ins. Wing, 4*25 ins. 
Tarsus, o'8 in. 

Broad-billed Sandpiper. Limicola faldnelhis {Von\.o^^.). 

Within recent years the records of the Broad-billed Sand- 
piper, a rare passage migrant, have been considerably increased ; 
probably the bird has been overlooked, taken for a small Dunlin 
or a large Little Stint. As it nests in Scandinavia, so near as 
the Dovrefjeld, as well as in northern Russia and probably in 
Siberia, and in winter is known as a visitor to the European 
coasts and inland waters, it is curious that it should so seldom 
be noted on our shores. Most of its few recorded visits have 
been in autumn, to the east and south coasts ; but it has also 
occurred in spring. 

The short, greenish-black bill is flat and broad, ard bent 
downward toward the tip. In summer the dark-brown head 
is streaked with buff, snipe-like in character, but the brown 
back and mantle have no long buff streaks, though the feathers 
are margined with chestnut and white. The flight and central 
tail feathers are almost black, the outer tail feathers pale brown. 
The throat and breast are huffish white streaked and speckled 
with black and brown ; the abdomen is white. The legs are 
dark olive, the irides blackish brown. In winter the ashy grey 
upper parts, obscurely mottled, and the white under parts, are 
somewhat similar to the winter dress of the Little Stint. In 
both summer and winter a white bar shows in flight. Length, 
6'5 ins. Wing, 4*25 ins. Tarsus, 075 in. 



Scries IT. 



I30 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Terek Sandpiper. Tcrekia dnerea (Gulden.). 

The Terek Sandpiper breeds in north-eastern Europe and 
Siberia, and in winter is known in Africa, Southern Asia, and 
Australia. The bird was added to the British list in 191 2, 
when four were recorded for Kent ; in 191 5 three were obtained 
in Sussex. All were killed in May, and apparently passed 
through the same hands. It is a grey-backed bird with dark 
markings on the back and streaks on the head ; the under 
parts are white with dusky mottles on the flanks and breast. 
The long, greenish-black bill is recurved towards the tip ; the 
legs are yellowish green, the irides blackish grey (Dresser). 
Length, 9 ins. Wing, 5 ins. Tarsus, i in. 

Knot. Canutus ca?mfus (Linn.). 

Countless hordes of Knots visit the British Isles on passage, 
and very large numbers remain to winter, but it was not until 
1S76 that any breeding-place was discovered, and only within 
more recent years that we have gained light— still imperfect — 
of the full range and nesting habits. The Knot (Plate 53) has 
apparently a circumpolar breeding range, but all the known 
haunts are far north of the Arctic circle in Greenland, Grinnell 
Land, Alaska, the Taimyr, and New Siberian Islands. Its 
winter wanderings take it to South Africa, Australia, New 
Zealand, and Patagonia. 

In Britain the haunts of the gregarious Knot are the sea- 
shores where there are wide stretches of sand or tidal mud ; 
in favoured localities its numbers are large in winter, immense 
during migration, and a fair number of non-breeding birds 
remain all summer. Amongst the crowds of waders which 
feed on the flats the Knot may be singled out by its intermediate 
size, considerably larger than the Dunlin and Sanderling, 
shorter in leg than the Redshank, and small beside the tall 



KNOT. 131 

Godwits and heavy Curlew. It is a squat, short-billed, dumpy 
wader, always looking plump and in good condition — in winter 
grey and white, in spring and summer reddish chestnut. 
Immature birds with buffer under parts mix in the autumn and 
winter packs. The name is said to have origin in Canute's 
tidal experiences, but surely it is derived from the bird's note — 
a clear kmit, kiiut^ which is, strangely, described by some 
writers as a grunt ! When a flock settles the chorus rises as a 
beautiful twitter. On the banks no waders pack so closely as 
the Knot ; I have seen on the Yorkshire coast a strip of sand 
and shingle at high tide solid with Knots, not an inch of sand 
visible between their grey bodies. I have seen the Lancashire 
tide-line, for at least a mile, one continuous ribbon of birds, 
varying in width from two or three feet to six or more yards. 
Where the " Duns," as the fowlers call them, were thickest, and 
the birds moved, all in one direction with their heads down, the 
impression given was of a slowly advancing grey carpet. As 
they feed in these compact masses they must clear the shallowing 
water and wet sand of all the small marine worms, molluscs, 
and crustaceans, the winter food, but in the nesting haunts the 
bird is largely vegetarian — golden saxifrage and seeds of sedge 
and wood-rush are eaten. The bird feeds with the falling tide 
both by day and night. 

Spring passage usually begins in April, and by May many of 
the birds have donned summer dress ; partial summer plumage 
has been recorded in January. Mr. F. W. Holder, who for 
years has watched the Knots on the Lancashire coast, estimates 
that the winter flocks often contain two or three thousand birds, 
and when the passage migrants join them it is impossible to 
guess at numbers. Used though it is to exposure to weather, 
the Knot evidently prefers to be out of the wind ; when the 
flocks are resting or feeding, birds on the windward side con- 
stantly rise, take two or three fluttering wing-beats, and drop 
into the thickest place so as to obtain the shelter of their 



132 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

comrades. At rest the bird stands on one leg, its head sunk 
in its shoulders or with its bill in the scapulars ; if approached 
it will, without putting down the raised leg, hop slowly away. 
The rush of wings of one of the vast flocks when disturbed 
is a sound to remember, the sight most impressive ; the rising 
cohorts form a dense curtain. The aerial movements of the flock 
are as complicated and well ordered as those of the Dunhn ; 
turning and twisting the compact body skims out over the 
water, rises or descends, or thins out into a long undulating 
line ; often the whole body returns whence it rose. The Knot 
is strong and swift on the wing, capable of sustained flight. 
Many birds leave the west coast before the end of April, but 
passage continues throughout May ; Mr. Holder saw over 500 
on June 20th in full chestnut dress. In the last week in July 
or early in August the young birds arrive from the north ; 
Mr. Holder saw one flock 2000 strong on August ist, and notes 
how from a distance these mobs of buff-breasted birds look 
"as if suffused with rose." Within a few days some adult birds, 
already in grey dress, may be noticed, and the passage continues 
until October. All agree that the young come first, but most 
writers say that the old birds are much later, yet Herr Manniche 
saw no old birds in Greenland after August 8th. The chestnut 
of the adult birds when gradually attaining winter grey is much 
deeper than the buff of the young, but it may be that some 
observers have thought that birds in partial winter dress were 
juvenile. Even in the second week in September I have seen 
birds showing much chestnut on the under parts amidst many 
hundreds in complete grey plumage, but Mr. Holder rarely sees 
full summer dress even in early August. 

The Knot occurs inland more frequently than is usually 
supposed, and occasionally in autumn there is overland migra- 
tion. Single birds, probably weaklings that have fallen out of 
passing flocks, are met with on inland waters in winter as well 
as in autumn. 



LITTLE STINT. 1 33 

The Knot in summer dress is deep chestnut on the face, throat, 
breast, and abdomen ; the streaked head is browner, and the 
mantle much darker, spotted with chestnut and with pale 
edgings to many of the feathers. The white-shafted primaries 
and secondaries are greyish black, the flanks and under tail- 
coverts are whitish, mottled with dark grey and black. The 
lower back and upper tail-coverts are white barred with black 
and chestnut. The bill is black, the legs deep olive, the irides 
dark brown. In winter the upper parts and breast are ashy 
grey, with dark streaks on head and breast, and with the 
coverts neatly patterned with dark grey. The tail-coverts are 
as in summer, but without any chestnut. There is a distinct 
white wing bar. The under parts are white with grey chevrons 
and bars on the flanks. The olive-green legs are much lighter 
than in summer. In the young the upper parts are ashy, but 
marked with bars of black and buff"; the breast, abdomen, and 
flanks are suff'used with buff", and the throat and breast are 
streaked with brown. The legs are dull olive. Length, 10 ins. 
Wing, 6'5 ins. Tarsus, 1*25 ins. 

Little Stint. Erolia mi?mta (Leisler). 

Breeding in Arctic Europe and Asia, and travelling far south 
to winter, the Little Stint (Plate 55) pays short but regular 
visits to our shores in autumn and, less frequently, in spring. 
It is a passage migrant which reaches South Africa and India ; 
the eastern Siberian form is met with in Australia. 

In Yorkshire the Dunlin is commonly called the "Stint" by 
fowlers, but the true stints are much smaller waders ; the Little 
Siint is the best known of the three which occur in Britain, 
Mr. J. E. Harting was, I believe, the first to call attention to 
the similarity of this species to a small Dunlin ; the rarer 
Temminck's Stint resembles a diminutive Common Sandpiper. 
The small size and shorter bill — roughly three-quarters the length 



134 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

of that of the Dunhn — is sufficient to attract attention when the 
bird is feeding with other shore waders ; in the hand it is at all 
times a warmer-tinted bird than Temminck's, and the two outer 
pairs of tail feathers are brownish grey, whereas in the latter 
they are white. Passage Stints arrive in August, but early 
September is the time when most are noticed ; they come in 
small parties and at first keep rather to themselves, but soon 
join the mixed congregations on the banks, feeding sociably 
with Dunlins, Sanderlings, and Curlew Sandpipers. By early 
October most have passed on, and a November Little Stint is 
uncommon. Its spring visits are from April to June. Although 
a typical shore bird, overland journeys are at times taken ; the 
occurrence inland is not merely due to wandering or storm ; at 
the beginning of September birds have been observed simul- 
taneously on reservoirs in Yorkshire and Hertforshire, and at 
other times by the Cheshire meres and on Lancashire sewage 
farms ; indeed, the repeated appearance on the sewage farms 
suggests intentional visits to places where food is abundant. 
In its behaviour when feeding the Stint is more of a Sanderling 
than a Dunlin, constantly active, running smartly to pick up 
insects, worms, and small molluscs, or to chase the sandhoppers 
and shrimps ; it will swim when the water is too deep for its 
short legs. At times it will push its bill into the sand to 
capture a retreating worm, but does not probe for food like 
the Snipe. It flies swiftly, often outdistancing larger companions, 
and when small flocks are flying together the aerial performances 
are skilful— rapid turns, twists, and swerves, when the light 
under parts flash as every bird at the same instant smartly 
careens. The triple call, tchik^ tchik, tchik, is sharp and 
quickly repeated, and birds on the sand have a lower, more 
twittering note. 

The upper parts of the bird in summer dress are reddish ; the 
forehead is white, the crown streaked, and a dark line passes 
from the lores to the eye. The finely speckled breast is rufous, 





Woodcock. 



Snipe. 



V 






stone-Curlew. 





Redshank. 



2 PL 54. 






Common Sandpiper. 

A' 134 





2 /'/. 55- 



A'i3.v 



Little Stint. 
Temminck's Stint. 



AMERICAN STINT. I35 

the rest of the under parts white. The quills are dusky, and a 
white bar crosses the open wing. The bill and legs are black, 
the irides very dark brown ; in Temminck's Stint the legs are 
greener. In winter the general colour is ashy grey, the wings 
and coverts much greyer than in summer. The young, usually 
so tame in autumn as to allow close inspection, have darker 
backs and mantles, patterned with buff and chestnut, and with 
white on the wings and scapulars showing as irregular streaks. 
The white forehead and stripe above the eye show up the grey 
and reddish brown crown. The breast is tinged with buff, the 
under parts white. Length, 6 ins. Wing, 3*5 ins. Tarsus, o'8 in. 

American Stint. Erolia miimtilla (Vieillot). 

Only four examples of the American Stint have been obtained 
in England, all in Cornwall or Devon, on dates ranging from 
1853 to 1892, in the months of August, September, and October. 
The home of this species is Arctic America, and it normally 
travels in autumn to South America, but is known on migration 
in Greenland ; it is evident that these wanderers, and doubtless 
others which escaped recognition, had taken a route more to 
the east than usual, probably wind- drifted. 

The bird is a little smaller and much darker than the Little 
Stint, but otherwise very similar in appearance and habits, and 
its quick call-note recalls that of its congener. Its hind neck 
is greyer, the brown spots are larger and better defined, and 
the lower back and rump are black. The outer tail feathers 
are light grey, intermediate between those of the Little and 
Temminck's Stint. In the grey winter dress the rump is still 
very dark, and young birds with almost unspotted, buff-tinged 
breasts, have well-defined white edges to many of the feathers 
of the upper parts. The bill is blackish brown, the legs olive, 
the irides dark brown. Length, 5-25 ins. Wing, 3*5 ins. 
Tarsus, 075 in. 



136 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 



Temniinck's Stint. EroUa tcininlncki (Leisler). 

Temminck's Stint (Plate 55), even in autumn, is a rarer 
passage migrant than the Little Stint ; it is more frequent on 
the south and south-east coast than elsewhere, though it has 
occurred in most parts of our islands, even in May on Fair 
Island. It nests in Arctic Europe and Asia, and winters in 
northern Africa and southern Asia. 

Temminck's Stint is slightly smaller than the Little Stint, 
and at all seasons much greyer ; its outer tail feathers are 
white. Its habits on the shore, its food — insects and their larv?e 
inland or in the tide wrack, or crustaceans, worms, and other 
marine animals on the sand or mud — and its quick, erratic 
flight, resemble those of the other species. Its note is 
described by Seebohm as " a spluttering but very distinct 
pt-7--r-r.^^ Mr. A. H. Patterson points out that its call, and its 
habit of towering when flushed, are well known to east coast 
wildfowlers, rare though the bird is. In its summer haunts it 
has a trilling song, a modification of the distinctive call. 

The summer dress is greyish brown with darker streaks and 
spots, but with a few chestnut bars and margins on the upper 
parts. Except at its dusky tip the outer primary is white ; the 
others are brownish grey ; a narrow bar crosses the wing. 
The buff breast is streaked, the rest of the under parts white. 
The bill is black, the legs olive, the irides dark brown. The 
winter dress is ashy with indistinct dark markings and pale 
margins ; the breast is unstreaked. The feathers of the upper 
parts in young birds are tipped with white, and the under parts 
are suffused with buff. Length, 575 ins. Vv^ing, 3*8 ins. 
Tarsus, o"6 in. 



AMERICAN PECTORAL SANDPIPER. I37 

American Pectoral Sandpiper. Ei-oHa maculata 
(Vieillot). 

The western form of the Pectoral Sandpiper (Plate 56) 
breeds in Arctic America and visits South America, even so 
far south as Patagonia, in winter. It has appeared so frequently 
in the British Isles as to be accepted as a genuine migratory 
wanderer, even by those who maintain that other trans-Atlantic 
birds must have had assisted passages. As it is known to 
visit southern Greenland on migration, it is possible that the 
i^\N which have been noticed in Scotland and Scottish islands 
may have reached us by this island route, but most of the 
occurrences have been in the southern counties of England, 
suggesting an eastward and probably unconscious drift on 
westerly wind. The bird has occurred in spring, and certainly 
once in July, but the majority of the visits have been in 
autumn. 

The Pectoral Sandpiper is a shore bird, not unlike a very 
large Little Stint with a pointed tail ; it feeds with Dunlins or 
other waders on the invertebrates left by the tide, but also, 
a])parently, visits the tide-line or the maritime fields and 
marshes, since beetles and other insects have been found in its 
stomach. Saunders speaks of its breeding call, a muffled hoo^ 
hoo, but Yarrell gives the note which the bird utters when 
rising as iweet, and this is the more likely sound to hear in 
Britain. Rickards, who recorded the bird for Devon, likened 
the note to that of the Curlew Sandpiper. Mr. M. J. Nicoll, 
who, with the Duchess of Bedford, watched one in Kent in 
July, says that its flight reminded him of that of the male Red- 
shank when soaring. 

The head and upper parts generally are blackish brown with 
rufous streaks and feather edgings ; there is a slight wing bar. 
The central tail feathers are almost black, the outer ones dark 
brown ; the breast is rather heavily streaked, and the abdomen 



138 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES, 

white. A whitish superciliary stripe and a white chin set off 
the speckled cheek, and a dark streak runs from the bill 
through the eye. There is more white on the wing of the 
immature bird. The bill is greenish black, the legs yellowish 
brown, and the irides dark brown. Length, 8 ins. Wing, 5*3 
ins. Tarsus, i'2 ins. 

Siberian Pectoral Sandpiper. Erolia aaim'matci 
(Horsfield). 

The eastern Pectoral Sandpiper breeds in north-east Siberia, 
and winters so far south as Australia and New Zealand. It 
differs from the American bird in the shape of the tail, accord- 
ing to Mr. Mathews, as well as in its more rufous colour, and in 
the larger area with streaks or dark V-shaped markings on the 
under parts, which extends from the breast to the flanks. It 
has been at least once, and possibly twice, obtained in Norfolk 
in autumn. The distinction is less clear in the immature bird, 
which has unstreaked under parts. The bill and irides are 
much as in the other species, but the legs are greenish black. 
Length, 8 ins. Wing, 5*5 ins. Tarsus, ri ins. 

Baird's Sandpiper. Erolia bairdi (Coues). 

Baird's Sandpiper, another Arctic American species, has, on 
four occasions, been recorded in the British Isles — twice from 
Sussex, once from Norfolk, and once from St. Kilda ; all the 
occurrences have been in September or October. The bird 
is about the size of the Dunlin, and if feeding with these 
variable birds might easily be overlooked, mistaken for a 
dark Dunlin with a rather short bill. Its upper parts are, 
however, much blacker, though the feathers are margined with 
buff and chestnut ; the crown is streaked, and the tail brown, 
with the pointed central feathers very dark. The under parts 
are white, suffused on the breast and flanks with buff and 





2 PL 56. 



Pectoral Sandpiper. 
Purple Sandpiper. 



A' 1 38. 




^M-^;^:\i •' 




^ » * *> 



Ringed Plover. 



Kentish Plover. 




CurlcWo 




Lap win < 



2 PL 



Dotterel. 



A' 139. 



PURPLE SANDPIPER. 1 39 

faintly striated in adult birds. The winter dress is much 
greyer. The bill and legs are blackish, the irides brown. 
Length, 7*5 ins. Wing, 47 ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Bonaparte's Sandpiper. Erolia fuscicolUs (Vieill.). 

The visits of Bonaparte's Sandpiper have been more frequent 
than those of the last species, but number under a score. 
Except for an unproved Irish record, and the first known 
example which was obtained in Shropshire, all have been to 
southern counties, and the majority in September and October, 
the time when the bird is travelling from its Arctic American 
home towards South America. It has been found in winter 
in Patagonia and the Falkland Isles, and occasionally touched 
Bermuda on passage. 

This bird is not unlike a small, short-billed Dunlin in winter 
dress, but may always be distinguished by its white upper tail- 
coverts. In habits and food it differs little from other sand- 
pipers ; its note, however, according to Dr. Coues, is distinctive, 
a low weet, and Rodd remarks that birds he saw in Cornwall 
had shorter, sharper calls than the Dunlin. 

The head and upper parts, including the tail but excluding 
the upper tail- coverts, are brown; the head is streaked, and 
the feathers of the back have dark centres and rufous edges. 
The breast and flanks are grey, dotted with brown, the rest of 
the under parts white. In winter the bird is greyer, and the 
marks on the under parts fainter. The under parts of the 
young are tinged with buff, and white and rufous spots show on 
the back and mantle. The bill is black and short, the legs 
dark ohve, the irides brown. Length, 7-25 ins. Wing, 475 
ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Purple Sandpiper. Erolia mariiima (Briinnich). 

The breeding range of the Purple Sandpiper (Plate 56), 
though almost circumpolar and largely Arctic, extends furthtr 



I40 THE lURDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

south than that of many of its relatives. It includes Scandi- 
navia, Iceland, and the Faeroes ; though nesting in the Shet- 
lands is still unproved, reports that it has done so there and in 
other parts of Britain may have foundation. In the more 
southern portion of its range it is resident, and northern 
breeders do not travel far beyond the Mediterranean. In the^ 
British Isles it is a well-distributed visitor from August until 
June, and a few non-breeding birds remain all summer. 

The Purple Sandpiper is local on our coasts simply because 
it is a rock-haunting species, and seldom visits sandy shores or 
mud flats. In small flocks it frequents tangle-covered reefs 
and rocky shores, feeding at low tide amidst the debris at the 
foot of the cliffs. It shares the tastes of the Turnstone, its 
constant companion. A very dark, squat bird, it may be 
recognised by its habits as much as by its appearance ; if seen 
at close quarters, by no means difficult, for it is absurdly 
indifferent to the presence of man, its short yellow legs and 
the white patch on the inner secondaries when its flies are 
distinctive characters. The ebb is the favourite feeding time 
of this rock bird ; it then catches the molluscs, worms, and 
crustaceans before they have hidden themselves under stones 
or in the thick weed ; it wades in the shallowing rock pool, 
nipping up the retreating crab or prawn, and not refusing a 
small goby or other fish ; Mr. G. Bolam has seen it devouring 
the ova of the lumpsucker. Surf on the rocks does not dis- 
concert it ; at the right moment it runs like a mouse to 
drier rock, or leaps into the air and hovers until the breaking 
wave retreats. It will alight in the backwash, and if swept 
from its foothold swims buoyantly. Stranded weed is thrown 
over and the astonished sandhoppers pounced upon. 

Quick on the wing, its flight is more direct than that of most 
sandpipers ; it hurries from reef to reef as each is uncovered. 
At high tide a little party will stand together on the rocks out 
of reach of the waves but not of the spray ; there they will 



DUNLIN. 141 

rest, preen the plumage, or sleep until the ebb. The bird is 
lethargic, deliberate, or very much in a hurry ; it is a slow and 
systematic seeker for food, but immediately a fresh rock is 
exposed it hurries to reach it. In flight it has a low note, a 
whistle or pipe. As it flies a white patch is very distinct on 
its dark wing, and when it alights, and for a second holds its 
wings uplifted, the white under surface is very striking on so 
dusky a bird. 

The upper parts are blackish in summer, but are relieved by 
buff and chestnut bars and spots, and white margins to the 
feathers. The lower back to the centre of the tail is very dark, 
almost black, the outer tail feathers are pale brown. The 
breast and flanks are greyish with dusky brown streaks and 
spots ; the abdomen is white. In autumn and winter it is a 
still darker bird, glossed with purple sheen and with leaden 
feather edges ; the breast and flanks are mottled and streaked 
with blackish brow^n. The plumage of the young bird differs 
from the winter dress in the decided and neat pattern' caused 
by the white and buff fringes, whitest on the wing-coverts, 
buffest on head and lower back. The bill is orange at the 
base, dark towards the tip, the legs are yellow to orange, the 
irides blackish brown. The female is larger than the male, but 
I have not measured in the flesh any bird so large as 875 
inches, the length given by Saunders and Dr. Patten. Length, 
8 ins. Wing, 5-3 ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Dunlin. Erolia alpina (Liini.). 

Not only is the Dunlin (Plate 59) the commonest bird of the 
shore, but it is one of the most abundant British birds. It has 
a wide range in northern Europe and Asia, and migrates in 
winter to northern Africa and India, and in America is repre- 
sented by a closely allied form. In the British Isles it is a 
resident, summer visitor, winter visitor, and passage migrant, 



142 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

for some of our home-bred birds leave in autumn, and certainly 
the majority of the vast hordes which may be seen in the spring 
and autumn on the west coast do not remain all winter. At all 
seasons there are Dunlins in our estuaries and on the shore, for 
numbers of non-breeding birds remain all summer. A few pairs 
nest in the south-western counties, but the true home of the 
Dunlin is from Wales and the Derbyshire Peak northward. 

In any mixed party of small waders — "Little Birds," the 
Lancashire and Cheshire fowlers call them — the Dunlin 
predominates. It is a small, plump, fairly long-billed wader, 
ashy grey with white under parts in winter, reddish brown and 
black, with a large black patch on the lower breast, in summer. 
There is no more variable wader than the Dunlin in size as 
well as plumage. I have found birds vary in length from 
6*9 inches to 7*8 inches, and in two cases both large and small 
birds were from the same party ; it is now recognised that the 
so-called T. schimu Brehm is merely a small Dunlin, and is 
not even entitled to sub-specific rank. The length of the bill is 
very variable ; I have found it from an inch to an inch and a 
half long ; the shorter bills were almost straight and the longer 
ones slightly curved downwards towards the tip. 

Sandbanks and estuarine mud-fiats are the favourite haunts 
of the Dunlin, but it is also common along any sandy shore, 
and in little sandy bays on a rocky coast ; saltings and 
maritime marshes are also frequented ; it delights in the tidal 
gutters. On the west coast, at any rate, the bird is most 
abundant at times of passage. Early in February, even in 
January, there is usually a northward movement, possibly of 
birds which have never left England, and in March the 
numbers are greatly increased, but in April and JMay the flocks 
are immense. Towards the end of July the second increase 
begins, which reaches its height in September. The winter 
flocks are often very great, but small compared with the count- 
less hosts on migration. So familiar a bird has many local 



DUNLIN. 143 

names ; '' Stint " is common in Yorkshire, where it is also 
the '^ Sand-runner"; "Sand-lark," "Ox-bird," and "Purre" 
(from its note) are used in other parts. In many of its move- 
ments the Dunhn is dehberate and sedate, but it can run 
quickly, its short black legs twinkling, especially when chasing 
sandhoppers on the recently covered banks. At low water it 
wades in the shallow pools, its body low, its head forward, and 
shoulders hunched, as it probes the mud ; it will swim a deep 
pool. It is never so energetic as the Sanderling or Ringed 
Plover, its constant companions. When feeding it does not 
pack so closely as the Knot, and often the birds scatter far and 
wide over the banks and saltings. It is less nervous than the 
Ringed Plover, often running rather than taking wing. 

Flocks when feeding keep up a low twittering chorus, but 
the alarm note and flight call is a rather long pitrre; it is 
quick on the wing, swerving and rolling rather than zigzagging, 
and the pale outer feathers of the tail show clearly in contrast 
to the central pair as it flies from the watcher. Its greatest 
aerial skilly however, is shown by its ordered manoeuvres in 
large flocks. The whole body will swing out over the water, 
skim the waves, rise until like a cloud they show against the 
sky, then suddenly rain down, flashing like silvery drops if the 
sun be shining. A rapidly moving flock at a distance flickers, 
now visible, now invisible, as white breast or dark back turn 
towards the observer, for every bird turns at the same moment. 
At times the flock thins out into a line stretching across the' 
field of vision, and undulating in regular waves ; then it will 
bunch, and without disorder every individual, moved by some 
strange social impulse, dives, swerves, or sharply changes 
direction at the required moment. The speed of the flying 
Dunlin is always great, and at night coastwise wires cause 
numerous fatalities. The rushing sound caused by the wings of 
a large party resembles escaping steam, and even two or three 
birds hurtling past produce a remarkable rustle. When the 



144 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

banks are flooded the birds will repair to the marshes or fields, 
and after a few evolutions settle to rest or hunt for insects. 
All will stand, head to wind, bobbing frequently, but if the wind 
is high, the nearest birds constantly rise, flutter over their com- 
panions and drop behind for shelter, so that the whole party 
slowly shifts down-wind. 

The marine food is similar to that of all small waders, but 
when nesting, and halting inland on migration, insects are 
largely eaten. To the meres, reservoirs on the hills, and sewage 
farms the bird is a frequent visitor in winter as well as on 
passage ; it paddles in the settling tanks, finding an abundance 
of dipterous larvae, and often remaining many days. On the 
coast it feeds with the rising and falling tide, by night as well 
as by day, sleeping at high water or at irregular intervals. 

The Dunlin nests on the high moors, often at 2000 feet or 
more, but also on low marshes and saltings at sea-level, even 
in the vicinity of busy Lancashire towns. On the moors I have 
watched the bird soaring and swooping like a Snipe, and 
listened to its nuptial trill, mingled with the clatter of clogs and 
rattle of looms in the valley a few hundred feet below. The 
breeding call — dwee, dwee — is quite distinct from the purr of 
alarm when the bird is put off the nest. The nest (Plate 58) 
is a neat cup of grass, about three inches in diameter, often well 
hidden in ling or moorland grass, but at times barely screened. 
The four eggs (Plate 44) arc variable in ground and markings, 
generally brown or yellow, sometimes green, with brown, sepia, 
and grey blotches, as a rule thickest at the larger end and often 
more or less oblique ; they are laid in May or June. The 
nestling has rich buff or chestnut down, marbled with black and 
flecked with white; its under parts are almost white. 

In summer the adult bird is reddish brown mottled with 
black on the upper parts; the wings and some of the coverts 
ashy grey, and the upper breast greyish white and striated. 
The lower breast and part of the abdomen are black, the size 



CURLEW-SANDPIPER. I45 

of the area very variable ; the rest of the under parts are white. 
The upper parts are ashy grey in winter, and the under parts, 
except for an indistinct band on the breast, are white. The 
black is lost gradually in autumn ; in September I have seen 
birds in almost unaltered summer dress, and Mr. G. Bolam 
records full winter plumage in June ; indeed, he says no bird is 
" more casual in its change of dress." In the young the brown 
upper parts are mottled with rufous, buff, and black, and the 
dark head is streaked with rich brown ; the breast is suffused 
with buff, and the white under parts are dotted and splashed 
with brown. The bill and legs are black, the irides very dark 
brown. Length, 7-5 ins. Wing, 4*6 ins. Tarsus, o'8 in. 

Curlew-Sandpiper. EroUa fermginea (Briinn.). 

The Curlew-Sandpiper (Plate 59) breeds in Arctic Siberia, 
and in winter ranges as far south as the Cape, the Malays, and 
Australia. To the British Isles it is a passage migrant, irregular 
in numbers, but sometimes abundant ; exceptionally, it is a 
winter visitor. Indeed, though it is never present in any 
numbers except when migration is at its height, there is no 
month in the year in which it has not been recorded. Autumn 
immigration begins in July, and often birds are about until 
November ; spring migration lasts from March until June, and 
there are scattered records for the other three months. Though 
the largest numbers visit the east and south coasts it is by no 
means rare in the west, and its frequent occurrence inland, 
especially in September, indicates more or less regular overland 
migration. 

In spite of the long, curved bill, from which it gets the rather 
trivial name of Pigmy Curlew, and the fact that its legs are 
longer, it is not always easy to distinguish from the Dunlin, 
when with this and other waders it is feeding on the shore. 
When, however, the flock takes wing, its white upper tail-coverts 

Series II. L 



146 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

show at once if the bird flies away from the observer ; they are 
ahnost as striking as the lower back of the House-Martin, 
immature birds, and the majority that visit us in autumn are 
immature, have shorter and less curved bills than those which 
are adult. Even in mature birds the length of the bill varies ; 
]\Ir. O. V. Aplin told me that he found bills varying from 1*35 
to r65 inches. In spring, when the summer dress is often 
partially attained, there is less difficulty, for it is even redder 
than the Knot ; indeed, Seebohm calls it a miniature Knot 
with a long, curved bill. Its haunts are those of the Dunlin 
and Sanderling — the banks, mud-flats, and saltings. In some 
seasons very few birds are noticed ; probably the force and 
direction of wind regulates its eastern or western route. 

The flight of the Curlew-Sandpiper is rapid and strong, more 
undulating, but less erratic than that of the Dunlin ; yet large 
flocks will indulge in complicated but well-ordered evolutions. 
Its call on rising sounds to me like twee, twee, twee, but it is 
sometimes written wiek-a-wiek j it has also a whistling /^e/^r-r^/, 
which perhaps is the note said to resemble that of the Dunlin. 
"When feeding, a flock keeps up a low, rather musical twitter. 
On the shore it often runs quickly, but at other times is as 
deliberate as the Dunlin, especially when working the pools at 
low tide. Marine invertebrates are its food on the shore, but 
inland it will eat fresh-water molluscs and insects. The tanks 
in sewage farms attract it more frequently than is generally 
supposed ; on one farm near Manchester birds were present 
one autumn for five weeks. Captain A. W. Boyd, who watched 
the varying numbers, counted nineteen one day, but I was not 
lucky enough to see so large a party. All those that I saw were 
buft"-breasted birds of the year. On this same farm Captain 
Boyd saw a single bird in May. 

In its breeding dress the Curlew-Sandpiper has the upper 
parts chestnut, variegated with black and grey ; the wing- 
coverts show white margins, and the wings are ashy grey ; the 





2 /•/. 59- 



L 147- 



Dunlin (Suinmer and Winter). 
Curlew Sandpiper (Summer and Autumn). 



BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER. 147 

upper tail-coverts are white barred with black. The reddish 
chestnut under parts are but slightly marked with grey ; the 
axillaries are white. The bill and legs are black, the irides 
brown. After the autumn moult the upper parts are ashy 
brown, but faintly edged with white and buff on the back ; the 
head is streaked, and the pale-brown face darkest on the 
cheeks ; the upper tail-coverts and under parts are white. 
The young have the breast and flanks washed with buff, and a 
considerable amount of buff shows on the greyish-brown back. 
Length, 8 ins. Wing, 5'i ins. Tarsus, r2 ins. 

Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Trymgites stibnificolHs 
(Vieill). 

The. Buff-breasted Sandpiper nests in Arctic America and, 
apparently, eastern Siberia, and winters in South America. It 
has occasionally wandered to central Europe, and has reached 
England and Ireland, most having been seen in eastern and 
southern counties in September, though there are records for 
spring and summer. Possibly this, and some other species of 
American birds, may not have crossed the Atlantic, but have 
travelled by the easier though much longer westward route. 
It is not now possible to investigate the older records, including 
the Lancashire specimen, said to have been obtained in May, 
but some are not above suspicion. 

Mr. G. Caton Haigh, who shot one on the Lincolnshire coast, 
confirms the remark of Saunders that the bird looks, both in 
flight and plumage, like a very small Reeve. In summer dress 
the upper as well as the under parts are buff, the former with 
black and brown spots and mottles ; the outer tail feathers 
are barred. Most of the under surface of the wing and the 
axilliaries are white, but the secondaries and under wing- 
coverts are marbled with black, as are the inner webs of the 
quills. The winter dress closely resembles that of summer. 



148 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

On immature birds the marbling is obscure and greyer, and the 
upper parts show white edgings. The bill is greenish black, 
the legs are yellowish, and the irides brown. Length, 8 ins. 
Wing, 5*25 ins. Tarsus, i'25 in. 

Sanderling. Calidris arenaria (Linn.). 

In winter the Sanderling (Plate 61), which nests far north in 
Arctic Asia and America, reaches the southern limits of Africa, 
America, and Australia ; the majority of the large numbers 
which visit our shores are halting on the long journey. Sep- 
tember and May are the great Sanderling months, but there 
are some birds on the shore at all seasons ; many winter here, 
and a few non-breeding birds linger through the summer. 

This little wader, as its name suggests, prefers sand to mud, 
and is commoner on the beach than in the estuary. Inland 
waters are not infrequently visited on passage. Dunlins and 
Ringed Plovers are its companions, but it will mix with other 
waders, and when the big packs of Knots rest at high-water 
•mark, there are generally a few " little birds " with them. The 
Knots line the ripples, the tall Godwits stand in the water, but 
the Dunlins and Sanderlings fringe the shore side, sheltered 
by their larger companions. When the feeding Dunlins sedately 
probe the mud, the more energetic Sanderlings, recognised by 
short black bills and restless activity, race to and fro, chasing 
the sandhoppers, and even hurrying to capture washed-up 
molluscs. The fact that the Sanderling may be distinguished 
from all other small waders by the absence of a hind toe is of 
small value unless the bird is in the hand ; it is not easy to say, 
toe or no toe, on such quickly moving legs. But the grey, 
almost pearly, winter dress, is whiter than that of any other 
wader ; in a good light, winter Sanderlings look white spots on 
the yellow sand. If summer plumage has been partially attained 
it is more like a Dunlin with a short bill, but it never has the 



SANDERLING. 1 49 

black on the under parts. The quick flight, often with quivering 
wings, is rather like that of the Common Sandpiper, but the bird 
is not always in a hurry to fly. A number of Sanderlings will 
run along the beach more quickly than a man can walk, and 
finally skim out over the water to settle behind the disturber. 
As the bird runs it will often uplift its wings, holding them with 
the tips pointed skyward. 

The first immigrants, usually in quite small parties, arrive 
about the middle of July, but in August the flocks are often 
large. They do not cling to the tide-line, but scatter over the 
beach at low water, working the shallow, slowly draining pools. 
Most of the earlier birds show warm chestnut in their dress, and 
the birds of the year, which have hurried from the short Arctic 
summer, have the necks and breasts tinged with buff. Later in 
August the chestnut markings are lost, and for a time adult birds 
have very black backs. In the same flock in September I have 
seen some in full winter grey, whilst others were very black and 
white. Even in October a few birds retain traces of warm 
colour, for like the Dunlin this bird is irregular in its changes, 
and often moults slowly. The returning birds arrive towards 
the end of March, and in April many are still grey^ but by early 
June most are in nuptial garments. Perhaps more than other 
waders, the Sanderling varies its diet of marine invertebrates 
with vegetable fragments, picking up bits of seaweed or the 
buds and tender shoots of littoral plants. The note in flight is 
a sharp qiiik^ qiiik^ and on the beach a rapid wee^ wee, whit. 

The upper parts in summer are warm chestnut, streaked and 
speckled on the head and breast, and variegated with black, 
grey, and white on back and wings ; the lateral tail-coverts and 
under parts below the breast are white. In winter the upper 
parts are delicate French grey with darker but not very distinct 
shaft streaks ; the quills are greyish brown. A line above the 
eye and the under parts are white. Young in autumn are 
spotted with black, white, and buff on the back and wings, and 



150 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

have the upper breast tinged with buff. The bill and legs are 
black, and the irides dark brown. Length, 8 ins. Wing, 47 ins. 
Tarsus, o'S in. 



Sub-family TOTANIN.^:. Sandpipers, Godwits, and 
Curlews. 

Bill straight or curved ; legs usually long ; four toes, hind toe 
elevated ; two or three anterior toes united at base. 

Ruif. Machetes pugnax (Linn.). 

The Ruff (Plate 62), formerly an abundant nesting species 
in Britain, was practically wiped out during the first half of the 
nineteenth century ; it was good to eat, and easy to kill when 
obsessed with its spring madness ; so soon as it was rare the 
collectors took care that no eggs were hatched. By 1880 very 
few nesting pairs remained, and during the last forty years, 
though birds have occasionally attempted to nest, most of the 
eggs laid are in private collections. The breeding range includes 
much of northern Europe and north-western Asia, and in those 
parts of Holland w^here the bird is protected it is plentiful. It 
winters in Africa and southern Asia, and in Britain is now a 
regular though hardly abundant passage migrant in autumn 
and spring. As a spring visitor it is more frequent in the 
eastern counties than elsewhere, but it is by no means rare in 
autumn in the west. Occasionally birds are noticed in winter 
and summer months. 

When, between April and the end of June, the male is in full 
dress, with frill and head tufts, he is unique, but no description 
of plumage can include all variations of colour that he sports; 
he is our most variable bird. The Reeve, the female, is more 
stable, and in winter the Ruff resembles her ; she is a little like the 
Redshank, but can always be told by the dark secondaries and 



--N^ 



""^^f^ 





Sanderling-. 
Common Sandpiper. 



L ir 



RUFF. 151 

rump. The neatly patterned back and wings, due to the buff 
and grey feather margins, are, however, particularly striking. 
Though often seen on the shore, the bird is frequent by inland 
waters, visiting lakes, reservoirs, and sewage farms on migration, 
and lingering where food is plentiful if permitted ; it feeds 
largely on insects and worms. It is quick on the wing, often 
rising high if flushed. In spring and autumn I have seen it 
with Redshanks ; it rose silently, they did not. Indeed, it is at 
all times a silent bird, and I have never heard its note, described 
as tu-whit, or by Macpherson as a "loud shrill whistle." It is 
said to croak when displaying, but when I have watched the 
display of aviary birds I have noticed no sound. Its carriage 
when feeding is erect, and if suspicious the neck is straightened, 
but it does not jerk like a nervous Redshank. It will probe 
the mud, though not so deeply as a Snipe. I find it described 
as a nocturnal feeder, but 1 have watched it feeding by day 
on a Norfolk marsh, on Lancashire sewage farms, and Cheshire 
meres. 

Though it may be that females are more numerous than 
males, the bird is not exactly polygamous ; promiscuous sexual 
intercourse seems usual ; pairing does not necessarily imply 
permanent mating. The specific name, pugnax, refers to the 
habits during display, but though there is much " You hit me 
first ! " in its behaviour, little actual fighting is indulged in ; the 
bird shows off its frill and " ear " tufts to full advantage, and 
tries to look fierce, but its aggressive rushes end in bluff if its 
rival refuses to move. The attitudes assumed during display 
are ludicrous, for the bird will crouch on the tarsus, with bill 
resting on the ground, ruff spread and tufts uplifted, and thus 
pose before either the Reeve or a rival Ruff. Often the wings 
are spread flat upon the ground. The Reeves appear to be 
rather bored, but doubtless do make selection, and their choice 
must be varied, for no two Ruffs are exactly alike. When the 
bird is not displaying, the frill lies back and is not conspicuous. 



152 THE r.IRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The nest is well concealed in long herbage ; the bird shown 
on Plate 60 was photographed by Miss Turner in 1907, and is 
perhaps the last authenticated case of nesting in England. It 
is true that the bird formerly nested in Lancashire, as Mr. R. J. 
Howard showed, but the statement that eggs were laid in the 
county in 1910 has not been confirmed ; the evidence, so far 
as was made public, rests on the identification of eggs said 
to have been taken in Lancashire. The four pyriform eggs 
show considerable variation in ground and markings ; they are 
laid in May or June. The nestlings have buff and chestnut 
down, streaked and barred with black, and frosted with white. 

In spring the face of the Ruff is covered with rough warty 
and usually yellowish skin ; on the head are two erectile 
bunches of long feathers, and a flowing frill hangs from the 
neck ; the tufts and frill may or may not agree in colour, and 
may be purple, red, brown, black, or Avhite, be plain or barred 
or streaked with some other colour. The variation also extends 
to the head, breast, and upper parts generally. There is, how- 
ever, a conspicuous white patch on either side of the upper 
tail-coverts which appears to be constant in both male and 
female, and the central tail-coverts are almost invariably 
barred. The Reeve is greyish brown, spotted with black, the 
grey-edged spots forming regular streaks on the mantle. The 
neck, flanks, and breast are greyer and mottled with black ; 
the rest of the under parts are white. In winter the sexes are 
alike, except in size, the male being much the larger ; the upper 
parts are ashy, with dark spots, and the under parts white, 
except on the neck and breast, which are streaked. The upper 
parts of the young are variegated with black, brown, and buff, 
and the breast is dull buff, but the same neatness of pattern 
shows on the back. The white tips of the secondaries form a 
narrow wing bar. The bill is not always straight ; I have 
twice seen it almost as much curved as that of the Curlew 
Sandpiper; this was especially noticeable in a bird which 



BARTRAM'S SANDPIPER. I 53 

Mr. T. Baddeley and I watched when it was feeding alongside 
some Curlew Sandpipers. The colour of the legs is generally 
described as yellow, brownish yellow, or orange, but though 
each is correct for certain males, the variation applies to soft 
p-irts as well as plumage. I have seen one Rutf in autumn 
with reddish-yellow legs, but the majority of adult birds and 
young that I have examined or seen at close-enough quarters 
to be sure about colour, had legs varying from greenish grey to 
olive brown or lead colour. Gould figures his immature bird 
with lead-blue legs, and the Reeve in summer dress with 
greenish grey. IVIost writers seem to have overlooked or 
ignored Montagu's pertinent remark that when identifying a 
Ruff at any age, " neither the colour of the bill, nor the legs, is 
to be depended upon." The irides also var}% usually brownish 
with a greenish or reddish cast. Male: Length, 12*5 ins. 
Wing, 7*25 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. Female : Length, 10 ins. 
Wing, 6 ins. Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper. Ereunetes pusillus (Linn.). 

There is a single British record for the Semipalmated Sand- 
piper, a small wader, not unlike a Little Stint, but with the 
toes connected by slight webs at the base. An immature bird, 
recorded as shot in Kent in September 1907, was identified by 
Dr. N. F. Ticehurst. Length, 6 ins. Wing, 3-9 ins. Tarsus, 
o*95 in. 

Bar tram's Sandpiper. Bariraviia longlcaiida (Bechst.). 

As a visitor to the British Isles, Bartram's Sandpiper, another 
American species, well known to wander on migration, is rare 
and irregular, but certainly deserves a place as a British bird. 
Ever since it was first recognised in 1851, it has appeared at 
intervals and in widely scattered localities from Northumber- 
land to Cornwall, and at least twice in Ireland. Most of the 



154 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

occurrences have been in autumn or early winter, but it has 
been reported in July. It is a large sandpiper, blackish brown 
on the head, where there is a median buff streak ; the dark- 
brown upper parts are barred with black and most of the 
feathers have buff margins. The rump is blackish brown, the 
rather long tail buff, barred with black, and white tipped. 
Conspicuous arrow-head marks show on the buff breast and 
bars on the flanks ; the chin and abdomen are white. Winter 
birds are yellower, and the young more rufous. The bill is 
yellowish, darker at the tip, the legs dull yellow, and the irides 
brown. Length, 12 ins. Wing, 6'8 ins. Tarsus, I'S ins. 

Redshank. Trifiga totamis (Linn.). 

The noisy, restless Redshank (Plate 64) is a resident and 
abundant passage migrant and winter visitor to all parts of the 
coast ; it has greatly increased in recent years. Abroad it 
breeds throughout Europe and Asia, wintering so far south as 
the Cape and the Malays. Not only does the bird nest freely 
on coastwise marshes and saltings, but during the last decade 
it has established itself in many far inland haunts, nesting in 
damp meadows as well as marshes. Most writers say that it 
is rare in Wales ; in some locaHties it is plentiful. 

The Redshank is easily recognised. It announces its 
presence by a triple call — ///, ///, ee — or a long, plaintive lyuj 
well suggested by one of its local names, " Teuke." It stands, 
bobbing in sandpiper fashion, dipping its head and breast as if 
hinged on its long red legs, and, when it takes wing, shows a 
white lower back and an even more distinctive broad white 
border to the wing, formed by the white secondaries and the 
white on the inner primaries. Although a greyish-brown, red- 
legged bird when feeding, it looks very black and white in 
flight. In March there is an increase of birds at the breeding 
stations, and in April and May a strong northward movement. 




• ^ 



-."ff 




/y. 62. 



Ruffs and Reeve. 



L 152. 








i 




lix^^. 



REDSHANK. 1 55 

In August immature birds appear on the shore, and in 
September southward migration is in full swing ; in favourable 
localities large flocks remain all winter. Grass-lands and 
saltings, mud-flats and sandy shores, even rocky coasts, are 
frequented, and no wader more frequently visits the sewage farms. 
Insects, molluscs, and crustaceans are its food ; I have seen it 
with Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings following the plough. 
In shore pools it wades belly deep, and swims easily, but at 
high tide it awaits the ebb on rocks, shingle, or sand, acting as 
a sentinel for its less wide awake companions, for it is ever on 
the alert, ready to take alarm. Its flight is swift and erratic, 
an4 it calls loudly as it flies. 

In nuptial flight the Redshank dances in the air, rising on 
quivering wings, yodeling a long trilling tchit^ tchu^ tchu, with 
emphasis on the /. It drops a few feet and rises, again and 
again, dancing above one particular spot like a gnat in sun- 
shine. As it descends, still triUing, gliding diagonally earth- 
ward, the wings are bowed, the tips held downward. If the 
nesting area is invaded the notes change to a yelping, scolding 
tuik, tuik^ and it mobs the intruder long after he has passed 
the danger zone. I have seen half a dozen or more Redshanks 
fly yelling after a passing Harrier, a Kestrel, and even a harm- 
less Cuckoo. The nest, which is usually in a dry spot, though 
sometimes in wet marsh, is often well concealed by the sur- 
rounding grass or rushes (Plate 63) ; the bird interweaves the 
ends of the grass so as to form a tent-like screen. Other nests 
are quite open ; in one colony on sheep-cropped saltings all 
were exposed, and in another, two had thick tents, one a loose 
tunnel of rushes, and others had no cover. During display, 
when not in the air, the male will trip lightly towards the 
female, stiffly holding up the pointed wings, so as to exhibit 
the white under surface. Though so wary, the bird is often a 
close sitter ; there are many recorded instances of females 
Vv'hich would allow themselves to be taken in the hand rather 



156 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

than leave the eggs. The eggs (Plate 54), normally four, are 
laid in March or April ; they var)', but a not unusual type is like 
a small egg of the Lapwing with a very light ground. The 
nestlings, which crouch for concealment like other waders, are 
rich buff, with black lines or curves on the head and back. 
The legs are very pale yellow, and the bill blackish olive. 

In summer dress the upper parts are brown, barred, speckled 
and streaked with darker brown ; the streaked neck and breast 
are paler, and the flanks are barred. At all seasons and any 
age the lower back is white, the upper tail-coverts and tail are 
white barred with black, and the axillaries and under wing- 
coverts are white. The general colour is more ashy in winter, 
and the under parts are purer ; the upper parts of the immature 
bird are buffer, and the streaks are more marked on the breast 
and flanks, but the most marked difference is in the colour of 
the legs, w^hich are yellow. These in the adult bird are 
orange-red, as is the base of the bill, the tip being black. 
The irides are blackish brown. Length, 12 ins. Wing, 6*5 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*9 ins. 

Spotted Redshank. Tr'uiga maadata (Tun St.). 

The Spotted or Dusky Redshank (Plate 64) is a rare visitor 
on passage from its Arctic European or Asiatic home to winter 
quarters in Africa ; it also occurs on the northward migration, 
and has been recorded in the winter months. Though irregular, 
it has most frequently been noticed in south-eastern counties, 
but has occasionally occurred in the west, and in Scotland and 
Ireland. April, May, and June, and August and September, 
are the months when most have been seen. 

The Spotted is a larger, taller bird than the Common Red- 
shank ; its bill and legs are longer. It can always be told from 
the commoner bird, even in the field when its red legs might 
confuse, by the secondaries, which are barred with black and 



GREATER YELLOVVSHANK. 1 5/ 

grey-brown, so that they do not show as a conspicuous white 
band. The central tail feathers also differ, being ashy grey or 
brown, but with obscure bars. Its habits and food are 
practically those of the Redshank, though it is said to haunt 
the shore less frequently, and many of the records are from 
inland localities, but nowadays the Common Redshank is 
very much an inland as well as shore species. Its call-note, 
however, is distinct to any one familiar with the Redshank's 
voice ; Mr. C. Oldham writes it tchuet^ and Dr. Patten — 
tii-whee-te. 

In summer the bird is indeed a Dusky Redshank, for the 
general colour of both upper and under parts is blackish. On 
the back and wings, which are tinged with brown, are the white 
flecks which give it the name Spotted. The rump and upper 
tail-coverts are barred with black and white ; the centre of the 
tail is brownish grey, faintly barred. The base of the bill and 
the legs are dark red, much duller than in winter ; the irides are 
dark brown. The winter bird more closely resembles the 
Common Redshank, especially as its legs are more orange-red, 
but the upper parts are flecked with triangular white marks ; the 
distinction of the secondaries and tail holds good. The under 
parts and the under surface of the wing are white. The young 
bird in autumn has the upper parts as in the winter dress but 
browner, and the throat, breast, and flanks are grey with 
darker markings. A noticeable dark streak passes through the 
eye, showing up a white superciliary stripe. Length, 13 ins. 
Wing, 6"5 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 



Greater Yellowshank. Tringa melanokuca (Gmelin). 

The Greater Yellowshank, a North American bird, where it 
is sometimes called the " Winter Yellowlegs," has occurred 
once, in September, on the Scilly Isles, and has been reported 
from Warwick and Sussex. It is a larger bird than the Red- 



158 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

shank, and distinguished by its bright yellow legs, and from the 
Greenshank, which it approaches in size and plumage, by its 
greyish brown, not white, rump, and its barred upper tail- 
coverts and axillaries. Its dusky-brown rump differs from 
that of the Yellowshank or "Summer Yellowlegs," which is 
white, barred with brown. The bill is blackish, the irides 
brown. Length, 14 ins. Wing, 775 ins. Tarsus, 2-5 ins. 

Yellowshank. Tringa flavipes (Gmelin). 

The American " Summer Yellowlegs " is a much smaller 
bird, which Seebohm likens to a large Wood-Sandpiper. 
Immature Redshanks, with their yellow legs, have been re- 
ported as Yellowshanks, but the secondaries are dark, so that 
no broad white wing border shows in flight ; a further dis- 
tinction is that the axillaries are barred. The bird has 
occurred on migration two or three times in England and once 
on Fair Island. Length, 1075 ins. Wing, 6*4 ins. Tarsus, 
2 ins. 

Marsh-Sandpiper. Tringa sfagnatilis (Bechst.). 

The Marsh-Sandpiper inhabits southern Siberia and some 
parts of south-eastern Europe, but it has seldom wandered to 
Britain. One was obtained in autumn at Tring, and three have 
since been recorded from Sussex in spring and summer. Mr. 
M. J. Nicholl, who knows the bird in Eg^-pt, says that it is 
not unlike a small Greenshank with the call and flight of the 
Wood-Sandpiper, from which it may be distinguished by its 
paler colour and longer legs. It is a grey and greyish-brown 
bird with white under parts in winter, but in summer the 
breast is spotted and the upper parts show decided black 
marks ; like the Greenshank, it has a slightly recurved bill, 
greenish brown in colour, and the legs are dark greenish, the 
irides brown. Length, io'5 ins. Wing, 5*3 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 





Redshank. 
Spotted Redshank. 



L 158. 



GREENSHANK. 1 59 

Greenshank. Tringa nehilaria (Gnnner.). 

In northern Europe and Asia the Greenshank (Plate 66) 
nests south of the Arctic circle, and it visits southern Europe 
and Africa in winter ; in most parts of the British Isles it is 
a regular though seldom abundant passage migrant, joining 
other waders on the shore and frequently appearing on inland 
waters. In the north of Scotland, and on a number of Scottish 
islands, it nests in small numbers. A few birds winter in 
Ireland and, more rarely, in England. 

The long, slightly uptilted bill of the Greenshank is usually a 
character by which we can separate it from the Redshanks 
with which it often feeds, but it is a longer-legged, larger bird, 
and when it rises, though the white rump is very conspicuous, 
shows no white wing border, for its secondaries are brown. Its 
pose, too, is different, the body being held horizontal, at right 
angles to its legs, which has the effect of making it look a much 
longer bird. Though alert enough, it has little of the nervous 
ducking action so characteristic of the Redshank. In winter it 
is a greyer bird, and in summer its back is blacker. It flies 
quickly, and though quieter than the ever-noisy Redshank, has 
a clear and distinctive call — choo-tchoo-tckoo — each note well 
emphasised. Occasionally this is a double chee-weet on rising. 
The Greenshank reaches its Scottish breeding grounds early, 
and possibly those which first visit the western shores, some- 
times by the middle of February, are Scottish birds, slowly 
working their way north. Passage migration continues through- 
out April and May. I have seen a returning bird on a Cheshire 
mere before the end of July, and from then until October 
migrants pass, singly or in small parties, sometimes halting for 
several days on the sewage farms or the shallower inland 
pools. The usual wader diet is varied by the capture of small 
fish ; Macpherson noticed this on the Solway, and Dr. Patten 
found the bird feeding on sand-eels. Mr. C. Oldham watched 



l6o THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

a bird on a Cheshire reservoir chasing the small silvery fry of 
some fresh-water fish, and catching one at nearly every rush 
through the shallows. 

The nest is a slight structure, little more than a depression in 
the turf, amongst rocks, in heather, or open grass-land, but 
usually near water. The four buft", beautifully marked eggs 
(Plate 154) are a temptation to collectors ; they are generally 
laid in May. The young in down are light buff, blotched and 
streaked with black. The anxious parent reveals the presence 
of young by flying round with wild cries, or, like the Redshank, 
perches on a mound or rock and keeps up a continuous 
mournful warning note. 

In summer the grey head is streaked with dark brown, the 
mantle is blackish, the rump white, and the tail is mottled and 
barred with brown, but never so distinctly as that of the 
Redshank. The under parts are white, wdth ashy streaks and 
spots on the breast and flanks. The bill is blackish, the legs 
are olive-green, and the irides dark brown. The whole of the 
upper parts are greyer in winter, and the under parts are a 
purer white. Young birds have hght-brown or buff fringes 
to the feathers of the back and mantle, and the flanks and 
breast are lined with blackish grey. Length, 13 ins. Wing, 
7'5 ins. Tarsus, 2*25 ins. 

Common Sandpiper. Tri?iga hypokitca Linn. 

The Common Sandpiper (Plate 61) is a summer visitor to 
the British Isles, usually arriving in April, rarely at the end of 
March, and generally leaving in September. It breeds through- 
out Europe and northern Asia, and winters further south, 
occasionally reaching the Cape, Australia, and Tasmania. It 
nests abundantly in Scotland and the greater part of Ireland, 
and in all the northern counties of England, and the whole of 
Wales, is common, but except in the south-west is best known 
in southern shires as a passage visitor. 





2 ri. 66 



Greenshank. 
Red-breasted Snipe. 



'^■ 






^ 



t\ 



Ml 















iv 




lteVAi.1^^ 



C''**^i^*i 




COMMON SANDPIPER. l6l 

The graceful " Summer Snipe," with its cheery note as it 
skims over the northern river, lake, or loch, needs little descrip- 
tion ; the only birds with which it may be confused are the 
Green and Wood-Sandpipers, both of which have white rumps. 
Most of the Common Sandpipers have left before these 
autumn birds appear. Though nesting on lowland streams 
and pools this bird is the sandpiper of the hills, delight- 
inc^ in the clear trout-streams where its companions are the 
Dipper and Grey Wagtail. It seldom haunts the coast until 
autumn. The hills are usually deserted before the end of July; 
indeed, in this month small parties, probably families, reach 
the lowland streams and shore, and early in August emigration 
begins. Actual migration often takes place at night, for the 
familiar calls of birds keeping touch with one another are not 
uncommon on autumn nights. Most birds leave the north 
before the end of August, though stragglers may pass for a 
month or more ; in Cornwall and Devon a few occasionally 
winter. 

When the Sandpiper reaches its summer haunts it settles on 
its own reach of the river or stretch of lake-side ; there it wades 
in the shallows, catching gammarids and other crustaceans, small 
worms and the larvae of insects. If approached it will stand 
jerking its tail and nodding its head. Suddenly it takes wing, 
its course over the water a semicircle, its wing-beats strong and 
decided, alternating with a sharp downward stroke when for a 
moment the down-bent primaries perceptibly quiver. During 
this characteristic flight the long rippling whistle is uttered, a 
call from which the bird gets two local names — " Kittie-Needie" 
and " Willy-wicket " ; either of these, repeated quickly two or 
three times, gives a better idea of the note than many of the 
attempts to express it by a combination of letters. Courtship 
begins immediately after arrival. The male bird trills a love- 
song, either when on the wing, when the down-pointed tips 
vibrate rapidly but actual progress is slow, or when running, 

Series II. M 



l62 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

with wings stiffly uplifted, along some wall or rail. He will 
circle round the female in wide sweeps, alight and trip 
towards her, wings uplifted, or chase her over the bank and 
sand ; I have seen one run, following every turn and dodge she 
made to evade him, for fully ten minutes without a stop. When 
at last she took wing he followed, still trilling, and the two 
performed a high quick flight, in which the turns and swerves 
were almost as erratic as those of the Snipe. The trill, 
especially when the excited bird sings from an elevated perch, 
is varied by a plaintive pipe, a single note very like the warning 
call to the young. 

The nest (Plate 65) is in various situations, but usually at 
no great distance from water. I have seen it, well lined with 
dead leaves, hidden beneath a thick patch of brambles, in the 
centre of a whimberry clump, amongst scree on a Welsh moor, 
in a dense wood, in grass close to a trodden pathway, and, a 
mere almost unlined hollow, on a garden lawn. The four buff 
eggs (Plate 54) are speckled or blotched, rather sparsely, with 
brown, and the shell has a decided polish ; they are usually 
laid in May. The young, clothed in pale-grey down, marbled 
with black (Plate 67), crouch like other juvenile waders, but 
often betray themselves by a feeble pipe in answer to the 
parental clamour. The behaviour of the sitting bird varies ; I 
have known one female shriek like an alarmed Starling as she 
squattered along the ground with trailing wings and expanded 
tail, and the following day slip quietly from the nest without 
demonstration. 

The general colour of the upper parts is greenish brown, the 
feathers of the mantle having dark centres and margins. The 
barred secondaries are edged with white, forming a bar, con- 
spicuous in flight. The outer tail leathers are white, barred 
with brown, and the streaked breast, neck, and cheeks are light 
brown. A line above the eye, the chin, and under parts below 
the breast are white. The bill is brown, the legs greenish, the 



SPOTTED SANDPIPER. 163 

irides almost black. The young bird is a darker brown, and 
the sexes are alike, though the breasts of some males certainly 
look darker in the field. Length, 8 ins. Wing, 4*25 ins. 
Tarsus, o'8 in. 

Spotted Sandpiper. Tr'mga macularia Linn. 

Truth owes much to Mr. J. H. Gurney for investigating the 
history of the Spotted Sandpiper. The result is astonishing ; 
record after record was discredited, due to error in identifica- 
tion or deliberate fraud. The bird nests in Canada and the 
States, and winters in the West Indies and South America, and, 
as Mr. Gurney points out, is as likely to wander as many other 
waders which have certainly reached us from America, but 
as it has been confused with so different a bird as the Green 
Sandpiper, and in certain cases American skins have been 
palmed off as British, every record is suspicious. Two of the 
birds, provisionally accepted by Mr. Gurney and Seebohm, 
though correctly identified, I have reason to doubt ; these are 
the Lancashire specimens. Seven or eight are accepted as 
genuine by the B.O.U. Committee. Seebohm, however, points 
out that if any of the adult birds are genuine it is probable 
that some reach us in immature dress and are unrecognised, 
since the majority of American wanderers are immature. 

The bird is a little smaller than the Common Sandpiper, 
which it closely resembles, except that in summer its back and 
wings are more decidedly barred with brown, and its under 
parts are spotted with black. These spots are less distinct in 
winter, and are absent in the young bird, but the most constant 
distinction is that the broad brown bar on the secondaries is 
continuous in the Spotted Sandpiper, but interrupted in the 
Common, which has the eighth and ninth feathers nearly white. 
A photograph of the wing is shown in " British Birds " (Mag.), 
vol. iii. p. yr]. The bill is greenish, yellower at the base. 



l64 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the legs pinkish, and the irides brown. Length, 7 ins. Wing, 
4*2 ins. Tarsus, 075 in. 



Green Sandpiper. Tringa ochropus Linn. 

As a passage migrant the Green Sandpiper (Plate 68) occurs 
in all parts of the British Isles, including the island outposts. 
It breeds throughout northern Europe and central Asia and 
winters in Africa and southern Asia, occasionally reaching 
Australia. It is an uncommon winter visitor, and, rarely, 
remains all summer ; indeed, it has occurred in every month in 
the year. 

Reports that the Common Sandpiper has been seen in winter 
are generally referable to the Green, though it is larger, and 
can, even when at rest, be told by its white upper tail-coverts 
and strongly barred tail. On the wing the white lower back 
shows very clearly ; this, contrasted with the dark back and 
wings, makes the bird look black and white. In flight it may 
be distinguished from the Wood-Sandpiper by the sooty under 
surface of the wing ; in the Wood it is greyish white. The 
Green Sandpiper seldom frequents the shore ; it is an inland 
species, haunting the borders of rivers and small streams, lakes, 
and even small ponds. Easily flushed, it rises high, towering to 
a great height with strong beats of its sharply angled wings, and 
with many Snipe-like turns and careens. Almost invariably it 
calls on rising, a loud, clear toie^ toie, toie^ with a rounder, fuller 
<?-sound than the call of the Redshank. Though it does not as 
a rule alight within sight, it will return to the same spot when 
the coast is clear, sometimes in less than half an hour ; day after 
day it frequents one pond or river reach. Occasionally two or 
three birds will feed near together, but as a rule it is solitary ; 
flocks, very rarely large, are only seen during migration. 

In May and June, August and September, the bird is 
commonest, but wintering Greens will haunt one spot for 



WOOD-SANDPIPER. 165 

weeks at a time ; in some years — for it is irregular in appear- 
ance — I have been sure of a bird in certain places any day 
during December, January, and February. Not only are there 
many records for July, but it has often been suspected that 
pairs were nesting, and there is circumstantial evidence that 
young have been seen. Perhaps the best evidence, though 
unfortunately second hand, is that of Mr. H. W. Robinson and 
Mr. J. H. Gurney, who believe that young were seen in West- 
morland and Norfolk in 191 7. In Yorkshire a Green Sand- 
piper was shot when flying down from an old nest in a tree, 
but the gamekeeper who killed the bird had no idea that the 
normal habit of this species is to use a deserted squirrel drey 
or bird's nest as a platform for its eggs. Many sandpipers 
perch on branches, but this is the only regular arboreal nester. 
The streaked head of the Green Sandpiper is greyish brown, 
its back and wings greenish brown with a bronze gloss and 
numerous white spots. The upper tail-coverts are white, and 
the central tail feathers white with broad blackish-brown bands 
towards the tip ; the outer pair are white and those between 
have less complete bars. In the hand the bird can be dis- 
tinguished from the Wood-Sandpiper by its axillaries, which 
are black with fine white chevron bars, whereas in the Wood 
they are white with grey specks and a narrow subterminal 
chevron. The breast and neck are greyish brown, the chin 
and rest of the under parts white. The bill is dark brown, the 
legs green, and the irides almost black. The white spots are 
smaller and fewer in winter, and the under parts are purer 
white, and in the immature bird the spots are huffish and the 
feathers of the mantle are margined with yellowish brown. 
Length, 9'5 ins. Wing, 5*5 ins. Tarsus, 1*25 ins. 

Wood-Sandpiper. Tringa glarcola Linn. 

The range abroad of the Wood-Sandpiper roughly corre- 
sponds with that of the Green, but in the British Isles it is 



l66 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

a less regular and frequent passage migrant, and though an 
annual visitor to Fair Island, is rare in Scotland and Ireland. 

The Wood-Sandpiper (Plate 68) is a little larger than the 
Common and smaller than the Green, but, in proportion to its 
size, its legs are much longer ; it resembles a small, slender 
Green Sandpiper with very long legs. On the wing it is not so 
black and white in appearance, for though the upper tail- 
coverts show as a white patch their centres are darker, and the 
feathers of the tail are barred throughout, whereas in the Green 
the bases are white. In flight, however, the much lighter under 
surface of the wing is apparent. Like the Green it haunts 
inland pools, streams, and marshes rather than the shore, but 
often near the coast. In western counties, where it is more 
regular than books suggest, it occurs on the borders of meres 
and in sewage farms ; the food of both Green and Wood differs 
little from that of other waders. On the mud it runs quickly, 
showing its barred flanks, and if flushed rises smartly, often to 
a height, but with less twisting and dodging. One that I put 
up gave a triple call when it rose, sharper and less full than the 
alarm of the Green, but not unlike a feeble imitation of the 
Redshank. When on the ground it dips and jerks hke a 
Common Sandpiper. 

The bird seldom arrives in spring before April or Hngers 
until June, but immature birds have been recorded in July and 
passage continues until October. It does not winter with us; 
but not only has it been seen in summer, but there is evidence 
that it was at one time a nesting species in one or two 
localities. A nestling was taken in Norfolk in 1846, and in 
1853 Hancock discovered the eggs in Prestwick Carr, Northum- 
berland, and the bird was shot to prove the species ; a report 
of the nest in Elgin is not generally accepted. Like other 
sandpipers the bird often perches, and on the Yenesei Mr. 
H. L. Popham and Miss Haviland found it nesting in trees. 
Seebohm heard something in the nuptial trill which suggested 





2 PL 68. 



Green Sandpiper. 
Wood Sandpiper. 



J/ 1 66. 









2 /'.'. 69. 



.1/ K'7- 



Black-tailed Godwit on ncbt. 



SOLITARY SANDPIPER. 167 

to him the Grasshopper Warbler, but to Adamson's ears, when 
he heard it in Northumberland, it sounded like the twittering 
of the Swallow. 

The general plumage resembles that of the Green Sandpiper, 
but has less gloss, and the white spots are more profuse and 
larger. The outer primary has a white shaft ; in the Green 
this is dusky ; the axillaries, as already explained, differ. The 
spots on the back of the young bird are larger, and the axil- 
laries are without brown marks. The bill and irides are dark 
brown. The legs, variously described as clay-coloured, olive, 
and yellow, were yellowish green in a bird I examined immedi- 
ately after death. Length, 8*8 ins. Wing, 5 ins. Tarsus, 
I "5 ins. 

Solitary Sandpiper. Tringa soHtaria Wilson. 

The Sohtary Sandpiper is a small American Green Sand- 
piper which has occurred about half a dozen times in England 
and Scotland between the months of July and October as a 
rule, but it has been reported in April and May. It is the 
" Wood-Tattler " in some part of America. 

The main points in which this bird differs from ours are 
that its rump and central tail-coverts are very dark brown, 
almost black. This character shows when the bird rises, and 
by it the Duchess of Bedford identified a bird in Kent, which 
until it rose she thought was a Green. The central tail feathers 
are olive-black, notched with white along the margins, the 
outer ones broadly barred with black, and the white bars on 
the dark axillaries are wider than in the Green. The habits 
of the bird appear to correspond closely with those of our 
Green and Wood-Sandpipers. The bill and legs are greenish, 
and the irides dark brown. Length, 8*25 ins. Wing, 5*2 ins. 
Tarsus, vi ins. 



l68 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 



Grey-rumped Sandpiper. Tr'mga inavia brcvipes (VieilL). 

In 1914 a male and female Grey-rumped Sandpiper were 
reported as killed in Sussex, and the species was added to the 
British list. It is an eastern Siberian species, which Mr. 
Witherby says resembles the Knot in winter dress, except that 
it lacks the barring- on rump and tail-coverts. 
Wing, 6'5 ins. Tarsus, 1*4 ins. 



Red-breasted Snipe. MacrorhampJms grisens (Gmelin). 

The Red-breasted Snipe (Plate 66), the " Dowitcher" of 
some parts of America, nests in the northern parts of that 
continent and migrates to the West Indies and Brazil. Over 
a score have wandered to the British Isles since it was first 
recorded in Devon in 1801. All the occurrences have been on 
autumn passage. 

In its marked seasonal change of plumage this bird is like 
the Godwits and Knot, but it is from its long bill, with a 
swollen and pitted tip, and from a superficial resemblance in 
its summer dress, that it has been named Snipe. The general 
colour of the upper parts in summer is blackish with chestnut 
mottles and feather edgings, on the face and under parts it is 
rufous and spotted with black ; the wings are greyer, and the 
lower back and tail white barred with greyish black and buff. 
In winter the upper parts are ashy grey, and the under parts 
white, tinged with grey on the breast. The plumage of the 
young bird is not unlike the summer-dress, but rather greyer, 
and with more conspicuous pale brown or chestnut markings ; 
there is a tinge of buff on the breast. The bill and legs are 
olive, the irides dark brown. Length, 10 ins. Wing, 5 "5 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 



BAR-TAILED GODWIT. 169 

Bar-tailed Godwit. Limosa lapponka (Linn.). 

The two Godwits are birds of passage, one, the Bar-tailed 
(Plate 71), abundant, the other, the Black-tailed, comparatively- 
scarce ; yet the latter formerly bred in England and nests in 
western Europe, whilst the former, though nesting only in 
the far north in Europe and Asia, is sometimes present at all 
seasons. Many of the birds which visit us winter in Africa, but 
in m.ost years some go no further south than Britain. Plentiful 
though the Godwit is, its visits are irregular ; under certain 
circumstances, probably due to the wind being in the wrong 
quarter, the migrating Bar-tails seem to miss our shores, or to 
pass without stopping to rest. 

The Godwits are tall waders, distinguished, when at a 
distance, from Curlews by their straight, actually uptilted, and 
not downward curved bills. There are no other shore birds 
like them, but it is not always easy to tell one from the other. 
The tail marks, as implied by the names, are good characters, 
if visible, but a bird on the shore makes no special effort to 
advertise its salient points ; the tail of the present species is 
not always barred, the actual tail feathers are grey in winter, 
but the black tail is constant and usually conspicuous. If the 
two species are together there is no difficulty, for the legs and, 
usually, the bill of the Black-tailed Godwit are longer than in 
the other ; it towers above its companions. Even in winter, 
however, the upper tail-coverts of the Bar-tailed show bars, 
and the young birds, which form the bulk of the autumn flocks, 
have decided bars. The bills of Bar-tailed Godwits vary greatly, 
as a rule from three to five inches. 

In East Anglia the Godwit seldom appears in numbers until 
early May, but on the Lancashire seaboard, where it is far 
more abundant than most accounts suggest, very large numbers 
appear in April, and the regular winter flocks are by no means 
small. In June there are few left, though a sprinkling of non- 



I/O THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

breeders often remain until, in August, the buff-breasted young 
of the year appear. From then until well into October, on all 
suitable parts of our coasts, Godwits abound ; often flocks 
number thousnnds of individuals. Tidal ooze or sandbanks 
are the favourite feeding grounds of the Godwit. The food, 
marine invertebrates, may be picked up with the tip of the bill 
and rapidly jerked up until swallowed, be intercepted as they 
seek to hide themselves in the sand, or be probed for nostril 
deep. The upward tilt of the bill, as well as its length, varies, 
but it is always visible ; at times the bird sweeps its bill 
through the shallow pools like an Avocet. As the tide rises 
Godwits congregate with Knots and Oyster-catchers along the 
sand at the edge of the water, and, until the ebb, rest in dense 
packs. As a rule they keep on the sea side of the crowd, 
their long legs allowing them to wade deeply ; they will stand 
on one leg, slowly hopping sideways up the shore as the 
water rises. When the tide turns the pack rises with a great 
rush of wings and flies, with strong wing-beats and with neck 
bent and head sunk in the shoulders, to the exposed banks, 
and there, walking rather deliberately with bill more or less 
horizontal, scatter to feed. Before alighting the flock will 
often perform rapid and complicated evolutions, turning and 
twisting, and shooting diagonally towards the beach with 
an angular twist before alighting, which a friend aptly calls 
"side-slipping." Reefs and rocky islets are often crowded 
with Godwits at high tide, and, as the birds are driven 
from the banks, become congested areas ; yet fresh arrivals 
come in and, lowering their long legs, drop into the mob. 
Those on the outskirts leap into the air, and with a flicker 
of wings drop where the crush is already great, so tbat these 
" resting " packs are in a continuous state of disturbance. 
Perhaps it is from this habit that the bird gets a misleading 
local aame — " Stone-Curlew." Red birds, in almost full summer 
dress, are in the grey packs in April, and in Norfolk I have 





^XJt. 




-J 

I 



^ 



X. 



2/'/. 71. 



Bar-tailed Godwit. 
Black-tailed Godwit. 



M 171. 



BLACK-TAILED GODWIT. 17I 

seen grey and red birds together in early May ; those in grey 
plumage look larger. Even in September a few have not lost 
the summer red, for, like the Knot, the Godwit is irregular in 
its changes. The birds on the rocks and when feeding keep up 
a wheezy undercurrent of notes, quite distinct from the rather 
harsh double flight call. None of the many attempts to 
describe this barking note is satisfactory. 

In summer the Bar-tailed Godwit is a red bird. The upper 
parts are a mixture of blackish brown and reddish chestnut, 
the under parts chestnut-red. The head is streaked, the 
coverts are greyish, and more decided streaks show on the 
back than in the Black-tailed Godwit. The upper tail-coverts 
are white streaked with brown, and the tail is barred with 
brown and white. In the strikingly different winter dress the 
upper parts are ash-grey and the under parts white ; brownish 
streaks show on the mantle. Though the tail is partly grey, 
the upper tail-coverts are barred with brown. Most birds in 
the early autumn flocks are immature, more tawny yellow than 
the winter old birds ; the breast is buff and slightly streaked. The 
upper tail-coverts are white blotched with brown, and the tail 
is barred with brown and white. The colour of the bill is 
often described as brown ; Sharpe, however, says " bill flesh- 
colour, dusky on its terminal half ; feet greyish blue." I have 
not handled a summer-plumaged bird, but those I have seen 
at fairly close quarters seemed to differ little from autumn 
birds that I have examined. The bill in these is delicate rose- 
pink for the proximal two-thirds, the tip black ; the legs are 
plumbeous, the irides very dark brown. Length, 14 to 18 ins. 
(according to length of bill). Wing, 8 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Black- tailed Godwit. Limosa limosa (Linn.). 

The breeding range of the Black-tailed Godwit (Plate 71) 
extends from Denmark and Holland across central Europe to 



172 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

western Asia, and in winter it occurs in northern Africa and 
India. Until the beginning of the last century the range 
included the eastern counties of England from Yorkshire to 
Norfolk, but the bird was useful for the table and, when fowlers 
had reduced its numbers, collectors did the rest ; the last nest 
is believed to have been taken in or about 1847. Now it is an 
uncertain and rare visitor on migration, most frequent in the 
south-east. In the west of Scotland and in Ireland it occurs 
from time to time, and the statement made by Saunders that 
it is "seldom obtained on the west side " of England is, I hope, 
true, though it is more frequent as a migrant and winter visitor 
than this suggests. Indeed, its visits are fairly regular. 

The Black-tailed Godwit is an easy bird to recognise when 
alongside its shorter-legged relative, but when by itself may 
be known by its white wing bar — less distinct in young birds 
— a'nd by the long legs extending far beyond the tail in flight. 
When watching Bar-tails collecting on a rocky islet, five Black- 
tails flew round, and the trailed legs caught my eye before I 
saw the darker back and the black tail contrasted with the 
white coverts. When feeding it is a slender, graceful bird, 
stalking deliberately, and bending its noticeably long neck in 
almost swan-like curves. Its flight is strong and less erratic 
than that of the Bar-tail. Mr. F. W. Holder saw one bird, 
however, join a flock of Knots, and keep time with all their 
aerial gymnastics, I have seen a fair number of Black-tails 
with the autumn flocks of Bar-tails, Mr. Holder has noticed 
them in every month from December to March, and Mr. G. 
Marples saw the bird on the Cheshire shore in winter. In 
Scotland it has been also noticed in winter and, occasionally, 
in summer, once at any rate under circumstances which 
suggested nesting. The nest (Plate 69) is usually in marshy 
ground, sometimes in a very wet situation ; if left alone by 
collectors there is no reason why the bird should not re-establish 
itself in some of the many undrained marshes. The call is 



CURLEW. 173 

quite distinct from and much more musical than that of the 
Bar-tail ; it is more like the triple whistle of the Redshank. 

The summer dress is reddish brown mottled with black on 
the upper parts ; the lower back is black, and the upper tail- 
coverts and base of the tail are white, but the distal portion of 
the tail feathers is crossed by a single broad black band. The 
under parts are reddish brown or bay on the breast, and the 
flanks and abdomen are whitish with bars of black and brown. 
In winter the bird is ashy brown above and whiter below, the 
breast and neck being grey. Young are not unlike the adult in 
summer on their upper parts, but the under parts are paler, buff 
instead of bay. The bill is pinkish, darker towards the tip, the 
legs greenish black, and the irides dark brown. Length, 16 to 
18 ins. Wing, 9 ins. Tarsus, 3'8 ins. 

Curlew. Numenius arquata (Linn.). 

The Curlew (Plate 73) has a wide range in northern and 
central Europe and Western Asia, and in winter reaches South 
Africa and southern Asia. In the British Isles it is a moorland 
resident in all parts, though only a few scattered pairs nest in 
southern counties. On all coasts it abounds as a passage 
migrant, a winter visitor, and summer bird. 

The long, curved bill, which varies from four to seven inches 
in length, the bulky brown body, and the wild whistle, make 
the Curlew a familiar shore bird ; the smaller Whimbrel, itself 
a curlew, has a much shorter bill and distinctive dark streaks 
on its crown. At all seasons suitable feeding grounds are 
frequented, and as the bird is catholic in its tastes it may be 
seen amongst rocks as well as on mud or sand. It is as well 
known to the shepherd as to the fisherman, for in spring and 
early summer its haunts are the moors, often at a great distance 
from the coast. Early in March the resident birds repair to 
the hills, leaving behind immature and non-breeding individuals 



174 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

and winter visitors from more northern haunts. Northward 
passage reaches its height in April and May. By July the 
breeders are returning from the hills, and at the end of this 
month there is at times noticeable passage movement ; from 
August until October passage and the arrival of winter visitors 
continues. What proportion of our home-bred birds go south 
in autumn cannot be ascertained ; many English and Scottish 
birds winter in Ireland. The Curlew is at all times gregarious 
and sociable, crowding on banks and rocks when the tide is 
full, but when on migration its numbers are often immense. 
It frequently migrates at night, when only a feeble estimate 
of the passing hordes can be guessed at from the babel of voices 
of invisible travellers. 

At all times the bird is noisy ; its call— kour-lee — is perhaps 
the best-known wader note, but this cry has a number of 
modulations and, variations, the meanings of which the bird 
knows best. On the moor the call of the " Whaup" may have 
an amorous inflection, or, as it rises to a startled and startling 
scream, mean that our presence has been suddenly detected. 
From the guardian of the nest, standing sentinel on the skyline, 
it is a warning to the sitting mate, who silently slips from the 
nest and suddenly makes his or her presence known from a 
different quarter, and the two birds, so long as an intruder is 
about, keep up an incessant ivhoo-wee, whoo-wee, whoo-wee, 
distinct from the other notes. On the moors, before the eggs 
are laid and even when birds are sitting, the male indulges in 
a nuptial flight, a rising and falling aerial dance, accompanied 
by a trilling song, which has much in common with that of the 
Redshank. Here, too, maybe heard the long, liquid bubbling 
call, which has no resemblance to the ordinary cry, but which 
is by no means only a breeding note, and is constantly uttered 
by birds in winter on the fiats ; I have heard it from night 
migrants. When the young are crouching in the heather the 
parents have two other notes, the first, a warning, very similar 



CURLEW. 175 

to the titter of the Whimbrel, and the other a savage bark of 
anger as the bird flies and sometimes hovers overhead. 

The fiight of the Curlew is more gull-like than that of most 
waders ; it rises rather heavily, but is quick on the wing, 
though its slow and measured beats do not suggest speed. 
Flocks, especially when travelling for a distance, adopt the 
chevron formation or fly in well-ordered lines. The bird has 
been met with far out at sea, but as it can swim well it 
would have no difficulty in taking rest. Mr. L. N. Brooke 
saw one flying with a party of Wigeon, and twice Avhen the 
ducks settled it also alighted and swam with them, picking up 
some food from the surface of the water. On the coast the 
bird feeds with the tide, either by day or night ; when on a 
boat at anchor ofif a muddy estuary, I heard the birds calling, 
bubbling, and, judging by the barking cries, quarrelling all 
night long. The sickle-shaped bill can be thrust into the 
mud, but often the bird delicately picks up a mollusc or other 
animal, jerks its head, and so passes the food up to the gape. 
On the moors insects and worms are eaten, and berries — 
blackberry, whimberry, and crowberry, for instance — are 
appreciated. 

Occasionally the Curlew nests on a low-lying heath, or in the 
upland pastures, but its true home is " the tops," where cotton- 
grass, crowberry, and stunted ling crop out amongst the 
sphagnum. The nest, often a mere apology, is placed amongst 
the tussocks (Plate 70), and the three or four large eggs 
(Plate 57) brooded in April and May. The bird on guard, 
after warning its mate with a loud coiir-lieu, will run towards 
a man, when the young are hatched, and strive to draw him 
from the danger zone, but a passing Raven, gull, or hawk is 
fiercely assaulted and driven away with angry barks. The 
down of the nestling, pale brownish white, mottled with 
chestnut and a few rich brown blotches (Plate 7:2), is incon- 
spicuous in certain surroundings, but does not always hide the 



176 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

crouching bird. It has a short, straight, lead-blue bill, slate- 
grey legs, and brown irides. 

The adult bird in summer is streaked on the head, back, and 
breast with dark brown and buff; the wings and tail are barred 
with dark and light brown, and the white lower back has a few 
dusky streaks, whilst on the flanks are sagittate spots. There 
is a distinct pale eye-streak, and the chin, abdomen, and under 
tail-coverts are white with a few dark markings. In winter the 
colours are paler, and the immature bird is more tawny. The 
bill is brown, reddish at the base of the under mandible ; 
the legs are green, and the irides brown. Length, 23 ins. 
Wing, 12 ins. Tarsus, 3*25 ins. 

Whimbrel. Ninnenius phceopus (Linn.). 

The breeding range of the Whimbrel (Plate -j^^ is more 
northerly than that of the Curlew ; it extends from Iceland and 
the Faeroes to north-western Siberia, and its winter range to the 
Cape. In the Orkneys, Shetlands, and a few of the Outer 
Hebrides, the Whimbrel is a summer visitor, nesting sparingly, 
but to most parts of the British Isles it is a regular and common 
passage migrant. A few non-breeding birds linger through 
the summer, and occasionally wintering is recorded. 

The Whimbrel is often called the "Jack Curlew," Jack being 
a diminutive ; it differs from the larger bird in having a shorter, 
rather less curved bill, and in its much darker crown, which is 
not brown with narrow streaks, but has two broad brown 
bands divided by a median narrow buff stripe. "May-bird" 
is one of its popular names, for its arrival is expected in this 
month. Though a bird of the shore, the passage, especially 
in spring, is often overland, and the distinctive rippling or 
tittering call of the incoming birds may be heard at night in 
April as well as May. " Titterel " is a name derived from this 
call, and from the notion that the notes are always uttered 





2 /'/. 7. 



Luiiuw . 1 (til 

Whimbrel. 1 6th. 



N 177. 



WHIMBREL. 177 

seven times in succession it is called the " Seven Whistler" ; 
seven, however is a mystic number. Though passing inland, 
the bird less frequently halts to feed on fresh-water pools than 
the Curlew; it appears to hurry to reach the coast. Return 
migration begins in July and continues until October, very few 
lingering until November ; from December onward the bird is 
very rare. I have only once met with the Whimbrel in winter, 
on the Solway on the last day of the year. When traveUing, 
small flocks of Whimbrel often adopt the line or V-shaped 
formation ; the flight is steady and straight, but the wing-beats 
quicker than those of the heavier bird. Low rocky shores are 
as much frequented as mud-flats ; the brown bird, often almost 
invisible on the tangle, feels with its bill amongst the weed for 
molluscs and crustaceans, or hunts in the rock pools for 
prawns, gobies, or butterfish ; I have watched it testing the 
size of crabs, swallowing the small ones and reluctantly throw- 
ing aside those which were too large. On the flats it eats 
the usual marine creatures, and inland adds berries to its diet 
of worms, land snails, and insects ; " leather-jackets " have been 
found in its stomach. The bird is by no means shy ; when 
the wary Curlew warns other waders, the Whimbrel will 
continue its meal unmoved. 

The nest is a slight hollow in the moss or amongst rough 
grasses, lined with a few bents or bits of moss. The three or 
four eggs, similar to small eggs of the Curlew, are not usually 
laid until June. At the nest the alarm note resembles that of 
the commoner species, and the Whimbrel is just as plucky 
in its assaults upon possible foes. The nestling plumage closely 
resembles that of the Curlew, but the head shows in its streaks 
some suggestion of the later character. 

The adult plumage, with the exception of the crown, is little 
different from that of the Curlew ; the female, as in the last 
species, is the larger bird. The young show both blacker and 
buffer mottlings than those of the old bird. The bill is brown. 

Series II, N 



178 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the legs pale slate-blue, and the irides dark brown. Length, 
17 to 19 ins. Wing, 10 ins. Tarsus, 2*2 ins. 

Eskimo Curlew. N^ivicjiuis horcalis (Forster). 

The Arctic American Eskimo Curlew migrates to, or used to 
migrate to South America, reaching Patagonia and the Falk- 
lands, and when wandering has been obtained in England, 
Scotland, and Ireland at least eight times. Packard writes of 
immense flocks on migration along the Labrador coast in 
autumn, and how the bird, fattening on crowberry, was 
slaughtered for food. Coues tells'how it returned again and 
again to its food, heedless of the shooting, and so the bird was 
reduced in numbers until it is doubtful if any have survived. 
The last recorded for Britain was one which reached the Scilly 
Isles in 1887. The Eskimo Curlew resembles a small Whimbrel 
with dark lower back and tail-coverts, and with sagittate 
marks on the breast. Length, 14 ins. Wing, 8"25 ins. 
Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Slender-billed Curlew. Numefiius te?itdrostris Vieill. 

The Slender-billed Curlew nests in western Siberia and 
winters in southern Europe, occasionally wandering west on 
migration. A small flock was reported in Kent in September, 
1910, and three were shot ; in 1914 another bird was recorded 
for the same county. It is about the size of the Whimbrel, 
but with the Curlew head streaks and with black " pear- 
shaped" spots on the flanks. Its short bill is brown, its 
legs plumbeous, and its irides brown. Length, 17 ins. Wing, 
9-9 ins. Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Sub-family HIMANTOPODIN^. 

Bill long, slender, straight, or recurved ; legs very long ; toes 
three or four, anterior toes slightly or considerably webbed. 



BLACK-WINGED STILT. I79 

Black-winged Stilt. Hhnantop^is hima7itopus, (Linn.). 

The Black-winged Stilt (Plate 74) breeds in southern Europe 
and Asia, in some parts in great numbers, ranging eastward 
from Spain and the south of France ; it is also widespread in 
Africa. In the more northerly portion of its range it is 
migrator}', but when the bulk of the birds are travelling in 
a southerly direction, some, chiefly birds of the year, seem 
deficient in sense of direction and ramble north. For more 
than 200 years the Stilt has been accepted as a British bird on 
the strength of these repeated occurrences. Sibbald's drawing 
of the first recorded bird, shot in 1684, reproduced by Mr. H. S. 
Gladstone in the " Birds of Dumfriesshire," though quaint, 
leaves no doubts as to correct identification. By no means all 
the records for this species, which are widespread, ranging 
from the Shetlands to the southern shires, are autumnal ; 
Gilbert White saw the bird at Frensham in April, and there 
are several dates for May and June, as well as a number in. 
winter. 

A novice could identify this very long-legged black and 
white sandpiper ; indeed, I could safely add a recent Anglesey- 
record to the ancient one of Montagu, though the fowler wh& 
shot the bird and threw it away because he did not know what 
it was only gave a short description ; ten inches of leg on a 
thirteen-inch bird is not usual. The use of these long shanks 
is apparent when the bird is feeding ; it wades deeply in the 
marshy pools, for it is a bird of the open marsh, and snaps 
right and left at the hovering aquatic flies, or catches the 
beetles and tadpoles when they come up for air. In flight it is 
a striking bird with its outstretched neck and bill and legs 
trailing behind ; its wings are narrow, angled, and pointed. 
When a nesting colony is invaded the birds will hover with 
dangling legs, uttering repeated cries of excitement. 

The back and wings of the fully adult bird are glossy 



l8o THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

greenish black and its tail is greyish ; the rest of the plumage 
is white faintly tinted in places with pink. The bill is black, 
the legs pink, and the irides crimson. Young males, however, 
breed before they have lost the last mark of immaturity, 
blackish grey on the back of the head and neck. In the still 
younger birds all the blacks are replaced by brown, and the 
legs are brownish rather than pink. Length, 1 3*5 ins. Wing, 
9*5 ins. Tarsus, 47 ins. 

Avocet. Recurvirostra avocetia (Linn.). 

The too conspicuous Avocet (Plate 74) is indeed a "lost 
British bird," for a century ago it nested in some numbers in 
the eastern counties from the H umber southward. Many of its 
former European colonies have vanished before the advance in 
"civilisation" — mainly the introduction and perfection of the 
breechloader — but a few remain in Holland, Denmark, and 
Spain. Its range is wide in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in 
the more northerly portion the bird is a migrant. To England 
it was a summer visitor, now it is a rare spring and autumn 
migrant, and there are one or two records of birds in winter. 
Some of the spring visitors might nest if allowed, but the bird 
is slain whenever it is seen. For instance, a party of seven 
were seen at St. Leonards, and within a few hours four were 
taken to a taxidermist. Only where there is protection, as at 
Breydon, are there many records of birds seen, but not shot. 
On migration the Avocet has occurred in various places from 
the Shetlands southward, but its most frequent visits are to its 
old breeding haunts. 

So black and white a bird, with a unique uptilted bill, from 
which its ancient local names, " Cobbler's-awl," and " Shoohing 
borne" of Sir Thomas Browne, are derived, should be easy to 
recognise. Yet Mr. A. H. Patterson says that when with 
Black-headed Gulls it is not easy to distinguish, that on the 



AVOCET. l8l 

wing it may be taken for an Oyster-catcher, and on the water, 
swimming buoyantly, is not unlike a Tufted Duck. He remarks 
that "it appears to delight in associating" with gulls, but in 
Holland Miss Best found that it did not trust them near its 
eggs, boldly driving them away, striking with wings and feet 
but not with its delicate and pliable bill. The Avocet is a bird 
of the ooze and shallow pool ; it may, perhaps, occasionally 
probe the mud with its needle point, but the usual method of 
feeding is to scoop the surface with a side-to-side action, which 
as it walks leaves a wavy track behind. On land insects are 
captured deftly in the upturned tip. Small crustaceans are 
scooped from the pools or skimmed from the mud. It wades 
deeply, its partly webbed feet preventing it from sinking in the 
ooze, but it swims well, alighting on water intentionally. On 
the mud it often runs with wings uplifted, perhaps ready to 
fly if the feet sink too deeply. Like the Redshank it used to be 
called "Yelper," for it is a noisy bird when alarmed, uttering 
a clear kluit or tti^ tu^ tweet, as spelt by some writers. 

The Avocet nests in colonies, usually on open stretches of 
sand or mud, sometimes on water-surrounded tussocks. More 
or less — usually less — litter encircles the nest hollow ; often 
only a few dead bents or shells are collected (Plate 75). The 
three or four buff, black-spotted eggs are not unlike small eggs 
of the Oyster-catcher. 

The plumage of the mature bird is white and black, the 
latter confined to the head to below the eye, the back of the 
neck, and parts of the back and wings. The distribution on 
the primaries and coverts gives a black-streaked appearance to 
the closed wing. The black is browner and edged with rufous 
on the immature bird. The bill is black, the legs blue-grey, 
and the irides brown. Length, 18 ins. Wing, 9 ins. Tarsus, 
3 ins. 



l82 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Sub-family CHARADRIIN^. Plovers. 

Bill short ; legs moderate ; hind toe, if present, short and 
elevated, usually absent. 

Golden PlOYer. Charadrlns apricarius Linn. 

The Golden Plover (Plate -]"]) is found throughout northern 
and central Europe and western Asia, and in winter in Africa 
and southern Asia. In the British Isles it is a widespread 
resident, probably summer visitor, and abundant winterer and 
passage migrant. It nests sparingly in Somerset and Devon, 
but throughout Wales and from the Derbyshire Peak northward 
to the Scottish islands, as well as in Ireland, it is common on 
all suitable moors. 

The Golden Plover is a typical plover, far more so than the 
round-winged Green Plover or Lapwing; it has sharply pointed 
angled wings and rapid flight, and is a plump, bullet-headed, 
short-billed bird with a high forehead, which runs lightly 
over pastures or coastal mud. It is a more inland bird than 
the Grey Plover, its nearest relative, from which it can be 
distinguished by the absence of the hind toe. In the field, 
apart from its yellower dress, it may be recognised by its white 
axillaries ; when it raises the wings and holds them for a second 
stiffly, which it frequently does when stretching, and also when 
it alights, the Golden shows a white under surface, but in the 
Grey the axillaries are a dark patch on a dusky ground. 

During spring and summer the moors are the haunt of 
the "Whistler," a name given from its frequently repeated 
liquid call. On the Pennines the shepherd knows it as the 
"Sheep's Guide," for it warns his flock if a man appears. On 
the shore and in the lowland fields in February some birds 
show traces of the black under parts of summer, and by April 
all have attained full breedinij dress. The birds move to the 



^^^' 



in 



m 





% 



JL3L,.L__ 




GOLDEN PLOVER. 183 

hills in March, but long after this, even until May or June, 
certain lowland fields are visited by passing flocks, replaced by 
fresh arrivals so soon as one lot leaves for the north. The 
Golden Plover is partial to particular feeding grounds, seldom 
visiting other fields in the immediate neighbourhood. By the 
end of July the first adult birds are returning, still with their 
under parts mottled with nuptial black ; in September the 
white-breasted young appear. Most of these flocks pass south, 
but in October and November the wintering birds join forces with 
the Lapwings. On the wing the species usually separate, the 
sharp-winged Plovers out-flying the slowly flapping Lapwings. 

The gregarious Golden Plover whistles frequently when on 
the wing, but is silent when at rest. The normal call is a 
clear tlici^ heard at all seasons. Towards evening the flocks 
indulge in elaborate aerial performances, turning, twisting, and 
diving in pure enjoyment of air mastery. When all descend, 
and for a moment their v/hite undervvings flash in the light of 
the setting sun, the settling flock warbles a low, murmuring, 
long-shore chorus, and then as the wings are closed the yellow 
birds melt into their surroundings and vanish. On ploughed 
land the Golden Plover is almost invisible. On the moors the 
male trills a love-song as he sweeps round above his mate, and 
in March I have heard birds on the ground 'suddenly raise a trill 
of welcome to a party passing over — r/, ioori^ toori, toori — but 
relapse into silence when the visitors moved on. When changing 
ground or on migration the V-formation is common ; nocturnal 
migration is often detected by the calls of the bird, but diurnal 
movements have often been observed, even at a great altitude. 
An ornithologist airman told me that he sighted Golden Plover 
passing far above him when he was flying at a height of 
6000 feet. On the moors the pairing birds, in addition to 
the trill, have a nuptial call. Two birds flew swiftly past me 
over a Welsh moor, each uttering the normal call, but a third, 
when it overtook them, suddenly slowed down, and witli 



l84 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

measured beats of flexed wings, repeated a call which I wrote 
down as taw-tii-yoti^ as all three alighted. The animal food is 
that of other waders, varied with a few moorland seeds and 
berries. 

The upper moor, bare or clothed with coarse grass and 
stunted ling or crowberry, is the usual nesting site, and the 
nest itself is often exposed, but by no means easy to find, for 
when the four mottled eggs (Plate 80) are laid, the sitting bird, 
warned by the watchful mate, slips quietly off and runs for 
some distance before taking wing. One of the pair, usually the 
male, though both are known to sit, stands sentinel on the 
skyline, and gives a long warning tooee if any one appears 
within sight. When the mate is at a safe distance from the 
nest it answers the call, and both will fly round the intruder 
with plaintive cries, and long after the danger zone is passed 
will stand watching, repeating a single mournful too. The 
eggs are generally laid in May, and by the end of the month 
the downy nestling (Plate 76) crouches in the herbage. When 
first hatched the little bird is a wonderful golden yellow, with 
dark mottles and whitish streaks. 

In summer the upper parts of the adult bird are mottled with 
black and golden yellow, and the tail and coverts are barred 
with brown and yellow ; the under parts to the abdomen, and 
including the cheeks, are black, and between the yellow and 
black, from the forehead, over the eye to the flanks, runs a 
conspicuous band of white. The under surface of the wing and 
under tail-coverts are also white. There is rather less deep 
black on the under parts of the female. The bill and irides are 
blackish brown, the legs blue-grey. The black portions are 
white in winter, the colours are less golden, and the cheeks, grey- 
tinged breast, and flanks are mottled with brown and yellow. 
The plumage of the young resembles that of the adult bird in 
winter, but the flanks are more mottled and back more spotted 
with yellow. Length, 11 ins. Wing, 7*5 ins. Tarsus, i*6 ins. 



GOLDEN PLOVER. 185 

American Golden Plover. Cha7'adrhis doviinicns Miill. 
Eastern Golden Plover. C, dominicus ftUvus Gmel. 

The eastern race of this small Golden Plover ranges through 
eastern Siberia to Alaska, where it meets the Arctic American 
form. The American bird is known to travel in autumn to 
South America by an oversea route of about 2500 miles, not 
always breaking the journey at the Bermudas, but its return in 
spring is through Central America and overland. The Asiatic 
race reaches New Zealand, whilst some birds wander westward, 
not infrequently into Europe. It is not surprising that occa- 
sionally the Atlantic travellers are wind-drifted eastward, and 
that some of the eastern birds reach Britain ; indeed, it is 
possible that many are unrecognised amongst the large flocks 
of our winter birds. On about four dates the American Golden 
Plover has been recorded from England, Scotland, and Ireland, 
all in autumn, but nearly twice as many Asiatic birds have 
been met with in autumn or winter in the south of England 
and once in the Orkneys ; there is one spring record. 

Beside being smaller birds, both sub-species differ from our 
Golden Plover in having smoke-grey and not white axillaries. 
The legs are proportionately longer. In winter the feather 
margins are paler, so that it is not unlike the Grey Plover in 
winter dress. In summer dress. Miss Haviland points out, the 
Asiatic bird is brighter in its yellows and more intense in its 
blacks than ours. The most noticeable difference between the 
two races is in size, but the larger American bird is duller in 
its colours. The bill is olive-brown, the legs lead-grey, and 
the irides dark brown. American : Length, 9'5 ins. Wing, 
675 ins. Tarsus, i'6 ins. Eastern : Length, 9 ins. Wmg, 
6*5 ins. Tarsus, i"5 ins. 



1 86 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES 



Grey Plover. Squatarola squatarola (Linn.). 

The Arctic breeding range of the Grey Plover (Plate 'j']^ is 
circumpolar, and its winter travels take it as far as the Cape, 
Australia, and South America. In the British Isles it is a 
regular and plentiful passage migrant and winter visitor, and 
has been met with in every month of the year. It is uncommon 
in Scotland and Ireland and less plentiful on the west than the 
east coast of England, but it is far from rare on the Lancashire 
and Welsh shores. 

The Grey Plover is a shore bird, infrequent inland, and though 
its flocks are not so large as those of the Golden Plover it is 
often present in great numbers ; I have seen the Humber clays 
sprinkled with Grey Plovers as far as my glass would range, 
yet nowhere could I see more than two or three in a group. 
The old bird is always greyer than the Golden Plover, and 
in summer well deserves the name " Silver Plover," but young, 
washed with yellow, are less distinctive, unless in the hand, 
when the presence of the small hind toe settles the matter. 
But, like the Golden, this bird frequently raises its wing, and 
will even run with uplifted wings, and then the black or very 
dark axillaries show plainly on the under surface ; these dark 
marks may be seen on the flickering wings of a passing bird. 
Further points are the whiter rump and upper tail-coverts, and 
the black and white barred tail. The Grey Plover is as a rule 
a lively and noisy bird, running quickly when feeding and 
constantly calling from the ground or on the wing. Its note 
is less liquid than that of the Golden, and is shrill and 
penetrating. Its wing-beats are rather deliberate, but it is 
swift and strong in flight. It is not always nervous, and young 
birds are at first absurdly tame, a common fault of Arctic 
nesters. If approached they will run for a few yards, turn to 
see if they are followed, and seem reluctant to fly ; old birds, 




^-. ^-i^ 




2 /■■ 7; 



Golden Plover. 
Grey Plover. 



A' 187. 



RINGED PLOVER. 187 

too, will Stand solitary, resting, but not asleep, when waiting for 
the tide to turn, and not pack with other waders. 

The majority of the autumn birds come in September and 
October, but many arrive towards the end of August and some 
even in "July. August birds are often in breeding dress; 
indeed, I have seen one with a very black breast early in 
October. Most of the September immigrants are immature, 
and the adults in winter dress soon follow. The bulk of the 
visitors move south, but a fair proportion winter, and from 
March until the middle of May, and exceptionally until early 
June, parties are constantly passing. 

The full breeding dress is striking. The upper parts are 
chequered brownish black and greyish white, the under parts 
to the lower breast are deep black. The colour pattern is as 
in the Golden Plover, but the white band separating the 
extremes is broader ; indeed, the bird is altogether whiter, for 
the forehead is white, and the streak wide above the eye and 
wider still where it margins the breast. The abdomen, as well 
as the under tail-coverts, is white, and there is a good deal of 
white on the quills and wing-coverts. The black is lost in 
winter, and the upper parts are browner, whilst the sides of the 
face, neck, and breast are streaked and mottled on a pale ashy 
brown ground. Young birds have much pale yellow on the 
upper parts, and the top of the head is browner ; the under 
parts are streaked with brown. The axillaries, though dusky 
brown, are still distinctive. The bill is black, the legs blue- 
grey, and the irides dark brown. Length, 11 ins. Wing, 8 ins. 
Tarsus, I'g ins. 

Ringed Plover, ^gialitis hiatiaila (Linn.). 

That there are two races, large and small, of the Ringed 
Plover, and that both appear on our coasts, is well known, but 
the actual range of the two forms is not worked out, and they 



1 88 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

must be considered together. It is the larger bird (Plate 78) 
which nests in the British Isles, and also is, apparently, the 
more northern form. The Ringed Plover breeds in Arctic 
America, Greenland, and northern and central Europe, and 
winters in Africa, even in the south. As a nesting species it 
occurs on all our coasts and in a number of inland localities ; 
probably most of our birds are resident, though there is an 
extensive autumnal immigration and at the same time emigra- 
tion from the south coast ; some portion of the home-bred birds 
may go south. 

On the shore there is no more familiar wader than the lively 
Ringed Dotterel, as it is often called; it is a little larger than 
its constant companion, the Dunlin, and has distinctive black 
markings on its head and face, framing a prominent white fore- 
head. On a pebble beach these markings and its sandy-drab 
back are by no means conspicuous, but on mud or grass the 
bird shows up well. Five other members of the genus are on 
the British list, but all are rare ; the distinctive characters of 
each are stated later. Except in the breeding season the 
Ringed Plover is eminently sociable, and even in its nesting 
it shows a tendency to colonial habits. Sociability is not 
limited to its own species ; it consorts freely with Dunlins, 
Sanderlings, Stints, and other waders, flying and feeding with 
them. In April and May, when large numbers are on passage, 
after the residents have settled down, and on the return in 
autumn, wonderful flights of these mixed waders may be 
witnessed when the birds are awaiting the turn of the tide. 
The Ringed Plover is as skilful and agile in its turns and 
twists as any, and its white plumage as silvery when with 
sudden swoop the flock showers earthward. At a distance 
these suddenly rising and dropping flocks look like showers of 
sunlit spray. When little parties sweep past along the beach, 
skimming low over the sand, the noise of wings sounds like the 
rustle of silk. The wing-beats are regular, rather deliberate, 



RINGED PLOVER. 189 

and when about to alight the bird glides, and finally trips 
forward with uplifted wings ; the speed is never slow, but when 
amorous pairs indulge in nuptial flight, or when the Merlin 
strives to fly it down, few birds can excel it. Its actions on the 
beach when feeding are more energetic and spasmodic than 
those of the Dunlin, more erratic than the Sanderling's. Its 
legs twinkle as it runs for a few yards, stops and tilts forward 
to pick up some tiny crustacean, worm, or mollusc, and at once 
is off for another run. It will stand, observant, jerking its 
bullet-head, or for a second raise its wings straight above its 
back, when the great length of the pointed flights magnifies 
its size. If nervous it utters a low, musical, but querulus tooe^ 
or iooli, and when numbers are calling together in a flock, this 
becomes along, harmonious tooli^ tooli, toolt, tooli, which, though 
often running into a trill, is the nuptial song, usually uttered 
on the wing. "Tullet" is a name it gets from its note, 
" Grundling " (groundling) and " Stone-hatch " from its habits. 
On migration it frequently visits the banks of rivers, meres, and 
lakes, and is common on sewage farms ; it often nests inland. 

When the nesting site has been selected, and a few pre- 
liminary scrapes made in the sand, the male tempt the female 
to sit, and, trilling the breeding call, will run and sit in 
one of the hollows. Rivals are boldly attacked then and 
even after the young are hatched ; the guardian male, with 
lowered head, trailed wing, tail expanded and depressed, 
and the feathers of his back raised like the dorsal crest of 
an angry dog, will boldly attack all comers. In the site and 
decoration of the nest the bird shows variety and decided 
aesthetic taste. The pebble ridge above high-water mark 
is favoured, and there, when eggs are in the depression, the 
nest is hard to see, but without eggs the lining or paving "of 
smaller stones or bits of broken shell often gives it away. On 
sand or grass this lining is even more conspicuous, but often 
none is used, or only a few bits of weed or chips of wood are 



IQO THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

collected. The bird is an 'anxious and fussy parent, often 
betraying the presence of eggs or young by its persistent 
plaintive pipe ; the sitting bird slips from the nest at the first 
hint of danger, runs with head low, and joins its mate at the 
water's edge. The young in grey and sandy down has a broad 
white collar and a black band above its white nape, but as it 
crouches, an expert at " freezing," the drawn back head hides 
these marks (Plate 79) ; its olive legs are hidden, but the 
bright black eye is open. If handled it will at first remain 
still, but if it feebly pipes the old birds become wild with 
excitement, and after flying round will fall and tumble with 
assimilated disablement. The nestling, if placed on the 
ground, runs on unsteady legs, falling often, holding its wing- 
stumps uplifted ; suddenly it vanishes, having crouched once 
more. One brood that I watched would crouch at once when 
on the shingle at high tide, but on the mud, where stones were 
freely scattered, they ran for safety, swam the tide pools round 
the stones, and hid, often in the water, amongst the weeds. 
When the parent thought the coast was clear it would alter 
the note, and at once the young appeared and ran to it. The 
three or four yellowish, brown -spotted eggs (Plate 57) are only 
conspicuous when laid on grass, but more usual surroundings 
are sand or shingle. 

The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is 
mouse-grey to drab, of the under parts white. A black band 
passes through the eye, and another crosses the top of the 
head, framing the white forehead ; below a white collar is 
a black gorget, deepest in front. A white streak above the eye 
and a white wing bar are conspicuous. The bill is orange at 
the base, blackish at the tip, the legs are chrome-yellow, and 
the irides practically black. The young bird is hair-grey, and 
the brown gorget is incomplete in front ; the face stripe is 
brown, and the band across the crown absent. The bill is 
black, lighter at the base, and the legs are brownish yellow, 



KENTISH PLOVER. I9I 

but always light enough to distinguish it at any age from 
the Kentish Plover. Length, 775 ins. Wing, 5*25 ins. Tarsus, 
I in. 



Kentish Plover, ^gialitls akxandrlna (Linn.). 

The Kentish Plover (Plate 78) is a summer visitor with a 
very restricted English breeding range, this being a portion of 
the Kent and Sussex coast ; elsewhere in England, Ireland, 
and Wales it is only a very rare visitor on passage, but has 
occurred as far north as Durham. In Europe it nests from 
the south of Sweden to the Mediterranean, and in parts of 
Africa and Asia, migrating south in autumn. 

Protection was just in time to save the Kentish Plover ; it 
nearly came too late. As Dr. N. F. Ticehurst points out, the 
shooting of birds during the breeding season, which apparently 
goes on unchecked, has done more damage than egg-collecting, 
ruthless though this is away from specially watched areas. 
The bird, which normally nests in May, has been found sitting 
in August, its earlier efforts having failed. The demand for 
British-killed birds and British-taken eggs always exceeds the 
supply. The Kentish is smaller than the Ringed Plover, and 
may be distinguished by its incomplete pectoral band and its 
black bill and legs. The bird, especially the female, looks more 
sandy than the Ringed Plover ; there is, too,, something dis- 
tinctive in the flight. Young Ringed Plovers often have the 
dark band interrupted on the breast, but their legs are always 
yellowish. The female Kentish is a browner bird than the male, 
the black patch on the lower neck being noticeably brown ; 
indeed, on a bird I watched at close quarters it looked but 
slightly darker than the mantle, and no darker than the patch 
at the angle of the wing. The habits and food differ little from 
those of the last species ; the note is shriller and more "flute- 
like/' a plaintive whistle when alarmed. The birds arrive as 



192 THE DIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

a rule in April, though occasionally in March, and in July 
begin to flock ; by the end of September few are left, and Dr. 
Ticehurst's latest date for Kent is October loth, and a bird was 
killed against the St. Catherine's Light on October 9th. 

The nest is usually a depression in sand or amongst shingle, 
and occasionally in dry weed at high-water mark ; little attempt 
is made to provide lining or decoration (Plate Si). The 
yellowish-buff or stone-coloured eggs (Plate 57) are as a rule 
curiously streaked with black ; they are generally three in number 
and are laid in May, and often placed vertically, their smaller 
end deeply buried in the sand, a method at times adopted by 
the Ringed Plover. Both sexes incubate, though it was formerly 
thought that in this habit they differed from the common bird. 
The nestling (shown on Plate 81) has grey and buff down, but 
lacks the characteristic dorsal streak of the last species, and the 
dark band on the hind neck is also absent. 

The male in summer is sandy drab on the upper parts ; the 
crown has a rufous tinge. The forehead and a streak above the 
eye, the collar and under parts are white. There is a black 
mark above the forehead, and a streak through the eye to the 
cheeks, and a black patch on the neck. The only black on the 
female is a streak from the bill to the eye. The bill, legs, and 
irides are black. In winter there is practically neither black 
nor rufous in the plumage, and the young has a similar dress, 
but with buff margins to the feathers of the upper parts. 
Length, 675 ins. Wing, 4'2$ ins. Tarsus, o'9 in. 

The Semipalmated Ringed Plover, Aii^ialitis semipalmatiis 
(Bonap.), an American bird, is recorded as having been killed 
in Sussex in April, 1916. In its summer plumage it closely 
resembles the Ringed Plover, but there is rather more webbing 
between the toes. 





'^*p^ 



J^ 



2 T/. 78. 



N192. 



Ringed Plover. 
Kentish Plover. 



KILLDEER PLOVER. I93 

Little Ringed Plover, ^gialitls dubia (Scop.). 

The Little Ringed Plover has been often reported, but it 
closely resembles the larger bird, and the majority of the 
records are erroneous. It is a very rare wanderer on 
migration, and, with the exception of one shot in North Uist, 
has appeared less than a dozen times in southern counties ; 
most of the dates have been during autumn migration. Yet in 
Europe, where the bird has a wide range, it breeds in Holland, 
Belgium, and France, and migrates to Africa ; its normal 
migration route must be east of Britain. It is more of an 
inland than a coastal species, nesting on river margins. 

As its name implies, it is smaller than our bird, but the best 
distinction is in the wing ; the inner primaries are uniform 
brown. In the Ringed Plover the inner webs are white, and 
show as a white patch when the wing is closed, as a bar when 
it is open. The bill is black, only slightly yellowish at the 
base of the lower mandible, and the legs are paler, rather 
pinkish yellow. The irides are dark brown. The black of 
the adult bird is replaced by brown in the young, and the 
upper parts are buffer. Length, 6*5 ins. Wing, 4*5 ins. Tarsus, 
o'9 in. 

Killdeer Plover, ^gialitis vocifera (Linn.). 

Both specific and popular names of this common North 
American plover refer to its loud, clear note, kill-dee; it is 
noisy and, in the eyes of the hunter, a spoil-sport. It is found 
throughout North America, and in winter Central America and 
Peru. It has occurred in England and Scotland about half a 
dozen times. Its colour scheme closely resembles that of our 
Ringed Plover, but it has two bands across the breast, the 
upper one forming a collar. The general colour of the upper 
parts is browner, and this is specially noticeable on the facial 

Series II. O 



194 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Streak and cheeks. The lower back and wedge-shaped tail are 
rufous brown, with a subterminal black band to the latter. It 
is a rather larger bird than ours, with legs and tail longer in 
proportion ; the bill is black, the legs yellowish green, and 
the irides brown. Young birds have rufous margins to the 
feathers of the upper parts. Length 9*5 ins. Wing, 6-5 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*4 ins. 

Caspian Plover. y-Egialitis asiatka (Pallas). 

The Caspian Plover, which breeds in south-eastern Russia 
and western Asia, and winters in Africa, has wandered to 
southern England two or three times in spring and summer. 
It has occurred elsewhere in western Europe. The adult bird 
is, roughly, brown above and w^hite below, and has a broad 
chestnut band bordered with black across the breast. The 
face and neck are white, and a dark line through the eye 
throws up the broad white superciliary stripe. In winter the 
face is suffused with buff and the pectoral band is pale brown, 
and the young are still more buff on the face and wings. The 
bill is black, the legs are olive, and the irides dark brown. 
Length, 7*5 ins. Wing, 5*6 ins. Tarsus, 1*35 ins. 

Dotterel. Eudromias ??iorijiellus (Linn.). 

The Dotterel (Plate 82) breeds in northern Europe and 
Siberia, and winters in north Africa and western Asia. In the 
British Isles it is a summer visitor and passage migrant, regular 
in its visits, but never numerous. In spite of centuries of 
persecution it still nests in small numbers in the Lake District, 
and in the Grampians and other Highland mountains, but in 
most parts is only known as a scarce spring and autumn 
visitor. 

The plumage of a Dotterel in a specimen or picture looks 
very conspicuous, but in its favourite haunts, wild barren 




i/^^... 


















.1 



'1^ 

•'^H 




2 J". Si, 



Kentish Plover and nest. 



O 195. 



DOTTEREL. 1 95 

uplands, the bird is most difficult to see. It is a squat and 
plump, round-headed, short-billed plover ; its most character- 
istic markings are the curved white streak above the eye which 
meets its fellow on the nape, and the white band that divides 
the slaty-brown upper breast from the chestnut and black 
below. What the bird gains from the protection of its colora- 
tion it loses through its stupid tameness ; it is one of our 
easiest birds to approach. Towards the end of April or early 
in May " trips," as the small parties are called, arrive in 
England ; some, probably passage birds, travel slowly along 
the coast, but others follow ancient inland routes, halting at 
certain oft-frequented spots to feed or rest. The trips comprise 
from five to a score of birds, and their arrival is, or was, 
watched for keenly, for the Dotterel has always had a high 
money value, originally for its flesh, but later for its plumage ; 
inconsiderate fishermen demand certain feathers for artificial 
flies. The travellers are tired and stupid, and if shot at will 
settle again at once ; it was not uncommon for the whole trip 
to be wiped out ; within recent years similar massacres have 
come under my notice. The birds are regular visitors to the 
Pennines, the Yorkshire moors, and the Cheviots, and certain 
spots on the Lancashire coast are used as annual halts. Egg 
collecting is responsible for further diminution in numbers, 
but is less to blame than the wholesale- destruction of the 
recently arrived immigrants. The return passage is in August 
and September. 

The food either on the hills or the rough pastures, when on 
migration, mainly consists of insects and their larvae, though 
worms and molluscs are also eaten. Like other plovers the 
Dotterel runs for a foot or two, then stops and tilts forward to 
pick up its food, and between its runs often stretches its long- 
wings above its back. Ancient myth afiirms that the wing and 
leg stretching was imitation of the actions of the fowlers as 
they lured or drove the bird to its doom. On the wing the 



196 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

bird is not unlike the Golden Plover, swift and graceful, with 
powerful strokes. Its notes vary according to circumstances, 
but the attempts to formulate them convey little ; a low, 
plaintive whistle and a harsh call of alarm are the best known, 
but at the nest there is a soft, parental twitter. 

Typical Dotterel ground is barren, stone littered, and almost 
without vegetation ; the bird nests on the black soil near the 
wind-swept tops, seldom below the 2000-foot contour. The 
three buft" or stone-coloured, brown blotched eggs (Plate 57), 
less pyriform and more tern-like than those of most waders, 
are placed in a shallow scrape, usually lacking lining or 
decoration. Eggs are sometimes laid before the end of May, 
but the middle of June is the normal time for incubation. 
Though the sitter will sometimes rise with a cry of alarm it 
usually slips away quietly, and at once begins by spreading 
and trailing wings and tail, and falling as if disabled, ex- 
travagant performances to lure the intruder from the nest. 
But if the eggs or young are handled the parent returns to 
within arm's reach and falls about in a frenzied effort to attract 
attention. If, however, the nest is undisturbed the bird will 
return and brood eggs or young at the very feet of the observer. 
The down of the nestlings is grey, mottled and streaked with 
buft", chestnut, and black ; there is a white band on the nape ; 
the legs are at first lead colour, but soon show yellow on the 
feet ; the bill is black and the irides brown, as in later life. 

Some dogmatically affirm that the female, which is the larger 
bird, is also brighter in her colours, whilst others are as 
emphatic that she is duller ; examination of sexed birds proves 
that there is little difference. Both sexes incubate, which may 
explain the confusion. The back and wings of the adult bird 
are brownish grey, neatly patterned on the coverts with rufous 
margins. The top of the head is brownish black, and below 
this is the curved white stripe from the forehead to the nape ; 
the face and throat are white, and a dark streak passes through 



LAPWING OR GREEN PLOVER. I97 

the eye and widens on the sides of the neck. The upper breast 
is slaty brown, bordered below with bands of black and white ; 
the lower breast is bright chestnut, shading to black on the 
abdomen and white on the under tail-coverts. The heads of 
young birds are more rufous and streaked on the crown, the 
eye-stripe and the blacker upper parts are tinged with buff. 
The under parts, buff on the breast and flanks, and white on 
the abdomen, are mottled with brown. The bill is black, the 
legs are dull yellow, and the irides dark brown. Length, 9 ins. 
Wing, 6 ins. Tarsus, 1*4 ins. 

Sociable Plover. Chettusia gregaria (Pallas). 

The Sociable Plover, a native of southern Russia, the 
Caucasus, and Mongolia, winters in India and south-western 
Asia, and north-eastern Africa ; it has been met with in 
Lancashire and Ireland in autumn, and in Kent and Sussex in 
spring. The Lancashire bird was consorting with Lapwings, 
and like them it is a round-winged plover. The adult bird is 
ashy brown, with a black crown and a streak through the eye, 
and between these a conspicuous white stripe from the forehead 
to the nape. The primaries are black, the secondaries white, 
the tail mostly white with a subterminal black-brown band. 
The cheeks and throat are buff, the lower breast brown, shading 
to black on the belly, the abdomen and flanks rich chestnut. 
The under tail-coverts are white. The crown of the young 
bird is brown and its superciliary stripe buff; the under parts 
are huffish white, with a few dark markings on the breast. 
The bill and legs are black, the irides dark brown. Length. 
I3"5 ins. Wing, 8*5 ins. Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Lapwing or Green Plover. Vanellus vanellus (Linn.) 

As a nesting species the familiar Lapwing (Plate 85) is found 
throughout the British Isles, and in winter its numbers are 



198 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

greatly increased by immigrants from Europe. It breeds in 
Europe, Asia, and some parts of Africa, and is partially 
migratory. 

The erectile crest, round wings and call, and seemingly 
black and white dress, are well known, but the Green Plover 
is not really black and white ; at close quarters in sunshine the 
glossy green back and the rich chestnut patches above and 
below the tail are wonderfully beautiful. Marshy fields and 
rough upland pastures are typical haunts, but its choice of 
habitat is catholic ; it feeds, a shore bird, on the tidal flats, it 
flocks on cultivated land, it is companion of the Curlew and 
Golden Plover on the bleak moor. Indeed, it is everywhere 
and often abundant. In the nesting season it is scattered, 
large lowland fields usually having their pair or pairs of birds, 
but so soon as the young can fly they form small parties, and 
from June onward the bird is gregarious. In autumn immi- 
grants arrive from the north and east, and throughout the 
winter the flocks are often immense, though there are frequent 
southward movements after the usual time for passage. After 
accumulating a large amount of information, Dr. W. Eagle 
Clarke strove to formulate the various Lapwing movements, 
but the bird is capricious, and weather conditions or over- 
abundance in any place may cause extra and erratic migra- 
tion. Theories that all immigrants winter here, or that all 
home-bred birds remain or depart, are unsound ; indeed, the 
recoveries of " ringed " birds show great variability in habit. 
Birds ringed abroad are found here in winter, but nestlings 
marked in England and Scotland may be recovered in their 
first or subsequent winters anywhere. An analysis of re- 
coveries proved that a fair proportion remained near home, 
and that the majority that emigrated went westward into 
Ireland ; others reached France, the Spanish peninsula, and 
Africa, and of those which did not leave England most went 
south, but a few wandered north. 




*^-^^ 



jm 




-^^^ 



^-m- 



2 P/. 82. 



Dotterel. 
Turnstone. 



K 



LAPV.'ING OR GREEN PLOVER. 1 99 

As a check to pests the Lapwing is our most useful bird, for 
though it does not discriminate between harmful and beneficial 
insects and worms, examination of a number of stomachs shows 
that it devours more wireworms, tipulid and lepidopterous 
larvae, and snails than useful carnivorous insects and worms, 
and there is no evidence that it ever attacks crops. It is 
nominally protected and the gathering of " plovers' eggs " 
regulated, but nothing is done to enforce the law. The stock 
of summer birds is large, but it should be larger. In flight 
the broad round wings flap slowly ; the bird moves fast, but 
without the dash of the sharp -v/inged plovers ; Lapwings flying 
high flicker black and white. They can fly high when migrat- 
ing ; one airman ran into a flock at 6500 feet. Such flights, 
at a height above range of vision, detract from the value of 
theories founded on visible migration, when the birds are often 
forced to low altitudes by adverse winds or other untoward 
conditions. The birds travel, when changing ground, straight, 
but without the ordered formation of many waders ; lines are 
rare, and leaders frequently alter. Towards dusk in autumn 
and winter the flocks indulge in aerial exercise, wheeling and 
changing direction, as they rise and " tremble up to cloud." 
Their evolutions, though concerted, are without the quick turns 
and swaying swoops of sharp-winged waders. The air mastery 
of the Lapwing is seen in its nuptial flight. 

The ordinary call is a wheezy pee-wee, from which the bird 
gets the name " Peewit," with many local variants, but in 
February or early March both note and actions change. 
Before the winter flocks have dispersed, the males begin their 
erratic aerial dances, accompanied by a long, undulating, wild, 
but musical whistle, utterly impossible to put into words ; the 
bird rises almost heavily, sweeps round in a wide circle, 
suddenly dashes upward, and calls. As suddenly it hurtles 
earthward, turning and twisting, throwing its broad wings any- 
where, but never losing control, and often with the last excited 



200 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

hoo-00-ce, it drops lightly and runs forward with crest erect. 
During aerial display the Peewit often flies round in curves 
and circles, swinging from side to side and beating the air 
with a loud humming or soughing sound. This is not all the 
performance ; the male scrapes and sits in imaginary nests, 
turning in them as he scratches the hollow in frenzied haste, 
or bending forward, breast to ground, raises and exhibits the 
chestnut coverts and banded tail. In May I have heard the 
spring call before daybreak. 

So long as the site is open the nest may be anywhere, a 
shallow scrape in grass, on the ridge between furrows, in moor- 
land ling, even on a cinder spoil-bank. A few bents or straws 
are collected as decoration by the sitting bird, and occasionally 
mild efforts at nest construction are made. Four olive or dark- 
buff eggs, richly mottled (Plate 57), are arranged end to end ; 
clutches of five are rare. They are often laid in March, 
but so systematically are the nests robbed that young birds 
may be still unable to fly in August. The sitting bird 
leaves the nest silently, running for a few yards, and artlessly 
pretending to feed; then the pair will fly overhead, wailing, 
and, if the nest is threatened, dashing with a loud, angry 
peet at the head ot the enemy. The rufous, black-marbled 
down of the nestling is protective, and at the first warning 
call it crouches with head back, but not always hiding the white 
collar (Plate 83). I have lain beside the chick and watched the 
old bird run toward me, stopping every few feet to peck at 
imaginary food, until within four yards, and after I have ringed 
and released downy young they would run off and pretend to 
feed. Nestlings disturbed in the open will run for shelter. 
Thoughlhe parent birds will swoop at and strive to drive away 
a man, a dog, or even a cow which crosses their domains, it is 
incorrect to affirm, as many do, that they never feign disability 
in order to lure the enemy away. Commander Lynes saw one 
bird thus tempting a stoat away from its young, and I have 
seen a similar performance. 



OYSTER-CATCHER. 20I 

The crown, crest, face, throat, and breast of the male 
Lapwing in summer are black, the back and wings are metallic 
green glossed with bronze and purple ; the sides of the neck 
and under parts below the breast are white. A broad black 
subterminal band crosses the white tail, and the upper and 
under tail-coverts are bright chestnut. The bill is black, the 
legs fleshy red, the irides dark brown. The female has a 
shorter crest, and her wings, as pointed out by Mr. Frohawk, 
are narrower and less rounded. In winter the throat is, usually, 
white, and the upper parts show buff margins. The legs are 
much darker, dull purplish red, a fact which seems to be 
generally overlooked. The crest is shorter on the still buffer 
young, and their chins and throats are white ; females will 
breed before they have attained full black chins. The legs of 
the nestling are pale flesh. Length, 12 ins. Wing, 875 ins. 
Tarsus, i'6 ins. 



Sub-family H.^MATOPODIN^. 

Bill long, stout, and compressed ; toes united at base ; hind 
toe absent. 



Oyster-catcher. Hcematoptis ostralegtis Linn. 

The Oyster-catcher (Plate 85) is resident in Europe and 
central Asia, but a large number move southward in autumn ; 
many reach the. British Isles, where there is also a south- 
ward migration, but on most of our shores, whether rocky or 
sandy, birds are present at all seasons. It nests freely on the 
"Welsh and north-western coast, and in Scotland and Ireland, but 
is thinly distributed on the east and south shores of England. 

The long, stout, and compressed orange bill, the fleshy legs, 
and black and white plumage make the " Sea-pie " an easy bird 
to recognise. At all seasons it is sociable, and little parties of 



202 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

non-breeding birds feed on the shore when the residents are 
nesting ; in winter, when the migrants have arrived, the flocks 
are often immense. With the advance of the tide they pack 
on the lessening banks, or crowd on reefs and islets, and when 
forced to move rise with a chorus of calls, kleep^ kieep, kleep, 
and fly, low over the water, to a drier refuge. When they 
settle, the clamour rises in volume for a few seconds and then 
dies away. Long before the flocks break up in spring, the 
amorous males may be seen running on the banks or standing 
in groups with heads lowered and bills touching the ground, 
piping the trilling nuptial song. W^hen the tide falls the birds 
scatter over the ooze or rocks, plunging the bill deeply for 
cockles or worms, or wading over the still submerged mussel- 
scalps to catch their victims before they close their valves. 
There is little evidence that the bird ever opens oysters, but it 
forces back the valves of mussels and smaller bivalves with 
skill, as well as smartly knocking the unsuspecting limpet from 
its hold. On rare occasions a bird will fly up with a shell and 
drop it on hard sand or rock until it is fractured. Crabs and 
other crustaceans and small fishes are eaten. The call is a 
clear, ringing feet^feet, and the alarm a sharply emphasised and 
repeated //V, /^V, //V. Nesting birds are bold, mobbing human 
beings as well as avian visitors ; I have seen a pair drive away 
a Carrion-Crow, and another pair, when guarding young, chased 
the passing Herring-Gulls until they squawked in alarm, dodging 
the fierce assailants. They even flew out over the water to mob 
a passing steamer I 

The choice of the nesting site varies considerably, as does 
the quantity and quality of the nesting material. In England 
and Wales the nest is usually near the shore, but in Scotland 
the bird also nests on the banks of rivers and lochs. I have 
found nests in the middle of a field, on the clifl" edge, on rocky 
reefs and islands, on sandhills and pebble ridges. I have seen 
them unlined, or with a plentiful lining and wall of bents or 



/ 



\ 



y< 





-^SS^ 



2 P/. 85. 



O203. 



Lapwing. 
Oyster-catchei 



OYSTER-CATCHER. 203 

seaweed, and in some cases with a selection of small pebbles 
and broken shells (Plate 84). One scrape in light soil, two 
inches deep, was lined with dead thrift ; another, on a pebble 
ridge, was entirely lined with Patella shells, and one in turf 
with bits of stick and a few shells of a small Helix. The most 
eccentric surrounding wall I have seen was composed of the 
bones of a rabbit and a Puffin. Three is the usual number of 
the yellowish, blotched, or streaked eggs (Plate 80) ; they are 
laid as a rule in May, and are not placed end to end. The 
down of the newly hatched chick (Plate 86) is close and plushy, 
light grey with darker stripes and mottles, down the centre of 
the back, on the head, and stumpy wings. The bill is short and 
dark, reddish at the base, and the legs blue-grey with a slight 
fleshy tinge. In a few days the bill is dull orange, blackish at 
the tip, in curious contrast with that of the adult, which is 
orange with a lighter tip. The legs are browner. A half- 
feathered young bird in the middle of July had the bill red at 
the base, then yellow, and the tip black. The behaviour of birds 
when guarding eggs or young, varies individually, but at the 
least suspicion of danger the sitting bird slips silently away, and 
the first evidence of the vicinity of a nest is the monotonous 
^ic^ pic, of the pair, standing on rocks, mounds, or walls some 
distance apart. 

In summer the upper parts, except the lower back and upper 
tail-coverts, a patch on the wing, and a small streak below the 
eye, are black, as are the neck and throat ; these exceptions 
and the rest of the under parts are white. In winter there is a 
half collar of white on the throat and the sides of the neck are 
also white, and this is still more noticeable in immature birds, 
which are browner on the back and wings. The bill varies from 
orange-red to vermilion, the colour of the narrow rim round 
the blood-red eye. The legs are fleshy pink in summer, but 
rather more livid in winter. Length, i6"5 ins. Wing, 975 ins. 
Tarsus, i"8 ins. 



204 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Sub-family ARENARIIN^. 

Bill short and conical ; anterior toes with narrow lateral 
membranes ; hind toe present. 

Turnstone. Are/mria iiiterpres (Linn.). 

If we include as one the Old and New World forms, which 
are close allies, the Turnstone (Plate 82) is circumpolar in 
summer and cosmopolitan in winter. It breeds as near to 
Britain as Iceland and southern Scandinavia, but though 
often suspected of nesting in our islands no nest has ever 
been found ; it may be called a non-breeding resident, since 
it is present at all seasons. It is a common passage migrant 
and winter visitor, and many birds, even in breeding dress, 
linger on our shores all summer. 

The Turnstone is a wader of the rocky shore, though on 
sandy beaches it may be seen hunting along the tide-wrack. 
In full summer dress it is a tabby, short-legged shore bird, 
very black and white about the head and neck, with noticeable 
orange legs and a short, slightly uptilted bill. In immature 
and winter plumage it is more indefinite in its coloration, 
suggesting irregular black, white, grey, and brown markings ; 
it looks more variegated than other waders. When consorting 
with other birds it may be recognised by its actions as well as 
appearance. The pose is characteristic when a flock rests, often 
accompanied by Purple Sandpipers, on some rock just out of 
reach of the waves (Plate 88). Immigrants begin to appear 
in July and August, but before the end of September the wave 
of passage migration has spent its force, for many of our 
visitors may be bound for the southern hemisphere. From 
the latter half of April until June northward passage causes 
increase on our shores. The bulk of the birds which remain to 
winter, and also those about in summer, are immature. 



TURNSTONE. 205 

Although, on passage, the Turnstone occasionally visits 
inland waters, its favourite haunts are at the edge of the 
waves, either on tide-washed reefs or rocks. In its feeding 
habits it proves the value of its short pick-axe bill, using it 
as a lever to tip up and throw over large stones, hence its 
name, and with an upward sweep jerk the long strands of 
tangle aside, and quickly pounce on the astonished sand- 
hoppers, small crabs, and molluscs. I have watched it hunt- 
ing with Purple Sandpipers when the surf churned over the 
rocks, lifting the weed and submerging its orange legs ; its 
movements were then deliberate, but on the litter at high-water 
mark it runs quickly, its keen eye detecting any stone or bit of 
weed beneath which crustaceans may be sheltering. Never, so 
far as I have noticed, is a stone turned a second time. There 
are several oft-repeated stories of co-operation or "mutual aid" 
when the stone or dead fish was too heavy for the efforts of one 
bird, but I have once only seen two work at the same stone, 
and it appeared to me that competition rather than combina- 
tion had attracted them to a likely food spot. Dr. Patten tells 
how a Turnstone in his aviary killed three newly hatched 
Californian Quails by turning them two or three times a day, 
possibly mistaking them for fluffy weed. On shingle the 
variegated plumage is a useful protection ; the bird is almost 
invisible. It is tame or indifferent, and will permit close 
approach before it takes wing with a short. Redpoll-like trill ; as 
it flies the white on the wing and lower back are conspicuous, 
the bird flickering black and white. 

In summer dress, fully attained by the end of April, the head, 
lower back, and under parts are white, banded and blotched on 
the cheeks, neck, and breast, and streaked on the crown with 
black ; the back and wings are variegated with black and warm 
chestnut. The bill and irides are blackish brown, the legs 
bright orange. In winter the bird is darker and browner, the 
blacks replaced by greyish brown, and the whites on head and 



2o6 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

neck much suffused and speckled with brown ; the legs are 
duller. Immature birds resemble adults in- winter, but are 
buffer, and their upper parts are speckled with greyish white. 
In the same flock birds in various stages of immaturity or 
seasonal change may be noticed, for all do not attain their 
various plumages at the same time. Length, q ins. Wing, 
6 ins. Tarsus, i in. 



Order LARIFORMES, Gulls, Terns, and 
Skuas. 

Family LARID.^. 

Bill strong, tip recurved (Gulls, Skuas), straight and tapering 
(Terns) ; cere present (Skuas) ; anterior toes webbed ; hind 
toe present. 

Common Gull. Lams canus Linn. 

The Common Gull (Plate 89) ranges over northern Europe 
and Asia, and, in winter, north Africa and the Chinese seas. 
In the British Isles it is resident, a winter visitor, and a bird of 
passage ; it breeds abundantly in Scotland and Ireland, but 
not, usually, south of the Border. There are recent records 
of isolated nests on the Fames, the English side of the Solway, 
and Kent. 

Gulls as gulls are familiar, but the various species, owing 
to changes of plumage and variability in size, are difficult to 
identify ; the name Common Gull is a frequent source of error. 
In most parts, especially in England and Wales, the Black-head 
is the common gull, and as it loses its distinctive brown hood 
in winter is confused with the present species. The Common 
Gull is more robust, a stouter bird than the Black-head, but is 




Great Black-backed Gull. 




2 PL S7. 



207. 



Herring-Gull. 



COMMON GULL. 207 

considerably smaller than the Herring-Gull, which it resembles 
in its white and French grey plumage. When they can be 
seen the colours of bill and legs are useful distinguishing 
characters in gulls ; in the adult Common Gull the bill is 
greenish yellow, without the splash of red or orange, and the 
legs are yellowish green. In the flying bird white spots or 
" mirrors " show near the tips of the two first primaries ; these 
are not present in the Black-headed Gull or Kittiwake, which 
approach this species in size. Except for occasional immature 
birds, distinguished by the black band on the tail, the Common 
Gull deserts England and Wales in March or April, and as a 
rule does not return until August, though a few sometimes 
appear in July. It frequently visits inland waters, by no means 
only when storm driven, but is never so common away from 
the sea as the Black-head ; near the coast, however, it may be 
seen following the plough, or resting, preening its feathers or 
washing in fresh-water pools, on the cultivated land. 

Like other gulls, this bird is omnivorous, picking up garbage, 
animal for choice, on the shore, catching small surface- 
swimming fish, and. searching the sand and banks at low 
water for molluscs, crustaceans, and worms ; on land it eats 
earthworms and insects and their larvae, and occasionally a 
little grain. It will paddle in shallow water or wet sand, 
dancing or marking time to bring worms to the surface, and is 
more regular than other gulls in the habit of dropping bivalves 
in order to smash the closed shell. I have often watched the 
bird hunting for cockles and rising with one in its beak ; when 
at a height of from fifteen to thirty feet it will droop the head, 
hold the wings motionless for a second, and deliberately drop 
the mollusc on hard sand or rock, stooping at once to recover 
its treasure. If the shell is not cracked at the first attempt it 
will try again ; sweeping round until above the same spot, but 
never, so far as I have seen, rising to a greater height. This 
lack of reasoning power is strange, for in other ways the 



2o8 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

« 

bird shows remarkable sense. I saw one Gull drop its cockle 
ten times in one spot, and another only smashed it after 
eleven attempts ; in both cases the molluscs were dropped on 
sand ; yet three different birds, after a first unsuccessful attempt 
on sand, deliberately carried their cockles to above some flat 
sandstone rocks and dropped them. These rocks were littered 
with broken shells. 

The flight of the Common Gull is leisurely, its wing-beats 
more deliberate than those of the Black-head. It sails fre- 
quently, careening so as to benefit from every air current, and 
adjusting iis balance with its tail. It swims gracefully, but 
only submerges itself when excited by the pursuit of a shoal of 
fish. Its usual calls are a sharp kak^ kak, kak, an alarm note 
or threat, and a resounding kyah, but it has other calls difficult 
to express and impossible to interpret. One note, however, is 
either a love signal or challenge, but may be heard long before 
the bird leaves our shores ; the head is lowered and then raised, 
the bill pointed upwards, and, with the mandibles wide open, the 
bird gives vent to a series of clarion, laughing cries. 

At all seasons the Common Gull is gregarious, and though 
isolated pairs are met with in inland locaHties, the nests are 
usually in a colony on a cliff, an island either at sea or on a 
loch, or on the moors, even at over 2000 feet altitude. The 
nest is at times a scratching in short turf or on a ledge, but 
is often in thick heather or coarse herbage (Plate 90) ; it is 
seldom lined, but usually walled with grasses, ling, or rushes, 
and on the cliffs seaweed. Three is the normal number of 
eggs, which vary greatly in ground colour and markings ; a 
usual type is olive or buff, sparsely spotted with black (Plate 80), 
but I have seen unspotted blue eggs. Incubation begins in 
May, and the first young leave the colony as a rule in July. 
The nestlings, which like other juvenile gulls vary greatly, are 
greyish buff, mottled and streaked with black or brown. 

The adult bird in summer has pale grey back and wings, and, 



ifc- 





2 Fl. 8y. 



Common Gull. 
Kittiwake. 



HERRING-GULL. 209 

with the ex'ception of the black outer primaries and black- 
banded, white-tipped inner quills, is elsewhere snowy white ; 
the bill is green at the base, yellower towards the tip, the legs 
are distinctly greenish, and the irides blackish brown. In 
winter the head and hind neck are streaked with grey, but not 
blotched as in the winter Black-head. The young have mottled 
brown mantles with greyish feather edges, and their heads, - 
under parts, and flanks are spotted with grey and brown ; their 
primaries are brown and lack the white mirrors and tips, and 
the tail is broadly banded with black. The bill is brown, black 
at the tip, the legs pale brown. As they advance towards 
maturity the grey feathers appear in the mantle. Length, 
I7'5 ins. Wing, 14*5 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 



Herring-Gull. Lams arjentatiis Pontopp. 

Though it frequently wanders inland, the Herring-Gull 
(Plate 91) is the typical gull of the British coast. It nests on 
all suitable cliffs and islands, on Scottish lochs, and a few 
inland marshes. It has an American and western European 
range, breeding so far south as northern France, and is partially 
migratory, reaching the Mediterranean and other southern seas 
in winter. 

The Herring-Gull roughly agrees with the Lesser Black- 
backed in size, but its mantle is pearl -grey, not dark, and 
its legs flesh-coloured, not yellow, as in the latter bird. Its 
black outer primaries have " mirrors " like those of the 
Common Gull, but they have white tips and grey inner edges ; 
the yellow bill has a red mark or splash on the angled lower 
mandible. Mottled brown birds in various stages of imma- 
turity, for full plumage is not attained until the fourth or fifth 
year, are common at all seasons, and through an optical illusion 
appear larger than the grey and white old birds. Only by 
careful expert examination can these young be distinguished 

Series II, P 



2IO THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

from those of the Lesser Black-backed Gull, though as they 
grow the paler mantle serves to distinguish them. Although 
the Herring-Gull is certainly resident, it is also a partial 
migrant ; there is a marked northward movement at the end 
of April and in early May, though the diurnal movements 
to and from feeding and roosting grounds are easily confused 
with migration. In autumn British-marked birds have been 
recovered in Germany, but the species is decidedly kss 
migratory than the Lesser Black-back. 

The flight of the Herring-Gull is typical of all the larger 
_gulls, and can be studied when clouds of these birds follow in 
a steamer's wake. It drifts or sails, without noticeable wing 
action, even in the teeth of the wind, automatically adjusting 
its pose so as to benefit from every change of air current ; thus 
it will poise above the stern, travelling exactly at the rate of the 
ship, and glancing with yellow eye to right or left, ready to 
swoop to pick up from the waves any morsel thrown over or 
churned to the surface by the screw. After it has settled and 
been left far behind it rises, and in a few strong but never 
hurried wing-beats recovers its position and again sails. I 
have frequently seen birds drop one foot as if to adjust 
the balance whilst they scratched the beak with the other, 
and neither lose altitude nor speed. Indeed, all its graceful 
aerial actions are perfectly controlled. Often a number will 
rise for high flights, wheeling, mere specks in the sky. With 
the Black-head it comes to harbours and coastal towns, 
wrangling amongst the fishing boats for the garbage and offal, 
a useful scavenger. In the Mersey it floats with the tide past 
the anchored liners, flying back again and again to keep a 
watch for the appearance of cook or steward disposing of scraps. 
In rows it lines the dock sheds, or perches on the chimneys 
and pinnacles of high buildings. On its native cliffs it will 
stand, looking seaward, and at Tenby and other towns where 
the houses crest the cliffs it is just as ready to use the roof 




X 



\ 



..^ 



^^ 



^ 



^ 



J(^ 



2 /'/. 01. 




7'2II. 



Herring-Gull. 
Lesser Black-backed Gull. 



HERRING-GULL. 211 

parapet. In some seaside resorts — Llandudno, for example — 
the charity of visitors is rewarded by contident familiarity ; 
both young and old birds have taken food from my hand as 
they stood on the sea-wall. The bird usually rests on one leg, 
the long body horizontal, the head sunk in the shoulders, and 
when on the beach, head to wind. 

Its feeding habits are similar to those of the Common Gull ; 
it drops crabs and molluscs to smash them, though in my 
experience less frequently than the other species ; it also dances 
in wet sand or at the edge of the waves ; I have seen it 
marking time and swaying slightly until its legs were entirely 
hidden in the sand. It will occasionally dive for food, though 
somewhat awkwardly. On fields near the shore it follows the 
plough, but on cultivated land does not confine its attention 
to "pests," for its cast-up pellets, which with broken shells and 
claws of crabs litter the cliff-top, often contain husks of oats or 
other grain. All gulls are egg-robbers, looting unguarded nests 
of other sea-birds, and occasionally scouring the moors and 
fields ; the Herring-Gull is no exception. The bird has a loud 
and strident voice, which may trail off into a mournful wail ; 
usual more cheerful notes are a plaintive, cat-like mew and a 
round full hoh^ hoh, hoh. It has a defiant kehoh, and a harsh 
ha, ha, ha, a threat rather than alarm note when the breeding 
colony is invaded, but when the bird is specially annoyed this 
becomes a barking and rapid wow, ow, ow. The challenge, 
uttered with uplifted, wide-open beak, is clear and ringing. 

The nests are in colonies on the grassy slopes and ledges of 
high cliffs, or on grassy islands. At times the nest is sheltered 
by a rock, but is often in the open, and in one colony many 
were in thick alexanders, and others amidst cushions of thrift, 
surrounded by hyacinths ; the flowers of the last plant had been 
picked to decorate the edge of one nest. Some nests were close 
to a trodden path, others on the wall of a ruin. 

The nests are built of a variable quantity of roots, grass, and 



212 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

seaweed, and often have a little sheep's wool mixed in the lining ; 
they are shallow and untidy as a rule. Three is the normal 
number of eggs, which are dark olive or pale brown, plentifully 
blotched with dark brown (Plate 87). I have found five eggs, 
but of two distinct types, probably laid by two females ; incuba- 
tion begins about the middle of May. The down of the nestlings 
(Plate 92) varies greatly ; in one nest I have seen two very 
grey and black chicks, and one very dark brown. At an early 
stage the bill is black, pale at the tip, and the legs reddish 
black. The irides are dark brown at first, and remain brown 
until at least the second year, but those of the mature bird are 
bright yellow, surrounded by pale-yellow rims to the eyes. The 
young are fed by regurgitation (Plate 95), and long after they 
can fly they follow the old birds with outstretched necks, 
whistling demands ; they have also a shrill and plaintive cry. 
In the first autumn the mottled greyish-brown young with 
white, brown-banded tails, have black bills, slightly fleshy at 
the base, and slate-grey legs with pink webs. As the pearl-grey 
feathers gradually replace the brown, the colour of bill and legs 
changes. In winter the adult bird has greyish streaks on its 
white head and neck. The sizes of mature birds vary con- 
siderably. Length, 24 ins. Wing, 17*5 ins. Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Yellow-legged Herring-Gull. Lams cachinna7is Pallas. 

The Yellow-legged Herring-Gull, an inhabitant of southern 
Europe and western Asia, has been obtained in Norfolk and 
reported as seen in Kent. In February, 191 8, Mr. F. W. Holder 
watched a bird near Southport which, from his description, I 
beheve was of this species. When mature it has a darker 
mantle and brighter bill than our bird, and very yellow legs ; 
the irides are yellow, the eye-rims orange. The grey on the 
head in winter is obscure. Length, 23 ins. Wing, 16 ins. 
Tarsus, 2*2 ins. 



GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL. 213 

Great Black-backed Gull. Lams marinus Linn. 

The Great Black-backed Gull (Plate 93) ranges over northern 
Europe, Greenland, and eastern North America, and migrates 
south in winter, reaching the Mediterranean and Florida. It. 
breeds plentifully in Scotland, the Scottish islands, and north 
and west Ireland, even in some inland localities, but in western 
England and Wales it is not abundant in summer, and on the 
south coast there are few nesting pairs and none on the east. 
In winter it is present in estuaries and along the coast in 
considerable numbers, for there is a general southward move- 
ment. 

The size of the bird and its very dark mantle distinguish 
it from the Lesser Black-back and all other gulls. When rest- 
ing with other gulls on the banks or sand it stands, a black- 
backed giant, dwarfing even the Herring-Gulls, and making 
the Black-heads look mere pygmies. Considering its tyrannical 
and predacious habits, it is extraordinary how peacefully small 
gulls will stand or rest beside it ; it is a confirmed bird eater. 
On the wing its movements are easy and deliberate ; it sails 
lightly in spite of its bulk, and often soars to an immense 
height. It is rarely met with inland. Little is known about 
its migrations beyond the fact that there is a great increase in 
numbers in all parts after the nesting season. For over a 
week in early October I watched the passage of this and the 
smaller bird, and though the Great Black-back was not so 
abundant as the Lesser, very large numbers passed all day and 
every day. Many of these rested on the wide expanse of the 
Humber " clays," which, as far as the eye could reach, was 
spotted with the conspicuous birds ; all, however, were coasting 
south, and did not appear to have crossed the North Sea. In 
winter the bird is common in the Lancashire and Cheshire 
estuaries, and along the sandy shores, though only a few 
scattered pairs nest on the North Wales coast. 



214 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The hoarse, barking airji, agh, agh, differs from the notes 
of other gulls, and when I have been at the nest, the old bird 
wheeled high overhead with deep guttural, angry barks, ugh, 
7igh, more emphatic than the normal note. The challenge, 
however, uttered with head raised, differs but little from that 
of its congeners. After this vociferous call, the bird lowers the 
head below the level of the raised shoulders, and peers from 
side to side as if expecting a reply. All gulls are omnivorous, 
but the Great Black-back prefers its meals to be of flesh, either 
recent or ancient. A dead rat, dog, or whale is alike accept- 
able to the " Corpse-eater " ; where the carcase is there will 
the Black-backs gather, keeping the smaller fry away. It will 
pounce upon and half devour the " cripple," before the wild- 
fowler can gather it ; it ruthlessly slays its neighbours, the 
Puffins and Shearwaters, tearing out their entrails and leaving 
the rest for the rats ; it has been known to bolt whole so large 
birds as Redshank and Little Auk. Mr. J. A. Dockray saw one 
chase and capture on the wmg a passerine bird which was 
crossing the Dee estuary. I have not seen the Great Black- 
back drop molluscs, but it has been known to lift and drop 
the Puffin which it had been worrying, after shaking it as a 
dog shakes a rat. 

In England and Wales this bird usually nests singly on the 
top of some stack or rocky headland, but in Ireland and 
Scotland there are some large colonies. It occasionally nests 
in the centre of a colony of Lesser Black-backs. On Puffin 
Island, though no Great Black-back was visible, Miss E. L. 
Turner and I examined a nest which contained three eggs, two 
of them typical eggs of the Lesser Black-back, and one which 
measured 76 by 58 mm., about the size of the Qgg of the Greater 
Black-back. It was long doubted if the bird nested in the Isle 
of Man ; Mr. T. Taylor, however, found and photographed the 
nest shown on Plate 97. The nest is an untidy collection of 
seaweed, thrift and grass torn up by the roots, sticks, and 




■^ 



LESSER BLACK-BACKED GCJLL. 21 5 

litter, placed either on turf or the bare rock. The eggs 
(Plate 87), as frequently two as three in a clutch, are buff 01 
olive, usually boldly but not profusely spotted with brown and 
grey ; they are laid in May or early June. The nestling, which 
is fed by regurgitation, has pale-grey, often yellowish down, 
boldly spotted with black ; its bill and legs are lead-blue, its 
irides dark brown. At a very early age it leaves the nest and 
runs for shelter if approached, crouching under a rock or 
amongst herbage. 

The quills and scapulars of the mature bird are white tipped, 
the second primary usually has a "mirror" ; the bill is yellow 
with red on the deeply angled under mandible, the orbits are 
red, and the irides yellow. The legs vary from flesh colour to 
pink-tinted white. In winter there are brownish-grey streaks 
on the head and neck, but these are often lost before the end 
of the year. In the first plumage of dappled brown and grey, 
the bird is paler than the young Herring-Gull, but in its second 
year there is some indication of the dark mantle. Observations 
on the changes of plumage of birds in captivity give such 
different results that it seems unsafe to take them as a guide, 
and the actual date at which maturity is reached is uncertain, 
but probably about the fourth year ; the bill changes from 
blackish grey to yellow, but during the change shows a pinkish 
tinge at the base, and the black remains longest as a band 
towards the tip. Length, 29 ins. Wing, 19 ins. Tarsus, 
3 ins. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull. Lams fusais Linn. 

In 1912 Mr. P. R. Lowe called attention to the paler slate- 
grey mantle of the British Lesser Black-backed Gull (Plate 91), 
as compared with the slate-black of the Scandinavian bird. 
The dark Lams fuscus ficscics Linn., nests in Scandinavia and 
eastern Russia, and in Siberia is replaced by yet another form, 



2l6 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

but the lighter L. f. affinis Reinhardt, breeds in the British 
Isles, the Fa;roes, western France, and perhaps elsewhere ; 
both races are migratory, and both occur on passage and, 
occasionally, as winter visitors. How frequently the dark bird 
occurs is not certain, for it is often difficult to judge the depth 
of shade of a flying gull. The winter range of the two forms 
is not known with certainty, but that a large number of our 
birds leave is proved by the frequent recovery of ringed Lesser 
Black-backs in France, Spain, Portugal, and north-west Africa. 
The largest colonies of the British bird are in Scotland, 
Ireland, the north-east and western shores of England, and 
Wales. 

The Lesser Black-back is a smaller and slighter edition of 
the Great Black-back, but differs from both this and the 
Herring-Gull in its yellow legs. In immature plumage, though 
at first it closely resembles the Herring at the same age, the 
darker mantle soon becomes apparent. In spring and summer, 
especially near nesting colonies, this gull is common, though 
never so abundant as the Herring-Gull, but in spring and 
autumn it is a far more familiar bird inland, for there are 
regailar overland as well as coastal migratory movements. 
From about the middle of March until June birds are going 
north, and from July or August until October, passing south. 
In inland localities the birds often travel singly or in twos or 
threes, but on the Yorkshire coast, early in October, I have 
seen huge passages. On October 6th, one year, Lesser and 
Great Black-backs passed practically continuously from 9 a.m. 
till 6 p.m., often 50 to 100 at once ; the smaller birds far out- 
numbered the larger. After timing the birds at intervals I found 
that the average rate was about 50 per minute ; 20,000 a day 
was a low estimate, and this passage continued for over a week. 
Most of the Lessers came in from off the sea, from the north- 
east, but at that time I was unaware of the racial characters. 
In sprmg in Cheshire I see most birds passing between the 



LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. 217 

first and third week in April, but in Norfolk have noticed 
steady northward passage early in May. 

The Lesser Black-back joins the Herring-Gull in its watchful 
and sustained flights behind steamers, remaining on the wing 
for hours, also in the frenzied raids on shoals of fish, when the 
water is churned by the plunging and superficial dives of the 
excited birds, and the air rings with their cries ; it is an 
equally useful scavenger in rivers and harbours. It is as 
omnivorous as the commoner bird, but its reputation, like its 
back, is blacker ; so emphatically did the game-preserver 
accuse it of egg robbery that it was excepted from the pro- 
tection given to most other gulls. At its nesting colonies the 
disembowelled corpses of Puffins and Shearwaters prove it as 
murderous as its larger relative ; certainly on Puffin Island I 
have seen more bodies in the Black-back colony than on 
Herring-Gull ground. It delights, too, in a large carcase, only 
yielding its place to the Greater Black-back. Its manner of 
flight, its pose on land, and its habit of perching on an elevation 
agree with the Herring-Gull, but its calls differ slightly. The 
loud ky-eoh, as it sounds to me, and the angry hakak-ak^ or 
wow-ow-ow, when it swoops with a rush toward the head of an 
intruder, sound more ferocious than the usual wails of the 
Herring-Gull ; but both birds have a wailing mew and an 
irate bark. The normal ow or owch is deeper and more 
melancholy than the call of the other bird. 

Though I have found odd pairs of Lessers nesting with 
Herring- Gulls, it usually keeps in a colony by itself. Loud 
though the clamour is when a colony of the latter bird is in- 
vaded, the medley of angry voices and the frequent threatening 
swoop of an anxious parent is more marked on Black-back 
ground. The bird may be slighter in build and weaker in bill 
than the Herring-Gull, but, in my experience, it is much bolder. 
Grassy islands and marshes are more usual nesting sites than 
steep cliffs. The nests vary in size and construction, but 



2l8 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

though often smaller, closely resemble those of its constant 
neighbour ; I have found the eggs in a scratched hollow without 
a vestige of nesting material. The eggs (Plate 94), two or three 
in number, are sometimes greenish, but usually stone-coloured 
or buff in ground, and boldly spotted ; they are laid in May. 
I doubt if there is any certain distinction between the mottled 
nestlings (Plate 99) and those of the Herring-Gull ; the down, 
often greyish, is sometimes warm in tint, but varies greatly. 
The blackish bill is at first pale at the tip, but soon darkens ; 
the legs are dull slate but become browner, and the irides, dark 
brown at first, grow paler and more yellow during the three or 
four years of immaturity. In the first brown dress the two can 
only be distinguished by close examination, but after a moult 
or two the darker mantle becomes evident. The bill grows 
yellower, the black remaining on the angle until replaced by 
red when almost mature plumage is attained, and the banded 
tail becomes mottled before it is finally pure. 

The adult bird, slate-grey and white, has " mirrors " on the 
first two primaries ; the bill is yellow with red on the angle, 
the legs and irides are yellow, and the orbital ring vermilion. 
In winter the head and neck are streaked with grey. Length, 
22 ins. Wing, 16 ins. Tarsus, 2*6 ins. 

Glaucous Gull. Lams giaucus Briinnich. 

The pale plumage of the Glaucous Gull (Plate 96) is sug- 
gestive of an Arctic species, for not only does this gull nest 
north of the Arctic Circle in both hemispheres, but it often 
remains for the winter. It is, however, also a migrant, and 
wanders south as far as the Mediterranean, and, in America, 
Florida ; to the Orkneys, Shetlands, and Outer Hebrides it is 
a regular autumn visitor. Both mature and immature birds 
reach the Shetlands in October, and some, mostly young, remain 
all winter. On the east coast it is a frequent "hard-weather" 




^•- 





4 



GLAUCOUS GULL. 219 

bird, and it also occurs regularly in the north-west of Ireland. 
Elsewhere it is an uncommon straggler, but is doubtless more 
frequent than would be supposed from the records ; it occurs 
occasionally on the west coast. 

In size the Glaucous or " Burgomaster " Gull corresponds 
with the Great Black-back, and may be distinguished from all 
other large gulls, except the Iceland, by the absence of black 
on the primaries ; the Iceland is about the size of the Herring- 
Gull. The Glaucous is a very white-looking bird when mature, 
and at all ages is pale ; its light-grey mantle is several shades 
paler than that of the Herring-Gull. When at rest it may be 
distinguished from the Iceland Gull by the relative shortness 
of its wings, which when closed rarely project beyond the tail. 
From even the Great Black-back it differs in its " steady soar- 
ing flight," for it shows less angle in the wing than any other 
gull ; indeed, its shape when at a height resembles rather a 
Buzzard or other raptorial bird. There are " good " and " bad " 
years for this species, and doubtless the irregularity in its 
numbers is due to abundance or shortness of food caused by 
climatic variation in the Arctic. Though it delights in dead meat, 
and helps to dispose of the refuse turned out from the whaling 
stations, it is even more predacious than the Great Black-back ; 
it worries all birds smaller and weaker than itself, ripping them 
to bits with its massive beak. It has been known to swallow 
a Golden Plover without troubling to dismember it. Its calls 
differ little from those of its congeners. 

The adult in summer is very pale grey on the back and 
wings, and the rest of the plumage is white, including the tips 
of the quills. In winter the head is faintly streaked with 
brownish grey. The bill is yellow with an orange patch at the 
angle ; the legs are pink, the irides yellow, and the eye-rims 
vermihon. At first the young bird is pale buff, mottled, barred, 
and streaked with ashy brown, lighter than any other gull in 
corresponding plumage. With each moult the colour pales, 



220 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

and the bill, legs, and irides, which are at first brownisli, 
approach nearer to the colours of maturity. Length, 29 ins. 
Wing, iS'5 ius. Tarsus, 275 ins. 



Iceland Gull. Lams hucopteriis Faber. 

The Iceland Gull (Plate 96) nests in Greenland and part of 
Arctic America ; its breeding range and its winter wanderings 
are more restricted than those of the last species. It is not a 
native of Iceland, but winters there, arriving in September and 
leaving in May. Annually some reach the Shetlands, and 
usually other northern islands and the Scottish coast, but else- 
where it is a rare straggler, except during an invasion of the 
species, when it is met with in all parts. 

The main difference between this whitish gull and the 
Glaucous is size ; it is about the bulk of the Lesser Black- 
back. From all other gulls, except the rare Ivory Gull, which 
has black legs, it can be told by its whitish primaries. In 
its later stages of immaturity it is dull or dirty white, and 
though in its first winter it is said to be darker than the first- 
year Glaucous, it is paler looking than other young gulls. Mr. 
H. G. Alexander, who watched a bird at Dungeness, noted its 
peculiar cry. It frequently consorts with Herring or other 
gulls, and even feeds with them on insects and grain in the 
fields ; it does not appear to be specially partial to carrion, 
and certainly is less predacious than the fierce Glaucous. 

The proportionately longer wings, which project well beyond 
the tail when the bird is at rest, look long and narrow in 
flight ; it flies with ease and buoyancy. The very pale-grey 
and white bird has the head streaked with greyish brown in 
winter. The yellow bill has red at the angle, but the legs are 
flesh-coloured, as are the eye-rims, dirferent in both cases from 
those of the Glaucous; the irides are yellow. The immature 
stages, so far as they have been worked out, appear to 



MEDITERRANEAN BLACK-HEADED GULL. 221 

correspond with those of the larger bird, and it is said that 
maturity is not reached until the fourth year. Length, 22 ins. 
Wing, 17 ins. Tarsus, 2*4 ins. 

Great Black-headed Gull. Lams ichthyaetus Pallas. 

The Great Black-headed Gull, a native of the eastern 
Mediterranean and central Asia, has wandered to England ; 
one having been obtained in Devon in the spring of 1859. 
There is a more recent report for Kent. It is a large gull, 
about the size of the Great Black-back, with a black, not brcwn 
hood, and a slightly darker mantle than our small bird. The 
white-tipped secondaries form a bar on the wing, and the 
primaries are white, broadly barred with black. In winter the 
hood is replaced by dark streaks. The yellow bill has an 
orange patch or band across both mandibles, and a black line 
crosses this band ; the legs are greenish yellow, the irides dark 
brown, and there are whitish lines above and below the eye. 
The female is often much smaller than the male. Length, 26 
ins. Wing, 19 ins. Tarsus, 3 ins. 

Mediterranean Black-headed Gull. Lams melano- 
cephalus Temm. 

This Black-headed Gull is a bird of the eastern Mediterranean 
and Black Sea, and occurs in the south of France and Spain. 
On three or four, possibly more, occasions it has been taken as 
a wanderer in England, usually in autumn or winter in southern 
counties, but once as far north as Yorkshire. The head in 
this species is really black, and extends further on the nape 
and neck than in most hooded gulls ; the mantle is light pearl 
grey, and the primaries white towards the tips, but there are 
black lines down the webs. The bill and legs are scarlet, the 
former crossed by a narrow dark band. The irides are brown, 



222 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the eyes rimmed with red, and above and below the eye is a 
small white streak. The distribution of brown and grey on 
the white head in winter, and the mottles on the wings and 
streaky head of the immature bird, closely correspond with the 
seasonal and age changes of our Black-headed Gull. Length, 
15-5 ins. Wing, 1175 ins. Tarsus, rg ins. 

Bonaparte's Gull. Zar?is Philadelphia (Ord). 

Bonaparte's Gull breeds in northern America and migrates 
so far south as the Gulf of Mexico ; it has occurred six or seven 
times in Ireland, Scotland, and England, apparently as a 
wanderer rather than a migrant out of its course, since it 
has appeared at various seasons. Its flight is light and tern- 
like, so much so that Ord first classed it with the terns ; it 
swoops towards the water to catch insects, and flutters after 
them in the air. Its voice, according to American writers, 
differs from that of other gulls, being faint, shrill, and often 
repeated. 

Its size is between that of the Black-head and the Little Gull. 
The hood is slate-black in summer, but in winter the head is 
nearly white ; the first primary is white with a black outer 
margin and tip in mature birds, and dusky-brown margins, on 
either side of the shaft, in the young, but the white inner web 
of the first two primaries is a good diagnostic character. The 
bill is black, the legs are red, and the irides brown. Young 
birds, except in the primaries, resemble young Black-heads. 
Length, 14 ins. Wing, 1025 ins. Tarsus, 1-4 ins. 

Black-headed Gull. Lams ridibundiis Linn. 

The range of the Black-headed Gull (Plate 98) extends over 
Europe and most of Asia, and in winter includes northern 
Africa. In all parts of the British Isles it is resident and 








2 PL 96. 



P 222, 



Glaucous Gull. 
Iceland Gull (immature). 




I ^.•• 



mm' 




BLACK-HEADED GULL. 223 

migratory, for many of our birds go south in autumn, and gulls 
from the north and east come as winter visitors or birds of 
passage. 

Lilford and others tried to alter the name to Brown-headed 
Gull on account of the coffee-brown and not black nuptial 
hood, but the old-established name should stand. Amongst 
those whose interest in birds is superficial the fact that this 
is our commonest species causes confusion ; they call it the 
*' Common Gull," and insist that its head is not black, ignoring 
the seasonal change of plumage. The brown hood is worn in 
spring and summer, though exceptionally it is retained all winter, 
or regained before the end of the year ; most birds lose the 
hood in August. The Black-head is an inland as well as coastal 
gull ; it is never pelagic and is seldom seen far from land ; it 
nests as far from the sea as the Pennines, and feeds regularly in 
fields and sewage farms at fifty miles or more from the coast. 
Yet the old notion that a gull inland is a sign of bad weather dies 
hard. The adult bird in summer may always be recognised 
by the brown hood, blood-red bill and legs, and at any season 
by the white outer fringe of the wing contrasting with the pearl- 
grey of the mantle ; the dark inner webs of the outer primaries 
are hidden, though the black tips are not. In winter the white 
head is blotched with brownish grey on the ear-coverts and 
near the eye ; the head of the Common Gull at this season is 
streaked with grey. Young birds have the wings mottled with 
chestnut-brown, and can always be told by the band on the tail : 
their bills and legs are yellowish red. 

The \ying-beats of the Black-head are quicker than in larger 
gulls, and its build is slimmer ; there is a suggestion of relation- 
ship to terns in many of its movements. It has a desultory 
uncertain flight ; it wavers, careens, and drifts, but when 
migrating or hurrying often flies steadily, and a party will adopt 
chevron formation. When about to alight on water the bird 
will " shoot " hke a Rook, darting down with half-open wings, 



224 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

turning and twisting as it descends. The quickest flight is 
when in pursuit of some favourite food ; a big rise of May-fly, the 
emergence and nuptial flight of crane-flies, "coch-a-bonddu," or 
winged ants, excites the greedy birds. I have seen the air a 
maze of dodging, screaming gulls, their white wings fluttering 
as they checked their hurried rushes and swoops after the erratic 
insects. Although omnivorous like other gulls, the Black-head 
is undoubtedly a useful bird, especially inland ; it follows the 
plough, wrangling with the Rooks and Starlings, or with its 
companions, as it hastens almost to the ploughman's heels. 
Stomach examination proves that though many worms and 
some harmless insects are eaten, great numbers of "leather- 
jackets " and wireworms are taken from the newly turned 
ground, and Prof. Newstead's examination of a number of 
pellets, picked up after a plague of crane-flies, was convincing 
evidence of its value. In rivers and on the shore it devours 
insanitary garbage, and is a faithful attendant on the fishing 
fleet when the catch is sorted. It is true that a little grain is 
picked up, and that a small percentage of fishy matter has 
been found in the stomach, but the good it does far outweighs 
the harm ; indeed, it is a poor fisherman, lacking speed and 
diving skill, though I have seen it clumsily submerge when 
attempting to capture fish. At dusk on the Welsh uplands, 
far from the sea, I have watched it sweeping to and fro with 
undulating swoops, picking ofl" the male ghost moths as they 
hovered with their strange pendulum-flight above the long grass 
—both birds and moths ghostly in the gloom. It will paddle 
to bring food to the surface like other gulls, either in the 
shallow tide-pool or the mud of a harbour. 

Inland, after feeding all day, it retires to some lake to roost, 
bathing and preening before settling down ; on one Cheshire 
mere considerably over a thousand collect nightly in winter ; 
it will wash in the sprinkler tank on the roof of a cotton mill in 
a busy Lancashire town. The corvine call note is harsh and 



BLACK-HEADED GULL. 22$ 

scolding ; from this, or its habits in the fields, it is called the 
"Sea-Crow." "Peewit-Gull," because it nests in marshes, is 
another name. The idea that any of its calls are "laughing" 
is strange ; they are often peevish or quarrelsome in tone, and 
when a nesting colony is visited the angry kik, kik, kik, is 
usually the prelude to a fierce swoop at the head of the visitor. 
I have never been struck by the descending bird ; it has always 
swept upward with fluttering wings, and a harsh screaming 
kraah, a foot above my head. Since the passing of the Bird 
Protection Bill in 1880, this gull has increased enormously, in 
some measure owing to the checking of ruthless shooting of 
young birds, but the eggs are still gathered for food, and 
sold as " plovers' eggs " ; the adaptability of the species" is an 
important factor. 

At all times the bird is sociable, consorting with waders and 
other gulls on the shore, and with Lapwings, Golden Plovers, 
and Rooks inland, but it is most gregarious in its nesting habits. 
The marshy edge of a lake, or the islands and tussocks in a 
shallow pool, are the most favoured nesting sites, and these 
may be close to the shore or on the moors at over 1000 feet. 
Some of the largest gulleries are on sandhills, where I have 
seen nests thick in the marram ; one I have visited is on 
saltings flooded by spring tides, but the birds persist in their 
annual attempt in spite of repeated catastrophes. When a 
gullery is approached the gulls rise and whirl overhead with an 
angry and anxious clamour, the boldest making repeated 
threatening dashes, but they soon quiet down. When watching 
the gulls I have repeatedly seen a strange manoeuvre, also 
noticed amongst terns ; suddenly the noisy bickerings will 
cease, and the whole colony fly off in a cloud with a weird 
hush ; in a few seconds the flock breaks up, the birds drift 
back, and the normal clamour is resumed. I have seen three 
of these departures in an hour. The nest is a mass of sticks, 
sedges, rushes, or grass, often large when on wet ground ; it 

Series II. q 



226 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

is placed on a tussock in the water, on level dry ground, 
on a rock or wall, exceptionally in a tree ; indeed, the bird 
builds anywhere. The eggs (Plate 80) are two or three in 
number, more rarely four, and vary greatly in ground and 
markings ; some are bluish, others olive, green, buff, or brown, 
with blotches, spots, or zones of black, grey, and brown. The 
nestlings are almost as variable, the down being grey, buff, or 
brown, mottled and striped with irregular lines of black and 
brown. At one gullery I found that the legs of various birds 
of only a few days old were salmon-pink, brown, leaden, or 
blue-black. The young bird (Plate loi) is at first suffused with 
brown and shows but little white, most of its motthngs being 
on the wings and back, but by the autumn the head is whitish 
with semi-lunar bands of grey on the crown and nape and 
blotches on the ear-coverts ; the sides of the neck, upper tail- 
coverts, under parts, and tail are white, the last crossed by a 
broad brown band, the back is pearl-grey, and the wings and 
coverts tipped and mottled with grey and brown. The outer 
primaries show a white centre. The plumage of the adult bird 
is described above ; the irides are brown. Length, 16 ins. 
Wing, 1175 ins. Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Little Gull. Lams mijiutus Pallas. 

The Little Gull (Plate 100) breeds in northern Europe and 
Asia, and winters as far south as northern Africa. Its autumnal 
migrations appear to trend westward, and as within recent 
years it has also extended its breeding area westward, it is 
hardly surprising that to our eastern seaboard it is a fairly 
regular winter visitor or passage migrant in spring and autumn. 
In some years it is even plentiful. On the west coast and in 
Ireland it is more occasional, but is doubtless often overlooked 
amongst the numerous Black-headed Gulls. 

In flight this bird looks smaller and more round-winged than 





'S 



^^p 




2 /y. 98. 



Black-headed GuH. 
Sabine's Gull. 



Q 226. 



LITTLE GULL. 227 

the Black-head ; I have seen the two flying near together. It 
has been hkened to a tern, but there is nothing tern-hke in its 
much less pointed wings. In the adult bird the primaries are 
grey with white edges and tips ; the outer primary looks white 
in flight, and the pale upper surface of the wing throws up the 
smoky under surface, as the bird loiters through the air, for 
it has a peculiarly hesitating, desultory flight. Its slightly 
forked tail is also noticeable when expanded, as it checks its 
speed or turns to snatch at a flying insect. Insects, even so 
small as gnats, form a considerable proportion of its food, 
though it catches small fish. Its call, said to be sharp and 
harsh, I have not heard ; it is not a noisy bird in winter. 

In nuptial dress the Little Gull has the whole head, including 
the nape, black ; the back and wings are very pale grey, and 
the rest of the plumage is white. There is a rosy tinge on the 
abdomen, a character which is often present in other small 
gulls during life, but fades at once on a skin. The bill is dark 
red, the legs are vermilion, and the irides brown. In winter 
all that remains of the black head is a few streaks on the nape ; 
the legs and bill are duller. In first plumage the crown, nape, 
cheeks, and back are brown, streaked and mottled, and the back 
is mottled with buff, white, and grey ; the primaries are sooty 
except on the inner edge, and the under wing is white. Later 
the crown is flecked with grey and the ear-coverts and a line 
round the eye are blackish, there is a half-collar of grey and 
a sooty bar on the wing. As the bird advances towards 
maturity the back becomes purer grey, and the central tail 
feathers white, leaving a few half- bars on the outer tail feathers, 
a remnant of the original band. In a second-year bird examined 
the bill was still black, but the legs were yellowish red. 
Length, ii ins. Wing, 8-5 ins. Tarsus, i in. 



228 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Ross's Gull. RhodostetJiia rosea (Macgill.). 

Ross's Gull is a bird of Arctic seas, and so far has been 
found nesting in one place only, in north-eastern Siberia. The 
bird has been included as British on the strength of a single 
occurrence in Yorkshire in 1846 or 1847, but the history of this 
specimen is marred by discrepancy, and it was " discovered by 
a dealer " who promptly sold it. Saunders was doubtful about 
including it, but Nelson thought that it really had been killed 
in the countr)', though the editors of the Field expressed a 
healthy scepticism. The best evidence brought forward was 
that the bird was recorded for Heligoland, but may not German 
dealers have found credulous purchasers even on Heligoland? 
The most likely locality to be exploited is one where rarities 
are known to occur. The bird is pale grey and white, the head 
and under parts suffused with a rosy tinge ; the outer primary 
has a black outer web. The short bill is black, the legs are 
coral-red, the irides brown. In summer only, the neck is 
encircled by a narrow black collar. Immature birds are 
mottled with greyish brown and white on the wings. Length, 
13"5 ins. Wing, 10*25 i^^s. Tarsus, i'25 ins. 

Sabine's Gull. Xema sahinii (Sabine). 

Sabine's gull (Plate 98) is a circumpolar Arctic species 
which visits western Europe in winter with some degree of 
regularity ; it is recorded almost every autumn or winter from 
the east coast of England, and has been met with elsewhere in 
England, Scotland, and Ireland as an occasional visitor. The 
majority of the birds which reach us are immature. 

Apparently the wind or other agency that drives Sabine's 
Gull to our shores is the same which affects the Grey Phalarope 
and Little Gull ; when these two are here we may look out tor 
the rarer bird. On the wing it is graceful and tern-like, and its 



IVORY GULL. 229 

forked tail is much more pronounced than that of the Little 
Gull. Many of its visits have been when terns were on the 
move, and it has been seen associating with them ; indeed, 
Mr. Caton Haigh was reminded of the note of the Arctic Tern 
when he heard a young Sabine call. 

In its nuptial dress, which is occasionally seen in England 
— ten or a dozen have been noted in this plumage in Yorkshire 
alone — the head and neck are slate, with a black line where the 
hood meets the general white plumage. The back and wings 
are dark pearl-grey, the outer primaries are black tipped and 
inwardly margined with white, and the inner primaries and 
secondaries are mostly white. The yellow-tipped bill is black, 
the legs are brownish black, and the irides, at any rate in some 
examples, red. In winter the head is only marked with grey 
streaks and suffusion. Young birds have the back, wings, and 
a patch on the side of the breast ashy grey with brown bars ; 
the nape is dusky and the forked tail broadly bordered with 
dark brown. Length, 13 ins. Wing, 1075 i^s. Tarsus, 1*3 ins. 

lYOry Gull. Pagophila ebiirnea (Phipps). 

The Ivory Gull (Plate 103) is another circumpolar bird which 
is almost an Arctic resident, but wanders south occasionally, 
and has reached most parts of our islands, though it is best 
knoAvn in the Orkneys and Shetlands. Though a winter visitor 
it has remained so late as June ; unlike the last species, as 
many mature as immature birds are met with. 

In its adult dress, whether in summer or winter, this gull is 
white ; the white mantle distinguishing it from all others. 
The white of immature birds is spotted with dark grey or black 
to a variable degree, possibly due to age ; in some the upper 
parts only are sparsely spotted, but in others the under parts are 
similarly marked. The primaries have black tips and the tail 
a subterminal brown-black band. Col. Fielden thought both 



230 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

call and fliglit like those of the Arctic Tern, and Miss. M. 
Haviland, who saw a little party in the Kara Sea in September, 
writes—" Their wings built to battle with the gales that blow 
over the polar seas, met this little wind with a contained strength 
that gave their flight a curious butterfly buoyancy. Their voices, 
which reminded me of the talk of the common terns on our 
English dunes, were gay and careless as the wind they con- 
quered." Fish, lemmings in the north, crustaceans, and garbage 
are eaten, and the " Snowbird " is well known to the whalers as 
a scavenger. Like other Arctic birds it is foolishly confiding 
when it visits Britain, and is easily shot, usually before observa- 
tions are made of its habits. The bill is greenish grey with 
a reddish-yellow tip, the legs are very dark grey, the eye-rims 
red, and the irides brown. Length, i8 ins. Wing, I4ins. Tarsus, 
1-5 ins. 

Kittiwake. Rissa tridactyla (Linn.). 

In both Old and New World the Kittiwake (Plate 89) is an 
abundant Arctic and northern Holarctic bird, nesting in large 
colonies in suitable places. In the British Isles it is resident ; 
plentiful on rocky coasts in Scotland and Ireland, and locally 
abundant on the west coast of England and Wales, but rare 
in the east. In autumn and winter numbers of immigrants 
appear off our shores ; there is a general southward movement. 

In summer the Kittiwake is a gull of precipitous cliffs, in 
winter of the open sea. It has a clean and neat appearance, 
its mantle and quills bluish grey, the rest of its plumage snowy 
white except for the tips of the outer primaries which are black, 
and show on the open white wing as a triangular black patch. 
On the first two or three there are neither white tips nor 
mirrors ; thus the flying bird can at once be told from the 
Common Gull which it rather resembles ; a black line at the 
edge of the wing— the outer web of the first quill — distinguishes 





2 PL lOO, 



Q 230. 



Little Gull, 
Little Tern. 



KITTIWAKE. 231 

it from the Black-head in winter dress. The bill is greenish 
yellow, but the legs are so dark that they look black. In the 
hand it can at once be told by the practical absence of the 
hind toe, this being represented by a mere vestige. The 
inner primaries are white tipped, and show on the closed wing. 
Immature birds, still known as " Tarrocks," have a distinct 
dark half-collar, a band of mottled brown across the wings, and 
banded tails. The flight is easy and graceful ; its gentle 
buoyancy hardly suggests battles with winter gales, yet, unlike 
other gulls, it selects the open sea for its winter home ; its 
power of sustained flight is proved by its habit of following 
steamers, for it has been known to accompany liners across the 
Atlantic. It swings gracefully astern with wide down-wind 
swoops, even lighter in flight than the Black-head. 

Surface-swimming fish and the larger crustaceans or other 
planktonic animals are its chief food, and for these it dives 
with more skill than other gulls. I have never seen it plunge 
into the water like a tern, but it beats about near the surface until 
it sights prey, then alights and dives, remaining below for a short 
time, swimming under water. Even a rough sea it rides lightly, 
mounting the steeply advancing waves, head to wind, and either 
plunging through the crest or fluttering over to avoid a crash- 
ing curl. A winter gale of long duration tries it, driving down 
its food ; immature birds especially are weakened and driven 
ashore, only a few saving themselves by flying inland before the 
storm. After a gale the shore is often littered with corpses. 

The Kittiwake, is as a rule a silent bird, only uttering a 
sharp kit^ kit, when wrangling for food, but is lively enough at 
the nesting colony. The colonies, often very large, are in caves 
or on steep cliffs, the nests being stuck on most insecure-looking 
ledges, often many close together. In March the pelagic birds 
begin to gather at the nesting place, but nest building is not 
hurried ; eggs are often laid in May, but incubation seldom 
begins until June. The nest, a small collection of seaweed and 



232 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

grass (Plate 102), looks as if a puff of wind would dislodge it 
from its narrow base, but really it is a work of art. Both birds 
collect material, which consists of clay and mud as well as 
weed, and this, well trodden by the patient architects, forms 
when dry a firm, almost solid foundation. During courtship, 
nest building, and incubation the colony rings with pleasant 
calls of kitti-waake^ kitti-waake, with an ascending emphasis 
on the last syllable. 

Though there is frequent sparring between the various 
occupants of a ledge, the paired birds are most affectionate, 
caressing one another and expressing their feelings in head 
and throat movements, which Mr. Kirkman rather happily 
describes as " gulping." The male frequently feeds the female, 
and takes a share in incubation. In the evening I have watched 
the birds changing places, when many exchanges of compli- 
ments and a cheerful volley of kitti-waakes accompany the 
" relief." About the end of August the majority of old and young 
are ready to depart, but for some time after that remain at sea 
near the cliffs. The two or three eggs (Plate loS) are usually 
lighter in ground — greyish, pale buff, or stone colour — than the 
eggs of most gulls ; they are blotched and zoned with brown 
and grey. The nestlings are also paler than those of gulls 
which nest in more accessible situations ; their heads are 
greyish white, and the marks on their grey backs are very 
faint. The parent does not regurgitate and present the young 
with food, but allows it to fish in its open mouth for what it can 
find, after the manner of a Cormorant. 

In first plumage the crown and nape are grey and the back 
and wings mottled with brown, but the "tarrock" dress is 
acquired in the first autumn and retained for at least a year ; I 
have seen birds in this plumage at the nesting colony. The bill 
is then black and the legs much browner than in the adult bird. 
The brown irides are surrounded in the young bird with a pale- 
yellow eye-rim, but when mature this is red. The nape and 



COMMON TERN. 233 

back of neck of the adult bird are bluish grey in winter. 
Length, 16 ins. Wing, 12 ins. Tarsus, i'4 ins. 



Common Tern. Sterjia himndo Linn. 

The Common Tern (Plate 103) has a wide Palosarctic and 
Nearctic range, and in winter migrates far south. In the 
British Isles it is certainly the commonest tern in most parts ; 
it nests all round our shores, least plentifully in the north, and 
large numbers visit us on passage. 

"Sea-Swallow" is a name given to all the commoner terns, 
but except in the long, pointed wings and forked tail with 
streamers, there is little to suggest a Swallow. The Common 
and Arctic Tern can with difficulty be distinguished on the 
wing, though in the hand the characters are clear. Broadly 
speaking, the bill of the Common is red with the distal third 
dusky or almost black, and that of the Arctic coral-red through- 
out or with only the extreme tip dark. The safest guide is the 
white-shafted outer primary, dark slate in both on the outer 
web, but with a paler slate stripe on the otherwise white inner 
web. In the Common this stripe is twice as wide as the outer 
vreb ; in the Arctic the two are about the same width. The 
Common Tern has a slightly longer tarsus, and therefore stands 
a little higher, but this is difficult to judge in life, as is the paler 
greyish suffusion of the under parts. On the average the 
wings of the Common are longer and its tail streamers shorter 
than those of the Arctic, but the position of the tips when the 
wing is closed varies according to the pose of the bird and is 
an unsafe guide. The difference in the voice can only be 
learnt by experience. The Common Tern is one of our best- 
known sea-birds. It beats over the waves with slow and 
deliberate but powerful strokes; the determined down-strokes 
look as if they should jerk the slender, cigar-shaped body 
upward. It poises in the air with upraised wings vibrating. 



234 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

tail depressed and expanded, and bill pointed seaward, then 
half closing its sharply angled wings, dives obliquely, often 
with a slight screw twist, entering the water with a splash. In 
a second it is up again, for frequently its wing tips are not 
submerged, and rises with or without a struggling fish. It 
sports in the air with companions, the call kierie, or a sharp kit, 
often changed to pieri-e of mock annoyance ; a clamour of 
voices announces the discovery of a shoal of fry, and excited 
terns hurry from all directions, hover, a snowy cloud, and rain 
upon their silvery victims. Terns rest upon the shore, but 
walk little and badly ; the crossed tips of the long wings are 
usually held well above the tail. They are easy though not quick 
when swimming, but are certainly most at home in the air. 

Towards the end of April the immigrants arrive, for they are 
summer visitors ; many travel overland and halt to feed on 
inland waters ; there they catch insects as well as fish, swooping 
gracefully and taking them on the wing either from or near the 
water. From the middle of May until August they remain near 
the nest colony, but by the end of September most have left 
our shores, though passage birds drift through in October. 
Young birds when able to fly wander at first ; ringed Common 
Terns have been recovered in their first autumn far to the 
north of the ternery, though others have been reported in 
France and Spain. The breeding colonies are in various 
situations ; three of the largest that I have visited are on 
coastal dunes, others on rocky islets, where thrift, wild beet, 
and tree-mallow is the only vegetation. One colony was on 
gutter intersected saltings, the nests on the sheep-cropped 
grass or in beds of sea-aster ; I doubt if it survived the next 
high tide, for it had been submerged shortly before my visit. 
Other colonies are on shingle or the sand above high-water 
mark. 

Nests may be lined or unlined, eggs being laid on bare rock 
or soil, in neatly rounded depressions, or in nests of consider- 




2 PL 1 02. 



<2 234. 



Kittiwake at nest. 




-■■^^»^- 



'■Ito% 







-r- 



2 PL 10^5. 



Ivory Gull. 
Common Tern. 



(?235- 



COMMON TERN. 235 

able size. The two figured (Plate 104) are from the same 
colony, on sand dunes, one on sand, the other amongst dwarf 
willow. The female often lays and adds lining after incubation 
has begun. The materials vary as much as the site ; I have 
seen the following used — marram, thick stems of beet, fresh 
sprigs of ragwort, bits of stick, straw, seaweed, pebbles, broken 
and perfect shells, and crab-claws. In but few cases were 
these materials mixed ; each bird seems to select its special 
decoration. The male feeds the female before and during 
incubation ; indeed, with all terns, the presentation of a fishy 
offering is the most important nuptial preliminary. The male 
depressing his half-spread wings, and elevating head and tail, 
dangles his gift before the crouching, expectant female, but 
only delivers it if she accepts his overtures. When the ternery 
is first approached the birds rise and fly to and fro overhead, 
many at a great height, filling the air with a maze of white 
wings and harshly screaming voices, most prominent the long 
drawn pieerah^ or the sharply repeated kit, kit, of some specially 
anxious parent ; but the tumult soon subsides and the life of 
the colony may be watched from close quarters. I have often 
seen, after they have settled down, the strange simultaneous 
departure of the birds, a habit shared by Black-headed Gulls 
and Sand- Martins. A sudden cessation of the normal clamour 
is followed by an uncanny hush as all wing seaward, but before 
out of sight a bird calls and the whole body drifts back to 
resume activities. 

Irate birds will dive savagely at and occasionally strike the 
head of any one walking amongst the nests. Others than 
human trespassers are assaulted, even killed. At Ravenglass 
I have examined the bill-pitted skulls of young rabbits and 
the juvenile Black-headed Gulls which had foohshly wandered 
from their own domain. Passing birds, innocent as well as 
would-be thieves, are driven off or overv/helmed, and even 
cattle are mobbed. 



236 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The colour of the eggs (Plate 94) varies greatly ; some are 
pale, greenish or buff, others deep brown in ground, and the 
marks of black, brown, or grey may be speckles, spots, or 
blotches ; some are thickly zoned with markings, others have 
a black or brown patch at the larger end. It is practically 
impossible to distinguish between the eggs of the Common and 
Arctic Tern. Three is the usual number, but clutches of two 
are common ; only a small proportion are hatched. Out of 
some 300 nests in one Lancashire colony, Mr. F. W. Holder 
found only eight from which all three chicks emerged. Eggs 
and nestlings are destroyed by rats, weasels, and stoats at 
night, but diurnal robbers get a warm reception. Most eggs 
are laid in June. The nestlings have been described as 
dimorphic ; polymorphic is more correct ; the down varies 
from grey to deep brown, sandy buff is most usual ; the black 
markings and mottles are irregular. Some have white, others 
black chins : they may grow paler with age. The bill is light 
red or almost black, the legs salmon-pink, reddish, or yellow. 
The nestlings are fed by the parents on small fish — sand-eels, 
dabs, and coal-fish fry being common. I have seen the old bird 
drop the fish, but I think unintentionally ; Saunders thought 
that food was deliberately dropped in front of the nestling, 
but it is usually delivered to the young, when the old bird, with 
wings uplifted, daintily alights beside it. One of the dropped 
fish was the venomous lesser weever. The young (Plate 106), 
which follow their parents with repeated insistent cries, chik^ 
cJiik, chik^ are at first much mottled with buff and slate on the 
upper parts, and their foreheads are buff, but after the autumn 
moult the forehead is white, the crown speckled, and the nape 
brownish black ; the back and mantle are then marked with 
grey and buff, and the shoulders show a greyish band. The 
bill is almost black, and the legs dull red. The mature bird 
has a black cap, pearl-grey back and wings, primaries edged 
with dark grey, and a white tail with greyish borders to the 



ARCTIC TERN. 237 

Streamers. The under parts are slightly suffused with grey, 
sometimes showing a pinkish blush, but they are white in 
winter, when the cap is also mottled with white. The red bill 
is black tipped, the legs coral-red, and the irides very dark 
brown. Length, I4'25 ins. Wing, 10*5 ins. Tarsus, o*8 in. 

Arctic Tern. Sterna paradisea Briinn. 

• Few birds, if any, have a greater range than the Arctic Tern 
(Plate 105), for it nests far north of the Arctic circle, and, 
as proved by Dr. Eagle Clarke, occurs in winter in the 
Antarctic, unless, as has been suggested, there is a southern 
form. In the British Isles, the southern limit of its breeding 
range in Europe, it outnumbers the Common Tern in Scotland 
and Ireland, but has only a few colonies in England and Wales. 
In some of these, for instance the Fames and Walney, the two 
species nest close together, but even there the colonies are more 
or less distinct. 

As a summer visitor the Arctic Tern arrives a little later 
than the Common ; it is often May before the birds appear, and 
well into June before eggs are laid. The characters by which 
it can be recognised — the blood-red bill, deeper grey under 
parts, short tarsus, and narrow grey stripe on the primary — 
have been already stated. In general appearance, manner of 
flight, food and feeding habits, and to some extent voice, it 
closely resembles the previous species ; its usual call is shorter 
— a harsh kleeah. Rocky islands and stacks are more frequently 
occupied as breeding colonies than sites on the mainland, but 
there are some large terneries on dunes, sand, and shingle, and 
a number on inland lakes. Of late years there has been some 
extension southward of its breeding range, and small parties 
have appeared in terneries which previously contained only 
Common Terns. Though there is much variation in the site 
and construction of the nest, eggs are frequently laid on 



23S THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

bare rock, or on the ground without surrounds or lining ; 
nests as bulky as many of those of the Common Tern are rare. 
On one small group of stacks on the Welsh coast most eggs 
are in cracks in jagged rock, some with a few ripped-off strips 
of lichen around them, but I have seen them in circles of grass 
and rabbit bones, both of which had certainly been carried 
from the land. 

Three eggs in a clutch is perhaps normal, but two is common. 
It is only possible to figure one type (Plate 108), but they vary 
quite as much as those of the Common Tern, though the 
average size is smaller. The nestlings are at least dimorphic, 
there being creamy-white and dusky-brown phases ; the dark 
markings roughly correspond, but are more distinct on the paler 
ground. Like the young of the Common Tern they soon leave 
the nest, and at first stagger, but soon run fairly quickly on their 
short and thick, light or dark reddish legs, crouching under 
shelter of rocks or vegetation for protection if alarmed. The 
parents feed them on fish, usually bringing only one at a time, 
but in an Irish colony have been seen to supply them with 
insects, mostly crane-flies. When leaving the colony to fish the 
old birds fly low over the water, but return at a higher level, and 
in Scotland are not infrequently robbed of their load by the 
bullying Skua. The Arctic Skua is one of the few birds which 
is too much for the terns, for in defence of the young the 
Arctic Tern is even bolder than the Common ; it will frequently 
strike the head of a human visitor to the ternery, though I have 
not personally experienced this, the assaulting bird always 
sweeping up with a sharp angry cry when within a few inches 
of my head. The violence with which the bird can strike and 
then recover itself without breaking its neck is really remark- 
able ; this power of a sudden reversal of position is shown by 
its rapid emergence when diving for food. 

The young bird has a whitish forehead and huffish neck and 
cheeks, whilst its back and wings are mottled with buff ; but 





2 PL 104. 



Nests of Common Tern. 



Q 23^. 






.;. ^/ 



1 ri. 105. 



Arctic Tern. 
Roseate Tern. 



G239. 



ROSEATE TERN. 239 

after the autumn moult the forehead is white, the crown 
speckled, and the nape brownish black, but the pearl-grey upper 
parts are purer, though marked with a dusky band on the 
shoulders. The bill and legs are much darker than in the 
mature bird ; indeed, the former is almost black. The grey 
breast of the adult Arctic Tern is without the vinaceous tinge 
sometimes noticed on the Common Tern, and the cheeks 
and throat are suffused with pale grey. The bill is blood-red, 
the legs are coral, and the irides blackish brown. Length, 14-5 
ins. Wing, 10 ins. Tarsus, 07 in. 

Roseate Tern. Sterna dougalli Montagu. 

The Atlantic breeding range of the Roseate Tern (Plate 105) 
is more southerly than that of the Common Tern ; closely allied 
sub-species are found scattered over the Indian Ocean, Pacific, 
and other seas. In the northern part of its range it is migratory, 
and is a summer visitor to Britain in small numbers. Many of 
its former nesting haunts in the British Isles have long been 
deserted, but there is one flourishing colony and a second, much 
smaller, in Wales, and a few pairs nest on the Fames, and 
perhaps still in Scotland. In Ireland it was thought to be 
extinct, until one small colony was discovered recently, and 
there is evidence that pairs have occasionally nested in other 
parts of England and Ireland. 

The evanescent salmon-pink tint of the under parts of the 
Roseate Tern is not always easy to see ; in direct sunlight it 
is usually plain. Better characters are the much blacker bill 
and the noticeably long tail streamers. I have watched it 
flying amongst a screaming mob of Common Terns, heard its 
call, and had no difficulty in picking it out ; the body looks 
long and slender, the wings are shorter, and the tail much 
longer than that of its companions. Although several reliable 
observers affirm that the wings move more rapidly than those 



240 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

of Other species, the flight has always appeared to me more 
dehberate, and I have visited one colony several times ; in the 
down-stroke they are not brought so far beneath the plane 
of flight as in other terns. The black hood appears to extend 
further on the neck than in the Common Tern. The alarm or 
call of annoyance is a long aaack^ or a sharper agh j it has too 
a long craak or C7'eee, The call note is a clearer chew-it. A 
pair of birds sporting in the air at a great height, in what 
appeared to be nuptial flight, varied the chew-it with a harsher 
acht'r, as I entered it in my notes at the time. 

Persecution nearly exterminated our Roseate Terns, but pro- 
tection saved the situation in some places. Colonies of this 
and other terns were harried out of existence by plumage 
hunters, and ^^% collecting has swept clean many a colony. 
There are, however, other factors which make the Roseate's 
position unsatisfactory, the worst being its competition with 
more go-ahead species. On congested stacks the best sites for 
nests are monopolised by the earlier breeding Commons or 
Arctics, though I have seen Roseates, on the same stack with 
the other three species, busily engaged in courtship without any 
suggestion of interference. The Roseate arrives late in April, 
nests often late in June, and seldom remains in British seas 
long after the end of August. 

Most of the colonies are on rocky stacks occupied by other 
species, but, except for occasional pairs, the nests are in one 
area. Some of the now extinct colonies were on dunes or 
shingle banks, and recently a few pairs have nested in Common 
Tern colonies on the mainland. Very little nesting material 
or lining is used, most eggs being laid on ledges, or in 
cracks and hollows in the rock. Mr. Jourdain points out that 
water often collects in these hollows and chills the eggs ; I 
have seen many swamped clutches of eggs of the Arctic Tern. 
Either one or two eggs (Plate io8) are laid, but a single 
^%% is more common than two, and from observations made 



. — /^ 




^^ 



■^^^ 




PL 107. 



Gull-billed Tern. 
Sandwich Tern. 



R 241. 



LITTLE TERN. 241 

in an Irish colony it appears that but one chick is the rule, 
Variation is less frequent than in the eggs of Common or 
Arctic Terns, and most oologists affirm that they can at once 
distinguish the eggs by their hght stone or buft ground and 
small spots of varied browns and greys, which often form a 
zone towards the larger end. On the average they are slightly 
larger and longer than those of the Common, but many eggs 
would puzzle the most expert sorter. The nestling is paler bufif 
than most juvenile terns, and its greyish-brown markings are 
streaks rather than mottles ; the bill is at an early age, at any 
rate, pinkish flesh, and its legs " purplish flesh," but Dr. Bureau, 
who carefully studied the changes, says that they are at first 
blackish brown, and in a few days turn black. 

The adult bird has the top of the head and back of the neck 
black in summer and speckled with white in winter ; the outer 
margin of the streamer is white. The white streak on the 
primaries, even extending round the tip, is present in the young 
bird, which has also a white-streaked forehead, brownish nape 
and crown, and ashy-brown speckles on the back and wings. 
The bill of the adult bird is black, except for a red patch 
at the base ; the legs are orange-red and the irides dark 
brown. The length of the streamers varies greatly ; in one bird 
I measured they were eight inches long, but others were much 
shorter. Length, 15-17 ins. Wing, 9'25 ins. Tarsus, 0-87 ia. 

Little Tern. Stei'?ia minuta Linn. 

The Little or Lesser Tern (Plate 100) breeds on the coasts 
and inland waters of the Palasarctic region, and closely allied 
races occur in other parts of the world. To the British Isles it 
is a summer visitor, nesting in small and scattered colonies in 
all parts. It reaches the south coast about the middle of April, 
and birds are passing north in early IMay ; it is seldom seen 
after the end of September. 

Series II. R 



242 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Apart from its size, for this is our smallest tern, it may be 
recognised by its broad, semi-lunar white forehead. The 
white extends to above the eye, and is emphasised by a black 
streak from the bill through the eye. The legs and bill are 
yellow, the latter with the tip black. Its wide wing-stretch 
magnifies its size, and its wing-beats are quicker than those ot 
other terns ; it beats above the waves at a height of from ten 
to fifteen feet, with head drooped, scanning the surface. At 
intervals it checks its pace, poises with wings uplifted and 
vibrating, and tail depressed and expanded. Its body is held 
well upright, and as its streamers are short, its spread tail is 
almost triangular. Suddenly wing movement ceases, and as 
the bird drops it reverses, and with wings almost closed bores 
through the air with a half turn, throwing up a shower of spray 
as it strikes. Instantly it reappears, and with a few strong 
strokes mounts again, but at times it checks its descent and 
rises without touching the water. By no means every dive 
brings reward ; one bird I watched averaged a catch to every 
six dives. Complete submersion is common, but the bird is up 
again before the splash has subsided. Small crustaceans as 
well as fish are eaten, and these, even when in shallow tide- 
pools, are obtained by diving, the bird checking the impetus of 
descent with skill. I have seen many fishing in tidal gutters on 
" slob " land, the snowy plumage distinct against the dark 
green of the sea-grass. The call — pee-e-err — is neither so harsh 
nor sustained as that of the Common Tern, but the bird is 
very loquacious on the ^ing. It has, in addition, a short 
zit, zit, and a long tirrue^ tirrue, tirrue. On migration 
the Little Tern often visits inland waters, fishing occasionally, 
but usually swooping for flying insects after the manner of the 
Black Tern ; young birds are not uncommon on the Cheshire 
meres in September. 

The nesting colonies are small and the nests seldom close 
together ; favourite sites are shingle banks or stretches of sand 



LITTLE TERN. 243 

above the tide-mark. It seldom if ever nests on rock, and 
bare ground is preferred to grass-grown flats. Some colonies 
are foolishly near the water ; high tides destroy many eggs, 
yet the bird returns annually to these danger zones, and never 
seems to learn by experience. Courtship gifts of fish to the 
female and the postures during presentation are as common 
with this species as with others, and a pair will indulge in high 
nuptial aerial chases, the air ringing with excited cries. The 
eggs may be placed amongst pebbles without any attempt at a 
nest, or laid in an unlined scoop in fine sand ; only occasionally 
is grass or other soft lining used, though the eggs are frequently 
on a paving of small pebbles or broken shells. When these 
are collected from the immediate vicinity the denuded ground 
forms a distinct zone round the nest ; paved nests are con- 
spicuous when on sand. Indeed, on sand the sitting bird 
(Plate 109), and even the two or three light stone-coloured eggs 
(Plate 108), spotted, blotched, or smeared with brown and grey, 
are easy to see, but amongst fair-sized pebbles the bird is 
inconspicuous, and the eggs most difficult to discover. 

On returning to the nest, which it does very soon after being 
disturbed, the bird descends direct, and can with ease be 
marked down. Yet it is a plucky defender of its property, 
chasing away with fierce cries of ki^ ki^ ki, any marauding 
gull, crow, or more innocent bird which approaches the colony. 
Like other terns it dives at the human head, rising first to 
a great height, and plunging down with three or four strong 
beats before the wings are half closed, but with a few hurried 
and angry notes it sheers off without striking. In Lancashire 
and Wales eggs are usually laid about the middle of May, and 
one brood is usual, but where the bird is persecuted fresh eggs 
in July are not uncommon. The grey or yellowish down of the 
young helps concealment when they crouch either on sand 
or amongst stones ; the head is speckled with black, and there 
are irregular longitudinal lines on the back. Young in autumn 



244 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

have the back and wings mottled and barred with brown, the 
cap is brownish, and the white on the forehead wide ; on the 
carpal joint is a dark patch, which persists until the second 
year. The bill is yellowish brown, the legs much duller yellow 
than in the mature bird ; the irides in young and old are dark 
brown. The white frontal patch of adult birds is broader in 
winter than in summer. The outer primaries are black on 
either side of the dusky shaft in mature birds, the inner web 
having a pale margin, but in the young they are light slate. 
Length, lo ins. Wing, 675 ins. Tarsus, o*6 in. 

Caspian Tern. Sterna caspia Pallas. 

Rather more than twenty examples of the Caspian Tern have 
been recorded from the east and south coasts of England ; the 
largest number from Norfolk. As it nests in Sweden and 
Finland, as well as Spain and other parts of Europe, it is 
surprising that it has not more frequently wandered on migra- 
tion. It has a wide, almost cosmopolitan distribution, and does 
not appear to vary greatly in different parts of its range. 

It is a large, rather heavily built tern with powerful flight, 
easily distinguished by size alone. Its tail is short, its bill, strong 
and slightly angled like thit of a gull, is vermilion, dark at the 
tip, and its legs are black. The cap, which extends to below 
the eye, is greenish black, and the dark grey primaries have a 
frosted appearance ; the irides are almost black. Hume states 
that its Indian name is " Keykra,* which as pronounced by 
the natives approximates to its call. In autumn the black cap 
is replaced by black streaks, as it is in the young, which have 
the bill yellowish brown and the legs brown. Length, 20 ins. 
Wing, i6*5 ins. Tarsus, i"6 ins. 

Gull-billed Tern. Skma anglica Montagu. 

The Gull-billed Tern (Plate 107) breeds on the western shores 
of Europe from Denmark to Spain ; it also nests inland. It has 



SANDWICH TERN. 245 

a wide distribution in Asia, Africa, and America, and a closely 
allied race is found in Australia. It occurs from time to time 
on our southern and eastern shores, and has once been recorded 
from Lancashire, and more recently from the Pentland Skerries. 
The majority of the records are in spring or summer. 

The heavy angled bill of this bird is black, as are its legs, 
and its colour scheme is that of other terns ; the frosted primaries 
are a darker grey than the mantle. Saunders gives the alarm 
note as af^ af, af^ and Legge says that its call is che-ah^ though 
Irby spells it kuk-zuuk, neither of which convey much to those 
who have not heard the note. 

In India and Africa it feeds largely on insects, catching them 
on the wing, but it also eats fish and frogs. 

The young bird has the head spotted and streaked with 
brown^ and the back and wings mottled with brown and buff; 
the bill and legs are browner than in the mature bird. Length, 
15 ins. Wing, 12-5 ins. Tarsus, 1-5 ins. 



Sandwich Tern. Sterna sajidvicensis Latham. 

Together with its American sub-species, the Sandwich Tern 
(Plate 107) is practically a bird of the North Atlantic and 
southern European seas, migrating so far south as Natal and 
Brazil. Small colonies are scattered round the British coasts, 
and in Ireland on at least two inland loughs ; the largest 
colonies, all now protected, are at the Fames, Ravenglass, and 
Walney. The statement that the last of these is now deserted 
was certainly incorrect a few years ago ; I saw both birds and 
eggs in 1914. Other small colonies have been established 
recently, for the bird is increasing, and possibly has benefited 
by the preoccupation of collectors during the war. 

The Sandwich is the largest of our breeding terns and one of 
the easiest to recognise ; its greater stretch of wing, shorter 
forked tail, and heavier build, separate it at once from the 



246 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

slender, long-streamered birds. It is, however, graceful and 
easy in flight, often rising high, and in a good light a rosy tinge 
shows on its white under parts, for this adornment is not a 
monopoly of the Roseate Tern. On the ground the very black 
cap is striking, and as the feathers of the nape and neck are 
pointed they often stand out as a mane or crest, especially when 
raised under excitement. The black bill with a yellow lip can 
generally be seen on the flying bird ; the legs are also black. 
Fishermen on the north-east coast know it as the " Tern," dis- • 
tinguishing it from the '" Sea- Swallows." The call — kirr-whit 
or troo-it— IS less harsh than the notes of Common and Arctic 
Terns, and sounds almost musical when many are calling ; the 
alarm or threat is a sharp gwit or whut. When hovering before 
a dive the tail is not, as a rule, depressed as in the other terns, 
and when it enters the water it is frequently submerged for an 
appreciable interval. The habit of the male presenting fish to 
the female during courtship is very noticeable at the nesting 
colony ; he struts with wings expanded and depressed, dangling 
his gift from the tip of his uplifted bill, sometimes, it is said, 
offering it to several females in turn until it is accepted. The 
upstretched neck and skyward pointed bill is evidently an 
amatory salutation. 

Many birds reach the breeding grounds before the end of 
March, and eggs are often laid early in May ; by the end of 
July most birds are at sea, and southward departure is in August 
and September. The majority of the British colonies are on 
sand dunes or sandy shores ; indeed, it has been asserted that 
the bird always nests on sand. There is, however, one west 
coast colony on a rocky stack, where many of the eggs are laid 
on bare rock. Nesis on sand are often mere scoops w'ithout 
any attempt at li-ning or rim, but round others a thin scattering 
of bents is arranged. Finished structures are uncommon. The 
colonies, or rather colonies within the colony, for little groups 
are often scattered around or even on the ground occupied by 





• V 







>*'*'.• 




^i:^ 



*^>- 










:.*i 

•^ 








- 


■1 
i 






• 






/ 




j 


- 




fi^ 


-' 




^r: " 






y 




-^>'-- 




» 




* ^^ •^. 




>•>•*■ 









Little Tern on iiest. 



SANDWICH TERN. 247 

Other terns or Black-headed Gulls, consist of half a dozen to 
fifty nests, usually close together. At Ravenglass most of these 
groups of nests are on the slopes of the dunes amongst sparse 
marram grass. As incubation proceeds the nests (Plate no) 
become more and more evident, owing to the insanitary habits 
of the sitting bird, and often they are surrounded by scattered 
feathers. 

The eggs (Plate 94) are light in ground — creamy white to 
rich buff — and are beautifully speckled, streaked, or blotched 
with black, brown, and grey ; two is the usual number, but 
single eggs are common. The light ground shows up the 
markings, and they are much sought for on account of their 
beauty by collectors, and for other reasons by Black-headed 
Gulls. The parent birds are said to be less demonstrative in 
defence of eggs and young than other species, but they certainly 
stoop at the head of visitors to the colony with considerable 
show of ferocity. The nestling in down is better protected by 
its colour than the eggs, and though there are light and dark 
phases, are on the whole lighter than other juvenile terns ; 
light and dark young may be found in the same nest. The 
paler birds are creamy white with a few black specks and dashes, 
darker ones are rich buff, but in both forms the quantity and 
depth of the markings varies. The bill is blackish, yellow, 
yellow tipped with black, or even dull red ; the legs may be 
greenish, purple, or plumbeous. When only a few days old the 
young leave the nest and ramble, and, as Mr. C. Oldham 
pointed out, conceal themselves by partially burying themselves 
in self-made scrapes, exactly fitting their bodies, in the loose 
sand. The habit is most marked with the older young, the 
scoops being deeper ; Mr. Oldham found birds thus concealed 
when partly feathered. In the first plumage the greyish-buft' 
head is finely barred and speckled with black, and the mantle 
broadly barred with black and buff. Their legs are lead- 
coloured or purple, and bills yellowish horn or black with a 



248 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

yellow tip. The cap of the mature bird is very black, but in 
the immature after the moult it is brown, barred and spotted 
with white ; white streaks and spots appear at times on the 
foreheads and crowns of adult birds before they leave the 
ternery, for in winter the top of the head is merely streaked 
with black. The mantle and tail of young birds have angular 
black and brown markings. The irides are dark brown. 
Length, 15 ins. Wing, 13 ins. Tarsus, i'2 ins. 

Sooty Tern. Sterna fuUginosa Gmelin. 

Rather more than half a dozen examples of the Sooty Tern 
have wandered north from tropical or subtropical seas, and 
fallen exhausted on our shores or in inland localities ; some 
were shot, but most have been picked up dead or barely alive. 
The visits have been in both spring and autumn. The crown, 
back of the neck, and a streak through the eye of the adult bird 
are black, the back, wings, and tail — except the outer web of the 
streamer— are sooty black; the rest of the plumage is white. 
The bill and legs are black, the irides blackish brown. The 
young bird has the dark back feathers tipped with white, and 
the under parts are sooty brown. Length, 16 ins. Wing, 11 75 
ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Black Tern, Hydro chelido7i ftigra (Linn.). 

About a hundred years ago the Black Tern or " Carr-Swallow " 
(Plate in) nested freely in the east coast marshes, but now 
it is a passage migrant only, halting for food in April and 
May, August and September. A Black Tern in June or 
October is unusual, in other months very rare. On passage 
it is regular and sometimes numerous in eastern counties as 
far north as Yorkshire, crossing south-eastern England on 
migration to and from its breeding grounds in Denmark, 



BLACK TERN. 249 

Sweden, and the Baltic. It is found throughout a great part 
of Europe and western Asia, and in winter visits tropical 
Africa. Knowledge of the British distribution of this, and 
many other passage birds, depends largely upon scattered 
notes of observers who cannot regularly watch one spot ; 
consequently it is counted rare and irregular in the west and 
inland. In Wales, Lancashire, Cheshire, and various scattered 
inland waters, closer attention proves it to be far more frequent 
than most authorities affirm ; indeed, on the Cheshire meres it 
is a regular visitor in spring and autumn, often appearing in 
little parties. North of Cheshire in the west, and south 
Yorkshire in the east, and in Ireland, it is less frequent, though 
it has been noted in Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. 

Though drainage destroyed some of its former nesting haunts, 
there remain many wild marshes where it could be secure. 
Collectors in this case have been unjustly blamed for its 
departure, nor is it probable that it w^as badly harried for its 
flesh or plumage ; the desertion of the haunts seems to have 
been deliberate, an intentional restriction or change of habitat, 
possibly due to the increase of population and consequent more 
frequent disturbance on the marshes. The last recorded Norfolk 
nest was in 1858. 

In summer plumage the Black Tern is a very dark bird, its 
slate wings, back, and tail look almost pale compared with the 
deep blue-black of its head, neck, and breast. From both 
White-winged and Whiskered Terns, its nearest allies, it may 
be told by its black bill and blackish legs, red in these birds. 
From the former, when both are mature, its darker wings and 
grey tail and tail-coverts are distinct when in flight, and the 
latter is a larger, paler tern with a black cap and not wholly 
dark head. The immature plumages are more puzzling. The 
Black Tern does not hurry through England, but stays for a 
few hours, and often days, about some inland water where food 
is abundant. It beats up and down with desultory flight, swooping 



250 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

when it sights food on or near the surface ; sometimes its descents 
and ascents are long, graceful swinging curves, varied with a 
check and flutter as it intercepts some dodging fly or gnat, but 
often it dives obliquely with a half turn, lightly touches the 
water with its bill, leaving a circle of ripples where an insect 
swam or drowned, and banks smartly. Its loitering flight is 
broken by a series of deep U-curves. But rarely it strikes the 
water with its body, and I have only once seen a bird submerge. 
Like the Swallow it feeds against the wind, sweeping down 
wind to repeat the process when it reaches the limits of the 
pool. When tired it settles on some rail or mooring-post ; on 
this it perches head to wind, its head and neck depressed, its 
long wing tips crossed above its short tail and s-lightly raised ; 
it tilts forward in its resting position. It is sociable rather 
than gregarious on migration, often flying with Common and 
Lesser Terns, when its even more buoyant flight is very marked. 
Large numbers have, on rare occasions, been recorded from 
the east coast, but more than fifty in a party is unusual; in 
Cheshire, twelve and twenty-four are the two largest flocks 
observed. 

The Marsh Terns, as the members of this small group are 
called, are inland rather than sea terns, more frequent over 
fresh than salt water ; even when travelling along the coast of 
Lancashire they keep to the dunes, feeding over the " slacks," 
rather than the shore. They seldom swim, the webs being 
more deeply indented between the toes than in other terns, 
the feet better fitted for walking. The Black Tern nests in 
extensive and treacherous marshes, the nest itself (Plate 113), 
built of sodden and often rotten vegetation, is frequently 
surrounded by water, placed on a quaking platform of dead 
aquatic plants. The bird is demonstrative at the nesting 
colony ; Pennant, writing at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, says — "They are found during spring and summer in 
vast numbers in the fens of Lincolnshire; make an incessant 




^r^-^ 




2 /'/. III. 



Black Tern. 
White-winged Black Tern. 



WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN. 25 1 

noise, and feed as well on flies as water insects and small fish." 
Dr. Patten says its note is "shrill and powerful," and Saunders 
calls it " a shrill crick, crick^^ but on migration it is a silent 
traveller. 

The head, neck, and breast of the mature bird are black in 
summer ; the rest of the plumage, except for white on the carpal 
angle and the under tail- coverts, is slate-grey, varying in depth. 
The bill is black, the legs are dark reddish brown, the irides 
blackish brown. After the autumn moult the forehead, sides of 
face and neck, a collar, and the under parts are white, tinged 
and speckled in places with grey, and the bill often shows a 
trace of red at the base. The greyish upper parts of young 
birds are suffused and mottled with brown and buff, and the 
face, nape, and a patch on the side of the neck are dark grey \ 
there is a dark patch on the shoulder, which is still present 
in the second autumn when the back and wings have lost their 
brown splashes. The bill is brown, darkest at the tip, and the 
legs are reddish brown. Length, 9-6 ins. Wing, 8"5 ins. 
Tarsus, o*6 in. 

White-winged Black Tern, Hydi-ocheiidon kucoptera 
(Temm.). 

The White-winged Black Tern (Plate iii) breeds in central 
and south-eastern Europe and western Asia, and winters in 
southern Asia and Africa, yet it occasionally wanders north- 
west and appears in spring and, more rarely, in autumn in our 
southern and eastern counties. It has been met with as a 
vagrant in Ireland and inland in England. 

There is no difficulty in identifying the adult bird in summer, 
for the white patch on the carpal joint is, naturally, conspicuous 
against the deep black head, back, and breast, and more notice- 
able still are the white upper and under tail-coverts and tail. 
The rest of the plumage except the wings is blacker than in the 



252 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Black Tern, and the bill and legs are strikingly red. The 
wings are greyish slate, almost pearl-grey on the secondaries, 
and the primaries, though really blackish, are so frosted as to 
appear pearl-grey ; thus the whole wing, apart from the white 
patch, is considerably lighter than that of the Black Tern. 
This difference is reversed in the under wing, for the under 
wing-coverts and axillaries in this bird are black, and in the last 
species suffused with grey ; the effect is that as the bird cants 
in flight the upper surface shows lighter than the under in the 
White- winged Tern, and vice-versa in the Black. Its habits, at 
any rate when on migration, closely agree with those of its 
congener ; it catches insects and small fish, stooping to the 
water or taking the former in the air, and its flight is equally 
slow and desultory. 

In winter the head, except for the blackish nape, the neck, 
and under parts are white, but the tail is suffused with grey and 
the under wing becomes paler, but not so pale as that of the 
Black Tern at the same season. The young bird is at first 
mottled with brown and buff on the head and upper parts, 
but during its two years' progress to maturity it gradually 
loses the brown feather edgings ; the back of the head and 
neck become sooty, a greyish patch shows on the checks, 
and the wings become a purer grey. The upper tail-coverts in 
the second year are very nearly white, sufficiently so as to 
contrast with the pale grey tail, whereas in the Black Tern 
there is no appreciable difference. The bill and legs of young 
birds are brownish, the irides at all ages brown. Length, 
9'3 ins. Wing, 8'25 ins. Tarsus, 075 in. 



Whiskered Tern. Hydrochelidon kticopareia (Temm.). 

Southern Europe and north Africa, eastward to India, is the 
summer range of the Whiskered Tern, and it winters further 
south ; it is hardly surprising that it is a rare bird in Britain. 



GREAT SKUA. 253 

Out of rather more than a dozen which are known to have 
wandered north as vagrants to our islands, single birds only 
have reached Scotland and Ireland. 

Though the under parts are dark — almost black on the belly — 
the mature bird in summer is distinct from either of its con- 
geners, for only the top of the head and nape are black, the 
chin, cheeks, and throat are white. The mantle and wings are 
slate, darkest on the shoulders ; the primaries, really black, are 
frosted with pearl-grey. Pure white under wing-coverts are a 
good distinctive character, for the bird flies slowly though 
buoyantly and its wing-beats are deliberate ; when it cants 
over, the under wing is visible. The bill is blood-red, the legs 
are vermilion, and the irides dark brown. The food, as in the 
other marsh terns, consists of insects, small fish, and frogs. 
Birds have been met with in both spring and autumn, and after 
the autumn moult the mantle is lighter and the under parts, as 
well as the forehead, are white ; the black on the head is 
streaked and spotted with white. The upper parts of young 
birds are at first mottled with brown, and even when the back 
is nearly grey the scapulars and tail are still brown towards the 
tip. The bills and legs of the young are brown. Length, 11 '5 
ins. Wing, 10 ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 



Great Skua. Catharada skua Briinn. 

Skuas differ in form and habits from gulls and terns ; the 
strongly hooked bill has a horny " cere," and the curved claws 
are sharp ; the birds look predacious, though they are not 
regular flesh eaters, and are piratical rather than parasitical, 
robbing others of their food. Largest, fiercest, and most 
powerful is the Great Skua (Plate 112), a bird of the North 
Atlantic, nesting in Iceland, the Faeroes, two large and some 
small colonies in Shetland, and one at least in Orkney. In 
autumn these haunts are deserted and the bird becomes pelagic, 



254 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

only occasionally visiting the shore. It does not wander far 
south, but is met with at sea on both sides of the Atlantic, and 
it is affirmed that there is one breeding station off the Canadian 
coast. The breeding stations are returned to in March or April. 
The Great Skua is a large, heavily built bird, umber-brown 
in general colour, about the size of a Herring Gull ; at a 
distance it may be taken for a young Herring or Lesser Black- 
back in mottled plumage. It is, however, browner — less grey — 
and on the outspread wing is a large white patch, formed by 
the white basal inner webs of the primaries. In all the skuas 
the central tail feathers are elongated ; in the " Bonxie," as the 
bird is called in Shetland, they only just project beyond the 
outer ones, yet sufficiently to give a rounded appearance to the 
tail. The white patch may be concealed by the flank feathers 
when the wing is closed, but shows immediately the bird rises. 
Normally the Bonxie has a gull-like, drifting, aimless flight, but 
it becomes direct and powerful when the bird has sighted 
chance of food, a clamorous cloud of gulls harrying an 
unlucky shoal of fish. When from amongst the flock it has 
singled out some victim, gull or tern, its true speed and aerial 
agility is shown. It has also a gliding flight, often associated 
with courtship; with wings raised at an angle of about 45°, 
it floats like a harrier. The method of obtaining a meal, 
shared by other skuas, is to select its victim and give chase 
with ferocity and terrifying cries, following every turn and 
dodge relentlessly, threatening to strike with wing, beak, and 
foot. As a rule, at any rate, there is no need to actually buffet 
the screaming fugitive, which sooner or later reluctantly dis- 
gorges its latest meal, sometimes half digested, or the fish it has 
just captured. Instantly the Skua stoops like a falcon, usually 
catching the fish before it strikes the water. The cry during 
the chase is skeerr or skua; from this the name is derived ; 
in ordinary flight it has a deep gull note, and a barking cry of 
alarm or anger. Any gull or tern is hunted, and Hewitson saw 



GREAT SKUA. 255 

a Gannet chased. Vicariously caught fish are not the only 
food of the Great Skua, for it will pick up offal, gorge on a 
carcase, and even slay smaller birds and devour them ; it is 
also a robber of the eggs and young of other birds. 

In the Fasroes the Great Skua had a bad name and was at 
one time in danger of extermination, but in Shetland the 
shepherds look upon it as a friend, for it boldly drives away 
other predatory species, even attacking and defeating the 
eagles ; thus it unconsciously protects the flocks. But its 
restricted breeding ground brought collectors to the Shetlands, 
amongst them a dealer, and in 183 1, it is said, but two pairs 
survived at the Unst colony. Since then, both at Unst and 
Foula, protection has been afforded by the owners of the islands, 
and now, though there have been some lean years, the numbers 
are well maintained. The fact that within recent years small 
branch colonies have been established in the Shetlands and 
Orkneys is a hopeful sign. The Foula and Unst colonies are on 
hills, one at any rate at over 1400 feet ; the nests are scattered 
over the moor. The nest is usually a trodden depression in 
ling or rough grass, somewhat loosely built of grass, and 
littered around with feathers, remains of recent meals and cast- 
up pellets of feathers, scales and bones. Two eggs (Plate 1 16), 
light or dark olive-brown or buff, sparsely spotted with darker 
brown and grey, are laid late in May. The down of the 
nestlings is huffish sepia, and is without distinct markings ; the 
bill and legs are leaden. In defence of eggs or young the 
Bonxie is at its best, boldly attacking an invader of its territory, 
though by no means always striking, but sweeping past with 
a rush of wings. Those who have actually been struck give 
different accounts, some declaring that it was the wing, others 
the feet that hit them. The legs are lowered threateningly 
when the screaming bird attacks, and Mr. R. Kearton believes 
that the blow was delivered with the back of the foot. 

The adult bird has its umber-brown plumage streaked and 



256 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

speckled with yellowish brown, and the neck, where the feathers 
are pointed and have light shafts, is lighter than the head and 
back ; the under parts are more cinnamon-brown. The bill 
and legs are black, the cere blue-black, the irides dark brown. 
Length, 22-25 ins. Wing, 16 ins. Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Richardson's or Arctic Skua. Siercorarius parasiticus 
(Linn.). 

The Arctic Skua (Plate 114), is a circumpolar bird, but 
though it nests in the Arctic in both hemispheres, its range is 
really more southern than that of two of its congeners, and 
extends to northern Scotland ; in winter the bird inhabits 
warmer seas, but though recorded far south is normally a 
northern species. It nests in colonies in the north of Scotland, 
the Orkney and Shetland Isles, and some of the Hebrides. On 
migration it is at times noticed in extraordinary numbers, 
especially on the east coast, the most extensive movements 
being after or during stormy weather. Saunders' "compara- 
tively irregular in the western sea," has been mutilated and 
enlarged upon in various text-books by naturalists with no 
experience of the west coast, until the impression appears 
general that the bird is a mere vagrant. This is quite a 
mistake ; though usually off shore, the autumnal passage from 
August to October is regular though less extensive than in the 
east. Mr. R. W. Jones on one occasion counted forty-two 
passing the Great Orme in the course of a three hours' watch. 

Richardson's Skua, as some prefer to call it, is dimorphic, 
having more or less stable dark and light forms which inter- 
breed. It is, however, a variable bird, and all manner of 
intermediate forms occur. The dark phase is perhaps the 
commoner in our seas, and in this the bird resembles a 
small Great Skua with much more elongated and pointed 
central tail feathers, projecting in adult birds about . three 




BlacK Tern on nest. 



^" ^--:>1- 



RICHARDSON'S OR ARCTIC SKUA. 257 

inches beyond the others. It is smaller than the Pomatorhine, 
which has the elongated feathers rounded, and larger than 
Buffon's, which has very much longer streamers. Immature 
birds, before the tails have lengthened, are very puzzling, 
especially when in flight, but in the hand one character usually 
holds good — the shafts of the primaries. Saunders points out 
that in the Arctic all the primaries have white shafts, but in 
Buffon's only the first two, those of the inner primaries being 
dusky ; after examining a number of skins I am inclined to 
agree with his American critics that this rule has exceptions, 
and that the distinction between white and dusky is at times 
fine. 

On the wing the Arctic Skua is graceful, its flight being 
steady and regular, varied with hawk-like glides, but when 
chasing a gull, tern, or diving bird, for it victimises the 
Guillemot and Puffln, it is erratic, swift, and powerful. When 
the hunted bird throws up food, the swoop of the Skua is 
wonderfully smart, yet if it misses the desired tit-bit it seldom 
tries to recover it from the water, but turns its attention to 
another victim. Some assert that it always hunts in couples, 
one bird worrying its dupe and the other fielding the food, 
but I have often seen a single Skua following a tern. When, 
however, a shoal of sand-eels or fry has attracted large numbers 
of gulls, terns, and auks, three or four Arctic Skuas will attend 
on the outskirts of the noisy crowd, commandeering whenever 
opportunity offers. On the moors insects and berries are eaten, 
and Saxby states that small waders are killed and devoured. 
On several occasions I have noticed a light, even white 
patch, at the base of the primaries of the flying bird, and 
Mr. R. W. Jones and Mr. T. Hadfield have observed the same. 
In most skins the white basal portion of the primaries is con- 
cealed by the coverts, but in one I could just see it ; this white 
is often exposed when the wing is extended as in the Great 
Skua. The ordinary call is well described as mewing, but it is 
Series II. S 



258 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

sharper and more ferocious when the bird is engaged in 
piracy. 

The Arctic Skua is a moorland nester ; its colonies are 
scattered, nests being seldom near together. The nest (Plate 113) 
is little more than a hollow scraped or flattened in the grass 
or heather, and has very little, if any, lining. The eggs 
(Plate 116), laid at the end of May or in June, are usually two 
in number, and are dark or light olive-green or brown in ground, 
blotched and suffused with darker brown and underlying grey. 
An invader on the moor may be attacked and struck, usually 
with the feet, but sham disablement is a trick of the bird to lure 
the visitor from the vicinity of the nest ; as the seemingly 
damaged bird struggles along the ground it beats with the 
extended wing, exhibiting the white shafts. The nestling is 
greyish brown, and shows little indication of the phase into 
which it will develop. 

The dark phase is dark brown, with a distinct slate tinge in 
many examples, darkest on the head and paler beneath, but 
often showing yellow on the ear-coverts. The light birds have 
the neck and under parts white, often with a creamy or pale 
brown band across the breast, and at times with all the white 
suffused with cream ; one of the most beautiful birds I have 
seen was slate-brown above, and rich chocolate beneath. Light 
birds may have the back of the neck suffused or streaked with 
yellow. Immature birds of either form are barred and streaked 
with brown and reddish buff, and the barring is most noticeable 
on the lower back. The bill and legs of young birds are 
brownish black, in old birds black with the cere bluish. The 
irides are dark brown. Length, 23 ins. Wing, 13 ins. Tarsus, 
i'4 ins. 

Buffon's Skua. Stercorarius longicaudus Vieill. 

Buffon's vSkua (Plate 115) has a more Arctic circumpolar 
range than the last species, and in winter is not met with far 



BUFFON'S SKUA. 259 

south in northern Atlantic and Pacitic oceans. It is less 
frequent than the Pomatorhine and much rarer than the Arctic 
Skua, appearing as a passage migrant in autumn, and occasion- 
ally in spring, off our shores and inland. At times, in " skua 
years," numbers arrive, stormy weather causing invasions ; the 
greatest numbers have been observed on the east coast from 
Yorkshire northward, but there are scattered records from all 
parts. 

Long-tailed Skua is a descriptive name, for the literally 
outstanding feature of the mature bird is the extraordinary 
elongation of the two central tail feathers, which project for 
from six to nine inches beyond the others. In general colour 
pattern it resembles the light phase of the Arctic Skua, 
but is rather greyer ; dimorphism has been recorded in this 
species, but it is less variable than the last named. In 
young birds, and all skuas take some years to attain perfect 
plumage, the streamers are shorter, and, according to some 
authorities, are more obtuse at the tip than in the Arctic, but 
this is difficult to see in a living bird. The rule, however, that 
the shafts of the two outer primaries only are white, the others 
dusky, holds good in most cases. The Long-tailed is the smallest 
and most elegant of the skuas ; its flight is lighter and more 
graceful ; it glides through the air without effort, and often 
hovers like a tern. Indeed, there is much that is suggestive 
of a tern in its build and behaviour. Mr. J. A. Dockray, who 
watched and photographed a bird at close quarters in Ireland 
in the spring of 19 14, when others were met with in various 
places in England, noticed a peculiarity which is difficult to 
explain. The tips of the long streamers turned up and forward 
when the bird was alighting, though held straight when on the 
water ; the bird alighted and swam against a very light wind, 
which he was sure did not influence the curve. In May, 1916, 
Mr. F. W. Holder and a friend watched one in the Ribble 
estuary, and without knowledge of Mr. Dockray's observations. 



26o THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

told me that "these elongated feathers curled in a most peculiar 
way as the bird progressed," and were sure that it was in no 
way due to the slight north-west breeze. 

The bird swims buoyantly, holding the neck straight ; indeed, 
on land as well as water the skuas generally have an alert pose, 
the neck held at right angles to the horizontal body, though 
they are by no means nervous or shy. Piratical feeding habits 
are common with this species, though terns and Kittiwakes and 
not the larger gulls are most tormented ; the Long-tailed Skua 
enjoys the chase, and will hunt small waders and even its own 
kind for pure love of sport. Indeed, as recorded by Dr. Eagle 
Clarke, during one invasion of this and the Pomatorhine, the 
two were observed chasing one another and occasionally 
nipping off the ends of the pursued bird's streamers. On the 
wing Buffon's seems to be less noisy than other skuas, but 
at its nesting place it is clamorous. On the tundras and fjelds 
it subsists upon lemmings, insects, berries, and other vegetable 
food, and here it varies its second-hand fish diet with insects, 
crustaceans, and worms. The bird Mr. Dockray watched 
joined with many other species in a wild orgy during a heavy 
rise of May-flies, and Stevenson records that a bird shot in 
Norfolk disgorged living earthworms. 

The mature bird has the upper parts of the head dark brown, 
and the back, wings, and tail shading from dark grey to slaty 
brown ; the rest of the plumage is whitish, purest on the neck 
and breast, tinged with yellow on the cheeks, and with greyish 
brown below the breast. The bill is blackish at the tip, blue 
tinged on the cere, the legs are greyish olive, and the irides 
dark brown. Immature birds are profusely barred with brown 
and grey on the upper parts, but are less rufous than Arctics. 
Length, 23 ins. Wing, 12-5 ii 




'-' fM 




2 F/. 114. 



Richardson's Skua. l/8th. 
Razorbill. l/6th. 



S 260. 



v<- 





2 /'/. II 



Buffon's Skua. 
Po'iiatorhine Skua. 



5261. 



POMATORHINE SKUA. 261 

Pomatorhine Skua. Sfercorarius pomarvms (Temm.). 

The Pomatorhine, Pomarine, or Twist-tailed Skua (Plate 115) 
is another skua with an Arctic circumpolar range and a south- 
ward pelagic migration in autumn. It visits our shores in 
autumn, sometimes in spring, and young birds have been 
observed in summer ; as a winter visitor it occurs at sea near the 
south coast. In the so-called skua-years many hundreds have 
been driven shoreward, and not a few picked up inland. The 
most noticeable of these invasions were in the autumns of 
1879-1881, and were very marked upon the Yorkshire coast. 
Though looked upon as irregular in its visits, it appears that this 
and other species migrate normally at some distance from the 
land ; adverse conditions explain their appearance on the shore. 

The Pomatorhine is intermediate in size between the Great and 
Arctic Skua, and, though it occasionally exhibits dimorphism, is 
usually of the same brown and whitish pattern as the Long- 
tailed and light phase of the Arctic. The tail of the mature 
bird differs from that of all others, for not only are the two 
central feathers rounded at their tips, but they are twisted so 
that they are at an angle, sometimes almost a right angle, to the 
outer feathers. The effect is curious, and when in its chases 
the bird hovers over its dodging victim, the tail is expanded or 
closed like a fan. When open it looks square, the twist of the 
shafts of the streamers giving them a paddled-shaped appearance 
as they project beyond the fanned-out outer feathers. I have only 
twice seen the mature bird on the wing, but the rounded paddles 
caught my eye at once. Barrington believed that the tips of 
the tail were broken off by rough winds, weakened by the twist 
in the shaft, as he came across many specimens thus mutilated ; 
he thought that this was more likely than that they had been 
nipped off by other birds. In young birds the central feathers 
are but little elongated. The flight is hardly so free and 
rollicking as that of the Arctic, nor so graceful as Buffon's, but 



262 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

its piratical habits are the same. It is said to fish at times for 
itself, and will feed on carrion, small birds, and, in its breeding 
quarters, mammals and berries. The note is harsh, and E. T. 
Booth, who kept the bird in captivity, found that the young, 
at any rate, had a variety of screaming and whistling calls. 

The age variation of this and other skuas is puzzling ; almost 
every bird seems to depart from the normal. Booth was of 
opinion that maturity was not attained until the fifth year, but 
little is known of the plumage changes of birds in the free state. 
The mature bird has the head black on crown and nape, and 
the cheeks and neck, where the feathers are pointed, streaked 
or suffused with yellow. The back, wings, and tail are umber- 
brown, the breast and front of the neck white, and the lower 
abdomen brown. Immature birds are brown above and below, 
barred and mottled with rufous and brown, but birds showing 
more or less elongated tail feathers, and therefore approaching 
maturity, have a wide pectoral band, which in younger birds is 
almost self brown, but in those a little older is formed of brown 
streaks and blotches. The primaries have white bases, and 
the white extends further on the inner web than in the Arctic, 
a useful distinction in immature birds. The bill in adult birds 
is greyish black, bluer on the cere, but browner in young birds ; 
the legs are brown, but often show bands or blotches of blue-grey, 
a sign of immaturity ; and in the young, as in other skuas, the 
webs usually differ in colour from the tarsi and toes. The irides 
are dark brown. Length, 21 ins. Wmg, 14-5 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 



Order ALCIFORMES. 

Family ALCID^. Auks. 

Stout, short-winged, web-footed diving birds. Bills variable 
in shape ; legs set far back and short ; hind toe absent. 



RAZORBILL. 263 

Razorbill. Alca torda Linn. 

Although the Razorbill (Plate 114) is classed as a British 
resident, it is only from about the end of March to the beginning 
of August that it wiUingly comes to land ; the rest of its life — 
day and night alike — is spent at sea. It is a pelagic inhabitant 
of the North Atlantic, nesting so far south as the Channel 
Islands in the east, and New Brunswick in the west. In winter 
it enters the Mediterranean and visits the seas of the Canary 
Islands and Azores. In their breeding haunts all round the 
British Isles the Razorbill and Guillemot are usually near neigh- 
bours. In autumn and winter the Razorbill keeps well away 
from the shore, but stormy weather drives it in ; after continuous 
rough weather, when it finds difficulty in obtaining food, large 
numbers of weakened birds are beaten to death by the breakers. 

The boat excursionist, seeing a small black and white duck- 
like bird swimming in front of the steamer and adroitly 
diving under the bows, calls any auk a " Diver," but the bird 
may be a Razorbill, one of the Guillemots, or a Puffin. In 
the shape of its bill the Razorbill is intermediate between the 
two ; it is deep and laterally compressed, far more so than the 
long pointed bill of the Guillemot, but shallower and less 
smartly decorated than that of the Puffin. It is black and 
transversely grooved, the deepest groove being sharply lined 
with white. The swimming Razorbill looks black on the back 
and wings, the Guillemot brown ; it floats buoyantly, tossed like 
a cork, its head rests easily on its stout neck, its short, pointed 
tail is slightly elevated. It can paddle quickly, and does so 
as the cutwater approaches, glancing back over its shoulder 
to judge the right moment to duck ; when the curl from the 
bows threatens to swamp it, the bird neatly dives, leaving a 
trail of bubbles from its now open wings, for it flies under 
water. When swimming under water the bird inclines down- 
ward to react against the uplift of its air-filled body, and 



264 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the wings propel it rapidly forward, the feet being only used 
as rudders when turning. Small fish, its chief food, are 
captured and swallowed under water, but when hunting for its 
young are brought to the surface, and it is then that it has 
to dodge the unwelcome attention of thieving gulls. For so 
short winged a bird its flight is rapid, but it splashes a little 
when rising from the water ; when once fairly on the wing it 
flies straight with whirring pinions, usually near the surface, but 
can rise high by a gradual ascent. No combination of letters 
expresses its curious and often querulous growling note ; the 
young, when following the old birds on the water, have a 
plaintive whistling mew. 

Early in March or even in February the birds return to 
the neighbourhood of the nesting colony, but remain on the 
water for some time before they visit the ledges. In April 
and May they line the face of the cliffs, resting on the whole 
of the foot — the tarsus and toes — but seldom walking, for 
they are poor pedestrians. The eggs are laid during May, 
usually late in the month, and both birds share in incubation. 
Before and during incubation the pair exchange compliments, 
rubbing and playing with one another's bill, or gently nibbling 
at the dense plumage ; squabbles in which there is much bill 
biting and growling are frequent between neighbours and 
perhaps paired birds, but on the whole the life on the ledges is 
peaceful. Razorbills and Guillemots incubate in close proximity, 
but the latter places the egg on a more open ledge, sitting upon 
it in an upright position, whereas the former selects a crack or 
overhung ledge, and incubates with the egg lengthwise beneath 
the recumbent body. The cranny or sheltered ledge is usually 
on a steep cliff face, but holes amongst broken rocks near the 
top of the cliff are sometimes occupied. 

There is no attempt at a nest, the single large egg resting 
on the rock. It is more conical, less pyriform than that of the 
Guillemot (Plate 117), and though showing a wide range of 



RAZORBILL. 265 

variation, conforms a little more to regular types ; a single 
figure can give no idea of the wonderful variation of the eggs of 
either species. The spots, streaks, lines, and blotches differ in 
size and quantity, the ground may be white, cream, blue, green, 
or brown. Apart from the shape and, on the average, smaller 
size, the eggs may be distinguished from those of the Guillemot 
by a simple test, which holds good in all but the blue and green 
eggs of the latter ; if held to the light the inner shade, as seen 
through the hole through which the contents were extracted, is 
greenish in the Razorbill, cream or yellowish in the Guillemot. 
The nestling (Plate 118) has a short and shallow bill, a whitish 
head and under parts, and a velvety-brown back, but the first 
plumage closely resembles the summer dress of the old bird. 
The young is fed by the parent on fish, frequently sand-eels, 
and these are often brought several at once, held crosswise in 
the bill ; Mr. F. W. Frohawk saw twelve brought by one bird. 
How the bird captures and packs fish after fish in its bill is a 
mystery. After two or three weeks on the ledge the young goes 
to sea, and does not return to land until the following spring. 
The ledges are often a hundred feet or more above the sea, yet 
young still unable to fly may be seen with their parents on the 
water. It has been asserted that the juveniles slither down the 
rocks or are jostled from their insecure homes by the old birds ; 
fishermen and others declare that they are carried down in the 
bill or on the back of the old bird. Certainly in many places 
death would inevitably result if the young bird fell or was thrown 
over, and eye-witnesses believe that they have seen them 
carried ; further evidence is, however, desirable. The parents 
continue to feed them on the water, but the young soon learn to 
hunt for themselves. 

The upper parts of the adult in summer are black glossed 
with green, the chin and throat are dark, rich brown, the under 
parts, a wing bar, and a line from the top of the bill to the 
eye are white. In winter the sides of the face, chin, and throat 



266 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

are white, and the line from bill to eye obscure. On the 
bill in summer there is a raised rim at the base of the upper 
mandible, but this and apparently part of the outer cuticle of 
the lower mandible is lost in winter. The bill of the young bird 
in autumn, when it has a plumage like the adult in winter, is 
short, shallow, and at first ungrooved. The legs of the young 
are dark brown, of the old bird practically black ; the irides are 
brown, paler in the young. Length, 17 ins. Wing, 8-5 ins. 
Tarsus, r2$ ins. 

Great Auk. AUa impennis Linn. 

From time to time popular interest is aroused in the Great 
Auk ; an ^%% changes hands and brings a high price in a London 
sale-room, and a more or less incorrect account of the Gare- 
fowl appears in the Press. It is the money value of the t%g — for 
oologists will give anything for a "British" ^^<g — and not the 
bird that creates interest ; indeed, eggs are of more value than 
skins ! The passing of the Great Auk occurred some eighty years 
ago ; probably the last was killed in Iceland in 1844. Mr. H. 
Evans has evidence that one was captured in St.Kilda four years 
earlier, and, as a storm followed, was done to death as a witch. 
A bird preserved in Dublin was caught at Waterford in 1834, 
and one in the British Museum in Orkney in 1813. Altogether 
some eighty skins and sixty-three eggs are supposed to exist. It 
has been proved that it bred in Iceland, the Faeroes, Orkneys, 
Outer Hebrides, especially St. Kilda, Greenland, Funk Island, 
and other stations off the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts. 
As it did not range far north, it is unlikely that any unknown 
breeding place exists ; it has gone for ever. It perished like 
other unadaptable species because it failed to compete with 
predacious man, who wiped it out at its breeding stations, 
killing it for food. In form it was a large Razorbill, about 
32 ins. long, with wings absurdly out of proportion, no more 



GUILLEMOT. 267 

than 5 ins. in total length (4;^ from the carpal joint), service- 
able enough in the water, but of no use for flight. The eggs, 
about 5 by 3 ins., are similar to large eggs of the Razorbill, and 
vary considerably. Descriptions of plumage and of the known 
history of this extinct bird can be found in the extensive litera- 
ture of the Great Auk. 



Guillemot. Uria troille (Linn.). 

. The Common Guillemot (Plate 1 19) is a bird of the northern 
Atlantic and Pacific, breeding in the former from Greenland 
and northern Norway to Newfoundland and Portugal. It is an 
abundant and very gregarious breeder on all suitable steep cliffs 
or lofty stacks round our shores, and in winter is pelagic, keep- 
ing well off shore except when storm driven. 

On the water the Guillemot, beside being a browner bird, 
lacks the compact, plump, and neat appearance of the Razorbill ; 
it is a longer necked, more slender bird, with a long pointed 
bill. It swims well, and may be seen sporting on the surface, 
splashing and rolling, sometimes with the white under parts 
upward. It dives swiftly, catching and swallowing fish below 
the surface, and uses the wings under water, only employing the 
feet to assist when turning rapidly. Its flight is swift and 
straight, and when moving to and from distant feeding grounds 
parties frequently form strings or lines, skimming near the 
surface. In February or March birds collect near the breeding 
cliffs, and long before the eggs are laid, in May, constantly visit 
the ledges, quarrel for sites or posture with bobbing heads and 
swinging necks in nuptial preparation. In late summer the 
young are induced to take to the water, but the method by 
which they are brought from cliff to sea is as uncertain as with 
the last species ; throughout early autumn old and young 
remain near the cliffs, though I have met with birds 200 miles 
from land early in July. In winter, though some remain off 



268 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

shore, many appear to journey south, but a spell of rough weather 
brings some, mostly immature, hungry and wave battered, and 
casts them dying on the beach. I have caught birds in shallow 
shore pools, apparently too feeble to fly, which showed no sign 
of injury. The note of the bird is a chattering growl, at times 
deep and angry in tone, at times shrill and querulous ; from it 
the name " Murre" is derived, though this conveys little to most 
ears. 

On most coasts the Guillemot is more abundant than the 
Razorbill, and in favoured haunts, such as the chalk cliffs of 
Bempton and Flamborough, the rugged headlands of Wales, 
and the stacks and crags of Scotland, its numbers are beyond 
all calculation. Long rows of white-breasted birds sit upright 
on the ledges at dizzy heights, those sitting eggs usually with 
their front to the cliff, but the others, well upright, rest on the 
tarsus, the toes bent over the lip of the ledge, and swing their 
snaky necks from side to side. On the Fames the flat tops of the 
Pinnacles are crowded with birds (Plate 121), but the brown mass 
is constantly in motion, disturbed by the arrival of newcomers 
who fight for foothold, whilst a stream drops off to fish. When 
leaving the ledge neither Guillemot nor Razorbill habitually 
dives seaward as frequently depicted and described, but flies 
off maintaining a more or less horizontal position. The head 
and tail are depressed, the arched back is held highest by the 
whirring wings ; the bird floats outward and downward, gliding 
obliquely forward. No nest is made ; the single large pyriform 
egg lies on bare rock, often on a ledge which slopes dangerously 
seaward. The idea that its shape allows it to twist round in 
the wind is exploded, as is the egg when a careless sitter sends 
it hurtling to the rocks beneath ; the frequent struggles for the 
rights of a ledge lead to many catastrophes ; I have seen the 
rocks at the foot of the cliff yellow with yolks. 

Only one type of egg can be shown (Plate 117), but the 
variation is endless ; the gi-ound may be white, cream, yellow, 




Great Skua. 



^ :i^ 




Richardson's Skua. 



PL 1 1 6. 



6-268. 














Razorbill. 




2 /y. 117. 



6" 260. 



GUILLEMOT. 269 

blue, green, purple, red, or brown, the spots, streaks, lines, 
smears, or blotches of any colour, light or dark. Some eggs are 
blue or green without a spot, others are blotched or zoned with 
solid black or brown ; one type is covered with a maze of dark 
lines, and some have unspotted bands, though elsewhere densely 
coloured. The sitting bird is usually upright, though lack of 
head room may force it to lie prone : the Qgg is tucked length- 
wise beneath the body and as much as possible of its surface 
brooded. When the downy young, dark brown above, greyish 
beneath, and with hoary heads, are hatched, the activity of the 
colony reaches its height ; far as the eye can reach the water 
is spotted with birds busily fishing and others trail off to known 
distant feeding grounds, or speed to join with gulls and porpoises 
in decimating a passing shoal of fry. The air is full of ascending 
and descending birds, and when a fish, for usually but one is 
brought at once, is carried up for the young, the captor alights 
on the slippery ledge with a flutter of wings as it strives to 
secure a balance. It is then that a bad-tempered neighbour 
will snatch its prize, or with a dig topple it backward and force 
it to make another attempt to land. Growling unamiable 
remarks greet these newcomers, and often with bills interlocked 
two will struggle for foothold. The call of the young is said to 
have given origin to the name " Willock," a name also applied 
to Razorbill and Puffin. When in September the half-grown 
young eagerly follow their diving parents, swimming with head 
low and short bill pointed forward, they pipe a shrill pee-00, 
pee-00. " Scout " is another common name, and in Yorkshire 
the Bridled Guillemot, a sporadic variety with a white eye-rim 
and line towards the nape, is known as the '* Ring-eyed Scoot.'"' 
The adult bird in summer is slaty brown on the upper parts, 
and more rufous brown on the cheeks, chin, and throat ; the 
under parts and a narrow wing bar are white. In winter the 
plumage is browner, and the sides of the face, chin, and throat 
are white, a dark line passing through the e>e to the cheeks. 



270 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The first plumage of the juvenile resembles that of the adult 
in summer, but in autumn one more like the winter dress is 
attained, but the sides of the face and neck are mottled with 
brown. The bill is blackish horn, the legs and feet blackish 
brown, and the irides brown. Length, i8'5 ins. Wing, 775 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*25 ins. 

Briinnich's Guillemot. Uria lomvia (Linn.). 

Briinnich's Guillemot is an Arctic bird, which nests as far 
south as Iceland, and occasionally wanders in winter to our 
shores. Four were obtained in the winter of 1894-95, three 
of these in Yorkshire and the other in Cambridge ; others have 
been taken since and probably some before, but the evidence is 
not always conclusive ; at any rate the majority have been met 
with on the east coast in England or Scotland. The bird has 
been reported in June at Bempton and the Fames, but was only 
identified through glasses. It is a blacker bird than ours, and 
the bill stouter and deeper ; the mature bird has a pale 
unfeathered hne from the nostril to the gape ; the legs are 
brownish. Length, 18 ins. Wing, 8'5 ins. Tarsus, i'3 ins. 

Black Guillemot. Uria grylle (Linn.). 

In so many ways the Black Guillemot (Plate 119) differs 
from other auks that it is placed by some systematists in 
a separate genus ; it has a very distinct seasonal change of 
plumage, lays more than a single ^g^^ and is much less gregarious. 
It is found, seldom in large numbers, throughout north-eastern 
America, Greenland, Iceland, and western Europe to the White 
Sea ; in the British Isles it is local in Scotland and the western 
islands, more plentiful in the Orkneys and Shetlands, scattered 
over the north and west of Ireland, and the Isle of Man. It 
formerlv nested in one or two localities in North Wales and on 



BLACK GUILLEMOT. 2/1 

the cliffs at Flamborough, but it is capricious, and has deserted 
without apparent reason some of its old Scottish haunts. In 
winter, though pelagic, it wanders south and is occasionally- 
met with in bays and inlets on all parts of the coast, but is 
never common. In early spring an odd bird will remain on a 
rocky shore, its summer dress suggesting nuptial intentions, 
and it is always possible that some of its old stations may at 
times be occupied. Inland it is very rare, and its storm-beaten 
corpse is infrequent in the tide wrack. 

Few birds are more easy to recognise than the Black 
Guillemot in summer dress, for the glossy brownish-black 
plumage is set off by the big white patch on the wing ; as it 
flies, even at a distance, or when like a duck it rises in the 
water to flap its wings, the flicker of this patch and of the white 
under wing attracts the eye. Its legs are brilliant red, and 
when it calls, its bill, though really black, appears red, for the 
inside of the mouth is conspicuously orange-red. The white 
. and black dress of winter is almost as noticeable. The plumage 
has a soft, blended look, the black and white bars on the upper 
parts merge without sharp dividing lines ; the white patch on 
the dark wing remains unchanged. Age explains much of the 
variation in winter dress, for in many birds the head is almost 
white, merely flecked with black, but in others is well marked 
with dark streaks. The black dress is not invariably lost in 
winter, and Grant considered its retention a sign of old age. 
There is something in this soft, hoary plumage which suggests 
the doves, for one of the old names for the bird, especially 
amongst the whalers, was *' Greenland Dove," shortened at 
times to " Dovekie," and in the Isle of Man the bird is still the 
" Sea-Pigeon." 

Less sociable than other auks, the Black Guillemot straggles 
to its nesting haunts in February, but comes little to land until 
April. It swims lightly and dives with skill, but I have never 
been near enough to see underwater progression, when it is 



272 ' THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

said to use the feet as well as the wings. In flight its wings 
beat quickly ; it flies close to the water as a rule, straight and 
with considerable speed, but finds the same difficulty in rising 
as other auks, splashing with feet and wings. On rocks it is 
more agile than the Common Guillemot, often standing on 
the toes alone, walking well with the body upright. When 
resting it sinks on to the tarsus or lies prone, the position 
during incubation. The common Orkney and Shetland name 
is " Tystie," probably derived from the whistling love-call — 
Naumann's ist^ ist^ isi, and not from the ** dreary whining cry," 
as Mr. P. G. Ralfe well describes its normal call. Fish are 
eaten and brought, one at a time, to the young, but crabs and 
other crustaceans, hunted for at the bottom or amongst the 
tangle of submerged rocks, are perhaps its chief food. 

The two eggs (Plate 94) are placed in a crack or fissure 
seldom at any great height on a cHfif face, or are beneath loose 
stones in the fallen masses at the foot of a crag and sometimes 
in a cave. No nest is made. The colour is white or slightly 
tinted with green or cream, blotched and spotted towards the 
larger end with brown and lavender; they are laid late in May 
or in June. The nestling has sooty-brown down, and the 
young bird a mottled dress of grey, black, and brown, darker 
than that of the barred winter plumage of the adult bird 
The white wing patch is splashed with brown, and in the second 
year brown marks still indicate immaturity. Between the 
mottled dress and the glossy black of summer or the hoary 
plumage of winter are a variety of complicated gradations. 
In the young bird the bill is dusky, and the inside of the mouth 
duller ; the legs are at first brown. Apparently at all ages the 
irides are dark brov/n. Saunders gives the total length as 14 ins., 
but 12 is nearer the average. Wing, 6'5 ins. Tarsus, 1-25 ins. 



^^^^BHir*' '^■mhI^I 






Br 


W^ ,..^^'f ^H^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^l 




■tf 






1 






^^^B^'^ 









•;fwp^p«?r 



2 /'/. I 19. 



y'273. 



Common Guillemct. 1 7tli. 
Black Guillemot. 1 5tli. 



LITTLE AUK. 273 

Little Auk. AHe alk (Linn.). 

The summer home of the Little Auk (Plate 120) is on Arctic 
islands and in the seas around them, the nearest of these to 
Britain is off the coast of Iceland ; its winter pelagic wanderings 
take it at least so far south as the Canary Islands and Azores, 
and almost annually a few are met with on our coasts during 
the colder months. Exceptionally birds in summer dress have 
been recorded as late as June. From time to time blizzards or 
fierce gales hurl hundreds upon our shores or whisk them far 
inland, even, during a north-easterly gale, across England from 
the east to the west coast ; there are fejv counties which cannot 
record some of these unfortunates. 

On the water the Rotche, another name of the bird, swims 
well but deeply, " by the stern," Mr. Abel Chapman calls it. 
It looks short-necked and stumpy, but neat and compact ; 
its small size and short, conical bill prevent confusion with 
its congeners. It flies fast and straight, its wings whirring 
rapidly, and seems always in a hurry ; if alarmed when swim- 
ming, it scutters along the surface and dives headlong into 
an advancing wave. I have only once seen it diving, in the 
tank at Regent's Park in 1883, where for a short time one was 
kept alive on fish. It easily overhauled its prey, swimming with 
its short wings like a penguin, and steering as it turned with the 
spread webbed feet. Like other auks it swallowed its food 
under water. Crustaceans and not fish seem to be the chief 
food of the Little Auk ; at the breeding stations, its pouch-like 
cheeks are often loaded with small planktonic Crustacea— 
Euphaicsia in particular. Mysids, shrimps, prawns, and small 
crabs are also captured, and the bird has been known to feed 
on offal thrown overboard from whalers and deep-sea trawlers. 
In its breeding colonies, where it congregates in immense 
numbers, the loud chorus of chattering cries has been com- 
mented upon, but the note heard off our shores is variously 
Series II. T 



274 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

described. Dr. Patten, following Seebohm, says that it utters 
'\i sound like allc, allc, from which its specific name is taken." 

During these invasions or, more correctly, " wrecks "of Little 
Auks, the bird comes prominently before the public; the year 
1895 witnessed a noteworthy wreck, but a more recent one was 
in the winter of 1911-12. During the early months of 191 2, I 
handled several of the birds, and heard of many in the west in 
addition to the hundreds recorded on the east coast. The local 
papers everywhere were full of references to the strange bird 
which some one had found dead in the road, or whose inevitable 
end had been hastened with stick and stone by village lads. 
The Little Auk comes to us to die. A few find temporary 
refuge on inland pools, or, if more fortunate, reach quieter seas 
and may survive, but most if wind driven far beyond the fatal 
lee shore finally drop exhausted — one even entered a surgery in 
Finsbury Park ; if found by kindly folk they are ineffectually 
tempted with unsuitable viands until nature claims its own. 
Dr. P. R. Lowe has hit upon the probable explanation of the 
wreckage. Lowered temperature, disturbed surface water, or 
other change may drive down beyond reach the planktonic food. 
Weakened by lack of food, the bird, normally hardy enough, 
is unable to cope with a gale and is driven to its death. 

In summer the upper parts are glossy black, the lower part 
of the face, chin, neck, and throat more sooty ; a small semi- 
circular spot above the eye, the tips of the scapulars, a wing 
band, and the under parts are white. In winter the chin and 
throat are white, and there is a more or less marked white 
collar. Immature birds resemble the adult in winter, but lack 
the eye-spot. In spring and autumn, during plumage change, 
the chin and throat are mottled. The bill is black, the legs are 
greenish grey, and the irides dark brown. Length, 8 ins. 
Wing, 5 ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 



PUFFIN. 275 

PuflSn. Fratercula arctica (Linn.). 

No bird is more distinctive than the Puffin (Plate 120), and 
it is an abundant species, yet few accounts of its appearance 
and life history agree. It inhabits the Arctic seas and North 
Atlantic, breeding as far south as Portugal, but though a few 
birds remain off our shores all winter, there is a general south- 
ward migration. Colonies are scattered on suitable cliffs or 
islands round the British Isles, but there are only a few on 
the east and south coasts of England ; some in Scotland, 
Wales, and Ireland contain many thousand birds. 

It is not the black and white plumage, the large parti- 
coloured bill, the upright carriage, nor the orange legs that give 
the Puffin its quaint appearance, but its eye ; no bird has 
caused more unjustifiable hilarity than this "big-nosed" 
dumpy auk. Mr. F. Heatherley calls the- eye Chinese, but it is 
not oblique ; it is set deeply above the round, full cheek, and 
from it a conspicuous groove curves backward. Around the eye 
is a crimson ring, above it a triangular steel-blue plate, and 
below a small bar of the same colour. As we look at the serious 
birds, for they do look very serious, standing in solemn rows at 
the edge of the cliff or scattered over the thrift-grown turf 
(Plate 122), we unconsciously smile, but do not realise that it 
is the fixed expression caused by the eye that entertains us. 
The Puffin is no clown, but a business-like, beautiful little auk ; 
it is our conceited ignorance of serviceable avian proportions 
which misleads us. From its deep but shapely bill the bird 
receives semi-humorous names — " Pope," " Sea-Parrott," 
'■ Bottlenose," "Tommy Noddie," or the more descriptive 
" Coulterneb " ; there is something suggestive of the coulter 
of a plough in its shape, but nothing to justify bottle-shape, 
parrot bill, or papal. It can catch and hold a slippery fish and 
nip severely. 

In March the far-scattered Puffins turn towards our islands, 



276 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

but the return, though regular, is not annually on a given date, 
as lighthouse-keepers, and even Prof. Newton, would have us 
believe. A few arrive in March, but the majority come later, 
and departure, which begins in August, often drags on until the 
middle of September. Holes or burrows, not exposed ledges, 
are the nesting sites, consequently the biggest colonies are 
on turf-covered islands, or the grassy slopes of cliffs. At the 
colony the birds swarm, many loitering aimlessly, others ex- 
cavating, or attending to various domestic duties. The Puffin 
stands on the toes — popularly called the foot — and does not 
rest upright on the whole length of the tarsus like a Guillemot, 
in the attitude often pictured and even recently described ; 
I have never seen the bird sink on to the tarsus except as a 
preliminary to its position of ease, when the breast rests upon 
the ground. When walking it has a nautical roll, due to its 
short legs and the ppsition of the feet, but it walks without 
labour and can run quickly. A bird may often be seen chasing 
another with head held low, and if the pursued is overtaken 
the big bills will be interlocked, and with much growling 
each appears to be striving to wring its rival's neck. On 
the sea near the colony the birds swim in hundreds ; the 
brightly coloured bill alone serves to distinguish them from 
their companions, Guillemots and Razorbills. 

The Puffin dives without effort, and under water swims with 
wings alone. The flight differs from that of other auks. When 
turned out of its burrows the bird runs down the slope towards 
the sea, often tumbling in its haste, and with open and quivering 
wings slowly rises like a starting aeroplane. Mr. O. V. Aplin 
points out that when the bird rises clear the feet are gathered 
beneath it with *' unctuous palms " meeting, but as it descends 
towards the water are extended on either side of the tail. In the 
oblique descent they function as rudders and balancers, but are 
again drawn together when it skims out, perhaps for half a mile, 
low over the water. The pose of the body during the aerial dive 






^i y^ 



^ 




♦i)*!* ■ ' 



PUFFIN. 277 

is more diagonal than that of the descending Guillemot, and the 
wings vibrate rather than beat ; the bird looks like some thick- 
bodied dragon-fly. This curious vibrating flight is noticeable 
at other times, especially when clouds of birds wheel in accord ; 
indeed, the Puffin is an active and agile bird on the wing, turn- 
ing smartly with a steep heel over. The deep guttural a7-rr is 
heard in the colony and on the water ; it is a discontented and 
complaining sound, and has an angrier ring when the bird is 
rudely evicted from its burrow. The note varies or the bird has 
distinct calls, but all are deep, and at times, as Mr. Aplin aptly 
describes it, is "like one of the nocturnal calls of the cat." 
Naumann says that the bird does not retaliate if handled so 
long as it is in its hole, but though it will strive to shrink 
away from an intruding hand, the first evidence of occupation 
is often a savage and painful nip. 

It is true that a rabbit burrow is occupied if one is handy, 
but most of the tunnels are excavated by the birds themselves ; 
in a large colony the springy cushions of thrift and the turf are 
undermined by a labyrinth of burrows ; the foot sinks into the 
superficial tunnels. The Puffin digs vigorously, scratching the 
soil backwards with its feet. A heavy, peculiar smell hangs 
over this densely crowded colony ; the bird is not particular 
about sanitation. Many holes have more than one exit, and 
the position of the nest, when nest is made, may be a i^w inches 
from the entrance or many feet beyond reach. Holes under 
rocks or amongst loose stones are occupied ; indeed, all the 
Puffin demands is a hole. The ^%g may be laid on the bare 
soil or an untidy nest of wet grass, seaweed, thrift, and feathers 
be collected in a rounded chamber. The single ^'^•g (Plate 
108), l-aid in the latter half of I^Iay, is dull white, rough in 
texture, and usually faintly zoned with grey or reddish spots ; 
it becomes much soiled from the wet feet of the incubating 
birds. The nestling has long sooty down, with a whitish patch 
Qn the under paits; its short bill and legs are slate-grey. It 



278 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

grows rapidly, and a little later has greyer down (Plate 125), 
and its legs show a pinkish tinge ; it is active, runs well, and 
quickly bolts into its burrow if placed near the entrance. It 
has a piping note when handled, or when the old bird arrives 
with its beak full of fishes, neatly arranged in a row. 

The adult Puffin has the upper parts and a collar greyish 
black, darkest on the back ; the under parts are white. The 
cheeks and throat are delicately shaded with art grey. At the 
base of the upper mandible is a pale-yellow raised rim, on the 
lower a narrower vermilion line ; the basal portion of the beak is 
blue-grey, the outer portion orange and vermilion, more or less in 
transverse streaks ; at the angle of the gape is a rosette of 
orange skin. The legs are orange, the irides pale brown. 
Some birds have vermilion, others lemon-yellow legs ; indeed, 
the colours of beak and legs show considerable variation. In 
winter the raised rim, most of the outer covering of the bill, the 
rosette at the gape, and the decorations above and below the 
eye are shed ; the bill becomes smaller and less brilliant. It is 
frequently stated that the cheeks are greyer in winter, but this 
may be due to age, for the young bird not only has the cheeks 
darker, but in front of the eye is a blackish patch ; the bill in 
the young is at first short and more conical. Length, 13 ins. 
Wing, 7 ins. Tarsus, i in. 



Order PROCELLARI I FORMES. Petrels 

and Shearwaters. 

Family THALASSIDROMID^. 

Small, long-winged, web-footed birds ; bill short, hooked, 
nostrils in one double tube. 



STORM-PETREL. 279 

Storm-Petrel. Thalassidroma pelagica (Linn.). 

The sailor is well acquainted with the Storm-Petrel (Plate 
123) ; he calls it "Mother Carey's Chicken," and by no means 
always looks upon it Iwith superstitious dread, for the bird 
follows in the steamer's wake in any weather. During the 
greater part of the year the ocean is the Petrel's home ; it is a 
bird of the eastern Atlantic, but how far it normally ranges 
south is uncertain, for though it is said to have rounded the 
Cape, there may have been confusion with other petrels. Its 
British breeding colonies are on islands off the Scottish and 
Irish coast, and on some in South Wales and the Scillies. 
There is a general southward movement in autumn, but the 
bird is scattered far and wide in winter, and only continuous 
bad weather brings it to land. Strong gales not only drive it 
ashore, sometimes in such numbers as to be classed as 
" wrecks," but often carry it far inland, dropping it, storm 
battered, in towns or other unlikely spots for an oceanic bird, 
where starvation hastens the end. 

The Storm-Petrel is a small sooty bird with a white patch 
above and below the base of the tail ; the tail is square, not 
forked as in its nearest allies. Its wings are long and narrow ; 
its flight buoyant, swift, and erratic ; as it follows a steamer, a 
frequent habit, it looks like a long-winged House-Martin, the 
white back patch helping the resemblance. It swerves and 
twists, and occasionally lowers its long legs and patters on the 
surface — from this the sailors coined the name — Little Peter 
striving to walk on the waves. During this pattering, half- 
running flight it dips its head for food, sometimes erroneously 
described as "insects," sometimes as the oily offal thrown 
overboard, whatever this may mean. It will eat oily matter, 
skimming it from the surface ; Mr. T. H. Nelson kept a bird for 
a few days, and fed it on oil floating on water in a saucer ; the 
bird flew over it like a Swallow and skimmed off the oil. The 



28o THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

chief oceanic food, however, consists of small crustaceans and 
cephalopods, and for these, churned up by the screw, it follows 
a steamer, and not, like a gull, hoping for scraps. Small fish 
are eaten, and during the nesting season a considerable amount 
of sorrel, but there is no evidence that insects are taken, though 
the bird's actions suggest fly-catching. In a rough sea it swims 
easily, rising on the advancing wave and apparently glissading 
to the trough. Its wing-beats are not hurried, it skims and 
glides, beating deliberately, more like a tern than an auk. 

In most books the petrels generally are figured standing on 
their \vebbed toes, and specimens are usually mounted in this 
position, yet it is doubtful if the Storm-Petrel and others of its 
relatives can stand. A captive bird in the possession of Dr. 
C B. Ticehurst never stood, but rested on the tarsus or whole 
length of the foot, and even walked or shuffled in this position. 
When rising on the wing it raised itself to the toes with forward 
steps and uplifted wings. Audubon says of Leach's Petrel that 
it " walks as if about to fall down, but with considerable ease, 
and at times with rapidity," probably referring to this forward 
shuffle. Detailed observations of the habits of the Storm- 
Petrel on land are difficult to obtain, for during the breeding 
season the bird is largely nocturnal ; storm-driven victims are 
usually so weak as to be unreliable. 

The bird comes ashore in April or May, and the single egg is 
laid as a rule late in June, in a burrow in turf, a hole in rock, 
or beneath a litter of stones. The nest, w^hen any is made, is a 
small collection of wet grass. The chalky-white egg is usually 
zoned with fine reddish specks (Plate 153). In large colonies 
the turf is honeycombed with burrows, some superficial. On 
the water the Petrel is a silent bird, but at night at the nesting- 
colony it is noisy in flight ; Mrs. Gordon says its note is "very 
husky, and sometimes ends in a sort of shriek," a repeated 
ciich-ah. Mr. N. H. Joy heard no sound from flying birds, but a 
purring noise, like the churr of a distant Nightjar, came after 



LEACH'S PETREL. 281 

dusk from incubating- birds in the holes. This churr often ended 
in a sharp wit. Nearly two hours after sunset the birds 
emerged and flitted round in the dusk. Dr. Eagle Clarke found 
one colony deserted in the daytime, for the young were hatched, 
and concluded that the birds go off for food during the day and 
feed the young at night ; the food is regurgitated oily matter, 
probably half-digested squids. An oily smell pervades the 
colony, and the bird itself reeks of oil ; if handled its first act of 
retaliation is a jet of oil, squirted from beak or nostrils. The 
down of the sooty brown nestling is long [and on the under 
parts hoary, its bill and legs are at first white, but soon darken. 
There is little difference between young and adult birds, though 
the slight white wing bar is perhaps more noticeable in the 
former. The bill and legs are black, the irides blackish brown. 
Length, 6 '5 ins. Wing, 47 ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Leach's Petrel. Oceanodroma lencorrkoa (VieilL). 

The North Atlantic breeding range of Leach's Petrel (Plate 
123) is more to the north and west than that of the Storm- 
Petrel, and it also occurs in the north Pacific ; the only known 
European stations are in the British Isles — on St. Kilda, the 
Flannans, North Rona, and a few islands off the west coast of 
Ireland. Yet the bird, on the whole, is more frequently seen off 
our shores, for a number pass south in autumn over our seas ; 
westerly gales often drive them inshore, and not infrequently 
whirl them helplessly far inland. As a derelict it is not un- 
common, even at a distance from the coast. 

The full name is Leach's Fork-tailed Petrel, for it is the 
decidedly forked tail which distinguishes it from the Storm, 
though not from all its congeners. It is larger, but in the 
main its sooty dress and white back patch agree with those 
of the last species ; the median wing-coverts are pale brown, 
and show on the flying bird, as Mr. R. W. Jones points out, as 



282 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

two brown patches converging above the white rump. The 
manner of flight, the habit of following steamers, of picking 
food from the water, holding its long wings elevated above its 
back as it almost alights, paddling with its feet, and the nature 
of its oily planktonic food agree with those described for the 
Storm-Petrel. I followed one storm-driven bird along the 
shore, and never once saw it stand. When it stopped for a 
moment, it sank upon the breast, its tarsi doubled beneath it, 
but it persistently strove to rise against the fierce west wind. 
Raising its wings, but beating them but Httle, it ran into the 
teeth of the wind until it was lifted, but immediately this 
happened the gusts heeled it over and whirled it a few inches 
above the sand towards the dunes ; in a few yards it came to 
the ground and was helplessly rolled over. 

The nesting holes, the habits during the breeding season,'and 
the nocturnal note, appear to be as in the other species, but 
actual information is scanty. The single egg is very like that 
of the Storm, though slightly larger ; eggs are often laid at the 
end of May, a little earlier than those of the other bird. The 
nestling has long sooty-black down, darker than that of the 
Storm. There is no marked difference between mature and 
immature dress. Length, 8*5 ins. Wing, 6 ins. Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Madeiran Petrel. Oceanodroma castro (Harcourt). 

Harcouit's Petrel, as it is often called, nests in the Azores, 
Madeira, and other islands off the west African coast, and also 
in the Hawaiian and Galapagos groups in the Pacific. In 
winter it has strayed to western Europe and has three times 
been met with on the south coast of England, twice in Kent 
and once in Hampshire. Except that its tail is less forked, and 
that some of the white upper tail-coverts have black tips, this 
bird difiers little from Leach's Petrel. Its bill and legs are 
black, its iridcs dark brown. Length, 8 ins. Wing, 6*i ins. 
Tarsus, 0*82 in. 



FRIGATE-PETREL. 283 

Wilson's Petrel. Oceanites oceanims (Kuhl). 

Wilson's Petrel inhabits the Antarctic and migrates north at 
the approach of the southern winter ; thus, when it reaches our 
islands, which it does on rare occasions, its visits are in summer. 
Most of the occurrences have been on the south coast, but it has 
reached the Hebrides once and Ireland twice, as well as Cum- 
berland and Yorkshire. Gould saw some numbers off Land's 
End in May, 1838, and apparently some remained all summer, 
as a bird was obtained in Cornwall in November of that year. 
So far as is known its habits and flight are similar to those of 
most petrels. Dr. E. A. Wilson saw it, flitting " apparently 
never tired " over the Antarctic ice like a House-Martin hawk- 
ing for flies. Its plumage is black, with the white lower back 
of other petrels, but its legs are long, and the black toes have 
yellow webs. The tail is variable, sometimes square, some- 
times slightly forked. Length, 7 ins. Wing, 6 ins. Tarsus, 
1*4 ins. 

Frigate-Petrel. Pelagodroma marina (Latham). 

The Frigate-Petrel is a bird of the South Pacific and 
Atlantic, with colonies as far north as the Salvage and Cape 
Verde Islands. It has twice been known to wander to Britain, 
the first washed ashore after a gale at Walney Island in 
November, 1890, where it was picked up together with an 
example of Wilson's Petrel and other oceanic birds. The 
second was captured in the Hebrides in January, 1897. This 
bird is lighter in colour than the petrels previously mentioned ; 
its forehead, a conspicuous eye-stripe, and under parts are white ; 
its head, cheeks, neck, and back are dark slate, and its lower 
back paler slate. Its wings are brown, its bill and long legs 
black, and its webs yellow. Length, 775 ins. Wing, 6*25 ins. 
Tarsus, r6 ins. 



284 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Family PUFFINID^^. Shearwaters. 

Long-winged petrels; bill with united tubular nostrils. 

Manx Shearwater. FnffiJius pnffinus (Briinn.), 

The range of the Manx Shearwater (Plate 124), so far as is 
known with certainty, is restricted. It nests in Iceland and the 
Faeroes, and is thought to breed in Madeira. In the Scilly Isles 
it is abundant, and also in sev^eral islands off the coasts of 
Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, including the Orkneys and Shet- 
lands. Mr. C. Oldham and I discovered a small colony on the 
mainland in North Wales, and there are a few similar colonies 
on Irish headlands. In the Mediterranean the closely allied 
Levantine Shearwater, P. p. yelkoiiaii (Acerbi), occurs, and 
numbers wander into the Atlantic in autumn ; it is by no means 
uncommon off" our south and east coasts between August and 
February. British birds, and probably passage migrants from 
further north, are common off our shores in autumn, and large 
numbers are picked up inland. Southward migration is a well- 
marked movement. 

The Manx Shearwater, no longer an inhabitant of the island 
from which it gets its name, is nevertheless a common bird in 
the Irish Sea ; indeed, it is well distributed and often common 
in most of our coastal waters in summer, even at a distance 
from any known breeding ground. Its black upper and white 
under parts are a little like those of an auk, but its long, slender 
bill, with a strong hooked tip, and its narrow pointed wings are 
those of a petrel. Even on the water it looks more slender, has 
finer lines that the stout Guillemot or Puffin, and on the wing it 
is a very different bird as it skims or shears the waves. It 
glides upward, cants over at right angles, swoops with one wing 
just missing a crest, then skims the surface, rising and falling 
with the waves, then up again, now right wing up, now left. 




^^^':m 





f^ 






2 /'/. 123. 



7^285. 



Storm-Petrel. 
Leach's Petrel. 



MANX SHEARWATER. 285 

There is little wing-beat, but an easy loitering glide ; it does 
not hurry. Often, however, strings of Manx Shearwaters pass, 
bent on business ; these birds fly straighter and with greater 
speed, but their longer wings are never rapidly moved like 
those of auks ; the birds swing along and glide with easy grace, 
undulating just above the waves. 

Off the North Wales coast these steadier flights are in the 
morning and evening, the birds passing to and from feeding 
grounds. These movements are puzzling ; they are diurnal 
summer flights which have no connection with the larger south- 
ward autumnal migration. I have often observed them myself, 
but my main source of information is Mr. R. W. Jones, who 
first called my attention to their regularity in the neighbour- 
hood of the Great Orme. From May to August the birds pass 
almost every evening in a series of flocks or strings, travelling 
west from the direction of Liverpool Bay towards and beyond 
the north coast of Anglesey ; Mr. Jones counted 144 in half an 
hour, and at Point Lynas I saw 270 pass between 6 and 6.30 p.m. 
I have occasionally seen parties going east in the early after- 
noon. In Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea between Lancashire 
and the Isle of Man, Manx Shearwaters are common in the day- 
time all through the summer. I have seen the bird at this 
season in the North Sea and Scottish waters ; the statement 
that it is nocturnal, in the breeding season and after, is certainly 
not entirely correct. Dr. Eagle Clarke's experience with the 
Storm-Petrel, which he found absent during the day when young 
were hatched, does not apply to this species, for I found birds 
brooding young in the daytime, but at three different colonies 
I saw no birds about by day. Probably some, perhaps one of 
each pair, goes off to a distance to feed by day, and at night 
injects the young with the oily half-digested matter upon which 
it certainly thrives. Those who know the coast and the position 
of the colonies will understand that the evening westward flight 
is from, not to the feeding grounds. 



286 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

In early August I have sailed amongst the feeding birds ; 
they paid no attention to a throbbing motor, nor, on this 
occasion, to the refuse or "oftal" from the trawl, but busily 
hunted, probably for squids, then plentiful in the surface water. 
They took short flights and picked food from the surface as they 
paddled, petrel fashion, with their feet ; they alighted and dived, 
remaining under for a few seconds onlj\ They were quick and 
excited, but never dived in with open wings, as they have been 
described as doing, but I could not see how they swam under 
water. They floated, picking food right and left, between the 
short flights and dives. Young birds of the year were distinctly 
browner about the head and cheeks than the others. Planktonic 
crustaceans, squids, and other free-swimming molluscs, and 
small fish are the food, and at the breeding haunts they eat 
sorrel — Chaloner quaintly remarks — " for digestion's sake, as is 
conjectur'd." 

The nests are in burrows in turf, often on steep slopes, in 
cracks or caves in rocks, or amongst the debris of scree and 
fallen rock. The single egg is white, and measures about 
2-3 by I '6 inches ; it is laid in early May, and I have seen 
apparently fresh eggs in the middle of June when there were 
many young in other burrows. Some eggs were on a small 
collection of dry grass, others jn unlined scoops in the soil; 
some were within easy reach, others fully five feet from the 
entrance. The old birds pecked at my hand with chortling 
expostulation, but when taken from the hole uttered no com- 
plaint ; they bit, the hooked nail giving a powerful nip, and the 
sharp claws painful scratches. When released they bounded 
down the slope, fluttering and running, striking the ground 
heavily with the breast, but when clear of the cliff top, sailed 
easily, and did not alight on the water so long as they were in 
sight. The young are fed on oily regurgitated food, and are 
fat balls of long blue-grey down, with a flufi'y tuft on the head ; 
the under parts are bluish white, and the tips of the wing 



MANX SHEARWATER. 287 

Stumps white ; the bill and feet are lead-blue, the webs flesh- 
coloured. When placed on the ground the young crawled on 
all fours, using the wing stumps and the weak tarsi. The old 
bird at rest, lies prone on the breast and tarsi. 

Whether the bird makes any sound on the water or in diurnal 
flight I cannot say, but at night it is noisy at the nesting colony. 
The light-keepers told me that the " Mackerel Cocks " were 
most clamorous after rain, and certainly at one colony a heavy 
thunder shower enlivened them. At 10.30 p.m., when rain was 
still falling, the noise began and lasted most of the night. The 
birds flew fast, judging by the calls, for they were invisible in 
the darkness. The light-keepers said that the birds exclaimed — 
" It's your fault," with emphasis on the " your," and this is an 
excellent simile. The calls vary, some being harsh and scold- 
ing, others soft and crooning : Ii-y-co7'ka^ kitti-koo-roo^ kok-a- 
kok (very quick), kok-a-?'oo-7-oo, It-is -yor-folt. The hard kok 
was most frequent. At the end of August the southward move 
begins, and in the first week in September, and at times a 
little later, many are seen moving in strings along our shores, 
and large numbers cross the land, dropping from their hosts 
the weaklings in places far from the coast. These birds are 
not storm driven, but have failed to keep up ; the records at 
this season point to regular not occasional overland travels. 
In winter the bird is rare in our seas. 

The adult Manx Shearwater is black above and white 
beneath, the black merging with the white in delicate greys ; 
the bill is blackish, the legs are black on the outer side, pinker 
within, and the webs are blue ; the irides are described as 
dark brown, but those of the birds I handled appeared to be 
closed with a bluish nictitating membrane, though they ex- 
hibited no daylight blindness when released. Length, 16 ins. 
Wing, 9'5 ins. Tarsus, 175 ins. 

The Levantine Shearwater has the upper parts browner, the 
under parts more dusky, and the axillaries smoky brown ; in 



288 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the Manx the axillaries are white, or sharply tipped with brown. 
The Levantine is the larger bird. Length, i6 ins. Wing, 
lo ins. Tarsus, I'Q ins. 

Sooty Shearwater. Puffijiis griseus (Gmelin). 

Though the Sooty Shearwater (Plate 124) is a world- wanderer, 
it would indeed be strange if the large numbers which visit the 
Atlantic, even so far north as the Canadian coast and the 
Fxroes, were all reared in the one known breeding haunt, 
the Chatham Islands, in the New Zealand seas. Considering 
how plentiful it is in the southern Atlantic, it is more than 
probable that there are colonies on unexplored or partially 
explored oceanic islands, where, no doubt, the crepuscular 
habits during the breeding season have lessened the chance 
of discovery. At the termination of its breeding season this 
southern shearwater migrates northward, in our spring, and 
must, in the light of all the records, be looked upon as a more 
or less regular annual visitor to our shores. In mid-July it 
has been seen off the Butt of Lewis, and frequently from August 
to October on all parts of the east and south coast, and the 
west of Ireland, from the Orkneys to Land's End ; it has 
seldom been noticed in the Irish Sea. Off the Yorkshire coast 
it is so well known as to be named the " Black Shearwater " by 
the fishermen ; at a distance it looks very black as it flies with 
typical shearwater flight, skimming and swinging, now the 
upper, now the lower parts in view. From the Great Shear- 
water it can be told by its uniform brown colour. At times it 
flies in strings or lines ; ten or a dozen together have several 
times been observed. Belated birds have been recorded in 
November and December, but as a rule the southward migra- 
tion is at its height in September, the birds travelling south to 
breed when our northern birds are seeking winter quarters. 

The general colour is deep brown, darkest on the upper 




'^^^^t:^^ 



h 




2 PL 124. 



7^288. 



Manx Shearwater, 
Sooty Shearwater. 



1 4th. 
1 7th. 



GREAT SHEARWATER. 289 

parts ; the bill, legs, and irides are dark brown, but the inner 
side of the tarsi and webs are greyer. Length, 18 ins. Wing, 
12 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Great Shearwater. Piiffijms gravis O'Reilly. 

So far the only known breeding place of the Great Shear- 
water (Plate 126) is the Tristan da Cunha group in the south 
Atlantic, though probably other stations exist. In our spring — 
the southern autumn — the bird migrates north and occurs 
throughout the Atlantic, even to the Greenland seas. Appar- 
ently the northward movements of this oceanic bird are even 
further from the shore than on its return, for in June and July 
it is fairly frequent off the Outer Hebrides, St. Kilda, and 
Rockall ; on June 22nd, 1912, Mr. R. W. Jones saw a large 
shearwater, flying with the Manx Shearwaters, off the Orme's 
Head, which from his description and the fact that he is 
familiar with the smaller species, can only have been a Great 
Shearwater, unless it was one of the much rarer forms of 
P. kiihli. From August until November the Great Shearwater 
appears with certain indications of regularity, slowly passing 
south, but usually weU off shore ; it is commoner off the western 
than the eastern coasts, though the Yorkshire records are so 
frequent that it must be looked upon as an almost annual 
autumn visitor. It looks dark on the wing, but its light under 
parts, which show even when it is swimming, prevent confusion 
with the Sooty Shearwater ; a dark tail-band and white upper 
tail-coverts are conspicuous as it turns in true shearwater 
flight. From the next species it may be told by its darker 
bill, wings, and back. The flight resembles that of other 
shearwaters, but it has been stated to have a rapid moult of 
the flight feathers in June and July, when it is for a time help- 
less. It is true that examples have been captured on the water, 
but at this season they have^often been seen in full flight ; 
further observations on this point are desirable. 

Series II. U 



290 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The upper parts are ash brown, except on the tail-coverts ; 
the quills and tail-band are blackish brown, and the sides of the 
face and under parts white, mottled with brown on the abdomen ; 
the under tail-coverts are sooty. The bill is yellowish green, 
the legs are greenish grey, and the webs flesh-coloured. Length, 
20 ins. Wing, 127 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Mediterranean Great Shearwater. P2iffinus kuhli 
(Boie). 

The North Atlantic and Mediterranean Great Shearwaters are 
subdivided as sub-species, P. k. borealis Cor}', and P. k. kiihli 
(Boie), and other formes are recognised elsewhere in the 
Atlantic. The former nests in the Canary and Salvage Isles, 
Madeira, and the Azores, the latter in the Mediterranean, yet 
examples have only twice been recorded from our shores, though 
P. gravis is a regular visitor ; birds in the warmer seas have 
less occasion to migrate or wander than those from the south. 
The Mediterranean bird was obtained in February, 1906, the 
North Atlantic form in March, 19 14. Both are said to have 
been picked up dead on the Sussex beach, but to include drifted 
bodies as British is rather swelling the list on slender evidence. 
The upper parts are paler than those of the Great Shearwater, 
the sides of the neck are mottled, but the abdomen is without 
spots ; the bill and legs are yellow. The main difference 
between the sub-species is in the bill, which is stouter in the 
North Atlantic bird. Length, 20 ins. Wing, 14*3 ins. Tarsus, 
2'2 ins. 

Little Dusky Shearwater. Puffinus obsnirus (Gmelin). 

Mr. T. Iredale, when discussing the nomenclature of this 
shearwater, which is distinguished from all others on our list 
by its small size, aptly remarks — " A more unfortunate little bird 



FULMAR 291 

as regards names it would be hard to find." It is not within the 
province of the present book to discuss such controversial matter, 
especially as the various geographical races of P. obsctirtis 
(Gmel.) or P, assiinilis Gould, are complicated. Two forms 
have occurred in Britain. The one which breeds in Madeira 
and some other eastern Atlantic islands, is called by the 
B.O.U. Committee, P. obscuriis baroli Bonap., and by Dr. 
Hartert and his school, P. assimilis godinaiii Allen. It has 
occurred on about eight occasions, in April and May, and 
between October and December. Most of the occurrences 
have been in autumn on the south coast, but the first obtained 
was in Ireland in May, and a bird was taken in Suffolk in April, 
The Cape Verde form, P. a. boydi Math., has been twice recorded 
from the south coast, in December and January. 

The upper parts of the Madeira bird are brownish black, 
with a bluer tinge than in the brown Cape Verde form. The 
under parts, including the tail-coverts, are white in the former, 
but in the latter the longer under tail-coverts are dusky, almost 
black. There are other minor, and perhaps more variable, 
differences. The bill is slate, the legs are blue-black, and 
the irides dark brown. Length, 11 ins. Wing, 7*5 ins. Tarsus, 
1*4 ins. 



Fulmar. FuDnarus glacialis (Linn.). 

Until 1878 the only known British breeding place of the 
Fulmar (Plate 126) was St. Kilda ; then a colony was established 
on Foula, and now the bird nests in large and growing colonies 
on many of the Orkney and Shetland islands, on North Rona, 
the Lewis and others of the Outer Hebrides, on the Sutherland 
and Caithness coasts, and in two or more places in Ireland. 
In June, 1919, my friend Mr. G. W. Temperley saw two at 
Speeton, Yorkshire, where they had been noticed for some 
weeks. The increase in the last ten years has been exlra- 



292 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

ordinar}'; in one Irish colony a dozen pairs nested in 1913, 
but two years later there were over a hundred. Beyond our 
islands the range extends northward to the Arctic seas. Except 
during the nesting season — roughly May to August— the bird 
comes little to land ; it is an oceanic wanderer, but during 
winter a few may be seen well off shore in our southern seas, 
and occasionally a bird is storm driven inland. Some birds 
return early to the neighbourhood of the colonies, or even 
linger in the north all winter. 

The Fulmar, with its grey back and white head and under 
parts, is not unlike a large gull, but the bill, with its tubular 
nostrils, is that of a petrel. But the most skilful gull cannot 
compete wiih it, for "the Fulmar flying free" is one of the 
easiest, most graceful, and powerful of sea-birds. From time 
to time it takes a few strong strokes, but for the most part its 
flight is clever steady sailing with wings more outstretched than 
those of any gull, steady as the wings of an aeroplane. It 
sweeps round in huge arcs, catching the wind with the flne, 
almost imperceptible adjustments of the soaring bird, yet rising 
to no great height. Without effort it sails in the teeth of a 
gale that drives the great Atlantic rollers shoreward ; it swoops 
into the trough, sweeps up to the crest, swings over at right 
angles, the tip of one wing just clearing the wave. Its neck 
looks short ; it is compact and well proportioned, gleaming 
white against a green sea or lowering sky. When approaching 
St. Kilda I saw Fulmars immediately beyond the Sound of 
Harris, and the numbers increased mile by mile, until the air 
was full and the water dotted with the graceful birds. 

St. Kilda exists more upon Fulmar than any of its other 
fowl ; the bird provides oil and feathers for rent, food for 
winter consumption, and, since the islanders realised that 
collectors would pay, eggs for dealers. For centuries the bird 
has been exploited, but in spite of the annual Fulmar harvest 
the area is congested, and without doubt the new colonies are 



FULMAR. 293 

the result of overcrowding in the ancient home. The food of 
the Fulmar consists of fish, any floating oily refuse, cuttles, and, 
near the nest, sorrel ; sometimes food is picked up as the bird 
swoops, but often it settles on the water to feed. The young, 
plunging the head into the parent's mouth, feeds on regurgitated 
oil ; both old and young are so full of oil that they eject it 
on the slightest provocation, squirting it, often at an intruder, 
for three feet or more. When snared by the crag-climbing 
native of St. Kilda the bird is seized by the neck and made 
to disgorge its oil into a pouch, usually the stomach of a Gannet, 
which is carried slung to the waist ; then the bird's neck is wrung 
so as to avoid further loss. The oil is a beautiful clear amber 
colour, and has a penetrating but not unpleasant smell ; I fail 
to understand why it is often described as " musty." St. Kilda 
reeks of the smell, as do skins and eggs of the bird ; blown 
eggs, twenty years old, retain this persistent odour. The flesh 
is oily ; I have tried young birds both boiled and roasted. 

At St. Kilda the birds are overcrowded on the ledges ; the 
single egg is laid on the rock, in a rough scratching in soil, 
or in an apology for a nest — a few bits of grass or thrift, or on 
a slight lining of small flat stones. The white egg is rough 
in texture, and measures on the average 2*9 by I'g inches ; 
incubation begins about the middle of May. At the nest the 
Fulmar has a low crooning note ; I have detected no sound from 
the flying bird. Mr. Pike noticed that the egg was so deeply 
embedded in the breast feathers of the sitting bird, that it was 
often carried from the ledge by the startled parent and hurled 
to destruction. The nestlings have greyish white down and 
dark bills. 

The adult Fulmar has two phases, but the dark one, in which 
the blue-grey extends to the under parts and head, is rare in 
British colonies, though said to be common further north ; the 
natives know this bird as the " Blue Fulmar." The lighter or 
normal bird is white on the head, neck, and under parts, though 



294 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

usually with a slight yellowish tinge ; the back, wings, and tail 
are blue-grey, faintly tinged, rather than mottled, with pale ashy 
brown ; the quills are darker. Dr. Eagle Clarke corrected the 
many erroneous descriptions of the soft parts, and first described 
the colour of the young. Roughly the bill is greenish brown, 
tinged in places with blue and pink, and brownish horn at the 
tip; the legs are greenish grey, the irides dark brown. Young 
birds are a purer and a more silky white, and the grey is uniform, 
purer and paler than in mature birds ; the bill is paler, the 
legs are livid white. Length, 19 ins. Wing, 13*25 ins. Tarsus, 
2 ins. 

Capped Petrel. Pterodroma hasitata (Kuhl). 

Single examples of three species of the genus Pterodroma are 
known to have wandered to England or Wales, but their 
appearance was evidently purely accidental. The Capped 
Petrel, now believed to be extinct, probably killed by rats, 
formerly nested in some of the West Indian islands, but was, 
apparently, always rare. In spring, 1850, one, evidently 
exhausted, w^as found by a boy entangled in a furze bush near 
Swaftliam, in Norfolk. It is about the size of the Manx Shear- 
water, more distinctly brown on the "cap," back, and wings, 
and with the forehead, back of the neck, and upper tail-coverts, 
as well as the ,under parts white ; round the eye, and from the 
eye to the crown is brown, the tail is also brown. The bill is 
black, and the legs yellowish, the tips of the toes and outer 
edge of the webs almost black. Length, 16 ins. Wing, ir3 
ins. Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 

Collared Petrel. Pterodroma hrroipcs (Peale). 

So far as is known, the Collared Petrel only nests in the 
western Pacific, but like all petrels is a great wanderer ; if 
there are no undiscovered Atlantic breedins stations, the bird 





' >^'rKfi^\^r^_ 



/'/. 



Great Shearwater. l/7th. 
Fulmar. 1,8th. 



BULWER'S PETREL. 295 

which was shot in Cardigan Bay in November or December, 
1889, must have rounded Cape Horn and wandered north. 
The typical bird is slate-grey on the head, back, wings, upper 
tail-coverts, and tail, and there is a grey band across the breast ; 
the mantle and coverts are slightly mottled with brown ; the 
forehead, chin, and throat, and the under parts below the 
breast, are white. Some birds, however, have the whole of the 
under parts below the neck suffused with grey ; the Welsh 
example is of this form. The bill and legs are as in the last 
species. Length, ii'$ ins. Wing, 87 ins. Tarsus, i in. 

Kermadec or Schlegel's Petrel. Pterodroma negkcta 
(Schleg.). 

The only known breeding place of this petrel is in the 
Kermadec group in the New Zealand seas, and like the last 
species the one British example had travelled far. In April, 
1908, one was found dead, after strong south-westerly gales, 
beneath a tree at Tarporley, Cheshire. Prof. R. Newstead 
examined it in the flesh, and I saw it and the carcase a day or 
two later. Sharpe and Du Cane Godman, to whom I showed 
it, confirmed our identification, though the tarsi and proximal 
third of the toes were bluish grey and not yellow, as described 
by Salvin. The distal portion of the feet was black. This 
species, however, is known to be variable, and our specimen — 
now in the Chester Museum — is of the dark phase, uniform 
brown, slightly paler on the under parts. The bill was black, 
the irides dark hazel. Length, 15 ins. Wing, ii'i ins. Tarsus, 
1-5 ins. 

Bulwer's Petrel. Bnhveria hihueri (Jard. and Selby). 

In May, 1837, a dead Bulwer's Petrel was picked up in York- 
shire, but the bird was not recorded again until 1903 ; since 
then four have been found in autumn or winter in Sussex. The 



296 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

bird nests in the Canary, Salvage, and Madeira islands, also in 
the Pacific ; the Sussex birds were found after strong south- 
westerly gales. The general colour is blackish brown, greyer 
round the black bill ; the legs are reddish brown, the webs 
dusky ; the irides are dark brown. Length, 1 1 ins. Wing, 7-8 ins. 
Tarsus, i in. 

Family DIOMEDEID^. 

Large, long- winged birds ; nostrils lateral in separate tubes. 

Black-browed Albatross. Diomedea vielanophrys 
Temm. 

The oceanic wanderings of this southern Albatross, which 
nests in the Falklands as well as in New Zealand seas, have 
taken it far to the north of Britain, since it has been captured 
in the Arctic ocean. There is, however, but one British record — 
an exhausted bird, apparently immature, found in Cambridge- 
shire in July, 1897. Dr. Knud Andersen beUeves that one 
which was shot in the Fasroes in 1893 had been living amongst 
the Gannets for thirty or forty years. In the mature bird the 
back and wings are brownish black, the tail is grey, and the 
head, neck, and under parts are white. A blackish band above 
the eye, less conspicuous in young birds, is the " brow." The 
bill is yellowish, as are the legs in old birds, though in the 
Cambridge example they were flesh-blue ; the irides are dark 
brown. Length, 29 ins. Wing, 19 ins. Tarsus, 3.3 ins. 



Order COLYlMBIFORMES. Divers. 

Family COLYMBID^. 

Powerful diving birds ; bill strong and straight ; legs set far 
back, toes webbed, tarsi flit and capable of rotation. 



BLACK-THROATED DIVER. 297 

Black-throated Diver. Colymhus ardicus Linn. 

The Black-throated Diver (Plate 129), ranges over northern 
Europe and Asia, and in winter visits the Mediterranean, 
and other southern waters. It nests in the north of Scotland 
and the Outer Hebrides, and exceptionally in Skye and tlfe 
Orkneys. wSome birds remain all winter in Scottish waters, 
but there is a general southerly movement in autumn, when, 
and on the return in spring, the bird is not infrequent off our 
coasts and on inland waters ; it is rare in English seas in 
winter. On passage it is more regular on the west coast than 
is supposed. 

There is little difficulty in distinguishing the three divers 
when in summer plumage ; the fourth is very rare. In size 
this species is intermediate and may be known by its sharply 
denned, shield-shaped, purple-black throat, bordered on either 
side by wavy white streaks. There is a half-collar of black and 
white dashes above the shield, whereas the Great Northern 
Diver has in addition a second and larger streaked collar. 
The throat of the smaller species is red. The winter and 
immature plumages are more difficult, but the ashy brown 
upper parts are in this bird usually more uniform than in the 
Great Northern, and are sprinkled with a few white spots, but 
not so profusely as in the Red-throated. The best distinction is 
in the bill, which is less massive than that of the larger bird, 
and lacks the slight but perceptible uptilt of the Red-throated. 

Compared with the bulk, the short wings of the Black- 
throated Diver look feeble, yet it can fly with speed and power ; 
it flies straight, close to the surface or at a considerable ahitude. 
The neck is outstretched in flight, but looks short and thick, 
for there is little difference between the width of the head and 
neck ; on the wing the bird is cigar-shaped. It swims low, 
often with the lower neck awash, and forges forward with 
great speed, turning its supple neck from side to side. At the 



298 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

least suspicion of danger it further submerges the body, and 
after a dive will expose head and neck only until sure that the 
coast is clear ; it often raises itself high in the water, flapping 
its wings, and sometimes points the bill upward as if stretching. 
Quick though it is on the surface or in the air, its best speed is 
under water, when it can outstrip swiftly swimming fish, its 
main food. Many good observers say that it uses its wings as 
well as its feet when wishful to make a spurt, and though it has 
been seen flying under water, I believe that the greatest speed 
is attained when with wings held close to its sides it shoots 
forward with strong lateral and simultaneous strokes. The 
legs, set far back, move like those of a grebe, and are turned, 
so as to "feather" and ofter little resistance, when brought 
forward. The freedom with which the tarsi can be revolved 
is shown by the habit of raising one foot above the back. 
Saxby saw the wings of a Great Northern Diver used when it 
towed a boat, swimming under water, but this is no evidence, 
for the bird was wounded, and was tethered to the boat by one 
foot ; it could not use the feet simultaneously. 

The dives are long, but their duration has at times been 
exaggerated ; my own timing never exceeded fifty- three 
seconds, and thirty was frequent ; two minutes has, however, 
been recorded. If the bird is diving to a depth it takes a 
header, first springing up in the water, but often it sinks with 
hardly a swirl. Probably small fish are swallowed under 
water, but I have seen a large flat fish brought to the surface, 
and not swallowed until it had been shaken and bitten, its 
bones well broken. After a dive it almost invariably sips 
water, and often turns its head and wipes the side of its face 
and probably the bill against its lower back. The call of the 
divers is discordant and weird ; Seebohm likens it to the scream 
of a tortured child ; it is a melancholy wail, an " uncouth 
shriek." Miss Haviland, from whom I borrow the last 
expression, also heard and saw the bird with uplifted bill utter 



ELACK-THROATED DIVER. 299 

a "beautiful modulated whistle," which she concluded was 
the love-call ; others describe a conversational chatter and a 
yelping cr}\ 

The nest (Plate 127), for convenience, is close to water, for 
the bird cannot really walk ; it shuffles on its tarsi and toes, 
raising its body and throwing it forward an inch or two at a 
time. Yet if chased on land it can travel fast in a series of 
quadrupedal bounds, making use of the wings as hands. The 
eggs (Plate 136), two as a rule, are laid in a simple depression, 
usually without nesting material. They are dark brown or 
olive, sparsely spotted with black and brown. The nestling 
has long, sooty brown down, and like the young grebe is 
frequently carried on the back of the parent bird. 

Summer plumage often shows in March, and on April 21st I 
have seen the bird in full dress, but Mr. Jones saw one on the 
30th of that month with black throat, white collar, and grey 
head, but with a brown back devoid of white bars. Saunders 
states that *' by the middle of September the autumnal moult is 
completed," but this is by no means always the case ; I 
examined a bird in full dress which had been killed on 
October i6th. FuU-plumaged birds are not uncommon on 
both spring and autumn migration. In summer the crown and 
nape are bluish grey, the cheeks sooty, and the chin black ; 
below the chin is an evenly striped black and white cravat, 
and below that the black throat, showing a purple or green 
sheen according to position. On either side of the neck are 
black and white wavy lines, and the blacks extend to the sides of 
the breast as a series of lines or dashes. The back, scapulars, 
and wings are blue-black ; on the scapulars are rows of 
rectangular white spots, forming distinct broad bars ; on the 
coverts are a few round white spots. The abdomen is white. 
The strong bill is black, pinkish at the angle of the gape and 
on the lower mandible ; the legs are black, sooty on the webs ; 
the irides are crimson. In winter the head and upper parts 



300 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

are ashy brown and the under parts white ; all the neck decora- 
tion is lost, but the top of the head is paler than the back and 
wings ; there is a brownish patch on the side of the neck. 
Faint pale edges occasionally show, but these are more distinct, 
forming bars, on immature birds, which otherwise resemble old 
birds in winter. The bill of both adult in winter and young 
is bluish horn, the legs are browner, and the irides reddish 
brown rather than crimson. Length, 2775 ins. Wing, I2'8 ins. 
Tarsus, 3*i ins. 

Great Northern Diver. Colymbus wwier Briinn. 

As a winter visitor to British seas the Great Northern Diver 
(Plate 130) is not uncommon ; it has not been known to breed, 
even in the Shetlands, though a few non-breeding, apparently 
mature birds occasionally remain in northern waters for the 
summer. Iceland is the nearest breeding station to Britain, and 
from there the range extends westward through Greenland 
and northern Canada to the Asiatic coast. Birds have been 
seen off the English coast in August, but usually they do not 
appear until October, and most have returned north before the 
end of April, stragglers only passing in May. 

Seebohm's " as big as a goose " — he does not say which goose ! 
— gives a very rough idea of the size of this handsome diver, 
yet it certainly is the size which commands attention when it 
appears, as it often does, on inland waters and swims amongst 
more familiar fowl. The bird in nuptial dress, which is usually 
lost in September, though one was obtained in Ireland in full 
plumage so late as October 31st, differs from the Black-throated 
Diver ; its head is glossy black, not slate-grey, and it has two 
half-collars of white spots on the neck instead of one, the lower 
and additional one being the larger. Though, when in winter 
dress, the large size and heavy, dagger-shaped bill are striking, 
such characters are of little use when it is solitary, and the bird 
frequently travels alone. Often, however, a dark mottled grey 



GREAT NORTHERN DIVER. 30I 

patch, an indication of the black of summer, shows on the side 
of the neck ; I have not noticed this on the Black-throated 
Diver. It is possible that this patch is really a sign of 
immaturity, for the majority of the birds which visit inland 
waters in winter are immature, and those at sea give few 
opportunities of close observation as they bob about on the 
waves. A mature winter Great Northern is blacker grey, less 
brown than the Black-throated on the upper parts, and has a 
more mottled, less uniform, appearance. From the rare White- 
billed Diver it can be told by the colour of the bill, which even 
in winter is darker, and by the slight downward curve towards 
the tip of the upper mandible, which is straight in the White- 
billed and appears to tilt upward. 

Except when on migration the " Loon," as it is called on the 
east coast as well as in America, is little on the wing, but 
owing to its large size its appearance in flight is even more 
remarkable than that of the last species. The wings, set far back, 
look inadequate to carry the torpedo-shaped body, yet the bird 
travels with speed. The thick neck, pointed bill, and position of 
wings prevent confusion with a goose, and even with its nearer 
but much smaller relation, the Great Crested Grebe. The short 
legs are trailed and usually point inward, and are only exception- 
ally extended on either side of the tail ; it is an error to say that 
they are habitually carried this way to serve as rudders. The 
normal swimming position is deep in the water, the lower neck 
awash ; if alarmed the back vanishes also, but when unsuspicious 
the bird will ride buoyantly, rolling like a grebe as it preens its 
plumage, nibbling at the feathers after moistening its bill. 
Often it raises itself upright in the water to flap its wings. 
When indolently floating, the short thick neck is carried in a 
graceful curve, or rests on the shoulders ; frequently a foot is 
raised above the back and shaken in the air. If swimming 
fast the neck and head are held well forward, and I have seen 
it with them extended along the water, a position assumed by 



302 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

the Great Crested Grebe during nuptial display. In ordinary 
slow progression on the surface the leg strokes are alternate, 
but when diving or swimming at great speed they are simul- 
taneous and lateral, in the same plane as the body. The dive 
is its highest accomplishment ; its existence depends upon 
great speed under water, the power to overtake swiftly swim- 
ming fish. The method differs according to circumstances ; I 
have seen it spring forward, almost clear of the water, to take a 
deep header, and at other times submerge its body until the 
head and neck alone were visible, when, dipping these, it slid 
forward, hardly disturbing the surface. As a rule, during the 
dive, the wings are held close to the sides. 

Holboll stated that the Loon would remain under water for 
eight minutes, and Payne- Gall wey timed one for ten, but he 
admits that the bird was wounded or alarmed, and under 
these circumstances it will protrude the head only and dive 
again at once ; probably he missed one or more momentary 
appearances on the surface. My own times of an unsuspicious 
bird were, amongst many short periods of absence, two of two 
minutes and one of three ; I do not think that the bird's head 
appeared, even during the long absence from sight. One very 
busy bird, timed for a quarter of an hour, was out of sight for 
14^ minutes, only remaining on the surface for a second or two 
at a time ; I did not see it bring up a single fish, as probably 
its prey was small. Large fish are brought up to be eaten and 
are swallowed head first. Crustaceans and cephalopods are 
also eaten. A little water is usually sipped immediately after 
the dive. Rising from the surface is only accomplished after 
thrashing the water with its wings, and it has not been seen to 
rise from the land, where indeed it can only shuffle along in a 
prone attitude ; it does not sit up as frequently depicted. The 
Loon has the same distressful wail as other divers, and a 
milder, more musical love-call, as well as a deep guttural 
growl, which I have heard uttered by winter birds. 



WHITE-BILLED NORTHERN DIVER. 303 

The spring moult begins in December, but full dress may 
not be attained until May. The head and neck are then 
black, glossed with purple and green ; under the chin and on 
the sides of the neck are bands of white streaked with black, 
and below the black on the sides of the white breast are wavy 
slate-grey lines. The upper parts are glossy black, plentifully 
spotted with white ; on the mantle the spots are large and 
square, arranged in regular bands. The quills and tail are 
black. The bill is blue-black, the legs have a greenish tinge, 
and the irides are crimson. A bird in early January with the 
throat still white, had the back black with ordered rows ol 
spots. In winter the only indication of the throat adornment is 
a dark patch on the side of the neck ; the head and nape are 
sooty, and the upper parts ashy grey with obscure spots, giving 
a mottled appearance. The tail is tipped with white. The 
bill is bluish horn, much lighter than in summer, and the 
irides are reddish. Young birds have the crown and nape 
grey, the face suffused with brown, and the feathers of the 
upper parts show pale edges, often as regular but indistinct bars. 
The irides were brown in a bird I examined. Length, 31 ins. 
Wing, 14 ins. Tarsus, 3*6 ins. 
• 

White-billed Northern Diver. Colymbns adamsi Gray. 

The White-billed Northern Diver breeds in the Arctic from 
Novaya Zemlya eastward to Alaska, and about half a dozen 
have been obtained in Great Britain, though it is possible that 
it has often been overlooked. Seebohm's supposed differences 
between this bird and the Great Northern in summer plumage 
are not sound ; the green and purple gloss on the head and neck 
varies individually, and certainly in the latter species the number 
of the streaks on the neck bands is not constant. This bird is, 
however, larger, and has a deeper and more massive bill, 
which at all seasons is yellowish white ; the colour alone is not 



304 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

enough, since many winter Great Northerns have very pale 
bills, but in the White-billed bird the upper mandible is 
straight, and the lower inclines sharply upward from the well- 
marked "angle," giving the whole bill a suggestion of uptilt. 
Length, 33 ins. Wing, 14*9 ins. Tarsus, 3-4 ins. 



Red-throated Diver. Colymhus stellahcs Pontopp. 

The Red-throated Diver (Plate 131) has a wide range, 
breeding in the north of Europe, Asia, and America. In 
autumn a general southward movement distributes it throughout 
warmer seas, even south of the Mediterranean, and to the 
British shores it is a common winter visitor and passage 
migrant. It nests, however, in the north of Scotland and in 
many Scottish islands, as well as in at least one locality in 
Ireland. 

Much commoner than the other divers, this bird can be 
identified at any season by its smaller size and slender uptilted 
bill ; it is about the size of a Mallard. The vinaceous red 
patch on its throat, from which it gets its name, is sufficient 
for identification in summer, and io winter the white speckles 
on its back set it apart from other divers. Many of its habits, 
though in the main similar to those of its congeners, approach 
those of grebes ; it is a graceful, active, playful bird, when on 
the water assuming quaint but never distorted attitudes as it 
rolls and gambols. Though it swims low and when anxious 
submerges its body, it floats buoyantly, resting with the head 
on its back, the bill pointed towards its tail. It is sociable, 
and high flights of small parties are not unusual ; from these 
it descends obliquely, sometimes almost vertically, hurthhg 
down with turns and twists, but changing the angle of descent 
before it strikes the water, ploughing up a wave. The flight 
is rather grebe-like, and its head is carried a little below the 



RED-THROATED DIVER. 305 

level of the long axis of the body. The wings are sometimes, 
but not always, used under water, and the speed and skill 
when chasing fish is little inferior to that of more powerful 
divers. I have not seen the bird stop under water for more 
than thirty seconds, but Mr. P. H. Bahr records dives of a 
minute and a half. Fish are its chief food, though crustaceans 
and other aquatic animals are eaten ; large numbers of 
medium-sized fish have been found in the gullet. All the divers 
have one habit, which is also common to the Cormorant ; as 
they swim on the surface they sink the head below, and thus 
avoid the confusion of surface ripples. When they sight the 
prey — Dr. F. Ward thinks they see it flash when turning — they 
at once dive and follow it. 

The usual barking kark^ kark, of the "Rain-Goose," a call 
supposed to foretell bad weather, is distinct from other diver 
notes, but it has a loud wailing cry, and a guttural note of 
alarm. The Red-throated, more frequently than other divers, 
assumes the upright pose, though its normal method of progres- 
sion on land is with breast to ground. Mr. Caton Haigh saw 
one walk upright, and another scuttled away in an almost 
upright position when disturbed by Mr. G. Bolam. One of 
Mr. Bahr's photographs shows a bird waddling to the nest, 
carrying the body inclined forward and the snaky neck curved. 
Miss Haviland was astonished with the speed of a downy 
nestling, which propelled itself on its breast with rapid jerks 
of its legs, but also used its wings as supports ; thus the normal 
prone position is adopted by the young. Miss Turner saw one 
bird raise itself at the edge of the water before plunging in, and 
it frequently stands when turning the eggs. The largest 
numbers pass northward in April and May, and even in March 
some have advanced far towards nuptial dress. The date of 
the assumption of summer or winter plumage is irregular ; even 
late in October many still show red on the throat. In June 
and July few remain otf the English shores, but some appear 

Series J I. X 



306 THE BITIDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

about the middle of August, and immature birds have been 
known to linger through the summer. 

The nest, often on an island in a fresh-water lake, is never 
far from water, and, as is also the case with the Black-throated, 
there is a well-flattened pathway from the landing place to the 
nest, smoothed by the bird's advancing breast, which during 
the breeding season is stained with peaty soil. The egg 
(Plate 136) is smaller but similar to that of the Black-throated 
Diver, the spots on its dark ground being few ; two are often 
laid, late in May or in June, but single eggs are common. 
Untidy nests of grass or other vegetation are not infrequent, 
though the eggs may be in a mere depression in the herbage. 
It is unsafe to say that the bird is a shy or close sitter ; Miss 
Turner could do nothing with one nervous female which she 
tried to photograph, but the bird depicted (Plate 128) allowed 
her to stand within two feet and almost to touch it. Sitting 
birds, if scared by a passing Raven or Peregrine, crouch on 
the nest with head and neck extended, and are wonderfully 
inconspicuous in this position. The nestling, clad in thick 
sooty brown down, is often carried on the parent's back. 

The plumage of the adult bird in summer is singularly 
beautiful ; its graceful movements show off the white and black 
lines on the back of the sinuous neck. The head and neck are 
soft pale blue-grey, streaked on the crown and nape ; the throat 
is red ; the back and wings are ashy grey, slightly spotted with 
white, and the under parts are white. The bill is black, the 
legs are greenish black, and the irides ruby-red. In winter the 
chin, lower part of the face, and front of the neck, as well as 
the under parts, are white, and the upper parts are a browner 
grey, profusely speckled with white. The bill is horn, almost 
white. Immature birds have a few whitish streaks and obscure 
spots, and pale edges to the feathers of the greyish brown 
mantle ; their throats and flanks are often mottled with grey. 
Length, 25 ins. Wing, 11 ins. Tarsus, 2'6 ins. 



^ 



V 




GREAT CRESTED GREBE. 307 

Order PODICIPIDIFORMES. 

Family PODICIPID^. Grebes. 

Slender diving birds ; bill straight ; legs posterior, no visible 
tail ; toes lobed ; tarsi flat, capable of rotation. 

Great Crested Grebe. Podiceps cristatus (Linn.). 

Few once persecuted birds have made more rapid recovery 
than the Great Crested Grebe (Plate 132) ; it was at one time 
slaughtered for its satin breast — "grebe-fur" — and was almost 
exterminated, but it has not merely greatly increased in its old 
haunts, but has extended its range, and now nests in all 
suitable localities in England and Wales, and in many parts of 
Scotland and Ireland. It occurs throughout southern and 
central Europe and central Asia, and in winter in northern 
Africa. Nowhere is the bird more common than on the 
Cheshire and Shropshire meres, though the Broads are usually 
said to be its great stronghold. Cheshire is not a recently 
colonised area, but an ancient centre of distribution. In autumn 
there is a movement of migrants along our coasts, and many 
places, including the Broads, are deserted in early winter. But 
unless the Cheshire meres are frozen some birds remain. 
Early in January the numbers present are often large ; I have 
seen between forty and fifty on one pool on January ist. 
Passage birds in small flocks appear as late as May, when the 
residents are nesting. 

At any season this bird, known in various parts as the 
" Diver," "Loon," or " Gaunt," is distinct ; the erectile "ear- 
tufts " and frill of summer have no counterpart, and in winter 
its slender build and large size prevent confusion with other 
grebes. It swims low in the water, often with the lower neck 



308 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

awash, and seldom shows its white under parts below the 
" turtle back." Though the bird frequently rests its head well 
back on the shoulders, gracefully curving the neck, the usual 
position of the slim neck is rather stiffly erect ; it appears 
slender below the ample frill. It can swim fast on the 
surface, the head forward, the straight neck inclined at about 
45°, but if speed is necessary the bird dives; under-water 
progression, when the legs strike out simultaneously and 
laterally, is wonderfully swift. Except during courtship, when 
it takes frequent short flights, it is little on the wing, though it 
travels from mere to mere, or to the sea, flying high. In flight 
a white wing bar is very conspicuous. I have, however, seen a 
pair circling high, tippets expanded and legs held outward, 
evidently in nuptial exercise. The outstretched neck sags a 
little, but is raised, as are the feet, when the bird alights, 
striking the water with its breast. Grebes resting on the water 
frequently shake a leg above the back, or roll, their satiny 
under parts flashing, as they preen their feathers. The dive is 
almost invariably easy, a quick slip under water with little 
surface disturbance, though occasionally the bird makes a 
forward spring. The dive usually lasts from twenty to twenty- 
five seconds. The leg action is quick, but its power is more 
impressive than its speed ; in the forward stroke the lobed toes 
lie together and the flattened tarsi are turned so as to cut the 
water ; in the back stroke both expanded toes and flat tarsi 
grip the water. Newts, molluscs, and insects are eaten, but 
fish are the mainstay, and on fish the young are fed. The 
Grebe is little on land, but it walks easily and gracefully on the 
nest, its body well forward, and its tarsi raised at an angle. 

The " Tippet-Grebe," as it was formerly called, is a noisy 
bird, especially in the pairing season. The most frequent call 
is a repeated jik^ jik, jik\ often jicker^ jicker^ uttered by either 
sex, and a loud discordant gorrr is common. This is often 
uttered by a male when, thrashing the water with its wings, it 



GREAT CRESTED GREBE. 309 

chases a rival. There is also a pleasant twanging banjo note 
and a rasping whirr. The hunger-cry of the young is a wheezy 
and insistent tcheep^ tcheep, t cheep. Strange courtship antics 
begin in January, even before the frill is developed ; the ear- 
tufts are never really lost ; the ruff is most pronounced in the 
male. Mr. E. Selous and Prof. J. Huxley have described these 
actions at great length, but some of the attitudes they mention 
are seldom seen. Often, however, two birds approach with 
necks stretched along the water, then rear themselves, breast 
to breast, stretching the necks to full extent and spreading 
wide the frills, whilst they gently fence with their bills. One 
or both will dive for weed and dangle it at the other, suggest- 
ing nest construction. During the upright caress both will 
suddenly dip their necks until the crown nearly touches the 
back ; the head is usually vigorously shaken after the fencing. 
When the male approaches the female with head depressed, the 
ruff is closed and the ear-tufts at times loll over like wattles. 
Nest construction may begin in March, but eggs are laid from 
April until August ; second broods have been recorded, but 
first broods frequently come to nought ; I have seen young 
still following their parents for food in November. The nest 
(Plate 133) is a floating mass of wet decaying weed, moored 
amongst reeds, lihes, or other aquatic vegetation. The green 
or blue tinge of the elongated %%% (Plate 153) is hidden by a 
chalky outer covering, which soon is permanently stained with 
vegetable juices. When disturbed the sitting bird raises itself, 
and with rapid right and left pecks covers the eggs with nesting 
material, then slides into the water and dives. Four is the 
normal number of eggs. Both birds incubate and tend the 
young, carrying them at first in a cradle formed by the slightly 
upraised wings ; the pose of the parent is then distinctly higher 
than usual. The nestling has close cinnamon down striped 
with glossy black, the stripes most distinct on the neck ; the 
crown is pinkish buff surrounded by black, and in front is a 



3IO THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

small bare vermilion triangle. The rose bill is crossed by a 
dark band, the legs and irides are cinereous grey. 

The adult bird is greyish black on the top of the head and 
back of the neck, the upper parts elsewhere are greyish brown, 
and the under silky white. In summer the tippet is rich chest- 
nut, shading to deep brown. The bill is yellowish, the legs are 
olive-green, and the irides crimson. The frill is lost in August, 
and begins to show again in December. Immature birds are 
ashy brown with longitudinal stripes on the neck ; their irides 
are vellow. In the first autumn they show small ear-tufts even 
when the neck stripes are still retained. Full plumage is 
attained in the second winter. Length, 21 ins. Wing, 7-5 ins. 
Tarsus, 2*5 ins. 

Red-necked Grebe. Podiccps griseigam (Bodd.). 

The Red-necked Grebe (Plate 135), a regular but not 
numerous winter visitor, breeds in many parts of Europe and 
Asia, and ranges to north Africa in winter. It is not known 
to have nested in Britaia, though it does so in southern 
Scandinavia, and is a less frequent visitor to inland waters than 
its congeners ; it is, during winter, a salt-water grebe. A few 
reach us in August, but it is, on the whole, a cold-weather 
visitor. Most return in March or April, when some are in full 
nuptial dress. 

In summer dress the distinctive characters are the warm 
chestnut neck, and the grey cheeks, bordered above by white, 
just below the eye. The bird is a little smaller than the Great 
Crested, and considerably larger than the Slavonian, the next 
in size. In winter, when it looks very black and white, the 
lower part of the face is still a good character, the white in 
strong contrast to the dark cap. If within range of glasses it 
can be distinctly seen that the cap extends to the eye, whereas 
in the Great Crested there is a white stripe above the eye. It 
is a stockier, less slender bird than the last, and its stout, short 



I 




RED-NECKED GREBE. 3II 

reck is carried well erect. A broad white border to the wing 
is very conspicuous in flight, and the forward edge of the wing 
is pale as far as the carpal joint. The swimming, diving, and 
feeding habits closely agree with those of the last species, and 
its voice, which is seldom heard in Britain, is said to be similar ; 
it is, however, less averse to terrestrial progression. Mr. G. 
Bolam says that it " walks upright," and saw one disabled bird 
hop rapidly down the beach. I have not seen the British 
bird on land, but a captive American Red-necked Grebe, P, g. 
holboellii Reinh., stood with ease and grace, bending the tarsus 
but little, and walked as naturally as a duck. Crustaceans, 
molluscs, and fish are eaten, and in fresh water aquatic insects. 
When a fish is brought to the surface it is gripped until its 
struggles have ceased and then swallowed head foremost ; one 
bird I watched did not toss its prey, nor even jerk its head up, 
but shifted the captive in its bill until it slipped down. 

The upper part of the head and back of the neck are glossy 
black in summer, when the ear-tufts are prominent ; there is 
no ruff. The chin and cheeks are suffused with pearl-grey, 
bordered from the bill to the eye with pure w^hite. The upper 
parts are greyish brown, the sides of the neck and breast rich 
chestnut, the flanks rufous grey, and the rest of the under parts 
silky white with underlying grey mottles. The bill is black, 
yellow at the base ; the legs are greenish black, the irides 
carmine, but yellower in young birds. The ear-tufts are much 
reduced in winter, though the bird retains a flat-headed appear- 
ance, and all the neck colour is lost ; grey flecks often show on 
the breast, and the bill is yellower. For- some time young birds 
show traces of the neck streaks ; one, in which the red neck 
and ear-tufts were well developed, had the cheeks crossed by 
two pale brown bars. The size is variable ; the American 
sub-species mainly differs in size, being on the average larger 
than ours. It is possible that large examples may have trans- 
Atlantic origin. Length, i8 ins. Wing, 7 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 



312 THE KIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Slavonian Grebe. Podiceps anritus (Linn.). 

The B.O.U. Committee make a great mistake in trying to 
make the Enghsh name of the Slavonian Grebe (Plate 135) 
agree with the specific name ; Eared Grebe has long been 
associated with the next species ; Horned Grebe is the only 
accepted alternative. This bird has a northern range in 
Europe, Asia, and America, and it reaches the Mediterranean 
and Gulf of Mexico in winter. There is some evidence that 
the bird has nested in the Outer Hebrides and elsewhere, and 
proof from one Scottish locality, where in the year that the nest 
was discovered a bird was shot, and in the following year eggs 
were robbed by collectors. As a winter visitor and passage 
migrant the Horned Grebe is regular on most coasts, even in 
the west and south ; inland, too, it is so frequently noticed on 
some waters that the old " storm-driven " idea must be rejected. 

The Slavonian Grebe likes calm water, cither inland or in 
estuaries and sheltered bays. There it swims, rather high in 
the water, with the neck straight, and, if uneasy, nervously 
glancing right and left. The erectile horns are tufts of huffish 
chestnut feathers, extending from the eye and projecting above 
the nape ; they are darker than the tufts of the Eared Grebe 
and are not splayed out ; there is also, in summer, a frill or 
ruff, but it is shorter and less noticeable than that of the Great 
Grested Grebe. The lower neck of this species is deep chest- 
nut, in the Eared it is black, but the two look about the same 
size, and when the summer characters are lost are difficult to 
distinguish. Both appear black and white on the water, but 
the bill of the first is stout, and the upper mandible curves down 
towards the tip, whereas in the Eared Grebe it is slender and 
has a slight upward tilt. A Horned Grebe in the hand may be 
told by the absence of white on the primaries. A few birds 
appear late in August, and passage continues until November ; 
from April to June northward movements are in progress, but 



SLAVONIAN GREBE. 313 

in winter it is seldom numerous. Late in March some are in 
winter dress, though early in the month others have attained 
nuptial plumes ; individual variation is remarkable, but 
probably Audubon was correct that old birds attain the 
summer dress sooner than the young. In winter mature birds 
have very white cheeks. 

On inland waters, at any rate, the Slavonian Grebe readily 
takes wing, and when flying the neck does not always incline 
downward like that of the Great Crested ; the wing bar — the 
inner secondaries are white — is broad and conspicuous on the 
open wing, but seldom shows as more than a small white line 
when the bird is swimming. It is a quick, expert diver, never 
long below the surface, and. feeds on fish, crustaceans, molluscs, 
insects, and weeds. The smartness of its dives is signified by 
its American name, also given to other grebes, of " Hell- 
Diver." One bird I watched dived superficially ; its progress 
was shown by a ripple on the water. The nest is a mass of 
decomposing weed, floating in aquatic vegetation or built from 
the bottom in shallow water. Four eggs, laid in June, are 
usual ; they are greenish white, averaging 17 by 1*2 inches 
(Tourdain), and are soon stained with vegetable juice. The 
young are striped brown and white, especially on the head 
and neck, and have a bare red patch. The statement, also 
made about the Dabchick, that the old bird dives for safety 
with the young under the wing is perfiaps correct, though 
misleading ; the young are carried on the back, and, when the 
parent dives, may be held there for a time under the secondaries 
or scapulars, but they soon come up to the surface like corks. 

Except for the horns, the head, frill, and upper neck are 
glossy black in summer ; the rest of the upper parts are 
browner ; the lower neck, breast, and flanks are rich rufous 
brown and the abdomen silvery white. The head and neck 
decoration is lost in winter ; the under parts are v/hite, but often 
show dusky mottles on the breast and flanks. Immature birds 



314. THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

have the cheeks clouded. In mature birds the bill is blue- 
black, yellowish at the tip, red at the gape, and with a pink 
streak from bill to eye. In winter and immature dress it is 
bluish grey, with the base and tip yellow. The legs are greyish 
blue, the toes edged with yellow, and are greener in summer. 
The irides are reddish orange in mature birds, and there is a 
fine white circle round the pupil ; they are pinker in young 
birds, and perhaps in winter. Length, I3'5 ins. Wing, 5-5 ins. 
Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Black-necked Grebe. Podiceps nigricolUs Brehm. 

The Black-necked or Eared Grebe (Plate 137) nests in 
central and southern Europe, in Asia and Africa, and is 
partially migratory. In the British Isles it is a winter visitor 
and regular passage migrant or summer visitor, for it is 
struggling to establish itself. It is more a fresh than salt 
water species and appears with some degree of regularity on 
certain western waters, which it may eventually colonise. The 
earlier history of its British nesting is obscure ; the best 
evidence is from Norfolk, and there is reason to believe that it 
has nested in Oxford, Perth, and Ireland. How long the Welsh 
colony had existed before it was discovered in 1904 by Messrs. 
Cummings and Oldham is unknown, but when a few days later 
I was able to join them we found that several pairs were 
nesting, and already had young. For obvious reasons we 
kept the locality secret, only showing it to Mr. O. V. Aplin, 
Prof. Newstead, and one or two others ; some years later it 
was discovered. In 1918 at least two pairs established them- 
selves and brought off young on the reservoirs near Tring, 
where it is hoped they will be protected, though attempts have 
been made to rob the nests. 

The Eared Grebe is slightly smaller than the Slavonian, and 
when swimming is, like a Dabchick, very broad in the stern. 




2 /y. I 




Red-necked Grebe (Suninier and Winter). 
Slavonian Grebe (Summer and Winter). 



BLACK-NECKED GREBE. 315 

but carries its neck more erect. The distinctive summer 
characters, in addition to glossy black upper parts, are the 
silky golden-straw feathers which extend across the ear-coverts, 
fanned out over the cheeks, and the rich copper tlanks. In 
winter the slender, uptilted bill distinguishes it from the Horned 
Grebe, and in the hand it can further be told by the white 
which extends from the secondaries to the inner webs of the 
primaries. This white is usually hidden by the puffed-out 
flank feathers when the bird is swimming, but shows plainly in 
flight or when the wings are flapped. The bird swims 
buoyantly, unless alarmed sitting high ; the erectile feathers of 
the crown usually rise abruptly from the bill, giving the appear- 
ance of a ver>' high forehead, but there are no distinct ear- 
tufts. The duration of timed dives was never more than thirty 
seconds, and when the bird dived amongst potamogeton and 
other water plants was often under ten. Molluscs and aquatic 
insects are eaten, and I have seen small fish given to the young. 
Insects are captured on the surface with the rapid right 
and left snatches of a Phalarope. I saw one bird feeding on 
caddis worms ; it bit and shook the case until the larva was 
ejected. The calls are soft, and the trill, not unlike that of 
the Dabchick, is less of a rattle and rather short, though loud 
and clear. The hunger-cry of the young is milder and quieter 
than that of the Great Crested.. The nuptial display, so far 
as I saw it, had much similarity to that of the larger bird ; 
there was the same upright pose, breast facing breast, gently 
toying with one another's bills, dipping of the head and neck, 
and approach with necks outstretched on the water. 

The nest, similar to that of the Dabchick, is a large collection 
of decaying weed, usually floating, moored amongst pond-weed, 
bog-bean, or other aquatic vegetation. Three or four eggs are 
normal ; they are of the same blue tint as those of the Great 
Crested, and are coated with a chalky deposit which is speedily 
stamed with brown and green. Mr. Jourdain gives the average 



3l6 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

size as 17 by iT inches. In Wales they are laid early in May. 
The nestling is ashy grey above and white below ; the neck 
and head are streaked, there is a bare patch on the crown, and 
the bill is lead-blue. At first the parents carry the young, 
though they are often shaken off, and I saw one old bird 
repeatedly duck a nestling, as if trying to induce it to dive ; 
they will, when young, dive a little for food, and three in down 
instinctively dived when a Black-headed Gull passed over. 

In summer the head, neck, breast, and back are glossy black, 
and the wings have a greenish sheen ; the cheeks are crossed 
by silky straw-coloured plumes ; the flanks are coppery chestnut, 
and the under parts white. The male is distinctly larger and 
has more pronounced ear-coverts. The bill is blue-black, 
reddish at the base ; the legs are blackish green, and the irides 
ruby-red. In winter the head often to below the level of the 
eye, the back of the neck, and mantle are brownish black, and 
the flanks are mottled with grey ; except for a dusky band on 
the lower neck the under parts are white. In the young in 
autumn the cheeks and necks are dusky, and the irides are 
yellowish. A bird watched in spring was browner on the 
flanks in the middle of March, early in April the cheeks 
became dusky, and full plumage was attained in the third 
week, but probably, as in all grebes, the date of assumption of 
summer dress is variable. Length, 12 ins. Wing, 57 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 



Little Grebe. Podkeps fluviatilis (Tunstall). 

Dabchick is a widely used name for the Little Grebe 
(Plate 137), a familiar resident in most parts of the British Isles. 
It ranges through central and southern Europe, a large part of 
Asia, and northern Africa, and is partially migratory, though it 
is likely that its frequent coUision with lighthouse lanterns is 
due to nocturnal wandering rather than regular migration. 



LITTLE GREBE. 317 

Frost drives the Dabchick to the coast, but it also visits 
estuaries and tidal gutters for food, independently of weather. 

The smallest of the grebes is much rounder and squatter 
than its congeners, and usually swims with the neck curved ; it 
is, however, the absence of tail, and its habit of fluffing up the 
feathers of the hinder end — tail-coverts by courtesy — which 
gives it a characteristically bluff finish. Macgillivray, speaking 
of the bird in flight, describes "its large paddles projecting 
beyond its blunt end." Its bill is short and stout. The bird is 
browner than the Eared Grebe, and has neither tufts nor frill ; 
in winter it is still browner on the upper parts. It flies frequently, 
with a quick flutter of short, rather rounded wings, and if dis- 
turbed near the bank, will fly for a dozen yards and dive 
immediately it drops. The white on the inner webs of the 
secondaries hardly shows in flight, and not at all when 
swimming ; it is concealed by the overlap. " Ducker," 
" Dowker," or " Dipper," of the vernacular, indicate its habits ; 
it is a persistent diver, slipping under without surface disturbance, 
or with a vigorous plunge, kicking up a little shower of spray 
with its lobed feet. Dives may last twenty-five seconds, or the 
bird may reappear immediately ; I have seen it bob up stern 
foremost. In clear and shallow water its movements may be 
observed ; I have exercised it in my bath and watched it in a 
stream, and never saw the wings used, even when turning ; they 
are tightly held to the sides. On the surface, when not hurried, 
the foot strokes are alternate, but under water it progresses 
in a series of rapid jerks, vigorously rowing itself along. At 
the beginning of the stroke the feet are at right angles to the 
body, at the finish they almost meet behind the so-called tail, 
and the half rotation of tarsi and toes, already described, is 
very distinct ; so lateral is the stroke that a bird swimming 
at the bottom does not stir the mud. Air bubbles clinging 
to the feathers give it a silvery, filmy appearance under water. 

After a dive a Dabchick, if nervous, protrudes the head and 



3 [8 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

body only, and often swims to the side, sheltering under the 
bank with the bill alone above the surface, where it holds itself 
in position by gentle circular strokes. Birds thus hiding may 
be taken from the water ; I have captured several. When held 
in my hand the feet stuck out at right angles, and remained in 
that position when the birds were placed on the ground ; they 
fell forward on to the breast. This impotence is delusive ; one 
bird, placed on the bank, took a sudden spring into the water 
and dived, and another, released further away, sprang up and 
ran rapidly on its toes, then flew to the water, struck with its 
breast and ricochetted two or three times before it dived. A 
captive Dabchick stood and walked well, its tarsi slightly bent, 
and when resting — a ball of feathers — held the legs well up, 
the toes forward, and the tarsus crossing the tibia, in the 
manner first described by Prof. Newstead. Fresh-water molluscs, 
crustaceans, and insects are the main food, but small fish are 
captured, and occasionally unwisely. I found one bird with a 
three-inch bull-head, Coitus gobio^ fixed in its distended gape, 
the gill spines of the fish deeply embedded in the bird's mouth : 
I have heard of similar fatalities. The call is short, a soft, 
subdued note, not unlike the whistle of the Teal, but the rippling 
trill is loud and clear, a rapidly repeated double note, which 
begins suddenly and runs down the scale. 

The nest (Plate 134), usually floating, is a large collection of 
weeds, mostly brought from under water, and the eggs are 
normally covered when the bird is absent. I saw one bird 
conceal the eggs with four smart right and left pecks, and slip 
into the water, in three seconds. Four to six white, but soon 
stained, eggs of the usual grebe type are laid in April, but 
later clutches are common ; the size is about r4 by i inch. 
The young have brown and black down streaked with white, 
and can dive as soon as they take to the water, but prefer to 
snuggle under the parental scapulars. The old birds dive when 
the young are on their backs, but the little ones rise like corks 











<^v r %-; 




Black-throated Diver. 
Red-throated Diver. 



2 PL 136. 



A' 318 




^ 



N "4 / ^ 




/■/. 137- 



Black-necked Grebe (Summer and Winter). 
Little Grebe (Summer and Winter). 



Xzi9- 



WATER-RAIL. 319 

and anxiously look for the reappearance of their bearers, when 
they scramble back over the parent's tail. There is no proof 
that they are carried down under the old bird's wing. 

The head and upper parts are dark greyish brown, almost 
black, in summer ; the chin and breast are black, but the cheeks, 
throat, and sides of the neck are warm chestnut, and the flanks 
are brown. The under parts below the breast are variable, 
blackish but with a silky, silvery sheen which gives the impres- 
sion of grey. The bill is brownish horn, pale at the tip and 
base, and a fold of skin at the gape is greenish yellow. The legs 
are dark olive, and the irides dark brown. The upper parts 
are lighter and browner in winter, and the under parts, including 
the lower face, are silvery white, suffused with brown on the 
lower neck and breast. Young birds have dusky streaks on the 
head and are an even lighter brown. Length, 10 ins. Wing, 4 ins. 
Tarsus, 1-25 ins. 



Order RALLIFORMES. 

Family RALLID^E. 

Short, rounded wings ; bills variable ; feet large ; toes long, 
with (Moorhen, Coot) or without swimming membrane (Rails). 

Water-Rail. Rallus aquaiicus Linn. 

Owing to its secretive habits so little is known about the 
Water-Rail (Plate 138) that its real status is uncertain. That 
some migrate is clear, but whether those which breed remain 
to winter or emigrate is unknown ; as, however, birds frequently 
strike the lanterns, sometimes when travelling in parties, I 
believe that there is regular passage migration, but reserve an 
open mind about permanent residence and winter visitation. 
The Water-Rail is present at all seasons throughout England, 



320 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Ireland, and the south of Scotland. Our race inhabits Europe, 
western Asia, and north Africa. 

The presence of the Water-Rail is often unsuspected by 
those who are unfamiliar with its habits, do not know its voice, 
and fear to wet their feet. It is a bird of the marsh, hiding 
effectively from view in dense aquatic vegetation. Its laterally 
compressed body, for it has a remarkably narrow sternum, 
enables it to slip between closely set stiff reeds which would 
hold up a Moorhen. From other rails it can be recognised by 
its long, slightly decurved, red bill, and by the black and white 
transverse streaks on its flanks. These streaks aid concealment 
when the suspicious bird stands motionless in vegetation ; in- 
stinctive " freezing " is common. Anxious and nervous, it 
hesitates to take wing, but if surprised flies heavily with its long 
legs limply dangling. That it can fly fast and for long distances 
is proved by its death against lighthouse glass, and the loss of 
a wing or other injury when, during nocturnal migration, it has 
struck a wire. Its gait is graceful ; it lifts its long, wide- 
spreading toes, useful when tramping a quaking bog, with 
delicate, cautious deliberation. When unaware of human 
presence it holds its head up, and elevates its tail, frequently 
jerking it like a Moorhen, exposing the yellow and white under 
tail-coverts ; but if alarmed the head and tail are depressed, and 
with a swift run the bird vanishes into cover. It swims well, 
swimming in preference to flying over water. Its calls are 
varied ; one is half groan, half squeal, and another, tdiif^ tchuf, 
has a contented tone, and is rather deliberately repeated. But 
the most noticeable sound is a loud explosive yell, like the cry 
of an animal in mortal agony ; this it will utter when startled 
by any sudden sound, and also, apparently, for the pleasure of 
making a noise. When I was at one nest I was startled by an 
awful groaning scream apparently at my feet, but it was some 
time before I put the bird up. Miss E. L. Turner heard both 
male and female utter a curious purring note when they were 



SPOTTED CRAKE. 32 1 

unaware of her presence. Insects, worms, molluscs, berries, 
seeds, and, occasionally, grain are eaten. 

The nest is composed of flags, reeds, sedges, or whatever 
vegetation is handy, and is supported on a platform of bent and 
broken stems, almost invariably in a very wet and treacherous 
situation ; it is often raised six inches or more above the water. 
The bird approaches by well-trodden but narrow tracks (Plate 
139), and always with a suspicious carriage. Seven to twelve 
light buff or brown, rather sparsely spotted eggs (Plate 153) are 
laid in April, and both birds sit. The nestling is a downy, 
blue-black ball with absurdly big feet and a short bill ; it has a 
feeble cheeping cry. Miss Turner managed in the course of 
ten minutes to obtain a series of pictures of the female removing 
two chicks, and three eggs, after the bird had realised that 
the nest had been discovered ; one unchipped egg gave her 
trouble, but she managed to carry it in her wide-open bill. 

The upper parts of the Water-Rail are chestnut streaked 
with black, but the crown is tinged with olive. The sides of 
the face, neck, and breast are lavender, and the flanks strongly 
barred with black and white, above the buff abdomen. The 
bill is red, blackish on the culmen ; the legs are greenish 
brown, and the irides claret-brown. In winter the bill is duller, 
more madder in shade, and the general colour is browner. 
Young are tinged with olive above and are buffer below, and 
the throat is slightly mottled with brown. Length, 11-5 ins. 
Wing, 475 ins. Tarsus, 17 ins. 

Spotted Crake. Forzaria porzana (Linn.). 

The Spotted Crake (Plate 138) breeds in most of Europe, 
north Africa, and western Asia, and winters in Africa and 
India. It is decidedly migratory, and though some nest, as 
summer visitors, in England and Wales, and less frequently in 
Scotland and Ireland, it is best known as a regular passage 
migrant. A few remain all winter. 

Series II, Y 



322 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Much smaller than Water-Rail or Moorhen, this bird may 
be distinguished by its spotted olive-brown dress and brown 
barred flanks ; the other small crakes are not spotted on the 
face and neck. Even more skulking than the last species, the 
opportunity it affords for observation is usually brief — a fleeting 
vision of a running form which might just as well be a rat. 
Even a dog finds difficulty in flushing the bird from the deep 
bogs and marshes that it normally frequents, but it is a vigorous 
nocturnal migrant, and when it meets with a telegraph wire or 
other obstacle, or is attracted by the rays from . a lighthouse, it 
comes to grief. The "wired" corpse is more familiar than 
the living bird. When swimming it looks small, like a diminu- 
tive Moorhen, bobbing its head in time with its spasmodic 
forward jerks. I have not seen it on the wing for more than a 
few seconds, and only on land when running rapidly. Its 
food is both animal and vegetable, similar to that of the Water- 
Rail. No doubt the Spotted Crake has various cries, but I 
have only heard one, a loud, ticking call, quite distinct from 
the squeal of the Water-Rail or other of its notes. It is not 
only nuptial, for I heard it from a bird which rushed into a 
reed-bed in November ;^a loud, regular tchack^ tchiick^ was 
repeated two or three times. At about 3.30 on a May morn- 
ing, at the edge of an impassable Cheshire marsh, I heard a 
low tick^ tack^ rather like the note of a Snipe, which rose quickly 
in pitch and volume until it throbbed like a piston — ichick- 
tcJmck^ tchick-tchuck^ every second. It stopped suddenly, and 
after a pause again began low, ascending until the air seemed 
to vibrate. This throbbing repetition, with its sudden end, 
was continued for about half an hour. 

The nest is in a marsh or bog, on a tussock or platform of 
broken stems ; it is built of aquatic plants, and often has a 
concealing bower of living stems bent over it. The eight to 
twelve eggs, buff with dark red and sepia spots as a rule 
(Plate 148), are laid in May. The down of the nestling is black. 




iik.r: A 





2 /'/. 138. 



F322 



Water-Rail. 
Spotted Crake. 



baillon's crake. 323 

The crown of the mature bird is dark brown, and the upper 
parts are chestnut, streaked with black and speckled with 
white ; the under parts and the side of the face are greyer, and 
the spots are most abundant on the face and neck. The outer 
web of the first primary is white, and the flanks are barred with 
brown and white. The bill is yellow, red at the base ; the legs 
are yellowish green and the irides reddish brown. The chins 
of immature birds are whitish and the spots are less plentiful. 
Length, 9 ins. Wing, 475 ins. Tarsus, 1*25 ins. 

Carolina Crake. Porzana Carolina (Linn.). 

The Sora, the American name for this rail, breeds in 
Canada and the northern States, and winters in Central and 
South America. It has been noticed as an accidental autumnal 
visitor to Greenland, and some five birds have, apparently, 
taken an eastward as well as southern course and reached the 
British Isles. The earlier records are from Berkshire and 
Glamorgan, but recent examples were obtained in the Hebrides 
and Ireland. The mature Sora has a black forehead, face, 
chin, and throat, and its upper parts are streaked rather than 
spotted with white. The cheeks, neck, and breast are blue- 
grey and unspotted, and the flanks are barred with black and 
white. The bill, legs, and irides are much as in the Spotted 
Crake. Length, 7-5 ins. Wing, 4*2 ins. Tarsus, 1-3 ins. 

Baillon's Crake. Porzana pusilla intermedia (Herm.). 

The two small crakes are frequently confused, and many 
early records of the Little Crake doubtless refer to this species, 
which, though uncommon, is less rare. Baillon's Crake 
(Plate 140) is a central and southern European species, and 
also occurs in Africa and western Asia, the eastern form being 
P. p. pusilla (Pallas). In the northern part of its range it is 



324 THE lURDS OF THE IJRITISH ISLES. 

migratory, and passage birds occur from time to time, mostly 
in southern counties, though it has visited Scotland and 
Ireland. A few have been observed in winter, and rather more 
in summer ; indeed, it is said that nests were taken many years 
ago in Cambridge and Norfolk. As the bird breeds in Holland, 
and as the localities from which the information came are 
suitable, there is nothing impossible nor even improbable 
about these statements, but collectors have been so freely 
exploited that without further proof the records will remain 
doubtful. 

Like the Spotted Crake this nocturnal traveller turns up in 
unexpected places, often beneath telegraph wares. It differs 
from this species in size, being even smaller than the Little 
Crake, and in the fact that its neck, breast, and face are 
unspotted, and that its under tail-coverts are barred and not 
uniform buff. It agrees with it in having a white border to the 
first flight feather, and this distinguishes both from the Little 
Crake in which it is uniform brown ; further, its flanks as well 
as its under tail-coverts are barred, though in the Little Crake 
the flanks are uniform grey. In habits, food, and appearance — 
or rapid disappearance — both have much in common with the 
last species ; it is a shy marsh bird, swimming and diving for 
food, or walking daintily across the floating weed. The nest is 
a neat cup in a tussock, often concealed by bent stems, and 
usually surrounded by water. The eggs, six to eight, are 
yellowish, closely marked and speckled with greenish brown. 

The upper parts are brown, streaked with black and white, 
the white being on back and scapulars and sometimes on the 
coverts ; the under parts, including a stripe above the eye, are 
slate-blue, except on the flanks and under tail-coverts, where 
they are black barred with white. The female is a lighter 
brown, and the young bird has the under parts buft", indistinctly 
barred. The bill is green, red at the base ; the legs are greenish, 
and the irides red. Length, 7 ins. Wing, 3-45 ins. Tarsus, i in. 



CORNCRAKE OR LAND-RAIL. 325 

Little Crake. Porzana parva (Scop.). 

The Little Crake (Plate 140) breeds in southern Europe, south- 
western Asia, and northern Africa, and winters in the southern 
part of its range as well as further south. It has occurred 
occasionally, chiefly on passage in spring and autumn, in 
various southern counties, and more rarely in Scotland and 
Ireland. 

The absence of the white edge to the first flight feather, and 
of white spots or streaks on the wings, though present on the 
back, are characters in which it differs from its congeners. So 
far as the British Isles are concerned, its habits and appearance 
are similar to those of the others. It has not been suspected 
of nesting here, though recorded in summer, and its appearance 
in winter has been noted. The upper parts are olive-brown 
with dark streaks, and a few white dashes on the back ; the 
rump is black. The under parts are slate-blue, and only 
the under tail-coverts are barred in mature birds. The female 
has the under parts buff, and her throat is white ; the young 
bird is similarly coloured, but shows indistinct barring of 
brown on the flanks. The bill is green, red at the base ; the 
legs are green, the irides red. Length, 8 ins. Wing, 4*2 ins. 
Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 

Corncrake or Land-Rail. Crex crcx (Linn.). 

The Land-Rail (Plate 143) is found throughout Europe and 
western Asia, and is a summer visitor to our islands, though, at 
any rate of late years, less plentiful in the south than further 
north and in Ireland. 

Although its rasping voice is so well known that the Corn- 
crake must be called a familiar bird, few who note its arrival 
in late April or early May have ever really seen it. They 
may have noticed its head above the growing grass, but like 



326 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Others of its kind it shows itself but little. Its general form 
suggests a game-bird ; indeed, it is often called the " Grass- 
Quail," and was included in the game list by the Act of i860. 
It is nominally protected by the Wild Bird Acts in England, 
but in Ireland maybe shot from September 20th to January loth, 
when, except for a few weeks, there is little chance of seeing it. 
Indeed, most leave during October, though a few remain all 
winter ; instances of wintering, though occasionally recorded 
from the south, are more frequent in western counties, Ireland, 
and the Scottish islands. The Corncrake is a slender, brown, 
short-billed bird with barred flanks and rich chestnut wings, 
very noticeable in flight. Though really nocturnal in habits, the 
males in spring are so obsessed by nuptial instincts that they 
call day and night. If startled they will at times take wing, and 
occasionally fly from field to field, though apparently with 
labour, the wings moving rapidly and the legs dangling loosely. 
In long-distance flights, however, the legs are trailed, though I 
have handled wired birds in which both thighs were smashed. 
There is a widespread popular notion that the bird cannot fly 
far, and must either hide all winter or hibernate ; as a matter 
of fact it can fly fast and at an altitude, and is a long-distance 
traveller. Not only is it known as a winter visitor to South 
Africa, but it selects a long rather than a short Channel cross- 
ing ; it has been met with in Greenland, eastern Canada, Ber- 
muda, and even in Australia. It is, however, fair to state that, 
like other rails, it can swim, and thus could rest on water. 

The Corncrake walks with the head rather low and the neck 
drawn in, lifting its feet high like other rails (Plate 141), but it 
is a cautious, suspicious bird, and at the least sound cranes its 
neck for a better view, before running for cover. At times, 
like the Water-Rail, it stands still when anxious, allowing a 
near approach before it darts for shelter, and if captured will, 
at any rate occasionally, simulate death, hanging limply with 
closed eyes, but recovering instantly if opportunity of escape 



^}^:h 




-^'C. 




2 PL 140. 



Baillon's Crr.ke. 
Little Crake. 



]-326. 



CORNCRAKE OR LAND-RAIL. 327 

presents itself. Even when calling it keeps well hidden, though 
its head shows above moderately short grass when, pointing its 
bill upward, it calls its rasping crek-crek. Macgillivray says 
that in the Hebrides it often calls from a wall, but the habit is 
not common where there is long grass. In Wales, however, I 
saw, and very distinctly heard one, hurling its defiant double 
note heavenward from its perch on a high stone wall ; every 
time it threw its head up its white chin was visible. The tone 
and appearance of the bird suggested challenge rather than 
love-call, for the males fight fiercely. The study of birds in 
captivity rather than field observation has proved that it has 
other notes ; a grunting sound accompanies courtship, and an 
angry bird, attacking a rival or striving to drive away a 
predacious foe, will give a loud squealing threat. 

The nest is commonly in a grass field, and often suffers 
when mowing begins, but it is sometimes in wet situations ; the 
one figured (Plate 142) is in sedge. It is a grass-lined hollow, 
and at times the surrounding blades are bent over to help 
concealment. The eggs (Plate 148), usually eight to ten, or 
even more, are pale buff, sparsely spotted or splashed with 
reddish brown ; they are laid from May onward, and though 
many nests are destroyed, it is probabhe that second broods 
are normal, for late nests are common. The nestling has long 
brown-black down, and is fed on insects, the chief food of the 
old bird, though worms, slugs, snails, and seeds are eaten. 

The adult bird in summer is yellowish buff, streaked and 
spotted with dark brown ; the wings are rich chestnut. The 
cheeks and a stripe above the eye are slate-grey, and the under 
parts huffish white with rufous bars on the flanks. In winter 
yellow replaces the grey on the face, as it does in immature 
birds, which have the flanks tawny and with only indistinct 
bars. The bill and irides are brown, the legs fleshy brown. 
Length, 10 ins. Wing, 5'25 ins. Tarsus, 1*8 ins. 



328 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 



Moorhen. Gallifiula chloropus (Linn.). 

The Moorhen (Plate 145) has a wide range in Europe, Asia, 
and Africa, and is partially migratory. It is an abundant 
resident in the British Isles, and there are indications of passage 
migration. 

Moorhen, really " Merehen," is descriptive, but less general 
than Waterhen. Any water — lake, pond, or river — suits the 
bird, the size regulating the number present in spring, for it is 
jealous of territorial rights, and two pairs cannot exist peacefully 
on one small water. The only birds with which it can be con- 
fused are the Coot, larger and with a white frontal plate, and 
the Spotted Crake, smaller and with no plate ; in fact the 
vermilion bill and frontal plate give the bird its distinctive 
character. It has a perky, high-stepping gait, and a habit of 
flirting its tail and bobbing its head. It bobs and flirts when 
swimming as on land, progressing in a series of short jerks, 
usually holding the tail level with the water, but often raised so 
as to show the white under tail-coverts and the black line which 
centres them. If disturbed it scuttles over the water, half 
flying, half running, leaving a troubled trail behind as its toes 
splash the surface. Its long, slightly flanged toes enable it to 
walk over lily-pads and other floating weeds, and aquatic plants 
provide it with food, for it is practically omnivorous. Grain 
and seeds are sought for in the fields, even in the farmyards, 
at some distance from water, and berries, including garden 
fruit, are eaten. Animal food, however, is as welcome, and it 
has been, on slender evidence, accused of destroying eggs and 
young birds. 

The Moorhen dives well, and is said to use the wings under 
water, not fully extended but held near the sides, half open ; 
probably ihe feet are the chief organs of propulsion, as they 
certainly are in the Coot. Its power of partial submergence 



MOORHEN. 329 

is well developed ; it will swim under water to the bank, keep 
the body submerged, and protrude the bill only. I have seen 
the red plate amongst the grasses, and have cautiously lifted 
the hidden bird. Even newly hatched young will slip over the 
edge of the nest and submerge. The vocabulary of the bird 
is varied, and when males are fighting, a frequent occurrence, 
angry and explosive. The loud, metallic call, which sounds to 
me Vike. fttlluck^ and another softer note, tcheco, are common ; 
the young, begging for parental attention, have a squealing, 
complaining pitcheese^ pitcheese. One cry, tit-a-tit, quickly 
uttered and not unlike a call of the Barn-Owl, is usually, though 
not always, a flight note. It is heard when the bird indulges 
in nocturnal wanderings, especially in spring and autumn, for 
the Moorhen has a curious habit of flying at night, even amongst 
houses, without apparent object. Display has been described, 
rather elaborately, but what I have noticed most has been the 
exhibition of the white under tail-coverts, as the bird swims 
with the fore parts low and the lower back and tail raised. 
Rival males fight like game-cocks, striking with both feet, even 
when on the water. Serious damage is sometimes done, and 
after pairing quarrels defeated males may be seen limping 
with broken toes and dislocated thighs. When pressing his 
attentions the male chases the female ; as Miss Turner says, 
" he drives her from the open water, and then chases her up 
and down ditches, or through tangled grass " (Plate 144), though 
she probably has no real desire to escape. 

The nest is a rather well- woven platform of flags, reed- blades 
or rushes, lined with grass, usually near the water's edge in 
low vegetation, or in the branches of an overhanging bush. 
Sometimes it is in a tree at a considerable elevation and away 
from the water, its foundation being the old nest of some other 
species. I have seen it in a fir, and several times in rhododen- 
dron bushes many yards from water ; the young in down 
toppled out of a nest in one bush, rolled down a steep slope and 



330 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

scattered, unhurt. Though the Moorhen looks rather awkward 
amongst branches, it keeps its balance well, even when on 
swaying twigs ; indeed, it often roosts on a branch. Supple- 
mentary nests and platforms are constructed, though second 
broods are often in the first-used nest. The number of eggs 
varies, usually six to ten, and at times one or two eggs lie upon 
the others ; they are buff or clay coloured with red and purple 
spots (Plate 148). Eggs in the middle of March have several 
times been recorded, but April is the usual month, and two or 
even three broods are reared ; young of the first brood will, it 
is said, help to feed later nestlings. I have several times seen 
odd eggs of the Moorhen in the nests of Coots, and there are 
instances of Coots depositing an egg amongst those of the 
Waterhen. Exceptionally the bird covers the eggs when it 
leaves, but I have no recollection of seeing this myself, and 
only now and then have found a nest over which the blades had 
been drawn to aid in concealment. Most text-books, if they 
mention them at all, say that the nestlings are black, but for 
two or three weeks the coloration is remarkable. My descrip- 
tion is from a bird just hatched. The down, for the most part, 
is black, though hoar>- round the eyes and on the chin and 
throat. Above the eye is a black line, and the crown is livid 
blue, passing through pink to orange on the nape. Theseahng- 
wax red frontal plate tops an orange bill with a yellow tip and 
;:anary-yellow nail, and the legs are olive-green, much darker 
ihan in the adult bird. On the bastard wing is a distinct nail 
or claw, which, like that of the Hoatzin, is used in climbing. 
I saw a tiny bird scamble into the nest, using its wings as 
hands, and Mr. C. B. Moffat tells me that he watched a 
nestling climb from the water up a steep bank, three or four 
feet high, clutching the herbage with its wing-claw ; it repeated 
the climb after he had replaced it on the water. 

The adult bird, and the young after the first autumn moult, 
is slate-black with deep brown wings, white under tail-coverts, 





2 /•/. i4:v 



Corncrake. 
Quail. 



yy,^- 



COOT. 331 

and a white line on the flanks. In first plumage the bird is 
rusty grey, whitish grey beneath. The shield and base of the 
bill are vermilion, and the tip yellow in mature birds, but the 
bright colour of these in the nestling fades in three weeks or so 
to green. The legs are green with a red and yellow "garter" 
above the heel, incorrectly called the knee. This band and the 
red frontal are not always developed in the first autumn. The 
irides, really banded, appear red. Length, 13 ins. Wing, 
675 ins. Tarsus, 175 ins. 

Coot. Fulica atra Linn. 

The Coot (Plate 145) is found throughout Europe and 
temperate Asia and Africa ; it is resident in all parts of the 
British Isles, but in the northern part of its range is migratory, 
and there is some movement south from Scotland and the 
northern isles. Its haunts are the larger waters, including slow 
rivers, and in winter many seek the coast. 

The Coot is a heavy, rather clumsily built bird, slate-grey 
with a white bill and spear-shaped frontal plate, which though 
slightly tinged with pink looks Chinese white at a distance; 
this frontal is responsible for the name " Bald Coot." Swim- 
ming Coots may be told from dark ducks by the bobbing 
movements of their heads ; if disturbed they run along the 
surface, splashing vigorously before getting clear, and this 
same splashing rush is common when one bird chases another. 
The wings move rapidly in flight, and the bird gets up some 
speed, flying straight, but always looks heavy ; its legs 
trail behind its tail. It frequently feeds on grass or grain 
on the banks, but seldom ventures far from the water, and 
runs quickly with head low, and with beating wings, if it 
fears danger. Hard frost drives it to the sea, but it will 
remain after all grebes and ducks have left, and if then it 
attempts to alight on the ice, shdes forward on its breast, and 



332 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

falls sideways when it attempts to walk on the slippery surface. 
Its method of alighting differs from the feet-foremost drop of a 
duck and the breast plunge of a grebe, for it alights on the 
breast with the feet lowered ; it is intermediate between the 
two. It is a constant but not neat diver ; it jumps from the 
water and plunges, going down with a splash, "but quickly 
reappearing. Yet it can swim fast under water, striking with 
both feet at once, not alternately as on the surface, more under 
the body than those of the grebe, though visible when viewed 
from above. The lobes on the toes fall back and present little 
resistance to the water when the feet are brought forward, but 
automatically open out during the propelling back stroke. The 
wings of a bird I had in captivity were not used under water, 
though slightly opened when it wished to rise to the surface. 
The object of diving is to obtain the fleshy stems of weeds and 
aquatic molluscs, for both vegetable and animal food are taken. 
If'the Moorhen is quarrelsome, the Coot is a prize-fighter ; it 
swims with head and neck low, shoulders hunched, and wings 
slightly raised, threatening a rival. Combatants sit high in the 
water, apparently balanced on their tails, and strike with both 
feet and wings ; I have seen four fighting at once. The battles 
are accompanied by war-cries and much splashing, but seldom 
result in serious injury. The bird is bold in defence of eggs or 
young ; I have seen it chase a Rook, and after much splashing 
and squealing emerge from a reed-bed, with a triumphant 
trumpet, immediately behind a defeated rat. In spite of its 
apparent bad temper it is sociable, and in winter gregarious ; 
possibly augmented by immigrants, the numbers on Cheshire 
meres are often large in winter, and on the lagoon at Slapton 
Ley I have seen immense flocks. Its calls are varied and 
difficult to express. A bell-like kwong; and a softer tjiewt 
arc common, and a clinking metallic note is a warning or 
alarm when the nest is approached. As it swims from the nest, 
looking back apprehensively over its hunched shoulders, it 



COOT. 333 

utters an explosive tizz, a regular splutter. The hunger-cry of 
the young is a wheezy squeal — gueep^ and the nestling has a 
faint whispering pipe. The Coot flies at night, but is less 
noisy than the Moorhen. In April one alighted on a green- 
house, probably mistaking it for water, and in February one 
dropped in a town back-yard ; both these may have been 
migrants or the night flight have had nuptial significance. 
One, when I handled it, made repeated vicious dabs at my 
eyes. 

The nest (Plate 146), a large structure of flags, reeds sedge, 
and rarely, twigs, is built in aquatic vegetation, but is seldom 
actually floating. If the water rises additions are made until 
a big stack remains when the water subsides. I have seen it 
built of green sedge, when the stone-grey, black-speckled eggs 
(Plate 148) were plainly visible, but when old reed-blades, 
speckled with fungoid growth, are used, the result is very 
different. I have once seen the eggs partially covered, but the 
habit is not general. The eggs number from six to ten as a 
rule, and are laid late in April or in May. The head colour 
of the nestling in its early days is more vivid than that of the 
juvenile Moorhen. The bill is black at the extreme tip, the 
rest dead white shading to vermilion at the base and on 
the plate ; round the'bill the down is bright red, the sides of the 
face are orange, the crown is livid blue or ultramarine, and the 
nape may be orange, flame, or black, like the rest of the hairy 
down. Young birds I have examined showed much variation 
in the areas covered, but red, orange, and blue were always 
present. The remainder of the down is sooty with hoary 
filaments, and the legs are dull slate. One just out of the egg 
fell into the water and swam at once. 

The mature bird has a slight wing bar, the rest of the plumage 
different depths of slate-grey, but velvet-black on the head and 
neck. The bill and frontal plate are white, faintly tinged with 
pink ; the legs are olive-green, and the irides crimson. The 



334 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

back is rusty grey in first plumage, and the under parts, 
including the sides of the face and front of the neck, grey to 
white. The frontal plate is distinctly yellow until after the 
autumn moult. Length, 15 ins. Wing, 8"5 ins. Tarsus, 2*3 ins. 



Order COLUMBIFORMES. Doves and 

Pigeons. 

Family COLUMBID^. 

Wings ample, bill short, nostrils in soft, fleshy membrane ; 
feet arboreal, toes four, tarsus short. 

Stock-Dove. Colmnha ccjias Linn. 

In the northern part of its European and western Asiatic 
range the Stock-Dove (Plate 147) is a migrant, but, except on 
the east coast, there is little evidence of migration in the British 
Isles, where the bird is a well-distributed and often plentiful 
resident, gradually pushing its way north. Early in the 'eighties 
it was rare in Northumberland, now it breeds in Sutherland, 
and visits the Orkneys and Shetlands, and is also spreading in 
Ireland. 

The three pigeons, though superficially alike, have very 
distinctive characters ; the Ring-Dove may at once be told by 
the white on its neck and wing, but the Rock and Stock-Doves 
are more alike in size and plumage. The former, however, has 
a white rump, and two well-marked black bars on the wing, but 
the rump of the Stock is grey, and the bars are incomplete. 
The haunts of the Stock-Dove are in more or less open country, 
for though it often nests in trees it prefers park lands to thick 
woods ; where it nests amongst rocks it is often called by the 
wrong name. It is common on coasts where the cliffs pro- 
vide holes, and frequents sand-dunes, where it is known as the 



^^ 




^■^'^ : I a^ ->" 



_A^ 





2 /'/. MS- 



Coot. 
Moorhen. 



K335. 



STOCK-DOVE. 335 

" Sand-Pigeon." Its flight is quick, performed by regular beats, 
with an occasional sharp flick of the wings, characteristic of 
pigeons in general. Indeed, there is so much of the domestic 
pigeon in its bobbing gait, appearance, and habits that there is 
excuse for the erroneous idea that it is the "stock" from which 
our tame birds are derived. It perches well, and in nuptial 
display walks along a horizontal branch with swelled neck, 
lowered wings, and fanned tail, just as tame birds swagger on the 
roof-tree. I have seen a male bowing to the female, with his 
bill almost touching the ground and his spread tail elevated 
vertically. During the circling spring flight the wings are 
smartly cracked like a whip-lash. 

The Stock-Dove is sociable as well as gregarious, often 
consorting with Ring-Doves, though doubtless it is the presence 
of food which brings them together. Something to its liking 
takes it to the shore, where it may be seen pecking at the sand 
on tidal banks, a common habit also of domestic pigeons. Its 
comparative scarcity, when compared with the vast hordes of 
migratory Ring-Doves, explains why it has not been accused of 
grain eating ; it is defended by many as a destroyer of weeds. 
Weeds it certainly eats, especially the seeds of charlock, but 
it enjoys grain ; Mr. J. A. Dockray found the crops of many 
birds filled with wheat and oats as well as charlock, at the 
same time that those of Wood-Pigeons were crammed with 
nothing but acorns. Most of its food is vegetable ; young shoots 
and seedlings are favoured. The short, deep, grunting call 
is quite distinct from the modulated cooing notes of the Ring- 
Dove ; it is loud enough to be described, somewhat fancifully, 
as " roaring." 

The nest, though it is seldom that any nesting material is 
used, is usually in a hole in a tree, a crack in a rock face, as in 
the limestone of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Wales, or in a 
rabbit-burrow, but the bird also nests in ivy, or in the thick 
growih round the boles of limes, as well as in deserted nests of 



336 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Other birds and squirrel dreys. Since its increase it has been 
found in ruins and large ecclesiastical buildings, sharing the 
crevices with the Daws. Two creamy-white eggs, measuring 
about 1*5 by i'i5 inches, are laid practically at any time 
between March and October. The down of the nestling is 
yellowish, and its bill is at first dark, but later flesh-coloured. 
A young bird, taken from the nest, took kindly to captivity, 
and before it could walk would push itself across a table, 
shuffling on its breast, to take food from my mouth. 

The upper parts of the mature bird are blue-grey, palest 
on the rump. The wing is crossed by two interrupted black 
bars, the quills are dark slate, and the tail shades from grey to 
almost black at the tip. The breast is vinaceous, and on the 
neck is a metallic green and purple patch, shining when the 
bird swells its neck in display. The rest of the under parts are 
pale blue-grey. The under wing is grey ; in the Rock-Dove it 
is white. The bill is brownish yellow, red towards the base, 
but the actual fleshy basal portion is white. The legs are pink 
with a purple tinge ; the irides are variously described, but I 
have found them dark brown. The young bird has at first 
little lustre on the neck or sign of bars on the wing, but the 
bird mentioned above, taken on May 25th, when down was 
still present on head and breast, showed the patch and one bar 
distinctly on October 12th. Length, 13-5 ins. Wing, 8"8 ins. 
Tarsus, 11 ins. 



Ring-Do Ye. Coluviha palumhcs Linn. 

It is not proved that any of our resident Ring-Doves migrate, 
but too well known that birds in the northern part of its Euro- 
pean and Asiatic range travel south when food supplies are 
precarious, for in autumn and winter great numbers arrive on 
the east coast. As a resident the Wood-Pigeon or " Cushat " 
breeds throughout the British Isles, in woodlands and even in 



RING-DOVE. 337 

city parks. By Ring-Dove many understand only the domesti- 
cated dove with a black ring on its neck, which when allowed 
its freedom makes itself at home in woods and gardens, but the 
name is correctly applied to the Wood-Pigeon. 

Even in the London parks the Ring-Dove (Plate 147), the 
largest of our wild pigeons, is a familiar bird ; indeed, it is there 
so confiding that we have excellent opportunity of studying its 
portly figure and beautiful plumage ; in the country, where it is 
not beloved, it is shy. It walks, perches, and bows with swelled 
neck and fanned tail like a dovecot bird, but has certain cha- 
" racters and habits of its own. It can always be told by the white 
patch on its neck, and when flying by the transverse white bar 
on the wing. Its note, heard at all times, but most frequently 
in March and April, is often insufficiently represented by a 
series of coos. There are, however, two hard sounds and a 
double note in each phrase, which is usually repeated about 
three times. The old interpretation, " Tak' two coos, Taffy, 
tak' two coos, Taffy, tak'," or Mr, Bolam's " Tak' care noo, 
hinny," give a better idea, the first two words sharp, the 
third drawled. Almost invariably the bird ends with the 
hard tak or cue. Bowing and cooing is often interrupted by 
a display of nuptial flight ; the bird rises rather steeply with 
strong though not rapid wing-beats, then stiffening its wings, 
falls and rises in a series of undulations, at the end of which 
there is a sharp crack, caused by a strong down beat of the 
wing, and not, as so often stated, by the wings clapping together. 
The pectoral muscles are powerful ; the bird fights with the 
wings, and even a "squab " in the nest will give a smart blow. 

Sportsmen declare that the Wood-Pigeon is difficult to kill, 
the shot glancing off its feathers as if it were clad in mail ; 
certainly its pinions sound stiff and hard when with a clatter it 
dashes through the branches. But it is possible that it is the 
softness of its plumage which presents a cushion to the shot, 
for few birds have softer or looser covering. A keeper will 

Series II. Z 



338 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Strike a wounded bird with his stick, killing it before he 
attempts to pick it up, because in its struggles it litters every- 
thing with these easily shed feathers, and there are good 
retrievers which will not pick it up, having once experienced 
the unpleasant mouthful. Though some immigrants arrive in 
October, the biggest hordes come in during the next three 
months, and often return again in February. Fortunately the 
numbers vary in different years and the localities attacked are 
widespread, for a Wood-Pigeon invasion is a menace to food 
supply ; the numbers sometimes observed coming in from the 
North Sea are beyond all calculation. Much grain is devoured- 
by the greedy bird — 838 grains were counted from one crop — 
but acorns are its great stand-by ; in years when the acorn 
crop is large, immigrants are most abundant. Beech-mast, 
nuts, haws, berries, young leaves of ash, beech, and oak are 
amongst the harmless foods ; turnip-tops, young greens, 
Brussels sprouts, small potatoes, crops which it damages ; but 
by devouring seeds of charlock, ragwort, and other weeds it 
does some amount of good. The crops of birds have been 
found full of caterpillars of the dotted border and mottled 
umber, both defoliating species, and certainly at times it eats 
harmful slugs. 

The nest (Plate 151) is a flimsy platform of intertwisted sticks, 
through which the light shows, and the eggs may be seen from 
below ; it is built in a tree or hedge at varying height from the 
ground ; exceptionally it is on the ground or on a ledge. The 
two eggs are dead white and glossier than those of the Stock- 
Dove ; they measure about r6 by 1*2 inches. Winter eggs 
have several times been found, but from April onward is the 
usual time ; two or even three broods are reared. The nestling 
or squab has sparse yellow down, and a broad, soft bill, the 
lower mandible broadest ; it pushes its boat-shaped bill into 
that of the mother bird and sucks up the milky fluid she 
provides for its early nourishment. 




2 PL 146 



Coot. 





2 n. 14; 



y- 3.>9. 



Ring-Dove. 



ROCK-DOVE. 339 

The upper parts of the adult bird are lavender or bluish 
grey, the wings darker, and the white-bordered quills greyish 
brown. On the neck, which is shot with green and purple, are 
large white patches, and the white bar on the wing shows when 
the bird is at rest as a patch on the angle. The breast is 
vinaceous, shading to pale lavender on the abdomen. The 
upper surface of the tail is blaekish, but the under has a blue- 
grey subterminal bar. The bill is yellow, red at the base, and 
white over the nostrils ; the legs are red, often tinged with 
purple, and the irides yellow. The young bird has at first 
no \vhite on the neck, and the wing bar is suffused with blue. 
Length, 16-5 ins. Wing, 9*5 ins. Tarsus, 1*3 ins. 



Rock-Dove. Columha livia Gmelin. 

The Rock-Dove (Plate 149) has a restricted range in western 
and southern Europe and Mediterranean countries ; in our 
islands it is a local resident, even in Scotland, Ireland, and the 
western and northern isles, where it abounds in suitable places. 
It is plentiful on the Yorkshire cliffs, rare in Cornwall and 
Devon, and its present status in Cumberland is doubtful, bui 
colonies of considerable size are scattered along the Welsh 
cliffs. It appears almost to have deserted Anglesey and the 
Isle of Man. All its haunts are maritime, and confusion with 
the Stock-Dove probably accounts for reports from inland 
locahties ; in Yorkshire the "dimmers" call it the "Rock- 
Pigeon," to them the Stock is the " Rock-Dove." This bird 
is the "Blue Rock" from which our domestic breeds are 
descended, and not only will the wild bird visit and feed with 
tame birds about the farms, but, pairing with them, induces 
them to cast off" the fetters of domesticity. I have seen these 
wild "tame" birds flying with the Flamborough Rocks, and an 
undoubted "chequer" evidently mated with a wild bird in a 
cave in Scotland. 



340 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

The white croup or lower back of the Rock-Dove is its best 
character, but the two black bars on its pale-grey wing are 
distinct ; the tail is margined with white. It is strong and 
quick on the wing, dashing out from the caves, flying low over 
the water, its white rump showing well from above. Little 
parties will circle over the sea and the cliff tops, when the white 
under wing is equally conspicuous ; in its flight, behaviour, and 
voice, which is more of a dovecot coo than the phrase of the 
Ring-Dove, it shows its relationship. Though fields are visited 
for grain and green food, it is nowhere so plentiful as to be 
a pest, and the good it does by devouring weeds probably 
balances the damage. Like other pigeons it often drinks ; I 
have seen it alight on the sea, and apparently drink salt water ; 
domestic birds will alight on water, even on the sea. The 
bowing courtship, when the metaUic lustre of the neck is fully 
displayed, often takes place on ledges where Guillemots and 
Razorbills sit. 

The nest is usually on a ledge in a cave ; it is a slight 
structure of grass, heather, or seaweed. The two white eggs, 
more like those of the Ring-Dove than the Stock, measure 1*5 
by 1*1 inches. The nestling has pale yellow down and a flesh- 
coloured bill with a dark band. It is tended and fed on 
" milk " like other doves. 

The head and neck of the mature bird are a darker blue-grey 
than the back and wings ; the lower back is white. The green 
and lilac or purple patch on the side of the neck is larger than 
that of the Stock, and the tail is more distinctly banded. The 
bill, legs, and irides are as in the Ring-Dove. Young birds 
show little lustre and are duller. Length, 13-5 ins. Wing, 
8-5 ins. Tarsus, i'2 ins. 

Turtle-Dove. Streptopelia hirtiir (Linn.). 

The migratory Turtle-Dove (Plate 150) has a western Palas- 
arctic range, though it is rare in northern Scandinavia and 



» • .'•*?* 




Coot. 



Spotted Crake. 




■>.■ ^ '^" 




^ V V ^ ^ >g^vl 



.ij^jjB^' 



^i/ 



Moorhen. 



Corncrake. 





2 P/. I4S. 



Pheasant. 



Partridge. 



Z340, 





'^>^. 










y.'. 14W. 



Rock Dove. 
Red-legged Partridge. 



Z341. 



TURTLE-DOVE. 34I 

Russia ; it winters in Africa. In the British Isles it is steadily 
extending its summer range, though it is still rare in Scotland 
and Ireland. In the north of Scotland and the Orkneys and 
Shetlands it is, apparently, a regular passage migrant in spring 
and autumn, and there are one or two instances of winter 
visitation. The regularity of the appearance on such out-of- 
the-way places, as for instance Fair Island, are as yet un- 
explained migration problems. 

Smaller and slighter in build than other doves, the Turtle 
may be recognised by its browner colour, and the black and 
white striped patch on the side of its neck, but it is its tail that 
catches the eye when it flies from the observer ; it is wedge 
shaped, with a dark centre and white borders and tips. When 
viewed from below this pattern, owing to the white under tail- 
coverts obscuring the dark bases, is a blackish chevron on a 
white ground. This is noticeable when the bird stoops to 
drink, raising its spread tail. April is nearly ended before the 
Turtle, one of the latest migrants, appears ; it often is not here 
until May, whilst passage birds travel through in June. 

It is a bird of open rather than dense woodlands, and 
frequently feeds on the ground (End paper 4) ; it will nest in 
gardens, and I have seen it feeding on scattered grain on a 
suburban cab-stand. The flight is often described as arrowy, 
but is not remarkably swift ; in the open it is direct, but the 
turns and dodges are neat when the bird flies amongst trees. 
For so small a dove it is strong, performed with purposeful 
beats. The nuptial flight, high and circling, is rather hke that 
of the Ring-Dove, but the undulations are less decided ; it is 
accompanied by the whip-crack of the downward flicked wings. 
The arrival in spring is heralded by its purring notes, a rather 
deep, vibrating courrr, coiirrr. Seeds of various kinds and 
tender shoots are eaten, and where food is plentiful a number 
of birds may be seen together, but it is hardly gregarious in 
summer. It is a constant attendant at the Pheasant rearing 



342 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

field, helping itself to grain. Like other pigeons it will drink 
salt as well as fresh water, visiting the shore and marshes for 
this purpose. The increase and extension of its range north 
and west has taken place comparatively recently. I remember 
the first bird shot in eastern Cheshire, brought to me by a 
keeper who had no idea what it was. Now it is abundant in 
Cheshire and Lancashire. 

The nest is even more flimsy looking than that of the Ring- 
Dove, being built of more slender twigs, usually, at no great 
elevation, in a tree or old untrimmed hedge. Yet it is not 
loosely put together, for I have; known it, in an exposed 
position, withstand a winter's storms. Two white eggs, about 
I "2 by o"9 .of an inch, are laid late in May or in June. The 
"gentle Turtle," even when a mere down-clad squab, will fight 
vigorously, striking with its feeble wing, pecking and snapping 
its soft bill in defiance. 

The mature bird has the head, neck, flanks, and rump blue- 
grey, and the wings cinnamon, mottled with black. The breast 
is vinaceous, the abdomen and under tail-coverts are w^hite. 
The bill is black, the legs and eye-rims are red, and the irides 
reddish brown. The black and white patch on the side of the 
neck is absent in the browner and duller young bird, which 
also has the legs brown. Length, ii'25 ins. Wing, 7 ins. 
Tarsus, 0*9 in. 

Eastern Turtle-Dove. StreptopcUa orie?tialis (Lath.). 

A single example of the Eastern Turtle-Dove, which inhabits 
eastern Asia and has occasionally wandered wxst, was taken 
in Yorkshire in October, 1899, under circumstances which 
suggested that it was a genuine wanderer. It is a larger bird 
than ours, darker on the upper parts, has the neck-spot black 
and pale blue, and the lower parts more vinaceous ; the under 
tail-cjverts are blue not white. Length, I3'5 ins. \Ving, 77 
ins. Tarsus, i"i ins. 



PALLAS' SAND-GROUSE. 343 

Order PTEROCLETIFORMES. 

Family PTEROCLETID.'E. 

Ground birds ; bill short, curved ; wings long, pointed ; 
tarsi shortj feathered ; toes three, united. 

Pallas' Sand-Grouse. Syrrhapies paradoxus (Pallas). 

Few birds are more puzzling than Pallas' Sand-Grouse 
(Plate 150), for though the normal migration from its home 
on the Mongolian and central Asiatic steppes is southerly, 
sporadic westward irruptions or invasions scatter birds all 
over Europe. Theories about these abnormal westward move- 
ments are many, but do not explain the phenomena ; a surplus 
avian population, impelled by some unexplained instinct or 
force, strives to extend its range by emigration, and meets with 
even less success than the human Asiatic floods which from 
time to time have inundated western lands. In the most 
memorable of these invasions — 1863, 1888, and 1908 — small 
flocks were scattered over our islands, invading the east coast, 
but travelling to the west and even to Ireland. Museums and 
private collections contain evidence of these abortive raids. 
In most instances the birds reached Britain in spring, and a 
few, on sand-dunes and marshes, found congenial haunts and 
nested, but it is doubtful if any of the young survived long, 
though adult birds dodged gunners until the autumn, and in 
a few instances, winter. 

In June, 1908, I just missed seeing a covey in Cheshire ; to 
a more fortunate observer they appeared like light-coloured 
Partridges with pigeon heads, long pointed wings and tails, 
and remarkably swift flight which immediately recalled that 
of the Golden Plover. The flight call was chack, chack^ but 
he was not near enough to hear the whistling of the wings, 



344 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

commented on by others. The bird has short legs and feathered 
feet, in which the three toes— the hind toe is absent— are 
together and padded beneath, rather suggesting the foot of 
a rabbit. It walks awkwardly, with short steps. Like its 
relatives, the pigeons, it is a thirsty bird, drinking saline as 
well as fresh water. Seeds and shoots of all kinds of low- 
growing herbage are its food, of the salt-marsh type in its 
native haunts, but in Britain various grasses, clovers, and 
weeds are known to have been sampled by the analysis of 
stomach contents. 

The nest is a hollow scraped in sand or loose soil, seldom 
with more than a few bents by way of lining or decoration. 
The eggs, usually two or three in number, are stone-brown or 
buff, speckled and blotched with darker brown (Plate 153), and 
the nestling in down is pale buff, streaked and speckled with 
a lace-work pattern of brown and black. 

Both male and female are sandy brown in general colour, 
and have elongated central tail feathers, though those of the 
male are the more pointed. The head of the male is sandy 
grey, his cheeks and chin rusty ; his back is barred with brown, 
and there is a large buff patch on the wing. The lavender 
primaries, particularly the first, are very pointed. The breast 
is greyish buff, crossed by a band of fine black markings ; 
below the breast is a broad chocolate band. The female has 
smaller but more numerous markings on the upper parts ; her 
head is streaked, and she lacks the gorget and buff wing patch. 
The bill, shaped like that of a game-bird, and the irides, are 
brown, Male : Length, 17 ins. Wing, io*5 ins. Female : 
Length, 1475 ins. "Wing, 9 ins. Tarsus i in. 





2 PL i:;g. 



Turtle-Dove. i 7th. 

Pallas 's Sand-Grouse. 2 9ths. 



^344- 



PHEASANT. 345 

Order GALLIFORMES. 

Family PHASIANID.E. Pheasants and Partridges. 

Ground birds, with short, rounded wings ; bill short and 
stout, toes four. 

Pheasant. Fhasiajms colchicus Linn. 

Only as a long-established alien can the Pheasant (Plate 152) 
be admitted as a British bird, though the date of introduction 
is unknown ; it is first mentioned in 1059. More recently 
various pheasants have been introduced, and have interbred 
with the older stock ; it is impossible to meet with a pure 
descendant of the original P. colchicus, though some of the 
characters survive. The Chinese P. torquatus, first introduced 
about two hundred years ago, has also left its mark, notably 
in the white neck ring, but as the blood of five or six other 
species may be intermingled, we can only look upon the semi- 
domestic Pheasant of to-day as a mongrel. Crosses with more 
distantly related birds take place occasionally, even with Black 
Grouse and various breeds of domestic fowl. P. colchicus hails 
from the Black Sea area of western Asia, but many closely 
allied forms occur in other parts; the Romans, Phoenicians, 
or whoever first traded the bird on sporting Britain, may have 
brought different races. The two types, colchicus and torquaius^ 
are figured. 

Any description of the appearance or plumage of the Pheasant 
is unnecessary ; the pictures, or the poulterer's shop, will 
supply details ; every one knows that the cock is the smarter, 
the hen the browner, shorter-tailed bird. The male has 
erectile ear-tufts and a featherless red face ; it is a gorgeous 
bird, but would it be here at all were it not almost sacred? 
The habits of this carefully tended bird have, undoubtedly, 



346 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES 

been influenced and altered by artificial conditions. It is a 
woodland species, thriving best in protected coverts ; it roosts 
in trees for protection, but is, in other \vays, a ground bird, 
nesting on the level and running swiftly to escape an enemy, 
unless forced to take flight, when it rises with a whirr of round 
wings, often " rocketing " over the tree tops ; it is then swift, 
but incapable of really sustained flight. If it can sneak through 
the herbage with lowered head it tries this dodge, and will 
crouch in cover ; the plumage of the female then gives her 
protection. Young birds, if alarmed, will run from the coops 
and crouch in the grass. The controversy about the economic 
value of the Pheasant is complicated by political and class 
bias ; very opposite opinions have been expressed. As the 
bird is omnivorous, eating vegetable and animal food, much 
may be argued for and against it ; certainly it is unfair to 
judge by individual cases. One bird's crop may be filled with 
germinating grain, and another with wire-worms. A favourite 
but apparently trivial food is the spangle gall on the oak, a 
mixture of animal and vegetable. Old birds will, with impunity, 
eat the froghopper nymphs in the " cuckoo-spit," and these, 
killed in hot water, do the young no harm, but when the froth 
is thick on the grass many downy young birds perish ; they 
swallow the living insect, and are choked by the froth it 
exudes. The best natural food is the pupce of ants, popularly 
known as "ants' eggs.'^ 

In spring the male indulges in display, showing off his 
charms as he runs round the hen with much of the sideling, 
wing-trailing action of the domestic cock. He is pugilistic, 
ever ready to use the spurs with which his feet are armed ; 
before a fight the rivals face with lowered heads and ruffled 
necks, and strike like game-cocks with the back of the feet. 
The loud, sudden crow of the cock is immediately followed by 
a rustle of the plumage and flapping of the wings, a familiar 
wooiland sound in spring. It is well know, that thunder, an 



PHEASANT. 347 

explosion, or other loud noise will start the Pheasant's crow, 
and during the war, air-raids before audible to human ears 
were responded to by the agitation of the sensitive birds. My 
most remarkable personal experience was on the morning of 
January 24th, 191 5, when, in a Cheshire wood, I was struck by 
the frequent crowing of the cocks ; in my note-book I wrote — 
" Cock Pheasants crowing constantly, and wing-flapping after 
each crow." Two days later I commented on the fact in the 
Manchester Guai'dian, but attributed it to the mildness of the 
weather, and it was only when reports were received of similar 
disturbances in Norfolk, Lincoln, and Cumberland that I 
reahsed that the Cheshire birds had also been influenced by 
the air vibrations of the heavy guns in the North Sea battle, 
some 400 miles away. 

Whether naturally the bird is polygamous or monogamous 
has never been settled ; pedal armature is not conclusive 
evidence of polygamy. It is to the advantage of the hen as an 
egg-laying machine that cocks, which are acknowledged bullies, 
should not be too abundant, and man, trading on this, hatches 
the eggs under foster parents, pretending that the Pheasant is a 
bad mother. She, certainly, will deposit her eggs in the nests 
of the Partridge, Mallard, or other bird, and cheerfully leave 
them, but at times is attentive ; the less she is interfered with 
the better she does her work. The nest is a hollow in cover, 
lined with a little grass and a few leaves ; the olive eggs 
(Plate 148) vary in number, ten or twelve are common, and are 
laid in April and onward. Occasionally the eggs are in old 
nests of other birds in trees. The size of the bird varies 
according to the breed and the length of the tail, that of the 
Mongolian race, one of the more recently established, being 
perhaps the longest. Length, 24 to 36 ins. Wing, 9*5 ins. 
Tarsus, 2'5 ins. 



348 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Red-legged Partridge. Caccabis mfa (Linn.). 

The range of the Red-legged Partridge (Plate 149) does not 
extend beyond south-western Europe, though allied species 
occur in various parts of Asia and Africa. It is not a British 
native, and its introduction for sporting purposes much more 
recent than that of the Pheasant, indeed shortly before the close 
of the eighteenth century. In the north and west, where a few 
attempts have been made to establish it, no colonisation has 
been accomplished, but in south-eastern and midland counties 
it has settled, multiplied, and spread. Under the impression 
that determined colonisation was detrimental to the resident 
Partridge, sportsmen, regretting their haste, strove to wipe it 
out, but it refused to be evicted, and now that driving has 
largely replaced shooting over dogs, it is tolerated rather than 
encouraged. As exhausted birds have been found upon the 
shore, and others noted at sea, it has been argued that 
migrants may reach us from time to time, and that our birds 
may attempt to emigrate. Southwell and others were of 
opinion that these over-water excursions were merely abortive 
attempts to extend the range, due to wandering habits, or to 
coveys having been driven out to sea, and that the weary, 
disappointed birds were returning to the land they had just left. 
Dr. N. F. Ticehurst, however, is convinced " that occasional 
birds or coveys do wander across " the Channel, and believes 
that the early records of the species in Kent cannot be explained 
by spread from any area of introduction. His evidence cannot 
be lightly cast aside, but so far there is no suggestion of regular 
migration. Solitary birds, apparently wanderers, turn up in 
unexpected places, but Partridge as well as Pheasant eggs are 
bought for the purpose of stocking preserves, and it is always 
possible that eggs of the Red-leg might be included. 

The plumage of the " French Partridge," as it is still called 
in East Anglia, is more striking than that of the common bird ; 




5^ 




2 PL 152. 



Z348. 



Pheasant. 




i: 4 *" / 








RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE. 349 

the Strongly barred flanks and black-framed face and throat 
are its most conspicuous features. On grass or dark soil its 
light-brown upper parts are noticeable ; it looks a larger, paler 
bird than ours. The natural habitat is stone-strewn or sandy 
waste, and the chalky undulations of Norfolk suit it well ; it 
delights in a sunny spot where it can lie on its side and enjoy a 
dust bath. It is, perhaps, more of a runner than the next 
species, though some Norfolk keepers tell me that this is a 
mistake, but it certainly seeks safety by foot rather than on 
the wing if long grass or other concealment is near ; its speed 
on the ground is remarkable. When put up it flies swiftly, 
whirring its wings, and rising just high enough to skim the 
hedges ; it provides a sporting shot when driven. The accusa- 
tion that it kills the smaller bird is an exaggeration due to a 
misapprehension of inter-specific competition. Armed with 
blunt spurs, the males are ready to fight for their rights, marital 
or territorial, but a weak bird speedily knows when the odds 
are against it ; the Red-leg, however, is the more powerful and 
pushful bird and monopoHses food supplies and suitable nesting 
sites. Grass, clover, buds and shoots, as well as insects, spiders, 
molluscs, and worms, are its food, and for the greater part of 
the year the bird is sociable, visiting the feeding grounds in 
little parties or coveys. The note is a crake-lilve dmk, cluik, 
chuk-ker J the Indian name for the Himalayan representative 
of the genus is " Chukar." 

The nest is a hollow, often in a hedgegrow bottom or beneath 
a bush, sparsely lined with grass and leaves. Large clutches of 
eggs are common, and nine (Plate 155) is a small number ; a 
full nest may contain double. The q%% (Plate 154) is yellowish 
buff with fine reddish spots or blotches ; late April and May is 
the time for the first eggs. Elevated nests are not uncommon, 
the top of a haystack having been recorded several times ; in 
its ordinary life the bird rather likes an elevated stand, perch- 
ing on walls and even branches. The nestling has reddish 



350 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

down, pale and unspotted on the head, but mottled with 
blackish brown on the back, where there are three yellowish 
longitudinal streaks. Dr. Bureau, in his elaborate work on the 
Partridge, gives details of the moults of the young, and shows 
how the age can be told at any time. 

The mature bird has the upper parts hair-brown, tinged rufous 
on the back and grey on the forehead ; the white face and throat 
are framed by a black line, which starts at the bill, runs through 
the eye, and then curves down the neck to form a gorget. Below 
this the lavender breast is speckled with black ; the flanks, also 
lavender in ground, are barred with white, black, and chestnut. 
The bill, eye- rims, and legs are bright red. The black on the 
breast, and slate on the head and flanks, is mainly replaced by 
brown in the young bird. Length, 13-5 ins. Wing, 6'25 ins. 
Tarsus, 17 ins. 

Partridge. Perdix perdix (Linn.). 

The sportsman is mainly responsible for the abundance of 
the Common or Grey Partridge (Plate 159), a bird of Europe 
and western Asia which is resident in the lowlands of Great 
Britain and Ireland, though decreasing in the latter island. 
Distinctly a bird of cultivation, it is most abundant on farm 
land, though thinly distributed on upland pastures and occa- 
sionally nesting on the moors. From the point of view of 
the sportsman who wants big bags it is a delicate bird, yet 
hardy enough to hold its own in small numbers where little 
protection is afforded. Coveys on sand-dunes and marshes, 
apparently unsuitable spots, are by no means rare. 

The Partridge, like the Pheasant, is too familiar to need 
much description. It is a ground bird, running swiftly, and 
lying squat until we are upon it, then rising with a curious 
sound, a mixture of its creaking voice and whirring wings. Its 
aerial spurts are rapid and not long sustained, its flight an 







vi^ 



,K;i 



mm 






Ptarmigan. 



Red Grouse. 





Black Grouse. 



Quail. 




Red-legged Partridge. 
/•/. 154- 




Greenshank. 



Z ;-o. 



PARTRIDGE. 35 1 

alternation of quick vibrations of its short, rounded wings, 
and glides with still wings bowed. The tail is spread when 
the bird rises, plainly showing the chestnut outer feathers. 
The family parties not only keep together through the winter, 
but join forces with others, and as coveys roost and feed 
together, the social habit gives some protection from many 
enemies. Pairing begins in February, sometimes earlier, and 
for some weeks there are constant running fights, and much 
challenging, before mating difficulties are solved. There is 
little or no bloodshed in these contests, but much healthy 
exercise. By the end of the month the covey has split into 
pairs, and the creaky calls, which cannot be expressed by any 
combination of letters, become infrequent. Though coddled 
less than the Pheasant, the Partridge gets protection by the 
removal of its predatory foes, and doubtless its habits are 
thereby influenced. Yet to a great extent it retains the pro- 
tective colour which on certain soils and in herbage aids con- 
cealment, and has not lost the instinct to lie still and benefit by 
this gift. In a root-field it is entirely screened, and even on 
the stubbles it is not unlike a clod of earth when viewed from 
a distance ; it is most active in the early morning and towards 
night, lying in quiet little groups during most of the day. 
Though not so catholic in its tastes as the Pheasant, it is fairly 
omnivorous, and is a great devourer of insects and other small 
invertebrates, but grain, grass, fresh shoots, and seeds of all 
kinds give variety. During the recent over-abundance of the 
antler moth, CharcBas gra^nmis^ many Partridges ihvaded the 
upper pastures to feed on the swarming caterpillars. 

The nest is well concealed, a hollow in thick vegetation in a 
hedgerow or beneath a bush ; it is lined with grass and leaves, 
and these last are used to cover the ten to twenty olive-brown 
eggs (Plate 148) when the sitting bird leaves them. The period 
of paired felicity is long, eggs being seldom laid before the end 
of April or in May, and summer nests, even in August, are not 



352 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

uncommon, and winter clutches, which may be either early 
or late, are recorded. The " cheepers " (Plate 1 57) have buffish- 
brown down, spotted and striped with black, and brownish bills 
and legs. They are carefully tended and defended by the old 
birds, who will boldly attack a threatening foe, even a dog. It has 
been denied that they will dare to assault man, but once when 
I blundered upon a family, the irate mother jumped at my legs 
whilst the little ones scattered and hid. On another occasion 
when the juveniles, which had just strength of wing to fly for 
a few feet, whirred off from under our feet, the old bird ran 
round in circles squealing dolefully. Even when so young 
the tiny spread tails showed chestnut. 

The Partridge is a variable bird, more so than is usually 
realised, and doubtless the artificial removal of many of its 
keen-eyed foes has aided the permanence of variation. Dr. 
Bureau, Mr. J. G. Millais, and Ogilvie-Grant have given full 
descriptions of the normal colour changes and age variations of 
the bird, but these are too complicated to be described here. 
Roughly, it is slate-grey with fine vermiculations of black, and 
bars and streaks of chestnut and buff, the bars and streaks 
most pronounced on the wings and flanks. The forehead, 
cheeks, and throat are chestnut, and there is a large chocolate 
horse-shoe-shaped patch on the pale-greyish breast. The 
head of the female is more streaked than that of the male, and 
the horse-shoe, if present, is smaller. The bill and legs are 
blue-grey, and the irides brown ; behind the eye is a small red 
unfeathered patch. Buffish brown replaces the grey in young 
birds, and there is little chestnut on the face. Uniform or 
nearly uniform grey and reddish-brown birds are not un- 
common, nor are others in which the horse-shoe and other 
marking are more or less white. The red variety was described 
as a species by Brisson, and early writers called his P. uiontana 
the Mountain Partridge, or, according to Latham, the " Cheshire 
Partridge." Length, 12-5 ins. Wing, 6*5 ins. Tarsus, 1*4 ins. 



QUAIL. 353 

Quail. Coturjiix cohirnix (Linn.). 

The Quail (Plate 143), our smallest game-bird, occurs 
throughout Europe, Asia, and north Africa, and is a summer 
visitor to all parts of the British Isles, even to the Shetlands 
and Outer Hebrides. The majority arrive in May and depart 
in October, but occasionally a few remain all winter. It is 
nowhere normally plentiful, though there are good and bad 
years ; it is a regular visitor in very irregular numbers. The 
oft-repeated lament that this or that species is decreasing has 
usually slight foundation, but there is a general opinion that 
the Quail, in all parts, and especially in Ireland, is less 
abundant than it was. I venture to doubt it. Destroyers of 
birds for the table, both here and abroad, have been blamed, 
but very large numbers are still captured, and there is httle 
evidence of general diminution. The numbers of the Quail are 
known, historically, to ebb and flow. Even supposing that the 
bird is decreasing, it is not certain that wholesale massacre by 
carnivorous man is entirely responsible ; geographical distribu- 
tion is unstable. We cannot really take credit for the increase 
of a species like the Turtle-Dove ; then why are we to blame 
because another bird fails to get on? Species declined and 
vanished long before man was evolved. Any year we may see 
a temporary recovery of the Quail ; I find no evidence that 
it was ever more than spasmodically plentiful. Indeed, I 
believe that all statements about its decrease have founda- 
tion in the memories of men of advancing years who have 
recollection of the big Quail years, and forget that these were 
exceptional. Montagu, in 1802, made exactly the same remark 
about former abundance that writers make to-day. 

The Quail is a diminutive sandy-buff Partridge, and the two 
birds have many common habits. As a ground bird it keeps 
well in cover, its small size an advantage in scant herbage ; if 
flushed by a dog, for a man seldom walks it up, it flies with 

Series II. 2 A 



354 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

whirr and glide like the larger bird, and drops again almost 
immediately. Indeed, the only sign of its presence is, as a rule, 
its liquid trisyllabic call, ivhit^ whit, whit, which gives origin to 
its vernacular names, " Wet-my-lips," or " Wet-my-feet," and 
the Cheshire " But-for-But." This is the call or challenge of 
the male, and there is a low double note common to the sexes. 
That Quails migrate in hordes is known, and nocturnal travel 
seems usual, but when the birds are nesting they are less 
sociable ; the autumn "bevy" is often no more than the family, 
though if many stopped to winter bevies would probably 
combine. The food differs little from that of the Partridge ; 
Saunders refers to its fondness for chickweed, and if this is so 
its scarcity cannot be due to food shortage. Small though it is 
the Quail is a fighter, and we are told that it will duel to the 
death ; no doubt it will in a Chinese cockpit, where it cannot 
escape, but in a free state a beaten bird seldom waits to be 
slain. The Quail, in its natural haunts, is difficult to watch. 
When I kept some in an aviary they were peaceful enough, 
never interfering with other inmates ; they were constantly 
running about with the low double call, or dusting themselves 
on the sandy floor. I doubt if the Quail is polygamous under 
normal circumstances ; monogamy is general in England. 

The nest is a scratching in herbage, lined with dry grass ; 
the eggs (Plate 154), seven to ten in number, are variable, the 
ground being buff or yellowish, and the deep brown markings 
either blotches, smears, or fine speckles. They are laid as a 
rule late in May or in June. The young at first have buff and 
yellow down and are streaked with black. 

The general colour of the old bird is sandy buff, blackish on 
the back, but broadly streaked on the wings and flanks with 
yellowish white ; the dark brown crown has a central buff stripe, 
and is further set off by pale superciliary streaks. The male 
has a double blackish brown collar, from the dark ear-coverts 
to a brown stripe on the throat. The throat of the female is 



CAPERCAILLIE. 355 

uniform buff, and her breast is more profusely speckled than 
that of the male. Young males resemble the female. The bill, 
legs, and irides are brown. Length, 7 ins. Wing, 4-4 ins. 
Tarsus, ri ins. 



Family TETRAONID.^. Grouse. 

Ground birds ; bill short, stout ; wings short, round ; tarsi 
feathered ; toes four, hind toe small. 

Capercaillie. Tetrao urogalbis Linn. 

The handsome Capercaillie (Plate i) has more claim to be 
called British than the Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge, for 
though the present stock was introduced so recently as 1837, 
the bird is indigenous, and in remote ages made excellent meals 
for our ancestors, who left its bones amongst other evidences of 
their feasts in ''kitchen-middens" and cave deposits. When it 
vanished from the forests of England and Wales is unknown, 
hut it lingered in Scotland and Ireland until Pennant's day, for 
he saw a bird which had been killed in Inverness, and states 
that the " Wood Grous," though rare, existed in Tipperary in 
1760. Abroad the bird is a native of most European pine 
forests, and it was from Sweden that the ancestors of the 
present thriving Scottish birds were obtained ; from Perth, where 
they were turned down, they have colonised the conifer woods 
in all directions. 

The cock is a large, heavily built bird, with strong, curved, 
whitish bill, grey-black dress, and legs feathered to the toes. 
Across the breast is a metallic green gorget, and it was this, no 
doubt, which caught the observant eye of Giraldus when, at the 
end of the twelfth century, he states that "Wild Peacocks" 
abound in the Irish woods. The hen is a smaller, much browner 
bird, rather like a Grey Hen with a more rounded tail. Now 



356 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES 

that the " Cock of the Woods " has increased, it has even 
extended its habitat to woods of deciduous trees, and appar- 
ently the hens regulate the extension of range, wandering to 
new woods, where, not infrequently, an amorous Black Cock 
selects one for its harem, and interesting hybrids result. Both 
Capercaillie and Black Grouse are polygamous. The Caper- 
caillie has the strong, swift, but not long sustained flight of the 
grouse family ; a series of rapid wing movements with intervals 
when the bird glides with the wings steady, the primaries curved 
downward. It perches freely, and feeds in the branches on 
young leaves, buds, shoots, and pine needles, and does not 
refuse caterpillars or other insects which it finds ; fruits and 
berries of all kinds are taken in their season. Seebohm thought 
that the hen fed more on the ground, or at any rate less on pine 
needles, since its flesh has less flavour of turpentine. All grouse 
flght in the spring, and in addition have some extravagant display 
performances ; that of the victorious cock Capercaillie is a 
variety entertainment for the benefit of the admiring hens. 
Perched on a branch or rock, he spreads his ruff and tail and 
droops his wings, and dancing in excitement produces strange 
sounds in his "spel" or serenade. Various observers have 
heard notes which reminded them of the squalls of fighting 
cats, of the drawing of corks, and the sound of grinding knives. 
The hens gather to listen to the song, answering with excited 
croaks. Apparently this performance, which I have never had 
a chance of witnessing, is triumphal after defeat of rival cocks, 
and there is approval rather than competition for favours 
amongst the hens. 

The nest is a hollow lined with pine needles and moss, in 
which six to eight eggs (Plate 153"), yellowish in ground and 
speckled with red — rather like those of the domestic Turkey — 
are laid late in April or in May. The young have buff down, 
are mottled and striped, especially on the head, with black, and 
have a bare red patch behind the eye. 



BRITISH BLACK GROUSE. 357 

The male has the upper parts and much of the under parts 
black, dusted and speckled with grey ; the feathers of the neck 
are elongated and are spread during display ; the coverts are 
reddish brown with white speckles and tips, and both primaries 
and secondaries, as well as the feathers of the flanks, show a 
good deal of white on their margins or tips. The tail has a 
terminal white band in fully mature birds. Above the eye is 
a long vermilion wattle ; the heavy bill is yellowish white, and 
the irides are brown. The female is reddish brown, mottled 
on the upper parts with black, buff, and white ; the under parts 
are barred with buff, black, and white. Ogilvie- Grant shows 
that there is an extra summer or " eclipse " plumage. Young 
birds closely resemble the hens, and young males do not acquire 
the white tail band until the second or third year. The size 
varies greatly. Male : Length, 33-35 ins. Wing, 14*8 ins. 
Tarsus, 3 ins. Female: Length, 22-25 i'^s. Wing, 12 ins. 
Tarsus, 2*2 ins. 

British Black Grouse. Lymms tetrix brifannkiis 
Witherby and Lonnberg. 

For long it has been known that the Red Grouse differs from 
its Continental allies, but in 191 3 Mr. Witherby and Dr. Lonn- 
berg showed that the British Black Grouse was also an insular 
race, the distinctions being constant in the female. It differs 
mainly from the European bird, which ranges from Scandinavia 
to Switzerland, in more diffused rufous tints — less sharply con- 
trasted — and in the absence of white tips and grey markings 
on many feathers on the wing-coverts, breast, and other parts. 
The British Black Grouse (Plate 156) has a wide but rather 
uneven distribution in Scotland and northern England, but is 
less frequent in Wales and the south-west, and in the south and 
east absent or a mere accidental straggler. Various attempts 
have been made to introduce it in fresh localities, but with 



358 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

little success. There is, in some parts, seasonal movement, 
especially between areas at different altitudes, but little that 
is more than purely local migration, and yet birds have been 
shot in unexpected localities ; possibly these stragglers have 
been wanderers from spots where ineffectual attempts have 
been made to establish the bird. It is unknown in Ireland. 

Though common in some northern woodlands, the usual 
haunt of the Black Grouse is the sparsely wooded fringe of the 
moor, hilly country where there is a variety of feeding ground — 
moors, woodlands, and cultivated land. The Black Cock differs 
from other grouse in his glossy blue-black plumage and lyre- 
shaped tail ; the Grey Hen, his mate, is a less distinctive reddish- 
brown bird, smaller than the female Capercaillie, and differing 
from her in having the tail forked and not rounded. The strong, 
swift flight is typical of all grouse, but in the semi-arboreal 
habits, and in polygamy, the bird agrees with the last species 
rather than the next two. The food varies according to locality 
and season, and, though insects or other animals are eaten, 
is largely vegetarian ; the tender tops of moorland plants, 
especially ling, heather, crowberry, and bilberry, as well as 
moorland fruits and berries, are appreciated, and buds, leaves, 
and fruits of trees are included. Conifers suffer from the Black 
Grouse, and when the corn is ripe grain is too freely devoured. 

The annual display and competitive performances of the 
males take place in spring, usually in the early morning. The 
males gather to " lek " or compete in some open space, and 
fight, dance, and show oft", and the females come to look on 
with more or less evidence of approval. The actual fights look 
more serious than they are, for little more than a trial of 
strength results ; there is much of the game-cock in the 
threatening preliminaries, but the blows are mostly with the 
wing, the feet, though used, being unarmed. Fighting changes 
to an exhibition of competitive dancing when feminine spectators 
arrive at the tilting ground ; with hoarse cries the excited birds 





2 A 35S 



Red Grouse. 
Black Grouse. 



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^^M 


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H 




^^^^^ 


y^^i 






^Ih 


t 


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i 
i 

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BRITISH BLACK GROUSE. 359 

leap into the air, posture, and dance. More deliberate and 
sedate exhibition of plumage charms includes many extra- 
ordinary attitudes ; with drooping wings and elevated wide- 
spread tail, the contrast of white wing bar and under tail-coverts 
with the dark plumage produces effects calculated to charm. 
The outward and even forward spread of the gracefully curved 
tail feathers, and the snowy expanse of fluffy feathers beneath, 
are the more striking features. The exhibition is accompanied 
by a curious whirring note, which Mr. H. S. Gladstone lii<ens 
to the sound of a "curling-stone travelling over keen ice." It 
is not, by any means, proved that regular harems are selected 
and retained, and the separation or mingling of the sexes 
after the young are able to look after themselves may vary in 
different localities ; Mr. Abel Chapman points out that there 
is an autumnal display by the males, but that it has less 
enthusiasm than that of spring and is received somewhat coldly 
by the hens. 

During summer, when the cock loses his fine tail for a time, 
and has a browner dress, especially on the head, he takes little 
interest in the female, and in winter several males and females 
will feed together without jealousy. Hybrids with other species, 
such as Pheasant, Capercaillie, and Red Grouse, are not in- 
frequent, but there is much variation in the plumage of mature 
birds, as well as rather complicated age changes, and the 
parentage of some reported hybrids has been challenged. 

The nest is usually on the ground in thick herbage, and the 
six to ten, or even more, eggs (Plate 154) are not unlike small 
eggs of the last species, rather thinly speckled with reddish 
brown on a yellowish ground. Nestlings have buff or yellowish 
down, mottled with black and chestnut, and reddish black- 
banded heads. 

The normal plumage of the male is glossy blue-black, browner 
on the wings ; the under tail-coverts and a bar on the wing are 
white, and above the eye is a large vermilion wattle, which 



360 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

varies in size according to season, being very prominent during 
the period of display. The bill and toes are blue-black, the 
irides brown. The female is rufous buff, barred and mottled 
with black, and the wattle above her eye is smaller. Young 
birds at first resemble the hen, but young males show a mixture 
of brown, black, and white in autumn, and early an outward 
curve of the short tail feathers, though the full tail is not 
acquired until the third year. Male : Length, 1975 ins. Wing, 
10 ins. Tarsus, 2*25 ins. Female: Length, 18 ins. Wing, 
9 ins. Tarsus, 2 ins. 

Red Grouse. Lagopus scotUus (Latham). 

No doubt the Red Grouse (Plate 156) is a British insular 
form, closely allied to the Willow-Grouse, L. lagopus (Linn.), 
but its plumage differences alone seem sufficient to warrant 
specific rank. The Willow-Grouse has a white winter dress 
like that of the Ptarmigan, and in summer its plumage is 
whiter than that of any Red Grouse. Our bird is generally 
distributed in Scotland, Ireland, and most of the Welsh 
counties, but in England is a northern species, breeding so far 
south as Shropshire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire. 

The Red Grouse is a moorland bird, but is by no means 
confined to those which are heather clad ; indeed, on the 
Pennines and in other parts there are well-stocked moors where 
it would be difficult to find heather or ling. On such moors, 
however, the crowberry, often confused with the heaths, is 
usually plentiful. The altitude of the moor matters little if 
other conditions are favourable, but though Grouse are found 
at sea-level, most of their haunts are above the 1000-foot 
contour. The appearance of the "Moor-fowl" is familar, 
though generally as a shot-battcrcd corpse, or as a possible 
recipient for shot as it comes, a stout, short-winged bird, 
whirring and gliding over the shoulder of the moor, toward the 



RED GROUSE. 36 1 

turf batteries. Though richly coloured it is well hidden amongst 
the irregularities and varied shades of the rough moor ; it lies 
low, rising when disturbed with a startling whirr, and flies just 
above the heather, turning sideways as it takes advantage of the 
undulations or steep slopes of the doughs or corries. Its call, 
a loud crow, is used as a challenge as it stands, head erect 
and red wattle raised, on some tussock or mcund, but its alarm, 
when flushed, is a rapid kok, kok, kok, as it flies, and a clear 
goback, goback^ j^oback, when it alights at a safe distance and 
runs amongst the tussocks. The young feeds largely on 
insects, especially caterpillars, though they take a few leaves 
and shoots of ling and other plants ; the old birds subsist 
mainly on shoots, leaves, and seeds of heather, ling, crowberry, 
bilberry, and other plants of the "tops," and in autumn on the 
abundant moorland fruits. Seeds of grasses and rushes are 
eaten, but raids on cornfields are exceptional. When, in winter, 
the moor is snow-clad for weeks at a lime the Grouse usually 
descend to lower ground ; I have seen pack after pack flying 
down during a blizzard, and in some parts there is apparently 
regular local migration from the higher to the lower ground. 
Mr. Abel Chapman, however, states that on the Borders the 
Grouse tunnel under the snow to obtain their food and are thus 
concealed from view. Water, easy to obtain on the hills, is 
necessary for the bird, but the young are apt to drink too much, 
with fatal results. Grit, too, is essential to aid digestion, as 
indeed it is with most birds, and it is common to see Grouse on 
the unfenced moorland roads picking up grit, or enjoying a sun 
or dust bath. The Red Grouse is normally hardy, but disease 
sweeps off great numbers, doubtless because of over-stocking 
and the interference with natural laws which would weed out 
the weaklings and strengthen the surviving stock. The care of 
a moor is only necessary because we wish to improve upon 
Nature, who will not countenance abundance at the expense of 
other creatures. 



362 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Although satisfied with one mate the cock Grouse will fight 
even after he has paired, but as in other species the sexual spars 
are not serious. In winter the bird is gregarious, but the packs 
do not "jug" close together like Partridges, and by the end 
of March they have mostly broken up. The nest is a simple 
hollow in the ground, often sheltered by ling or other plants, 
and lined with a few sprigs of heather and dry grass. Seven 
to ten, or even more, richly coloured red or yellowish eggs, 
closely mottled and blotched with reddish brown (Plate 154), 
are laid late in April or in May, the date varying according 
to the severity of the season. The colour is at first " loose," 
and smeared eggs are not uncommon. " Cheepers," clothed 
in mottled and streaked yellowish brown and chestnut down, 
rapidly get the power of short-distance flight, and when no 
bigger than thrushes will whirr for a few yards after their 
parents, but soon learn that there is safety in remaining still 
(Plate 158;. 

Authorities difter, not always amiably, about the moults and 
plumages of the variable Red Grouse, for the subject is some- 
what complicated by local variation. The periods of the two 
moults differ in the male and female. The male has a winter 
dress, in which he breeds, complete about the end of November 
and replaced by a summer dress in June ; the female is in 
summer plumage in April, and in winter or autumn dress in 
August. These times vary greatly according to the health of 
the birds ; disease delays the moults, but apart from this Dr. 
E. A. Wilson found that almost every bird shows more or less 
sign of another season's dress. 

The feathers on legs and toes are thin and worn in summer, 
but are thick and long after the autumnal moult. Ogilvie- 
Grant groups the more general forms or types of colour 
variation ; in the male he finds red, black, and white spotted 
forms, and in the female two others, buff barred and buff spotted 
types, the last being the most frequent. The typical winter and 





2 /'/. 159- 



2 J 36: 



Partridge. 
Ptarmigan (Summer). 



PTARMIGAN. 363 

nuptial dress of the male is chestnut-red, barred with wavy 
black lines ; the markings are least conspicuous on the coppery 
red throat and neck. The bill is blue-black, the irides are brown, 
and above the eye is a vermiHon erectile wattle or comb. In 
summer the bars are wider and more pronounced, and there is 
more buff in the general plumage. The female is often a more 
spotted bird, but when barred shows strong buff and black 
markings, and often a good deal of white. Length, 15 ins. 
Wing, 8*25 ins. Tarsus, i"8 ins. 

Ptarmigan. Lagopus mutns (Montin). 

The mountain ranges of Europe, from Scandinavia to the 
Pyrenees, are the home of the Ptarmigan (Plate 159) ; with us 
it only occurs in the highest mountains of Scotland and some 
of the western islands, seldom breeding below the 2000-foot 
contour. 

There is no difficulty in distinguishing the Ptarmigan from 
other grouse, although its zone overlaps that of the Red Grouse 
occasionally, for at all ages it is not only a whiter bird, but 
when mature has white quills in each of its three seasonal 
phases. It is not a bird of the heathery moor but of the rocky 
summits, where lichens and mosses replace more luxuriant 
vegetation, and where, on northern slopes, the snow will linger 
through the summer. In July, when its blue-grey autumnal 
dress was nearly complete, I have heard its low croaking, and 
seen it crouching on the lichen-clad rocks, head and breast 
low, ready to spring up and fly. When running on snow these 
grey birds look very like the stones in motion, and in winter 
dress it is almost invisible, even to the keen eye of the Golden 
Eagle or the hill fox. It runs and hides rather than take wing, 
but in flight is wonderfully swift ; it will cross at a great height 
from peak to peak. Its food is on the whole similar to that of 
the Red Grouse, though naturally of a more alpine nature ; 



364 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

it eats mosses and lichens as well as berry-bearing, low- 
growing plants and dwarf willows. In autumn, sometimes 
early, the birds pack, and in winter usually descend to a lower 
zone, but like the Red Grouse it will at times seek food by 
burrowing in the snow. The packs break up in spring, but the 
nest, an unlined or scantily lined hollow, is not scratched until 
May. The seven to ten eggs (Plate 154) are not unlike pale 
eggs of the Red Grouse, and are often laid in June. Young in 
down are rather darker than those of the last species, especially 
on the head. They fly at a very early age, and are carefully 
guarded and boldly defended by their parents. The hen, and 
sometimes the cock, will feign lameness to attract attention, 
and the latter will attack a dog, and it is said a man, if the 
young are threatened. 

The Ptarmigan has three moults. In nuptial dress, worn 
from about April to July, the male is barred on the upper parts 
with brown, grey, and buff ; the under parts below the breast 
are mostly white. Black, white-tipped outer tail feathers, and 
white, black-shafted quills are constant in all phases. The 
more tawny female has black barring. From August until 
about October the upper parts are grey, vermiculated with 
black, and the female is rather browner. In winter the dress 
of both sexes is white, except for the black on the tail and 
quill shafts ; the lores and a streak through the eye are black 
in the male and very old females. In the imported Willow 
Grouse, which is sold as Ptarmigan in winter, there is no black 
on the lores. Above the eye of both sexes there is a scarlet 
comb, more pronounced, however, in the male bird ; the bill is 
black, and the irides brown. Until the first autumn moult the 
primaries of young birds are brownish. Length, 14-5 ins. 
Wing, 7'6 ins. Tarsus, 1*5 ins. 



REPUTED BRITISH BIRDS. 

As explained in the previous volume, many birds have been 
added to the British list on slender evidence ; some of these 
are catalogued by the B.O.U. Committee, but I cannot entirely 
agree with all their conclusions. A number of geese, ducks, 
cranes, and gallinules have long been kept in parks and on 
ornamental waters, and examples frequently stray and are shot 
as "rare birds"; a few of those recorded may have actually 
wandered to Britain unaided, but it is so difficult to prove the 
origin of any individual that it is better to be cautious. The 
following species may be listed as probable wanderers from 
captivity : Bar-headed Goose, Anser indiciis (Lath.) ; Chinese 
Goose, Cygnopsis cygnoides (Linn.) ; Spur-winged Goose, Flec- 
tropterus gambensis (Linn.) ; Muscovy Duck, Cai?'ina moschata 
(Linn.) ; Summer Duck, ^-Ex spoiisa (Linn.) ; Egyptian Goose, 
Alopochen ccgyptiaciis (Linn.) ; Baer's Pochard, Nyj'oca bae7'i 
(Radde), Herts, 1901 ; Little Brown Crane, Grus canadensis 
(Linn.), Cork, 1905 ; Demoiselle Crane, Anthropoides virgo 
(Linn.); Crowned Crane, Balean'ca pavoni?ia (lAnn.) -, Green- 
backed Gallinule, Porphyria porphyria (Linn.), three, Norfolk ; 
Purple Gallinule, P. ccerideus (Vand.) ; Allen's Gallinule, P. 
allcni Thompson, Norfolk, 1902. To these I may add the 
Falcated Teal, Ettnetta falcata (Georgi), said to have been 
killed in Cheshire, and the Baikal Teal, Qiierquedula forjnosiini 
(Georgi), which was shot on the Dee by Mr. L. N. Brooke. 

The Eastern Grey Lag-Goose, Anser rubrirostris Hodg., 
reported from Limerick, 1901, is doubtfully distinct, and the 



366 THE BIRDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES. 

Bimaculated Duck, Querquedula bimacidata (K. and B.), is a 
hybrid. Two American swans have been included, but in 
both cases identification and origin may be erroneous. The 
Whisthng Swan, Cygiius columbiaims Ord, was included by 
Macgillivray on the strength of an example bought in an 
Edinburgh poulterer's, and the Trumpeter-Swan, C, buccinator 
Rich., was added because Newton considered that a young 
bird, shot in Suffolk, was referable to this species. 

The Ring-necked Duck, Nyroca collaris (Don.), was described 
by Donovan from a supposed Lincolnshire specimen obtained 
in Leadenhall Market. The B.O.U. Committee include it, 
considering that at the beginning of the nineteenth century it 
must have been a genuine wild bird, but I agree with the 
editors of the " Hand List " that the evidence is insufficient. 
The Lesser Scaup, N. affiuis (Eyton), another " market " record, 
is rejected by both, and as a mistake was made about one 
example of Barrow's Goldeneye, Glaucion islanicum (Gmel.), 
reported Shetland occurrences are also doubted, although the 
bird nests in Iceland. 

The Little Green Heron, Butorides virescens (Linn.), killed 
in Cornwall in October, 1889, (not April, 1890, as stated in the 
B.O.U. list), is a possible straggler, but the evidence is not 
sufficient to warrant inclusion. The inclusion of Wilson's 
Snipe, Gallinago delicata Ord, is founded on an example shot 
in Buckingham, but the identification is doubtful, as are those 
of the Rock-Ptarmigan, Lagoptis rupesiris (Gmelin), said to 
have been shot on two occasions in Scotland. The supposed 
occurrence of the Swift Tern, Sterna bergii Licht., was worse 
than an error, and though Scopoli's Sooty Tern, S. ancEthetus 
Scop., was genuine, it is not certain that the specimen was 
really obtained in the Thames. 

Ussher doubted the two examples of the Noddy Tern, Anous 
stolidus (Linn.), which were recorded for Ireland, and Oldham 
and I were not satisfied with the evidence in favour of the 



REPUTED BRITISH BIRDS. 367 

Cheshire bird, though all three were accepted by Saunders. 
The B.O.U. Committee include the Cape Pigeon, Daption 
capense (Linn.), with reserve ; I investigated one reported 
occurrence, not included by them, and found that the bird had 
been imported. Saunders believes that the Laughing Gull, 
Larus atricilla Linn., was included in error, and there seems 
every reason to believe that the supposed occurrence of the 
American Pied-billed Grebe, Podilyinbiis podiceps (Linn.), at 
Weymouth, was due to accidental exchange of skins, and not 
to any attempt at fraud. The Irish record of the Martinique 
Gallinule, Porphyrio martiiiiciis (Linn.), was due to an error, 
and there is no detail about another specimen, supposed to be 
British. 

The eight or more records of the now extinct Passenger 
Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (Linn.), cannot be lightly cast 
aside, but as the bird was certainly at one time imported alive, 
it is now impossible to say how all reached Britain, but the last, 
shot in Yorkshire in 1876, was an escaped bird. There is 
little doubt about the Andalusian Hemipode, Tur7iix sylvatica 
(Desf.), Barbary Partridge, Caccabis- petrosa (Gmel.), and Bob- 
White, Coliniis virginiamis (Linn.) ; they had been released 
as game-birds. I saw two Californian Quails, Lophortyx cali- 
fonticus Shaw, quite tame birds, which had been captured in 
a Cheshire wood, and examined in the flesh a Patagonian 
Crested Tinamou, Calodromas elegans (D'Orb. and Geoff.), 
shot in the same county, neither of which could possibly reach 
England unaided. 



INDEX 



/EGIALITIS alexaijdrina, 191, 
Plates 57, 78, 81 ; asiatica, 194 ; 
linbia, i()l\hia(icuia, 1S7 , F/ates $7 , 
78, 79 •fSemipalmatus, 192 ; vocifcra, 

193 

A'.x sp07isa, 365 

Alcaimpeimis, 266 ; torda^ 263, Plates 

114, 117, 118 
^//c? alle, 273. /Vrt/^ 120 
Allen's Gallinule, 365 
Alopochen cegyptiaais, 365 
American Bittern, 97. Flate 32 
American Golden Plover, 185 
American Pectoral Sandpiper, 137. 

Plate 56 
American Pied-billed Grebe, 367 
American Stint, 135 
American Wigeon, 41 
Anas platyrkynchos^ 26, Plates ii, 

13, 15 ; strepera, 29, Plates 13, 16, 

17 

Andalusian Hemipode, 367 

A nous stolidus, 366 

Anser albi/rons, 5, /Va^^ 4 ; anser, 

I, Plates 2, 3 ; a?-vefisiSy 4 ; 

bracJiyrhyncliuSy 7, /Yrt/«r 4 ; 

erythropus, 6 ; falalis, 4, /^/rt/<f 

2 ; iftdtcus, 365 ; riibrirostris, 365 
Anthropoides virgOy 365 
Arctic Skua, 256. Plates 113, 114, 

116 
Arctic Tern, 237. /'Aj/^j 105, 108 
^r</Va cinerea, 85, iV^/^j 30, 31, 44; 

purpurea, 87, /Va/^j 31. 33 



Ardeola ibis, 89 ; 7-alloides, 90, 

/'/a/^ 32 
Arenaria iittcrpres, 204. /^/a/'<rjr 82, 

88 
Avocet, 180. /Ya/t-y 74, 75 

BAER'S Pochard, 365 

Baikal Teal, 365 

Baillon's Crake, 323. Plate 140 

Baird's Sandpiper, 138 

Bald Coot. See Coot 

Balearic a pavofiina, 365 

Barbary Partridge, 367 

Bar-duck. ^St?*? Sheld-Duck 

Bar-headed Goose, 365 

Barnacle-Goose, II. Plate "j 

Barrow's Goldeneye, 58, 366 

Bar-tailed Godwit, 169. Plate 71 

Bartramia lo?igicauda, 153 

Bartram's Sandpiper, 153 

Bean-Goose, 4. Plate 2 

Bewick's Swan, 17. Plate g 

Bimaculated Duck, 366 

Bittern, 93. P.ates 34, 36, 37, 44 

Black-browed Albatross, 296 

Black Cock. See Black Grouse 

Black Curlew. See Glossy Ibis 

Black-duck. See Scoter 

Black Grouse, 357. Plates 154, 156 

Black Guillemot, 270. Plates 94, 

119 
Black-headed Gull, 222. Plates 80, 

98, lOI 
Black-necked Grebe, 314. Plate 137 



368 



INDEX. 



369 



Black Shearwater. See Sooty Shear- 
water 

Black Stork, 99. Plate 38 

Black-tailed God wit, 171. Plates 
69, 71 

Black Tern, 248. Plates iii, 113 

Black-throated Diver, 297. Plates 
127, 129, 136 

Black-winged Pratincole, 114 

Black-winged Stilt, 179. Plate 74 

Blue Fulmar. See Fulmar. 

Blue Rock. See Rock-Dove 

Blue-winged Teal, 34 

Bob-Whice, 367 

Bonaparte's Gull, 222 

Bonaparte's Sandpiper, 139 

Bonxie. See Great Skua 

Botatirus lefitighiosiis, 97. Plate 
32 ; stellaris, 93. Plates 34, 36, 

37,44 
Bottle-nose. See Puffin 
Brahminy Duck. See Ruddy Sheld- 

Duck 
Branta bernicla, 10, Plate 7 ; b. 

glaucogaster, 10; canadensis, 13, 

Plate 5; leiicopsis, ii, Plate 7; 

nigricans^ 10 ; ruficollis, 14 
Brent Goose, 10. Plate 7 
Bridled Guillemot, 269 
British Black Grouse, 357. Plates 

154. 156 
British Lesser Black-backed Gull, 
215. Plates 91, 94, 99 
Broad-billed Sandpiper, 129 
Briinnich's Guillemot, 270 
Buff-backed Heron, 89 
Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 147 
Buffel-headed Duck, 61 
Buffon's Skua, 258. Plate 115 
Biilwerl ' bnlweri, 295 
Bulwer's Petrel, 295 
Burgomaster Gull. See Glaucous 

Gull 
Burrow-duck. See Sheld-Duck 
But-for-But. See Quail 
Butorides vv'esccns, 366 

Series II. 



CACCABIS petrosa, 367 ; rufa, 348, 

Plates 149, 154, 155 
Cairina ?noschata, 365 
Calidris are7iaria, 148. Plate dl 
Calloo. See Long-tailed Duck 
Calodromas elegans, 367 
Californian Quail, 367 
Canada Goose, 13. Plate 5 
Canjitus canutHSy 130. Plate 53 
Cape Pigeon, 367 
Capercaillie, 355. Plates i, 153 
Cape Verde Dusky Shearwater, 290 
Capped Petrel, 294 
Carolina Crake, 323 
Carr-Swallow. See Black Tern 
Caspian Plover, 194 
Caspian Tern , 244 

Catharacta skua, 253. Plates 112, 116 
Charadrius apricarius, 182, Plates 

76, 77, 80 ; dominicus, 185 ; d. 
fiilviis, 185 
Chen hyperboreus^ 8. Plate 10 
Cheshire Partridge. See Partridge 
Chinese Goose, 365 
Chettusia gregaria^ 197 
Chlamydotis undiilata ?nacgueeni, 108 
Ciconia cicofiia, 98, Plate 38 ; 

tiigra, 99, Plate 38 
Clangula hyemalis, 62. Plate 24 
Cobbler's-awl. See Avocet 
Cock-of-the-Woods. See Capercaillie 
Colintis virginianus, 367 
Collared Petrel, 294 
Collared Pratincole, 113. Plate ^6 
Coliwiba livia, 339, Plate I49 ; cenas, 

334, Plate 147 ; pahnnbus, 336, 

Plates 147, 151 
Colyinbus adamsi, 303 ; arcticus, 297, 

Plates 127, 129, 136; immer, 300, 

Plate 130; stellatus, 304, Plates 

128, 131, 136 
Common Gull, 206. Plates 80, 89, 90 
Common Heron, 85. Plates 30, 31, 

44 
Common Sandpiper, 160. Plates 54, 

61, 65, 67 

2 B 



370 



INDEX. 



Common Scoter, 71. Plate 27 
Common Sheld-Duck, 20. Plates 

8, 12 
Common Snipe, 123. Plates z^o, ^\, 

52, 54 
Common Tern, 233. Plates 94, 103, 

104, 106 
Coot, 331. Plates 145, 146, 148 
Coot-footed Sandpiper. See Grey 

Phalarope 
Corncrake, 325. Plates 141, 142, 143, 

148 
Corpse-eater. SeeQxtdX Black-backed 

Gull 
Coulterneb. See Puffin 
Cotuniix coturnix^ 353. Plates 143, 

154 
Crane, 103. Plate ^\\ See also Heron 
Cream-coloured Courser, iii. Plate 

46 
Crested Tinamou, 367 
Crex crex, 325. Plates 141, 142, 143, 

148 
Cricket Teal. See Garganey 
Crowned Crane, 365 
Curlew, 173. Plates 57, 70, 72, 73 
Curlew-Sandpiper, 145. Plate 59 
Curre. See Pochard 
Cursor ms gallicus, 1 1 1 . Plate 46 
Cushat. See Ring-Dove 
Cyptopsis cygnoldes^ 365 
Cyoniis be-iVicki, 17, Plate 9 ; 

bucchiator, 366 ; colninbianus^ 366 ; 

cygfius, 15, /'/rti/^j- 6, 9 ; i?/c?r, 

19 , /^/rt/^j- 6, 10 

DABCHICK, 316 . Plates 134, 137 
Dafda acuta, 44. Plates 13, 17 
Daptio7i capetise, 367 
Demoiselle Crane, 365 
Diomedea melanophrys, 296 
Dipper, ^'d'^ Dabchick 
Diver. See Great Crested Grebe 
Dotterel, 194. Plates 57, 82 
Double Snipe. See Great Snipe 
Dovekie. See Black Guillemot 



Dowitcher. ^<?<? Red-breasted Snipe 
Dowker. See Dabchick 
Ducker. See Dabchick 
Dunbird. See Pochard 
Dunlin, 141. Plates 44, 58, 59 
Dusky Redshank, 156. Plated^ 
Dusky Shearwater, 290 



% 



; EARED Grebe. See Black-necke 
j Grebe 

Eastern Golden Plover, 185 

Eastern Grey-Lag Goose, 365 

Eastern Turtle-Dove, 342 

EctoHstes jnigratorius, 367 

Egretta alba, 88 ; garzelta, 89 

Egyptian Goose, 365 

Eider Duck, 66. Plates 14, 25, 26 

Ereu netcs pus ill us, 153 

Erolia acuminata^ 138; alpina, 141, 
Plates 44, 59; bairdi, 138; y^r- 
ruginea, 145, /Y<7/^ y^\ fuscicollis, 
139 ; macula ta, 137, Plate ^6 ; mar- 
itima, 139, /'/j/e? 56 ; mifiuta, 133, 
Plate ^^ ; minutilla, 135; schimi^ 
142 ; tenitiiiucki, 136, /Y^/^ 55 

Eskimo Curlew, 178 

Eudromias7nori)ielluSy 194. Plates ^^J^ 
82 

Euiietta falcata, 365 

FALCATED Teal, 365 
j Ferruginous Duck, 48. /"/rt!/*? 15 
I Flamingo, 84 

I Fork-tailed Petrel, 281. /^/rt/^- 123 
j Fratercula arctica, 275. /'/^//d-j- 108, 
120, 122, 125 
French Partridge. See Red-legged 

Partridge 
Frigate Petrel, 283 
Fulica atra, 331. Plates 145, 146, 

148 
Full Snipe. See Snipe 
Fulmar, 291. Plate 126 
Fulmarus glacialis, 291. Plate 126 



INDEX. 



371 



:> AD WALL, 29. Plates 13, 16, 17 

jairfowl. See Great Auk 

Gallinago delicata, 366 ; gallinago, 

123, Plates 50, 51, 52, 54 ; 7;^^^?^, 

126, Plate ^i 
Gallimila chloropus, 328. i'/^r/^J 144, 

I45> 148 
:}arganey, 31. Plates 18, 21, 22 
Gaunt. 'See Great Crested Grebe 
Glareola nordmanni, 114 ; pratincola, | 

113, Plate d,(> 
Glaucion albeola, 61 ; clangiila, 58, 

P/a/c' 23 ; islandku7?i, 366 
Glaucous Gull, 218. /'/fl'/^ 96 
Glossy Ibis, loi. Plate 39 
Goldeneye, 58. /^/^/^ 23. See also 

Tufted Duck 
Golden Plover, 182. Plates 76, 77, 

80 
Goosander, 76. P/^^^ 29 
Grass-Quail. See Corncrake 
Great Auk, 266 
Great Black-backed Gull. 213. Plates 

87, 93, 97 
Great Black-headed Gull, 221 
Great Bustard, 105. Plate 42 
Great Crested Grebe, 307. Plates 

132, 133, 153 
Great Northern Diver, 300. Plate 

130 

Great Plover, 109. Plates 45, 54 
Great Shearwater, 289. Plate 126 
Great Skua, 253. Plates II2, 116 
Great Snipe, 126. Plate Si 
Great White Heron, 88 
Greater Yellowshank, 157 
Green-backed Gallinule, 365 
Greenland Dove. 6"^^ Black Guillemot 
Green Plover, 197. Plates 57, 83, 85 
Green Sandpiper, 164. Plate 68 
Greenshank, 159- Plates 66, 1$^ 
Green- winged Teal, 38 
Grey Hen. See Black Grouse 
Grey Lag-Goose, i. Plates 2, 3 
Grey Partridge. See Partridge 
Grey Phalarope, 1 14. Plate ^ 



Grey Plover, 186. Plate 77 
Grey-rumped Sandpiper, 168 
Grundling. See Ringed Plover 
Guillemot, 267. Plates 117, 119, 

121 
Gull-billed Tern, 244. Plate 107 

HMMATOPUS ostralegHS, 201. 

Plates 80, 84, 85, 86 
Plalf Snipe. See Jack Snipe 
Harcourt's Petrel, 2§2 
Harlequin Duck, 61 
Heather-bleater. See Snipe 
Hell-diver. See Slavonian Grebe 
Heniconetta stelkri, 65 
Heron, 85. Plates 30, 31, 44 
Herring-Gull, 209. Plates 87, 91, 

92, 95 
Hunantopiis hiniantopus, 179. Plate 

74 . . . ^ 

Histriomctis htstrwmcus, ol 

Hooded Merganser, 81 
Hooper Swan, 15. Plates 6, 9 
Horned Grebe. See Slavonian Grebe 
Houbara Bustard. See Macqueen"s 

Bustard 
Hydrochelidon lencopareia, 252 ; leu- 

coptera, 251, Plate III ; nigra, 248, 

Plates III, 113 

ICELAND Gull, 220. Plate 96 
Ivory Gull, 229. Plate 103 
Ixohryclius tniiiuius, 90. Plate 35 

JACK Curlew. ^^^ Whinibrel 
Jack Snipe, 127. Plate SI, 

KENTISH Plover, 191. Plates si, 

78,81 
Kermadec Petrel, 295 
Killdeer Plover, 193 
King-Eider, 69. Plate 26 
Kittie-needie. See Sandpiper 
Kittiwake, 230. Plates 89, 102, loS 
Knot, 130. Plate 53 



372 



NDEX. 



LA GO PUS mufus, 363, Plates 154, 
159 ; riipeslris, 366 ; scoticus, 360, 
Plates 154, 156, 158 

Landrail, 325. Plates 141, 143, 148 

Lapwing, 197, Plates 57, 83, 85 

Lartis atj-icilla, 367 ; argeiitatus, 209, 
Plates 87, 91 ; cachinnans, 212 ; 
camis, 206, Plates 80, 89 ; fuscus, 
215 ;/. affinis, 2 1 6, Plates 91, 94 ; 
glaucus^ 218, /'A?/^ 96 ; ichthyaetus, 
221 ; leueoptents, 220, i%/'^ 96 ; 
viarinus^ 213, i%/^j- 87, 93 ; 
vielanocephahis^ 221 ; mimttus, 
226, /'/«'/'<? 100 ; Philadelphia^ 222 ; 
ridibundus, 222, /'/a/^j- 80, 98 

Laughing Goose. ^^^ White-fronted 
Goose 

Laughing Gull, 367 

Leach's Petrel, 281. j^/j/*? 123 

Levantine Shearwater, 284 

Lesser Black-backed Gull, 215. Plates 

91, 94, 99 
Lesser Scaup, 366 
Lesser Snow-Goose, 8 
Lesser Tern, 241. Plates loo, loS, 

109 
Lesser White-fronted Goose, 6 
Limicola faleinellus, 129 
Limnocryptes gallifiula, 127. /"/^/^ 

53 
Limosa lappomea, 169, /'<a/(? 71 ; 

liniosa, 171, Plates df^, 71 
Little Auk, 273. /Vrt'/*? 120 
Little Bittern, 90. Plate 35 
Little Brown Crane, 365 
Little Bustard, 107. Plate 39 
Little Crake, 325. Plate 140 
Little Dusky Shearwater, 290 
Little Egret, 89 

Little Grebe, 316, Plat s 134, 137 
Little Green Heron, 366 
Little Gull, 226. Plate 100 
Little Ringed Plover, 193 
Little Stint, 133. Plate 55 
Little Tern, 241. Plates 100, 108, 

109 



Long-tailed Duck, 62. Plate 24 
Long-tailed Skua, 258. Plate 115 
Loon. See Great Crested Grebe, 

Great Northern Diver 
Lophodytes cuciillatus, 81 
Lophortyx calijornicns, 367 
Lyrtims tetrix britanuicus^ 357. 

Plates 154, 156 

MACHETES piignax, 150. Plates 
60, 62 

Mackerel-cock. See Manx Shear- 
water 

Macqueen's Bustard, 108 

Macrorhaviphus griseus, 168. Plate 
66 

Madeiran Petrel, 282 

Magpie - Diver. See Goldeneye, 
Tufted Duck 

Mallard, 26. Plates 11, 13, 15 

Manx Shearwater, 284. Plate 124 

Mareca americana, 41 ; penelope^ 
38, Plate 19 

Marsh Sandpiper, 158 

Martinique Gallinule, 367 

May-bird. See Whimbrel 

Mediterranean Black-headed Gull, 
221 

Mediterranean Great Shearwater, 
290 

Megaloriiis canadensis, 365 ; gnis, 

103, Plate ^l 
Merganser, 79. Plates 21, 29 
Mergellus albellus, 82. Plate 28 
Mergus mei-ganser, 76 j Plate 29 ; 

s err at or, 79, Plates 21, 29 
Moorfowl. 6'<?t' Red Grouse 
Moorhen, 328. Plates 144, 145, 148 
Morillon, 6't'^ Goldeneye 
Mother Gary's Chicken. See Storm- 

Petrel 
Mountain Partridge. See Partridge 
Murre. See Guillemot 
Muscovy Duck, 365 



INDEX. 



Z17> 



Mussel-Duck. See Sheld-Duck 
Mute Swan, 19. Plates 6, 10 

NETTA rujina, 47. Plate 20 

Night-Hawk. See Stone-Curlew 

Night- Heron, 92. Plate 35 

Noddy Tern, 366 

Norfolk Plover, 109. Plates 45, 54 

North Atlantic Great Shearwater, 
290 

Niime7iius a?'qicata, 173, Plates 57, 
73; borealis, \']?> ', fhceoptis, 1 76, 
Plate 73; tenuirostris, 178 

Aycticorax iiycticorax^ 92. Plate 

35 
Nyroca affims, 366 ; <5^7^r/, 365 ; 
collaris, 366 ; feriiia, 49, Plates 
14, 20 ; fuligula^ 54, Plates 21, 24 ; 
7}iarUa, 52, /Ya/(f 23 ; nyroca, 
48, /^/^/^ 15 

OCEANITES oceaniais, 283 
Oceanodroma castro, 282 ; leucorrhoa, 

281, /'/^/^ 123 
(Edemia fusca, 73, /"/^/^ 27 ; nigra, 

71, i%/^ 27 ; perspicillata, 75, 

/^/«/^ 28 
CEdicnetmis cedicnemiis, 109. Plates 

45. 54 
CZ/j tarda, 105, /*/a/^ 42 ; tetrax, 

107, P/^/^r 39 
Ox-bird, ^'^if Dunlin 
Oyster-catcher, 201. /Ya/e-j- 80, 84, 

85,86 

PACIFIC Brent Goose, 10 

Pacific Eider, 66 

Pagophila eburnea, 229. /'A?/*? 103 

Pale-breasted Brent, 10 

Pallas's Sand-Grouse, 343, Plates 

150. 153 
Partridge, 350. Plates 148, 157, 159 
Passenger Pigeon, 367 
Pectoral Sandpiper, 137. Plate 56 



Peewit. See Lapwing 

Peewit Gull. See Black-headed Gull 

Pelagodroina viarina^ 283 

Pei-dix perdix, 350. Plates 148, 157 

159 

Phalaropus fiihcartus, 114, Plate 48 ; 

lobattis, 117, Plates \\, 48, 49 
Phasianus colchicus, 345, /V^/i? 152 ; 

torquatics, 345, Plates 148, 152 
Pheasant, 345, Plates 148, 152 
Phcc7iicopterus aritiguorum, 84 
Pigmy Curlew. ^SV^ Curlew-Sand- 
piper 
Pink-footed Goose, 7. /Va/^ 4 
Pintail, 44. /Y^/^j- 13, 17. 6"^"^ ^r/ji? 

Long-tailed Duck 
Plata^ea leucorodia, 99. Plates 'i^'o^ 

40 
Plectropterus gambensis, 365 
Plegadis falcinellus, loi. /'Ai/^ 39 
Pochard, 49. /Yrt:/(?j- 14, 20 
Podiceps aiirittts, 312, Plate l^^', 

cristatus, 307, Plates 132, 133, 153 ; 
Jliiviatilis^ 316, /'/^/^i' 134, 137 ; 

griseigena, 310, /'/«/.? 135; /^/o-a"/- 

r^///j-, 314, /^/^/^ 137 
Podilymbns podiceps, 367 
Polish Swan, 20 
Pomarine, or Pomatorhine Skua, 

261. Platen^ 
Pope. See Puffin 
Porphyria alleni, 365 ; cartileus, 365 ; 

viartiiiicits, 367 ; porphyrio, 365 
Po7'zana Carolina, 323 ; parva, 325, 

/Vrt/^ 140 ; porzana, 321, Plata 

138, 148; pusilla intermedia, 323, 

//dz/.? 140 
Ptarmigan, 363. Plates 154, 159 
Pterodroma brevipes, 294 ; hasitata, 

294 ; neglect a, 295 
Puffin, 275. P/^to 108, 120, 122, 

Ptiffi7i7ts asst77iihs boydi, 291 ; rt'. 
godmani, 291 ; gravis, 289, /*/rt/^ 
126 ; g7-ise7is, 288, /Virr/f 124 ; Xv/^//, 
290 ; <^. borealis^ 290 ; obscu'rus. 



374 



INDEX. 



290 ; 0. baroli, 291 ; puffiiiiis., 284, 
Plate 124; f. yelkouan, 284 

Purple Gallinule, 365 

Purple Heron, 87. Plates 31, 33 

Purple Sandpiper, 139. Plate 56 

Purre. See Dunlin 

QUAIL, 353. Plates 143, 154 
Querquediila bimaatlata, 366 ; crecca, 
35, Plates 13, 18; c. carolinensis, 
38 ; discors, 34 ; formostim, 365 ; 
quciquedula, 31, Plates 18, 21, 22 

RAIN-GOOSE. See Red-throated 

Diver 
Rail us aqji aliens, 319. Plates 138, 

153 
Rattlewing. See Goldeneye 
Razorbill, 263. Plates 114, 117, 118 

KeciiTvlrostra avocetia, 180. Plates 

74, 75 
Red-breasted Goose, 14 
Red-breasted Merganser, 79. Plates 

21, 29 
Red-breasted Snipe, 168. Plate 66 
Red-crested Pochard. 47. Plate 20 
Red Grouse, 360. Plates 154, 156, 

158 
Red-headed Poker. See Pochard 
Red-headed Smew. See Smew 
Red-legged Partridge, 348. Plates 

149, 154, 155 
Red-necked Grebe, 310. Plate 135 
Red-necked Phalarope, 1 17. Plates 

44. 48. 49 
Redshank, 154. Plates 54, 63, 64 
Red-throated Diver, 304. Plates 128, 

131. 136 
Reeve. See Ruff 
Rliodostcthia rosea, 228 
Richardson's Skua, 256. Plates 113, 

114, 116 
Ring-Dotterel, 187. Plates 57, 78, 79 
Ring-Dove, 336. Plates 147, 151 
Ringed Plover, 187. Plates 57, 78, 

79 



Ring-eyed Scoot. See Bridled Guille- 
mot 

Ring-necked Duck, 366 

Rissa tridactyla, 230. Plates %% 102, 
108 

Rock -Dove, 339. Plate 149. See 
also Stock-Dove 

Rock-Pigeon. See Rock-Dove 

Rock- Ptarmigan, 366 

Roseate Tern, 239. Plates 105, loS 

Ross's Gull, 228 

Rotche. See Little Auk 

Ruddy Sheld-Duck, 24. Plate 12 

Ruff, 150. Plates 60, 62 

SABINE'S Gull, 228. Plate 98 
Sabine's Snipe, 126 
St. Cuthbert's Duck. See Eider 
Sanderling, 148. Plate 61 
Sand-Grouse, 343. Plates 150. 153 
Sand-lark. See Dunlin 
Sand- Pigeon. See Stock-Dove 
Sandpiper, 160. Plates 54, 61, 65, 67 
Sand-runner, See Dunlin 
Sandwich Tern, 245. Plates g^, 107, 

IIO 

Saw-bill. See Goosander, Merganser 

Scaup, 52, Plate 27) 

Schlegei's Petrel, 295 

Scolopax rusticola, 120. Plates 45, 54 

Scopoli's Sooty Tern, 366 

Scoter, 71. Plate 27 

Scout. See Guillemot 

Sea-Crow. See Black-headed Gull 

Sea- Parrot. See Puffin 

Sea-Pheasant. See Long-tailed Duck 

Sea-Pie. See Oyster-catcher 

Sea-Pigeon. See Black Guillemot 

Sea-Swallow. See Common and 

Arctic Tern 
Semipalmated Ringed Plover, 192 
Semipalmated Sandpiper, 153 
Seven Whistler. See Whimbrel 
Sheep's Guide. See Golden Plover 
Sheldrake. See Sheld-Duck 
Sheld-Duck, 20. Plates 8, 12 



INDEX. 



375 



Shell-duck. See Sheld-Duck 
Shoeing Horn. See Avocet 
Shovelard. See Spoonbill 
Shoveler, 42. Plates 19, 21. See 

also Spoonbill 
Siberian Pectoral Sandpiper, 138 
Silver Plover. See Grey Plover 
Slavonian Grebe, 312. Plate 135 
Slender-billed Curlew, 1 78 
Smew, 82. Plate 28 
Snipe, 123. Plates 50, 51, 52, 54 
Snow-bird. See Ivory Gull 
Snow-Goose, 8. Plate 10 
Sociable Plover, 197 
Solitary Sandpiper, 167 
Solitary Snipe. See Great Snipe 
Somateria rnollissima^ 66, Plates 14, 

26 ; m. V. -nigra, 66 ; specta- 

bilis, 69, Plate 26 
Sooty Shearwater, 288. Plate 124 
Sooty Tern, 248 
Sora, 323 

Spatula clypeata, 42. Plates 19, 21 
Spoonbill, 99. Plates 36, 40. See 

also Shoveler 
Spotted Crake, 321. Plates 138, 148 
Spotted Redshank, 156. Plate 6^:^ 
Spotted Sandpiper, 163 
Spur-winged Goose, 365 
Squacco Heron, 90. Plate 32 
Squatarola squatarola, 186. Plate 77 
Steller's Eider, 65 
Stercorarms longicanduSy 258, Plate 

115; parasiticus, 256, Plates 114, 

116 ; pomarijius, 261, Plate 1 15 
Sterna ancethetus, 366 ; anglica, 244, 

Plate 107 ; bergii, 366 ; caspia, 244 ; 

dougalli, 239, P/^/t'j- 105, 108 ; 

fuliginosa, 248 ; hirundo, 233, Plates 

94, 103 ; mimcta, 241, Plates 100, 

108 ; paradisea, 237, Plates 105, 

108; sandvicensis, 245, Plates 94, 

107 
Stilt, 179. Plate T^ 
Stint, 133. /'A?^^ 55 
Stock-Dove, 334. -P/ai/d? 147 



Stone-Curlew, 109. i'Ar/^j- 43, 45, 

47, 5-t 
Stone-Curlew. ^^^^ Bar-tailed Godwit 
Stonehatch. 6V^ Ringed Plover 
Storm-Petrel, 279. Plates 123, 153 
Streptopelia orientalis^ 342 ; tartar, 

340, /'/^/t? 150 
Summer Duck, 365 
Summer Snipe. See Sandpiper 
Summer Teal. See Garganey 
Summer Yellowlegs. See Yellow- 
shank 
Surf-Scoter, 75. Plate 28 
Swift Tern, 366 

Syrrhaptes paradoxus, 343. Plates 
150, 153 

TADORNA casarca, 24, Plate 12 ; 

tadorna, 20, Plates 8, 12 
Tarrock. See Kittiwake 
Teal, 35. Plates 13, 18 
Temminck's Stint, 136. Plate 55 
Terekia cinerea, 130 
Terek Sandpiper, 130 
Tern. See Sandwich Tern 
Tetrao urogallus, 355. Plates I, 153 
Teuke. See Redshank 
Thalassidroma pelagica, 279. Plates 

123, 153 
Thick-knee, 109. Plates 45, 54 
Tippet-Grebe. See Great Crested 

Grebe 
Titterel. See Whimbrel 
Tommy Noddy. See Puffin 
Tringa brcvipes, 168 ; favipes, 158 ; 

glareola, 165, Plate 68 ; hypoleiica, 

160, /'Ar/t'j- 54, 61 ; incana, 168 ; 

macnlaria, 163; maciclata, 156; 

/yrt/"^ 64 ; vielanoleuca, 157 ; 

nebiilaria, 159, Plates 66, 154; 

ochropiis, 164, ^/rt;/^ 68; soli tar ia^ 

167; slagnatilis, 158; tota/ms, 

154 , /7rt/^j 54, 64 
Trumpeter Swan, 366 
Tryngites siibriijicollis, I47 
Tufted Duck, 54. /y^/t'j 21, 24 



376 



INDEX. 



Tullet. S^e Ringed Plover 
Tuniix sylvatica, 367 
Turnstone, 204. F/aUs 82, 88 
Turtle-Dove, 340. Flat^ 150 
Twist-tailed Skua, 261. Plafe 115 
Tystie. Sec Black Guillemot 

WATERHEN, 328. Piates 144, 

145, 148 
Water-Rail, 319. F/aies 138, I39, 

153 

W et-my-lips, Wet-my-feet. 6V^ Quail 

Whaup. Sfd Curlew 

Whimbrel, 176. FlateyT, 

Whiskered Tern, 252 

Whistler. See Golden Plover, 

Goldeneye, Wigeon 
Whistling Swan, 366 
^\'histling Swan. See Whooper 
White-billed Northern Diver, 303 
White-eyed Pochard, 48. Flaie 15 
White-fronted Goose, 5. Flate 4 
White Nun. See Smew 
White-sided Duck. See Tufted Duck 
White Spoonbill, 99 
White Stork, 98. Flate 38 
White-winged Black Tern, 251. Fiafe 

III 
Whole Snipe. See Snipe 
Whooper Swan, 15. Plates 6, 9 



Wigeon, 38. Plate 19 

Wild Duck, 26. Plates il, 13, 15 

Willie Wicket. See Sandpiper 

Willock. See Guillemot 

Wilson's Petrel, 283 

Wilson's Snipe, 366 

Winter Yellowlegs. See Greater 

Yellowshank 
Woodcock, 120. Plates 45, 54 
Woodcock-Snipe. See Great Snipe 
Wood-Grouse. See Capercaillie 
Wood-pigeon, 336. Plates 147, 151 
Wood Sandpiper, 165. Flate 68 
Wood Tattler. See Solitary Sand- 
piper 

URIA grylle, 270, Plates 94, 119; 
lovivia, 270 ; iroille^ 267, Plates 117, 
119, 121 

VANELLUS va7iellus, 197. Plates 

57, 83. S5 
Velvet Scoter, 73. Plate 27 

XEMA sabmii, 228. Flate 98 

YELLOW-LEGGED Herring-Gull, 

212 
Yellowshank, 158 
Yelper. See Avocet, Redshank 



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