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Full text of "Three voyages of a naturalist, being an account of many little- known islands in three oceans visited by the "Valhalla," R.Y.S.;"

LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
DAVIS 



THREE VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST. 



THREE VOYAGES 

OF A 

NATURALIST 

BEING AN ACCOUNT OF 

MANY LITTLE-KNOWN ISLANDS IN THREE 
OCEANS VISITED BY THE " VALHALLA " R.Y.S. 

BY 

M. J. NICOLL 

MEMBER OF THE BRITISH ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

THE RT. HON. THE EARL OF CRAWFORD 

K.T. F.R.S. 



WITH FIFTY-SIX PLATES FOUR SKETCH-MAPS AND TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS 




WFTHERBY & CO. 

326 HIGH HOLBORN LONDON 

1909 



LIBRARY 

IHSUVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
DAVIS 



THE FIBST EDITION 
WAS PUBLISHED IN MARCH, 1908. 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Introductory Note xi. 

Preface to the Second Edition - xv. 

Preface to the First Edition - xix. 

A VOYAGE BOUND AFRICA. 

CHAP. 

I. St. Paul's Rocks - - - 1 

II. Fernando de Noronha - - - - 11 

III. Itaparica, Bahia - 21 

IV. South Trinidad 37 

V. Martin Vas - - - 59 

VI. Tristan da Cunha - 63 

VII. Dassen Island - 70 
VIII. Mozambique Channel and Comoro 

Islands - - 82 

IX. La Foret d'Ambre, Madagascar 93 

X. Glorioso Island - - - 100 

XI. Assumption Island - - 107 

XII. Aldabra Island - - - - 114 

XIII. Seychelle Islands - - 125 

A VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES. 

XIV. Martinique - - 139 

XV. Grand Cayman Island - - 144 

XVI. Little Cayman Island - - - 152 

16+Z 



vi VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
A VOYAGE BOUND THE WORLD. 

CHAP. PAGE 

XVII. Monte Video and the Straits of Magellan 157 

XVIII. Punta Arenas, Straits of Magellan - 165 

XIX. Smythe's Channel Gulf of Penas 

Valparaiso - 175 

XX. Easter Island - 191 

XXI. Pitcairn Island - - 207 

XXII. Tahiti, Society Islands - 215 

XXIII. Tutuila Island, Samoa - 226 

XXIV. Upolu Island, Samoa- - 231 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 

FACING 
PAGE 

Frontispiece" Valhalla," R.Y.S. 

The Earl of Crawford and the live Birds and 

Animals collected in 1906 . . . . . . xx. 

Sacred Ibises (about two months old) from Dassen 

Island . . . . . . . . . . . .xxvii. 

Sacred Ibises (about four months old) from Dassen 

Island . . . . . . . . . . . . xxx. 

St. Paul's Rocks, mid-Atlantic . . . . . . 5 

Some of the Sharks caught off St. Paul's Rocks . . 9 
Frigate birds on Glorioso Island . . . . . . 16 

Camp on Itaparica Island . . . . . . . . 21 

Sketch of a Marine Animal, seen by Mr. E. G. B. 

Meade- Waldo and the Author off the Coast of 

Brazil 22 

The Lake, Itaparica Island . . . . . . . . 29 

South Trinidad Island, near the landing place . . 36 
Tree-ferns on South Trinidad Island . . . . 39 

Noddy Tern at the nest, South Trinidad Island . . 41 
Petrels on South Trinidad Island. Downy young 

of (Estrelata trinitatis, and adults of 

(E. arminjoniana . . . . . . . . 43 

Crawford's White Tern at its nesting place on 

South Trinidad Island . . . . . . . . 46 

Adult and young of Sula piscator on South 

Trinidad Island 48 

The " Crown " rock, South Trinidad Island . . 50 



vm VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 



FACING 
PAGE 



South Trinidad Island, from the highest peak . . 52 

The tree-fern forest, South Trinidad Island . . 57 

The Islets of Martin Vas 60 

Tristan da Cunha 64 

Jackass Penguin on the nest . . . . . . 73 

Jackass Penguins, Dassen Island . . . . . . 75 

Jackass Penguins, Dassen Island . . . . . . 77 

Cape Cormorants, with sacred Ibises in the back- 
ground, Dassen Island . . . . . . . . 78 

Jackass Penguins, Dassen Island . . . . . . 80 

Virgin forest, Mayotte Island . . . . . . 85 

Foret d'Ambre, Madagascar 89 

The edge of the Foret d'Ambre, Madagascar . . 90 

Foret d'Ambre, Madagascar 95 

Foret d'Ambre, Madagascar 96 

Landing at Glorioso Island . . . . . . 100 

Glorioso Island 103 

Glorioso Island 105 

Assumption Island . . . . . . . . 108 

Nest of Pink-footed Gannet (Sula piscator) on 

Assumption Island .. 112 

Abbott's Ibises on Aldabra Island . . . . . . 114 

Abbott's Ibises on Aldabra Island .. .. .. 117 

Abbott's Ibises on Aldabra Island . . . . . . 119 

River near Port Victoria, Mah6, Seychelles . . 121 

Mahe Islands, Seychelles . . . . . . 1 23 

Cascade, Mahe, Seychelles. Home of the Alec- 

troenas pulcherrima . . . . . . 1 25 

Water-worn granite rocks, summit of Mahe, 

Seychelles 126 

Landing place, Felicite Island, Seychelles. . . . 128 



ILLUSTRATIONS ix 



FACING 
PAGE 



Valley of the " Coco-de-Mer," Praslin Island, 

Seychelles .. .. 130 

" Coco-de-Mer," Praslin Island, Seychelles . . 132 

" Coco-de-Mer," Praslin Island, Seychelles . . 135 

St. Pierre, Martinique, one year after the eruptions 139 

Leaf Insects from the Seychelles . . . . . . 142 

Female Leaf Insect from the Seychelles . . . . 146 

Tierra-del-Fuegians alongside the " Valhalla " in 

Smythe's Channel 165 

Gray's Harbour, Straits of Magellan . . . . 185 

Gray's Harbour, Straits of Magellan . . . . 188 

Human Skulls from Easter Island 192 

Pitcairn Island 208 

Wooden house built by the Mutineers of the 

" Bounty," Pitcairn Island 212 

Tautira, Tahiti 220 



SKETCH-MAPS OF THE VOYAGES. 

PAGE 

Sketch-map of Voyage round Africa . . . . xxxii. 

Sketch-map of Voyage to the West Indies . . 138 
Sketch-map of the first part of the Voyage round 

the World 156 

Sketch-map of the second part of the Voyage 

round the World.. 238 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 

BY THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF CRAWFORD, 
K.T., F.R.S. 

IT is usually supposed that when a man takes 
upon himself to write a Preface or an Introduction 
to the work of another, he should have some 
qualification some knowledge of the subject to 
be dealt with. It is best, therefore, that I do at 
once disavow any qualification, and confess to a 
lamentable ignorance on the subject of Natural 
History. My only desire is to relate in a few 
words how it came to pass that the possibility of 
the writing of the book arose. 

For many years it has been my lot to live in 
close communion with two inseparable hangers-on 
the one rheumatism, the other asthma. I 
found relief by going to sea, provided it was 
towards the Sunny South. The cold and damp 
of a home winter I have not faced for fifteen 
years. 

In 1902 I was preparing to go round the world 
when one of my brother trustees of the British 
Museum suggested that I ought to bring back 



xn VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

something for the Natural History Department. 
The result was that I was strongly recommended 
to obtain the assistance of Mr. Michael Nicoll. 

Such was the beginning of a friendship which 
has endured the severest known test that of 
living together at peace on a ship through long 
calms. 

We have had three voyages, in the course of 
which we have passed many southern seas, calling 
at various islands, and always adding to the store 
for the Museum thus sailing down the east coast 
of South America through the Straits of Magellan 
up to Valparaiso in Chili, we struck out west for 
an eight thousand mile run across the Southern 
Pacific Ocean, visiting islands new to us all, each 
more charming than the other, and so home after 
going round the world. Again, we fitted out for 
a less ambitious cruise in the West Indies and 
the Gulf of Mexico. 

How we again set forth for the wilder and less 
known Southern Indian Ocean, taking on the 
way the islands of the South Atlantic running 
through the seas of Vanderdecken, though we did 
not see the Phantom Ship ; how we encountered 
two nice little cyclones on the Madagascar coast, 
and got into the group of practically unknown 
islands to the North, where man is so seldom seen 
that the birds take no heed of the visitor ; how 
we got ashore, and got off again without hurt 
all these things are told in the pages that follow. 



INTRODUCTION xni 

But what those pages do not tell falls to my lot. 
It is to say how much I and my fellow trustees 
of the British Museum have appreciated the work 
done by Mr. Nicoll, his skill in the preparation 
of the many hundreds of specimens now in the 
National collections, and his whole-hearted zeal 
for his favourite science. 

Time severs many links and brings to some 
promotion. Thus, on his return from our last 
voyage, Mr. Nicoll was appointed by the Egyptian 
Government to the post of second in charge of 
the Zoological Gardens at Giza, near Cairo, and 
thus our rambles together are as of the past ; 
but I trust that the pleasant hours in many and 
various scenes of the world may be brought to 
life again in this book, which I hope will run to 
many editions. 

My "rolling stone" has started. "Valhalla" is 
now taking in her stores, and ere these words of 
mine see the ink of the press, I shall be well on 
my way to the far East alas, without my 
companion. 

CRAWFORD. 
September, 1907. 



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. 

IN the present Edition it has been found necessary 
to make but few corrections, the only material 
alteration being in Chapter XX., where I had 
stated that Easter Island, when first discovered, 
was uninhabited. This, however, was not the 
case. All the criticisms made in the many kind 
reviews of the First Edition have been carefully 
attended to, but I must draw the attention of 
one of my critics to the fact that the " sea- 
monster," recorded and figured in the following 
pages, was not only " about in the moonlight," 
but was seen by Mr. Meade- Waldo and myself at 
10.15 in the morning ! 

A few of my readers have objected to the 
order in which the various places we visited are 
described. These I would refer to the Preface of 
the First Edition (which is printed intact in this 
new Edition), where my reasons are, I venture to 
think, sufficiently given. 

With regard to the birds, it has been found 
necessary to make the following alterations : 

FIRST. The Diving Petrel from Tristan da 
Cunha (named by me Pelecanoides dacunhce) is said 



xvi PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION 

by the latest authority on the Petrels Dr. F. 
Du Cane Godman to be not a new species but 
the same as the Diving Petrel of the southern 
Indian Ocean, Pelecanoides exsul. It had not 
before been recorded from Tristan da Cunha, and 
its discovery on this island makes a great and 
somewhat remarkable extension to its range. 

SECOND. " Wilson's " Petrel from South 
Trinidad is now acknowledged by the same 
authority* to be identical with Arminjon's Petrel 
(CEstrelata arminjoniana) ; this I pointed out as 
being probable in the First Edition (p. 62). 

With regard to the mammals, reptiles, etc., I 
have no corrections to make, but should point out 
that on pages 87 and 88 of the First Edition I 
inadvertently described a new form of Fruit-Bat. 
I there gave a short description of the Mayotte 
Fruit-Bat, which now proves to be separable from 
those of the other Comoro Islands. The name 
Pteropus comorensis, which I used in referring to 
this Fruit-Bat, was a nomen nudum (a name 
unaccompanied by a diagnosis), and, therefore, 
this name will in future have to stand as that of 
the Mayotte Fruit-Bat. 

Except where otherwise stated, all the plates 
in this book are from photographs taken by 
myself. That of the human skulls from Easter 
Island is from two incomplete and very old and 
brittle specimens in my possession. 

* c/. F. Du Cane Godman, " A Monograph of the Petrels," p. 230. 



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION xvn 

While thanking my readers and critics for their 
very kind reception of the First Edition of this 
little book, I venture to hope that a like toleration 
may be extended to the Second Edition. 

M. J. N. 

GIZA, EGYPT, 

August, 1909. 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. 

LORD CRAWFORD has explained in his most kind 
Introduction to this little book how it came to 
pass that I accompanied him on three delightful 
cruises in his yacht " Valhalla." 

To visit so many out-of-the-way spots, and to 
see so much of the world under these charming 
circumstances, was an ideal experience and a 
generous education. Seldom does it fall to the 
lot of a naturalist to be given the opportunity 
of examining the fauna of so many rarely- visited 
places, nor can such experiences fail to produce 
matter for life-long reflection. No words of mine 
can express adequately the gratitude I feel to my 
ever-kind and generous host for having provided 
the means to enjoy these rare and never-to-be- 
forgotten experiences ; I can but say that what- 
ever success may have been achieved in making 
collections during these voyages is due to Lord 
Crawford's ever-ready help and encouragement. 

I should like also to offer my very best thanks 
to Dr. P. L. Sclater, F.R.S., to whom I am in- 
debted for my introduction to Lord Crawford. 

B2 



xx VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

I am but one of many young ornithologists who 
have been started and encouraged in their career 
by Dr. Sclater. 

In the following pages I have devoted a chapter 
to each of the most interesting and the least-known 
islands or regions explored. Some places were 
visited more than once, and in such cases all my 
observations have been brought together, so that 
the course of each voyage has not been always 
strictly adhered to. It will, therefore, be well 
to give a brief itinerary of each voyage, and to 
set down the chief results obtained. 

First, however, I must tell of the good ship 
that carried us safely through calms and storms 
by sail and steam for over 72,000 miles. 
" Valhalla," R.Y.S., is, I believe, the only ship- 
rigged yacht in the world. She is of 1700 tons 
displacement, and is fitted with auxiliary screw, 
which, under favourable conditions, will drive her 
through the water at a speed of about 10 J to 11 
knots an hour. It is under sail, however, that 
" Valhalla " is at her best, and on many occasions 
we logged 16 knots per hour. A better " sea " 
ship has probably never been built, and under the 
worst conditions it was rarely that she took any 
water aboard. The way in which she rode out a 
cyclone off the Mozambique coast was wonderful ; 
the waves towered to a height beyond belief, 
yet not a drop of water came aboard, nor was any 
damage sustained. In fact, the only serious 




CO 



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxi 

mishap experienced during my voyages occurred 
off Cape Guardafui, in 1903, when a sudden whirl- 
wind snapped the jibboom, hurling it into the air 
like a straw. 

" Valhalla " was the first ship to be fitted with 
the " Brougham patent electrical steering-gear," 
an invention which makes steering possible from 
any part of the ship. In 1905 she took part in 
the famous yacht race for the German Emperor's 
Cup, from Sandy Hook to the Lizard, and, although 
by far the largest yacht, she came in an easy 
third. 

The accommodation on board is palatial 
most ample " headroom," large cabins, and 
electric light throughout. The freezing room is 
capable of carrying many tons of meat, sufficient 
for a very long cruise. The total number of 
crew carried, including officers, engineers, and 
stewards, was about sixty-five. Indeed, under 
any consideration, a better or more beautiful 
yacht could not be imagined. 

FIRST VOYAGE. 

DURING the first voyage our party consisted of 
Lord Crawford, Major L. B. Wilbraham, Dr. 
W. B. Macdonald, and myself. We left Cowes 
on 19th November, 1902, on a voyage which 
lasted rather more than eight months, and during 
this time 38,000 miles were covered. 

After calling for coal at Lisbon, Madeira, the 



xxn VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Canaries, and Cape Verde Islands, we ran down 
the Atlantic coast of South America, calling at 
some of the islands, and visiting Bahia and Monte- 
video for coal, thence through the Straits of 
Magellan and Smythe's Channel into the South 
Pacific. From Valparaiso we sailed westwards 
amongst the South Sea Islands ; thence through 
Torres Straits into the Indian Ocean. After 
leaving Ceylon we steamed south-westwards until 
the African coast was sighted, hoping and in 
this we were partly successful to escape the fury 
of the monsoon. The remainder of the voyage 
home was performed by way of the Red Sea and 
Mediterranean, and, after a pleasant passage 
through these waters, Cowes was reached on 1st 
August, 1903. 

Below is given a detailed itinerary of this 
voyage : 

Lisbon, 24th to 26th November, 1902 ; 

Madeira, 29th to 30th November ; 

Las Palmas, 1st to 3rd December ; 

St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands, 10th to 

12th December ; 
St. Paul's Rocks, Mid-Atlantic, 17th to 18th 

December ; 

Fernando de Noronha, 20th to 22nd December; 
Bahia, Brazil, 26th December to 5th January, 

1903 ; 

Montevideo, 14th January to 20th January ; 
Straits of Magellan, 28th January to 5th 

February ; 
Smythe's Channel, 5th to 10th February ; 



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION XXHI 

Valparaiso, 14th to 24th February ; 
Easter Island, 10th to 13th March ; 
Pitcairn Island, 22nd to 23rd March ; 
Tahiti, Society Islands, 31st March to 17th 

April ; 
Tutuila Island, Samoan Group, 22nd to 24th 

April ; 
Apia, Upolu Island, Samoa, 25th to 29th 

April ; 

Suva, Fiji Islands, 3rd to 6th May ; 
Thursday Island, Torres Straits, 18th to 23rd 

May; 

Singapore, 3rd to 9th June ; 
Colombo, 17th to 20th June ; 
Aden, 2nd to 3rd July ; 
Suez, 10th July ; 
Port Said, llth to 13th July ; 
Gibraltar, 22nd to 26th July ; 
Cowes, 1st August. 

The collections made during this voyage com- 
prised some two hundred and twenty bird-skins, 
thirty mammals, a few hundred fishes and reptiles, 
and several hundred butterflies, moths, and other 
insects. 

No new species of bird or mammal was obtained, 
but a series of skins of the Pitcairn Warbler 
(Tatar e vaughani) was of considerable interest. 
The types of this species are spirit specimens in 
the British Museum : no skins of the bird had 
ever been collected before; moreover, the fact 
that the first plumage of the young differs very 
considerably from that of the adult of this warbler 
was unknown until we obtained specimens. 



xxiv VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Another interesting discovery we made was 
that Richardson's skua (Stercorarius crepidatus) 
winters in great numbers in the Bay of 
Valparaiso many hundred miles further south 
on the west coast of America than it has previously 
been found. 

The two peculiar species of land-birds which 
inhabit Fernando de Noronha, the Brazilian 
convict island, are also perhaps worthy of notice, 
on account of their rarity in collections. These 
are a flycatcher (Elainea ridleyana), and a 
warbler (Vireo gracilirostris), which were pre- 
viously represented in the British Museum by the 
type-specimens only. 

Amongst the fishes obtained during this voyage 
one Corvina crawfordi from the harbour of 
Montevideo, proved to be new to science. 

A species of microlepidoptera Pyroderces 
crawfordi Walsingham from Tahiti, was also 
previously unknown, and another specimen of 
this group of little moths Hdiostobes mathewi 
from Valparaiso, forms the only other known 
specimen in addition to the type. 

SECOND VOYAGE. 

THE second voyage upon which we started from 
Cowes on 18th December, 1903, was to the West 
Indies. Our party for this cruise consisted of 
Lord Crawford, Mr. C. R. Pawson, Dr. R. C. 
MacWalters, and myself, though at Barbadoes 



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxv 

we were joined by Colonel C. E. Swaine, who 
visited all the West Indian Islands with us, but 
left us at Florida for a trip through the United 
States. 

The voyage occupied about five months, and 
after calling at the Canaries for coal we steamed 
across to Barbadoes, thence to St. Lucia, St. 
Vincent, and Grenada, afterwards running up the 
entire chain of islands to Jamaica, the Caymans, 
and then on to Cuba. Thence we proceeded to 
Florida, where some excellent tarpon fishing was 
enjoyed, and after a flying visit to Key West, 
for the purpose of coaling, we returned home 
via Bermuda and the Azores, reaching Cowes 
on 8th May, 1904. An itinerary of this voyage 
is appended : 

Madeira, 24th to 27th December, 1903 ; 

Teneriffe, Canary Islands, 28th December 

to 1st January, 1904 ; 
Barbadoes, West Indies, 15th to 21st 

January ; 

St. Lucia, 22nd to 25th January ; 
St. Vincent, 25th to 27th January ; 
Cariacou, 27th to 28th January ; 
Grenada, 28th January to 1st February ; 
St. Lucia (second visit), 2nd to 5th February ; 
Martinique, 5th to 7th February ; 
Dominica, 7th to 10th February ; 
Montserrat, 10th to 12th February ; 
St. Kitts, 12th to 15th February ; 
Antigua, 15th to 17th February ; 
St. Kitts (second visit), 17th to 18th February; 
St. Croix, 19th to 21st February ; 



xxvi VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

St. Thomas, 21st to 24th February ; 
Porto Rico, 24th to 26th February ; 
Jamaica, 29th February to 8th March ; 
Grand Cayman, 9th to 13th March ; 
Little Cayman, 13th to 14th March ; 
Havana, Cuba, 17th to 21st March ; 
Punta Gorda, Florida, 22nd March to 4th April; 
Key West, Florida, 5th to 8th April ; 
Bermuda, 13th to 20th April ; 
St. Michael's, Azores, 29th April to 2nd May ; 
Cowes, 8th May. 

The number of birds obtained during this trip 
to the West Indies somewhat exceeded four 
hundred, of which the following three proved to 
be new to science : 

Dendrceca crawfordi, from Little Cayman ; 

Vireo laurae, from Grenada ; 

Pitangus caymanensis, from Grand Cayman. 

The birds found in all the West Indian Islands 
are of great interest, as no two islands have an 
avifauna exactly similar, so that all our collections 
were of value. The Cayman Islands specimens 
are worthy of particular notice, as nearly all the 
resident birds are peculiar to the islands, and 
there were previously very few specimens from 
this locality in the British Museum. 

About one hundred fishes and reptiles were 
also obtained, but not one was new, nor were 
there any of great rarity. The most interesting, 
perhaps, were the five fine specimens of tarpon, 
which we caught off the Florida coast. These 
ranged in size from 40 to 95 pounds in weight, 







<N O 

W 

EH ' 
P 
O 

pq 



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxvn 

and I preserved the skins of four of them on our 
homeward voyage. 

About two hundred butterflies, moths, and 
other insects were also obtained. 

The most interesting islands visited during our 
sojourn in the West Indies were Martinique, 
famous for its volcanic eruptions in 1902, and the 
Cayman Islands, which have been but seldom 
visited by a naturalist. 

THIRD VOYAGE. 

IT was not until the autumn of 1905 that I again 
set out in the " Valhalla " on my last and, 
perhaps, most interesting voyage. 

On this cruise we had a somewhat larger party, 
for besides Lord Crawford, the Hon. Walter 
Lindsay, Dr. A. Dean, and myself, Mr. E. G. B. 
Meade- Waldo was invited to accompany us for 
the purpose of collecting insects, and thus I was 
able to devote my whole time to birds, mammals, 
fishes, and reptiles, with the consequence that 
examples of several new species were obtained. 

We sailed from Cowes on 8th November, 1905 r 
and, after calling at Las Palmas, ran down amongst 
the South Atlantic Islands to the Cape of 
Good Hope; thence northwards through the in- 
hospitable waters of the Mozambique Channel 
to Madagascar and the little-known islands 
which lie to the north-west. After visiting the 
Seychelles we returned home via the Suez Canal, 



xxvm VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

completing a voyage of seven months, during which 
time we had covered about 19,000 miles. The 
following is the detailed itinerary : 

Las Palmas, 13th to 16th November, 1905 ; 
Put back to Las Palmas owing to illness of 

one of the crew 17th November ; 
St. Paul's Rocks, 2nd December ; 
Bahia, 10th to 30th December ; 
South Trinidad, 3rd to 5th January, 1906 ; 
Martin Vas, 5th January ; 
Tristan da Cunha, 17th to 20th January ; 
Cape Town, 28th January to 8th February ; 
Durban, 14th to 15th February ; 
Mayotte, Comoro Islands, 23rd February to 

3rd March ; 

Diego Suarez, Madagascar, 4th to 9th March ; 
Glorioso Island, 10th to 1 1th March ; 
Assumption Island, 12th to 13th March ; 
Aldabra, 13th to 16th March ; 
Aground on Assumption, 16th to 17th March ; 
Mahe, Seychelles Islands, 22nd March to 

2nd April ; 
Praslin and Felicite Islands, Seychelles, 2nd 

to 5th April ; 

Mahe (second visit), 5th to 8th April ; 
Aden, 14th to 17th April ; 
Suez, 23rd April ; 
Port Said, 24th to 27th April ; 
Gibraltar, 5th to 8th May ; 
Cowes, 13th May, 1906. 

The results obtained during this voyage were 
more important than those of the two preceding 
ones. 

The collection of bird-skins, numbering five 



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxix 

hundred, contained specimens of eight species 
new to science. Besides these there were many 
rarities, few of the birds of the small coral islands 
to the north-west of Madagascar having been 
previously represented in the National collec- 
tion. 

The new species discovered were as follows : 
A white tern (Gygis crawfordi) from South 

Trinidad ; 
A diving petrel (Pelecanoides dacunhae) from 

Tristan da Cunha ; 
A paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone lindsayi) 

from Mayotte, Comoro Islands ; 
A swift (Cypsdus mayottensis) from Mayotte, 

Comoro Islands ; 
A ground-cuckoo (Centropus assumptionis) 

from Assumption Island ; 
A turtle-dove (Turtur assumptionis) from 

Assumption Island ; 

A heron (Butorides crawfordi) from Assump- 
tion Island ; 
A sunbird (Cinnyris mahei) from Seychelles 

Islands. 

Many fishes and reptiles were collected, but 
none of these proved to be new or of great 
interest, except a large specimen of the ribbon fish 
(Regalecus), which was obtained at Cape Town. 
This fish is rare in collections, its pelagic habits 
making its capture difficult. 

Of the insects obtained I learn that several 
belong to new species, or are otherwise rare or 



xxx VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

important, but at present I believe nothing has 
been published concerning them. 

The most interesting islands visited were 
undoubtedly South Trinidad, Dassen Island, 
Glorioso, Assumption, Aldabra, the Comoros, and 
Seychelles, all of which have been fully dealt with 
in their proper place in the following pages. 

This, then, is a brief outline of my three voyages 
on the " Valhalla," and if some of the notes in 
the following chapters are not as full as is desirable 
I must remind my readers that our stay in many 
of the " ports of call " was of very short dura- 
tion a difficulty only to be expected on a long 
voyage, when coaling or other necessary though 
wearisome proceedings effect frequent delays in 
the larger ports. 

If, however, my account of our experiences 
should at some future time prove of use to any of 
my readers who themselves set off for these 
distant parts of the world in search of natural 
history treasures, or if the following pages give 
to the reader even a fraction of the pleasure 
which I myself experienced in visiting the islands 
therein portrayed, I shall feel that the book has 
not been written wholly in vain. 

M. J. N. 
GIZA, EGYPT. 

January, 1908. 



. 




Q 

0) 



A VOYAGE ROUND AFRICA. 




SKETCH-MAP TO SHOW THE COURSE OF THE VOYAGE BOUND AFRICA. 



CHAPTER I. 

SAINT PAUL'S ROCKS. 

SAINT PAUL'S ROCKS, situated in mid-Atlantic, 
about 540 miles from the nearest point of the 
coast of South America, and 15 miles north of 
the equator, are probably the most interesting 
rock-islets in the world. 

Roughly about half a mile in circumference, 
this group is composed of five peaks of rock, the 
highest of which is only 64 feet above the level of 
the sea. Darwin has stated* that " Saint Paul's 
group is not volcanic, and thus forms the only 
island in the world, with the exception of the 
Seychelles, that is of neither volcanic nor coral 
formation." 

These rocks are surrounded by deep sea, and the 
Challenger Expedition could discover no ridge 
under the sea to connect them either with the 
mainland or with the islands of Fernando de 
Noronha, about 200 miles to the south. 

Owing to their small size, Saint Paul's Rocks 
cannot be seen, even in clear weather, from a 

* " Voyage of the Beagle.' " 

B* 



2 : VQYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
greater distance than eight miles. Their appear- 
ance from a short distance is most peculiar, the 
two highest peaks being white with the droppings 
of the numerous sea-birds which nest on them, 
while the remainder are of a deep greenish-black, 
very dark in contrast to the white peaks. 
The outlying rocks, as can be seen during the fall 
of the swell, are much worn below the water-line. 
My first visit to these interesting rocks was 
made in 1902, during my first voyage with Lord 
Crawford in the " Valhalla." They were sighted 
from aloft at 1.30 p.m. on the 17th December, 
and shortly afterwards became visible from the 
deck. 

Numbers of gannets appeared and circled round 
the yacht, while, as we gradually drew near, 
great numbers of birds were to be seen flying in 
all directions round the highest peaks. 

At 3.30 we were close in, and shortly afterwards 
a boat was lowered and we set out for the shore. 
The weather was perfectly fine, but, owing to a 
slight swell, the surf was breaking on the rocks 
in a most forbidding manner. As we rowed closer, 
however, we found that, by waiting and choosing 
the right moment, the boat could be backed in 
to a projecting portion of the rock, and then, as 
we rose on the swell, it was not difficult to jump 
ashore. 

Accordingly we backed in carefully, and took 
our turn to wait for the lift of the swell and then 



BOOBIES 3 

jump. At one moment the rock towered above 
us, at the next the boat flew upwards until it was 
level with the landing place then was the time 
to jump, and as one jumped the boat was pulled 
out clear of the surf. Thus one by one we landed 
safely. 

As soon as we were ashore we noticed a vast 
number of crabs* crawling about in all directions. 
Some of these crabs were of a green colour ; these 
were the smaller and more numerous, perhaps the 
younger ones, while others, which were larger, 
were of a bright vermilion. 

The landing place we had chosen was at the 
foot of the highest peak, which Moseley calls 
Booby Hill,f and certainly this name is well 
chosen, for the peak was covered with boobies, 
a species of gannet Sula leucogaster and their 
nests were so close together that it was almost 
impossible to walk without stepping on either eggs 
or young. The young boobies, sometimes two 
in a nest, were of all ages, from bare, newly-hatched 
chicks to fully-fledged young. 

The nest of this gannet is merely a collection of 
old and dirty feathers and loose stones. Round 
about each nest were quantities of flying fishes 
in all stages of decay, brought there and disgorged 
by the parent birds as food for the young. The 
freshest part of this food supply, we soon discovered, 

* Qrapsus strigosus. 

f " Notes of a Naturalist on H.M.S. ' Challenger.' " 



4 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

made excellent bait for the innumerable fishes 
which swarmed round the rocks ; but as we 
found later, by accident, the best and freshest 
bait was to be procured by gently prodding an 
old gannet while it was sitting on its nest, when 
it would at once disgorge a fish. 

It was by no means pleasant to walk about 
amongst these nesting birds, and, indeed, we found 
it to be a most painful proceeding, as both old and 
young pecked viciously at our legs. The young 
birds were especially annoying, and would get out 
of their nests and follow us, snapping savagely 
at our legs with their long sharp bills. 

At the base of Booby Hill I came on a colony 
of noddy terns.* This bird lays its single egg 
on the bare rock. Most of the eggs were hard set, 
and there were many young one of various ages. 
Although very tame, the noddies were not so bold 
as the boobies, and we did not succeed in catching* 
more than one adult bird of this species with our 
hands. 

Running about among the noddies we saw a 
turnstone,f a well-known visitor in the spring 
and autumn to the shores of the British Isles. 
In the winter it is distributed practically over 
the whole world. This bird has not hitherto been 
recorded from Saint Paul's Rocks, however, and 
it was probably resting there while on migration. 

Besides the birds already mentioned, a second 

* Anous atolidtis. ^Strepailas interpret. 






*, 4 



NESTING AT ALL SEASONS 5 

species of noddy tern Micranous leucocapillus 
a smaller and darker bird than the common noddy, 
was seen and obtained. This small tern was not 
nearly so abundant as the larger species, and it 
was not found nesting on Booby Hill. It was 
also far more shy, and specimens were only 
obtained with difficulty. 

Thus there are only three species of birds which 
nest on Saint Paul's Rocks, and they appear to 
breed all the year round. The naturalists of the 
" Beagle " landed there in February, those of the 
" Challenger " in August, while we were there 
in December, and on all of these occasions both 
eggs and young were found.* 

One of the sailors landed with us in the boat 
to collect eggs for eating purposes. Whether 
any of the crew ate any I never heard, but as nearly 
all those we obtained were hard set, I should 
imagine they did not. I have a vivid recollection, 
too, of being called up in the small hours of the 
following morning, with the news that several 
of the eggs had hatched during the night. 

From the top of the highest peak one could get 
a good view of the rocks. They are divided up 
into groups of jagged peaks, each group being 
separated from its neighbour by a channel through 
which the sea rushes with great violence. The 

* Eight days previous to our first visit the Scottish Antarctic ship 
" Scotia " visited St. Paul's Rocks. They did not effect a landing, 
however, and no birds were obtained by them that we did not get 
ourselves. 



6 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

rock on which we landed, appeared to be the 
largest, both in height and circumference. 

At the foot of Booby Hill were several tidal 
pools in which many species of small fishes were 
seen, but all attempts to catch them with a net 
proved futile. A great many fish were, however, 
caught in the sea by fishing from the rocks. Of 
these a species of "cavalli " weighed in some cases 
as many as twelve pounds. Fishing here pre- 
sented a somewhat unusual difficulty, for sharks* 
swarmed in incredible numbers, and it was a 
difficult task to avoid hooking them instead of 
more serviceable game; indeed, so numerous 
were the sharks that, on our return to the ship, 
we found that during our absence no less than 
twenty had been caught, all of them at no greater 
distance than two hundred yards from the shore. 

As to the other inhabitants of the rocks, Darwin 
mentions the following : A pupiparous fly (living 
as a parasite on the booby), a beetle (Quedius), 
a tick, a small brown moth belonging to a genus 
which feeds on feathers, and a woodlouse. Moseley 
says : " We found two species of spiders .... 
and, in addition to the insects noted by Darwin, 
the larva of a moth, apparently a Tortrix, and 
a small dipter .... but could not find either the 
beetle or woodlouse." 

We searched carefully and obtained specimens 
of the feather-feeding moth, a tiny beetle, and a 

* Carcharias sp. ? 



SHARKS 7 

small cricket, but failed to find either the wood- 
louse or the spider. The pupiparous fly was, 
however, noticed on the booby. 

The heat on Saint Paul's Rocks was intense, 
the sun, beating down on the bare rock, made the 
place like an oven, and the only shade was that 
thrown from Booby Hill towards evening. 

Shortly before sunset we went on board, fully 
determined to land the next morning on another 
part of the rocks. Getting ofi was, we found, a 
much more difficult business than landing, but 
at last it was safely accomplished. Several fishes 
and one bird were dropped into the water during 
the process of embarkation, and they were im- 
mediately taken by sharks, so it was just as well 
that none of our party slipped into the water. 
Perhaps a shark is not so dangerous to human 
beings as it is usually supposed to be. That 
there are some sharks which will attack a man 
in the water is, of course, certain, but I think 
that there are not very many that will do so. 

During two visits made to Saint Paul's Rocks, 
we tried to ascertain the nature of the food of 
these sharks. We cut open and examined at 
least thirty of them, but in only one did we find 
the remains of food a half -digested fish. Of 
what, then, does their food consist ? It seems 
incredible that they can feed entirely on fishes, 
as anyone will realise who has seen the slow, 
almost lazy, way in which they take their prey. 

c2 



8 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
Judging from the enormous number of sharks 
round Saint Paul's Rocks, there should be a great 
supply of food. Of course it is possible that they 
can exist for a length of time without food. That 
they go elsewhere for their food is not likely, 
as these rocks are far away from any other land. 

During our second visit a shark, which had been 
shot with a rifle, sank, and as all its companions, 
of which there were a great number round the ship 
at the time, followed it down, and on reappearing 
refused to look at our baits, I imagine that they 
devoured it. 

During the night of 17th December we steamed 
slowly away from the rocks, but at daylight we 
returned, and, lowering a boat, again landed. 
This time we went ashore on one of the rocks at 
the further end of the bay, which is formed by 
the semi-circular nature of the group. 

The weather being even finer and the sea 
smoother than on the previous day, we landed 
without difficulty, and at once climbed to the 
highest peak of this rock, which is 60 feet in 
altitude, and the second highest of the group. 

Here I was delighted to find the nests of the 
smaller noddy tern, which I have mentioned as 
having been seen on the previous day. This 
bird lays its egg in a most curiously constructed 
nest. A mass of fine seaweed is cemented to a 
small jutting ledge of rock, the cement being formed 
of the droppings of the birds. We found 



A SECOND VISIT 9 

altogether four of these nests, each of which con- 
tained a single egg. A few of the larger noddies 
were also breeding here, but these, as on Booby 
Hill, had laid their eggs on the bare rock, without 
making any attempt at a nest. Moseley, in describ- 
ing these bracket-like nests, suggests that it is 
only the strongest birds that take possession of 
the favourable points of the rock on which they 
are placed, although he adds a footnote to the 
effect that at the time of his visit he did not realize 
that two species of noddies inhabit Saint Paul's 
Rocks. It is, however, quite obvious that it 
is not the strongest birds, but only the smaller 
noddies, which occupy these ledges, since the 
larger noddy was in no instance found nesting upon 
them. 

This day, while we were on the rocks, a ship 
passed by, close in. It is only occasionally that 
ships sight these rocks, and then only to determine 
their exact position. No one, it is almost certain, 
had landed on Saint Paul's Rocks since the visit 
of the " Challenger " until we were there just 
twenty-nine years later. 

At 4.30 p.m. on the 18th December we sailed 
away, bound for Fernando de Noronha, and as I 
stood on deck and watched these interesting little 
islands fading away in the distance, I little thought 
that in three years' time it would be my fortune 
to see them again. 

It was on my third voyage in 1905 while on the 



10 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
way to Brazil, that Lord Crawford suggested that 
we should renew our acquaintance with these 
little-known islands. Shaping our course ac- 
cordingly, we sighted the rocks on 2nd December, 
and, after a few minutes' steaming, drew up close 
to our former landing place. 

The weather was, unfortunately, by no means 
so kind on this occasion as on our former visit. 
A strong wind was blowing, and the surf was break- 
ing with great fury on the foot of Booby Hill. 
It might have been possible to land, but we de- 
cided that, under the conditions prevailing, 
it was too risky to venture close to the rocks, 
therefore we were forced to content ourselves 
with a distant view of the boobies. 

Some time was, however, spent over shark 
fishing, and we had hopes that the weather might 
improve. A number of sharks were caught, arid 
in this way we spent the greater part of a day. 
As the sea was still high at sunset, Lord 
Crawford decided that it was not worth while to 
remain longer, so we sailed for Bahia, Brazil. 

During this visit to Saint Paul's Rocks we 
noticed that the birds were present in about the 
same numbers as before. Boobies of all ages were 
flying round the ship the whole time we were 
there, and many noddies were also seen. 



CHAPTER II. 

FERNANDO DB NORONHA. 

ON 20th December, 1902, the island of Fernando 
de Noronha was sighted, and at 4 p.m. we dropped 
anchor off the settlement. 

On the island is a Brazilian convict settlement, 
and permission to land is by no means easy to 
obtain. The " Challenger " Expedition was not 
allowed to make collections there, and Mr. Ridley, 
who visited the island in 1887, was, previously to 
our visit, the only naturalist who had collected 
with any thoroughness. Of the three species of 
land-birds which he obtained, two proved to be 
new to science. 

It was therefore a matter of great satisfaction 
that, by the courtesy of the Governor of the 
island, we were allowed to land and make natural 
history collections, and not only that, but were 
also generously provided with guides and 
horses. 

The most remarkable physical feature of 
Fernando de Noronha is a gigantic column of 
rock standing erect on the highest peak. This 



12 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

column appears to be a smooth mass of rock, 
and looks as if a slight push would send it head- 
long into the sea. Another marked feature, which 
is visible at a considerable distance, is an opening 
through the sea-cliff at the south-western extremity 
of the island. This boring has been made by the 
sea, and is known as the " hole in the wall." 

Just opposite our anchorage, and close to 
the settlement, there was also a magnificent 
" blowhole " in the cliff, through which the air 
was driven, by the rise and fall of the sea, with a 
loud roar every few seconds. 

The island slopes gradually upwards from the 
sea, and its general appearance from a little distance 
is green and fertile. When we landed we found 
that the cause of this apparent fertility was a 
thick growth of fig trees, which covered most of 
the island. Maize is, however, grown at certain 
seasons of the year, and in a letter received by 
Doctor Macdonald, some months after our visit, 
one of the Englishmen living on the island describes 
it as looking very green and fresh, owing to the 
abundance of the maize crop. 

As soon as a boat had been lowered we started 
for the shore. The surf was breaking with such 
fury on both the charted landing places that we 
were forced to abandon the idea of getting in at 
these spots ; but we found that, by backing the 
boat to a jutting mass of rock, we could, with a 
little difficulty, scramble ashore. 



A CONVICT SETTLEMENT 13 

The Governor, accompanied by two English- 
men who manage the telegraph and Lloyd's 
signal station, had come down to meet us, and 
thus accompanied, we proceeded to the settle- 
ment, where arrangements were made for a collect- 
ing expedition on the following day. 

While we were at the Governor's house a bugle 
was sounded to summon the convicts. There 
were about 200 of them, all under long sentences, 
most of them having been convicted of murder. 
One man, who was told off as a guide to our party, 
was said to have committed seven murders, and 
as he owned to five of them, I have no doubt that 
we were correctly informed. 

After their names had been called, the convicts 
dispersed for the night, about fifty being locked 
up in the gaol, and the rest going off to their own 
houses. Most of these men have wives and 
families, and, as far as we could judge, their 
lives were not hard. They have to work three 
hours a day for the State, but the rest of the day 
they can spend as they like, though all have to 
appear when the bugle is sounded in front of the 
Governor's House. 

Shortly after the convicts had dispersed we 
started for the landing place. At its best this is 
a difficult place from which to embark without 
getting wet, and it was seldom that we landed 
there or got away without getting soaked by the 
waves. 



14 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

The next morning we landed early, and, 
walking to the settlement, were met by our English 
friends, who had procured ponies for us on which 
to cross the island. During our ride I saw a pair 
of white terns (Gygis sp.), the most beautiful 
of all the tropical sea-birds. Later on we saw 
many of these terns in the various islands we 
visited, and, whether hovering over the deep blue 
sea of the South Pacific, or sailing round the palms 
of a coral island in the Indian Ocean, they seem 
equally at home ; wherever they were seen the 
snow-white of their plumage and the deep dark 
blue of their eyes made them ever memorable. 

At the base of the column on the peak we made 
our first acquaintance with frigate birds,* which 
were sitting in numbers on some bushes; their 
scarlet pouches were extended, and looked in the 
distance like large red blossoms. It is only in 
the breeding season that frigate birds develop 
this curious ornament. When closely examined 
it is seen that the pouch is formed by a bare patch 
of skin on the throat, which can be expanded by 
the bird at will. At times a great bladder as large 
as a football is thus formed. When the bird is 
taken in the hand and carefully examined, the 
whole of the body appears to be inflated. On 
skinning the bird it is at once seen that the whole 
body is enveloped with a mass of air cells. The 
pouch is only an exaggerated form of such an air 

* Fregata aquila. 



THE FRIGATE BIRD'S POUCH 15 

cell, and, being larger than those on the rest of 
the body, is more noticeable. 

In the breeding season the pouch is constantly 
being inflated, and, as a consequence, the skin of 
the throat becomes stretched to such a degree 
that when not inflated it hangs down in a loose 
fold below the bill of the bird. It is only the 
males that are able to inflate these pouches in this 
way, the female having a non-inflatable patch of 
bare skin of a duller colour on the throat. We 
afterwards found that by inserting a bicycle 
pump into the larynx of a freshly-killed male 
frigate bird and pumping air into the throat, 
the whole of the body, as well as the throat, 
becomes inflated. 

Along the shore we saw a species of the tropic, 
or bo'sun, bird. This proved to be Phaethon 
lepturus, and two fine specimens were obtained 
by Lord Crawford. Several of them were flying 
along the face of the cliff. The name " bo-sun " 
is said to have been given to this bird on 
account of its cry, which is supposed to resemble 
the pipe of a boatswain's whistle. It must be 
confessed, however, that the only cry we heard 
it utter was a harsh scream not unlike that of a 
tern. 

A dove known as Zenaida auriculata, which 
was originally, without doubt, introduced from 
the mainland of South America, was extraordinarily 
abundant on this island. They were very tame 



16 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

and fearless, but were not nesting at the time of 
our visit. Their note is a loud rattling " coo." 

Insects were not very numerous bees, dragon- 
flies, beetles and crickets being the most notice- 
able, while a little blue butterfly was frequently 
seen fluttering along at our feet in the pathways 
through the groves of fig trees. 

In the houses we collected a number of 
mosquitoes, apparently of one species only. It 
seems that it is only in the houses that mosquitoes 
are troublesome, as, during the whole of the time 
we were on the island, we were not attacked by 
these pests out-of-doors, and it was only when we 
entered a house that they became a nuisance. 

We went to the furthest extremity of the island 
in a north-west direction from the settlement. 
Here we found that the low fig trees, which seem 
to be the principal trees of the island, were growing 
in greater abundance than near the settlement. 

In these trees numbers of small birds, which 
in general appearance much resembled reed- 
warblers, were flitting in and out among the leaves 
in search of insects. These birds proved to be all 
of the species called Vireo gracilirostris. Their 
loud, but by no means unpleasant, song somewhat 
resembled that of a pied wagtail, so familiar as a 
British bird. 

This part of the island was steep and precipitous. 
We followed a path which took us down to the 
seashore about one hundred feet below, and here 





FRIGATE BIRDS ON GLORIOSO ISLAND. 

(See also Chapter X.) 



[1C 



BRILLIANT FISHES 17 

we noticed numbers of sooty terns*, which were 
flying in a perpetual stream along the coast, 
just above the breaking waves. These birds were 
not nesting at the time of our visit, but we were 
told that they bred in great numbers on one of the 
smaller islets, which lies about half a mile off the 
settlement. A few tropic-birds, which were flying 
high overhead, appeared from their manner to have 
nests, which were probably situated in the most 
inaccessible parts of the cliff. 

The tide was low, and we were able to walk 
some distance along the shore. A long ledge of 
rock was pointed out to us by one of our friends 
as an excellent place for fishing, and in many 
shallow pools we saw numbers of brilliantly 
coloured fishes. Some of these were blue on the 
back and yellow beneath. We made repeated 
attempts to capture them, but to no purpose. 

It is impossible to make a collection of the whole 
fauna of an island during a visit of two or three 
days, as we soon realized ; consequently I spent 
most of my time searching for the three species of 
land-birds which inhabit Fernando de Noronha. 
Specimens of the dove and the warbler, which 
have already been mentioned, were collected 
during the morning. As soon as we returned 
from our excursion across the island a visit was paid 
to the Governor's garden, where, owing perhaps 
to the greater abundance of trees, birds were more 

* Sterna fuliginosa. 



18 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

numerous, and the third species of land-bird, 
a fly catcher, * was met with. 

In this garden, which was nicely laid out and 
enclosed by an iron fence, were many large 
coconut trees bearing a quantity of fruit. 
There were also some sapodillas, the fruit of which 
was ripe at this time. It is greatly appreciated 
by the people on Fernando de Noronha, and we 
were persuaded to taste it. Externally it somewhat 
resembles a small round potato; the flavour, how- 
ever, is too much like that of the mango, the 
suggestion of turpentine which pervades the latter 
fruit being distinctly noticeable in the sapodilla. 

Doves were swarming in the garden, every tree 
and bush being apparently tenanted by them, 
and the Governor showed us a cage full which had 
recently been caught. They were, he told us, 
excellent to eat. 

There are no indigenous mammals on Fernando 
de Noronha, but ratsf and mice;}: have been im- 
ported or have escaped from ships. I did not get 
any rats, but two mice which we shot were of a 
pale fawn colour, and probably differed in colour, 
at all events, from those of their ancestors which 
first appeared on this island. One of the outlying 
islets is called " Rat Island," but we were informed 
that rats were no more numerous there than on 
the main island. 

Close to the place where we embarked, we 

* Elainea ridleyana. f Mus rattus. { Mus musculus. 



CATAMARANS 19 

noticed a thick-stemmed plant covered all over 
with small spikes, and bearing leaves like those 
of the geranium. We were warned by our friends 
that this plant, when touched, gave a most painful 
sting. Moseley mentions that, although he used 
the greatest care when securing a specimen, he 
got a sting, the results of which he felt for several 
days afterwards. We afterwards saw this same 
plant in Brazil. 

During the second day of our stay on Fernando 
de Noronha a steamer, which visits the island 
once every month, arrived, bearing mails for the 
inhabitants. The advent of the steamer is much 
looked forward to, as life on Fernando de Noronha 
for a European is dull in the extreme. 

As soon as the boat arrived a large raft was 
pushed off from the shore and anchored outside 
of the surf. The raft resembled in shape a large 
table, the legs of which were fixed to a platform 
composed of a number of logs lashed together. 
A boat was sent off from the steamer loaded with 
packages of stores, clothing, letters, and other 
things, and these were put on to the raft, from 
which they were landed in native catamarans. 

The catamarans, which are built on the same 
principle as the large raft, are of sufficient size 
to carry one person with comfort besides the 
native oarsman. They are especially adapted 
for landing through surf, and they ride over 
the breaking waves with wonderful buoyancy. 



20 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

We once landed in a catamaran, and all of us got 
ashore with no more than wet feet. In Brazil 
we frequently landed through surf in the same 
way, though the catamarans there are larger and 
are propelled by two natives. 

Our time ashore on this second day was limited, 
and we did not get very far beyond the settlement. 
Major Wilbraham and I walked for some distance 
along the shore, and saw the same species of birds 
as at Saint Paul's Rocks, but we noticed that 
the turnstone appeared to be quite numerous. 

There are, I believe, two species of lizards 
on the island, but we only saw one of them. This 
was Mdbuia punctata, and it seemed to be a most 
abundant species on every part of the island. 

As we had many other interesting places to see, 
our stay on Fernando de Noronha was of necessity 
very short, and after two days we set sail for 
Bahia, in Brazil. It is probable that in a few 
years' time Fernando de Noronha will cease to 
exist as a convict settlement. We were informed 
that as capital punishment had taken the place of 
exportation for life in Brazil, no more convicts 
were to be sent there. 



CHAPTER III. 

ITAPAEICA, BAHIA. 

DURING the three cruises of the " Valhalla," 
we made two visits to Bahia. On the first occasion 
we landed on 26th December, 1902, Christmas 
Day having been spent in sight of the coast of 
Brazil, while on the second we dropped anchor 
in the Bay of All Saints on 10th December, 1905. 

Some six miles from the town lies Itaparica, a 
large island inhabited by about 30,000 people, 
and it was here that most of our time (a fortnight 
on each occasion) was spent. During our first 
visit some time was occupied in finding the most 
suitable places for landing on this island, and also 
in searching for the best spots for collecting birds, 
butterflies, and other specimens. What we learnt 
on this occasion, however, proved of the greatest 
assistance during our second visit, as we were then 
able to find the passage through the reef with 
little difficulty, and go at once to our old collecting 
grounds. 

Before describing our doings at Bahia, I must 
refer in detail to an important incident which 



22 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

occurred on the high seas during our second voyage 
thither. 

On the 7th December, 1905, when in latitude 
7 14' S., longitude 34 25' W., and about fourteen 
miles from the coast of Brazil near Para, a creature 
of most extraordinary form and proportions was 
sighted by two of us. At the time we were under 
sail only, and were slowly making our way to 
Bahia. It was at about 10 o'clock in the morning, 
and I was leaning on the rail of the poop deck, 
when a large fin suddenly appeared close to the 
ship at a distance of about fifty yards. This fin 
resembled that of no fish I had previously seen, 
and I pointed it out immediately to Mr. E. G. B. 
Meade-Waldo, who was on deck with me at the 
time, and we watched it together for several 
minutes. As we passed slowly by, a long eel-like 
neck surmounted by a head, shaped somewhat 
like that of a turtle, rose out of the water in front 
of the fin. This creature remained in sight for a 
few minutes, but we soon drew ahead of it, and it 
became lost to view owing to the ripple of the 
water. Owing to the fact that we were under sail 
at the time, it was not possible to go about and 
make a closer inspection, and with great regret 
we had to be content with the view we had had of 
this remarkable monster. 

A full account of it was given at a meeting of 
the Zoological Society of London, on 19th June, 
1906, and I quote below from the report which was 



24 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

printed in the " Proceedings " of that Society 
(10th October, 1906, p. 721) :- 

" At 10.15 a.m., on Thursday, 7th December, 
1905, when in lat. 7 14' S.,long. 34 25' W., in a 
depth of from 322 to 1,340 fathoms, Meade-Waldo 
and I saw a most extraordinary creature about 
100 yards from the ship, and moving in the same 
direction, but very much slower than we were 
going. At first all that we could see was a dorsal 
fin, about four feet long, sticking up about two feet 
from the water ; this fin was of a brownish-black 
colour, and much resembled a gigantic piece of 
ribbon-seaweed. Below the water we could in- 
distinctly see a very large brownish-black patch, 
but could not make out the shape of the creature. 
Every now and then the fin entirely disappeared 
below the water. Suddenly an eel-like neck, 
about six feet long and of the thickness of a man's 
thigh, having a head shaped like that of a turtle, 
appeared in front of the fin. This head and 
neck, which were of the same colour above as the 
fin, but of a silvery-white below, lashed up the 
water with a curious wriggling movement. After 
this it was so far astern of us that we could make 
out nothing else. 

" During the next fourteen hours we went about 
twice, and at about 2 a.m. the following day 
(8th December), in lat. 7 19' S., long. 34 04' W., 
the first and third mates, Mr. Simmonds and Mr. 
Harley, who were on the bridge at the time, saw 



THE GREAT SEA-SERPENT 25 

a great commotion in the water. At first they 
thought it was a rock a- wash about 100 to 150 
yards away on the port side, just aft of the bridge, 
but they soon made out that it was something 
moving and going slightly faster than the ship, 
which at that time was doing about 8| knots. 
Mr. Simmonds hailed the deck, and one of the crew, 
who was on the look-out, saw it too. Although 
there was a bright moon at the time, they could 
not make out anything of the creature itself, 
owing to the amount of wash it was making, but 
they say that from the commotion in the water 
it looked as if a submarine was going along just 
below the surface. They both say most em- 
phatically that it was not a whale, and that it was 
not blowing, nor have they ever seen anything 
like it before. After they had watched it for several 
minutes, it ' sounded ' off the port bow, and they 
saw no more of it." 

This creature was an example, I consider, of 
what has been so often reported, for want of a 
better name, as the " great sea-serpent." I feel 
sure, however, that it was not a reptile that we 
saw, but a mammal. It is, of course, impossible 
to be certain of this, but the general appearance of 
the creature, especially the soft, almost rubber- 
like fin, gave one this impression. It is often 
said that, if there were such a monster, remains of 
it would have been found long ago, but this is 
not necessarily so. Supposing the " sea-serpent " 



26 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

lives in deep holes, such as there were in the spot 
where we saw our " monster," then there would be 
little chance of remains being washed ashore, and 
the amount of deep-sea dredging that has yet 
been done is very small, so that it is not surprising 
that no parts of this creature have been obtained 
in that way. 

That it is not more often reported is not to be 
wondered at, when one realizes how often it is 
that a ship may sail for days together without 
sighting another ship, even in seas where there is 
considerable traffic. Also it must be remembered 
that such ridicule is generally bestowed on the 
reports of sea-monsters, that many persons hesitate 
to describe what they have seen. I know myself of 
several instances of unknown sea- monsters having 
been seen by reliable witnesses, who, to avoid the 
inevitable " chaff," would not publicly state their 
experiences. 

::- # x 

The town of Bahia has a striking and picturesque 
appearance from the harbour, white houses peep- 
ing out here and there from luxuriant vege- 
tation. But " distance lends enchantment to 
the view," and when on shore the narrow 
and filthy streets, and the general untidiness 
of the whole place, quickly dispel the illusion of 
cleanliness. 

During my two visits to Bahia I spent as little 
time as possible in the town. A run of some forty 



A BRAZILIAN FOREST 27 

minutes in our steam launch took us across to 
Itaparica, where, after passing through a passage 
in the reef, we landed in a small " Berthon " 
boat. A great part of the island has been cleared, 
and it required over an hour's walk to reach the 
nearest patch of virgin forest. The luxuriance 
of the vegetation in a Brazilian forest is truly 
wonderful ; even at mid-day in the thickest part 
of the forest one might imagine it was twilight, 
owing to the density of the foliage. Brightly 
coloured birds and butterflies are met with at 
every step, and it would seem that in every patch 
of forest there are different species of birds, while 
every hour of the day brings forth new forms 
of butterflies. 

It was on this island that we first saw hum- 
ming-birds, a large blue species* being the most 
abundant. We were rather surprised to notice 
how frequently these birds perch. I had always 
accepted it as a general belief that humming-birds 
seldom settled, but were nearly always on the wing. 
Since this, my first acquaintance with these ex- 
quisite little birds, I have had the good fortune 
to meet with examples of many other species of 
humming-birds in South America and the West 
Indies, and have noted that they are as often at 
rest on the trees as hovering round the flowers in 
search of food. All the specimens obtained were 
carefully examined during the process of skinning, 

* Eupetomena macrura. 



28 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

and in every instance their gizzards contained the 

remains of insects. 

During our second visit to Brazil we camped 
out for four nights on Itaparica. Our tent was, 
pitched near one of the patches of virgin forest 
and at no great distance from a small lake, on 
the margins of which were numbers of jacanas,* 
a bird resembling a water-hen in shape, but 
provided with toes of such great length that it 
can walk with ease over the floating leaves of the 
water-plants. 

In the lagoon caimans or alligators were plentiful, 
and during the day several were always to be found 
either basking on the trunks of trees, which had 
fallen near the water, or lying in the water itself, 
with only their eyes and nostrils above the 
surface. 

The near proximity of water to our camp was 
convenient, but at nightfall we realized that we 
had made a great mistake for the mosquitoes 
swarmed in such numbers that sleep was im- 
possible. A fire had been lighted previously, 
and arranged in such a way that the smoke blew 
through the tent, but the mosquitoes swarmed in 
notwithstanding, and after spending two nights of 
discomfort, we obtained mosquito nets and moved 
the tent to a greater distance from the water. 
After this we most of us were able to get a couple 
of nights' immunity from these pests. Two of 

* Parra jacana. 



ANIMALS OF THE FOREST 29 

my companions, however, went out moth-catching 
at night and omitted to fold up their nets before 
they started, the consequence being that on their 
return the nets were full of mosquitoes, and a few 
weeks later they both suffered from a bad attack 
of malarial fever. 

In spite of mosquitoes by night and grass-ticks 
by day, we all agreed that a short stay in the 
solitude of a Brazilian forest was a most delightful 
experience. 

The first two nights there was sufficient moon- 
light to make shooting possible, and I spent a great 
part of the night in walking about round the camp. 
Several foxes were seen, and one of these I shot. 
The island abounds with foxes, and there are also 
a fair number of wild cats, but although several 
of the latter were seen, we did not succeed in 
shooting any. Every night I set a number of 
traps for small mammals, and, though I managed 
to get a few specimens, I found there were several 
difficulties to be overcome. In the first place the 
bait is almost at once devoured by ants, and this 
necessitates a constant series of visits to the traps. 
Then again the traps are continually sprung by 
animals which are too large for them to hold 
such as opossums and foxes. Eventually I found 
that the only way to get any specimens of rats 
or mice was to set my traps just before nightfall, 
and then visit them at frequent intervals during the 
night, and in this way I managed to secure a few. 



30 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

On several occasions we saw troops of marmosets 
travelling with extraordinary speed from tree to 
tree through the forest. From our tent a clearing 
of several acres, with here and there a small clump 
of mango trees, in which were numerous species 
of birds, extended to the lake. 

About the camp itself there were always numbers 
of vultures of two species.* They showed not the 
least fear of us, and would descend almost at our 
feet to pick up scraps thrown out to them. The 
Brazilians protect these birds, and the penalty 
for killing one is a heavy fine. Another very com- 
mon bird of prey is the caracara, a pair of which 
are to be seen in every patch of forest. We came 
across a pair of the pale grey variety of this 
species, and a very beautiful sight it was to see 
these birds circling round over the tree-tops. In 
appearance they reminded one somewhat of a 
buzzard when seen from a distance, but the tail is 
longer. A large hawk f was also often to be seen 
sitting on the dead palm trees, and three were shot 
for the collection, while on several occasions a 
large eagle was noticed sailing overhead, but never 
within gunshot. At night the cries of two kinds 
of owls were noticeable, and these proved to be a 
small scops-eared owl J and a large wood owl ; the 
latter, though seen, was not obtained. Numbers 
of night-jars of two species inhabited the forest 

* Cathartea aura and C. atratus. f Aaturina nattereri. 
J Scops braziliensis. 



BIRDS OF THE FOREST 31 

and clearings near our tent. The cries of these 
birds, quite unlike the loud reeling note made by 
the well-known species which we see in England, 
were loud liquid calls, which were only uttered, 
so far as I could ascertain, when the bird was on 
the ground. 

During the day a scarlet tanager was continually 
seen in the trees and bushes near our tent, and 
another bird, most noticeable by reason of its 
numbers, was a small swallow.* This little brown- 
backed bird invariably appeared in great numbers 
directly after a shower of rain. 

A shower of rain had a remarkable effect on 
the life in the clearing, for immediately after- 
wards there appeared immense swarms of flying 
ants. As soon as these ants arrived, they were 
followed by a great number of birds of all kinds 
flycatchers (Elainea), tanagers, oven-birds, and 
woodpeckers appeared, while the little brown- 
backed swallow came in great numbers. The ants 
were at a disadvantage, and were not safe even 
when they had. reached the ground, for here the 
woodpeckers followed them and swept them up 
with their long tongues. 

I imagine that all these birds came from the 
neighbouring forests, as previous to the showers 
of rain not a bird was to be seen in the clearing. 
Another instance of birds appearing at certain 
places only when there are insects, was to be 

* Stelgidopteryx. 



32 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

seen round the lagoon, which a small spine-tailed 
swift* visited regularly in the evening when there 
were swarms of small flies, while at other times 
of the day, when flies were not numerous, not a 
single swift was observed there. 

It would be tedious to mention individually all 
the birds seen during these visits to Itaparica, but 
there are two other species to which I must draw 
attention one, because it is one of the most 
noticeable of Brazilian birds, and the other, be- 
cause of its scarcity, as far as specimens in 
museums are concerned. 

The first belongs to the family of tyrant-fly- 
catchers which is numerously represented in 
Brazil. Several species were met with by us, 
but by far the most common was Tyrannus 
melancholicus a bird of about the size of a thrush 
with a yellow breast, grey back, and a partially 
concealed golden-orange crest. It is to be seen 
in almost every tree, and is further remarkable 
for the monotonous cry which it utters continually. 

The other bird to which I would refer is 
another member of the family of tyrants. This 
bird Myiarchus pelzelni is apparently scarce in 
collections, though why this should be it is difficult 
to say. It was quite common in the mango trees 
near our camp, and several were shot and skinned. 
Perhaps, however, Itaparica is particularly suited 
to its requirements, and it may be rare in other 

* Chaetura fumosa. 



A SWAMP 33 

parts. I think, however, that most likely it is 
confused with another bird of the same genus, 
viz., M. ferox, which is most abundant in Brazil, 
and closely resembles it when seen at a distance. 

Every morning, about half an hour before dawn, 
we left our tent and walked through the woods 
to a large swamp about a mile away, where we 
had some fairly good shooting. A large flock 
of teal * was sometimes feeding on the mud sur- 
rounding a large pool of water, and a few snipe "j" 
were bagged, but, unlike snipe in general, they 
offered the easiest of shots. They behaved much 
like the jack snipe, rarely flying more than a few 
yards at a time, and always allowing of a close 
approach. The most numerous birds were, how- 
ever, the jacanas, which were in enormous numbers, 
and as soon as we appeared on the spot they rose 
in large flocks and circled round us high overhead. 

Many delightful hours in the early morning were 
spent in this way among the numerous different 
forms of bird and insect life. Daybreak in the 
tropics is undoubtedly the best time out of the 
twenty-four hours, for then the air is cool and in- 
vigorating a great contrast to the rest of the day, 
when the heat becomes almost unbearable. The 
hottest part of the morning we usually spent in 
the thick forest, where, under the deep shade of 
the trees, it was possible to collect specimens 
without feeling the effects of the heat. 

* Nettion braziliensis. f Gallinago delicata. 



34 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

After some experience I have found that the 
best, in fact the only, time to do really good work 
in the way of collecting in the tropics, is a few hours 
after daybreak, and again some two hours before 
dark. Only then can one work with comfort, 
but, what is more important, the birds at these 
times appear to be more numerous and more 
easily approached. Towards mid-day every sign 
of animal life seems to disappear, and there is no 
doubt that at that hour mammals and birds hide 
away in the comparative cool of the thickest part 
of the forest. 

Altogether these few days in camp on Itaparica 
proved to be most interesting, and although we 
suffered to a great extent from mosquitoes and 
grass-ticks, from the latter especially, we were well 
pleased with our results. 

The ticks were a source of great annoyance, 
and, in spite of all we could do to prevent them, 
they swarmed on our clothing and buried them- 
selves in our skins. When once fixed in the skin 
it is a very difficult matter to remove them, as 
they quickly bury their heads, and if any force 
is used in removing them, their heads break off 
and remain in the flesh, where they often cause a 
bad wound. 

The part of the island in which we were camped 
did not appear to be thickly populated. Along 
the shore there were a number of small houses 
tenanted mostly by fishermen, but in one or two 



FETES AT BAHIA 35 

of the larger of these houses there were a few of 
the better-class Brazilians. These were traders 
from Bahia, who rent these houses for the summer, 
and one of them, who procured porters for us, 
told us that he took a house on the island every 
year during the hot weather, as it was then far 
more healthy than at Bahia. 

Occasionally a case of "beri-beri" makes its 
appearance among the natives in Bahia. All 
sufferers from this dreadful disease are at once 
sent across to Itaparica, and we were informed 
that they frequently recover when this is done, 
but if they remain in Bahia they usually die. 

The population of Bahia and the surrounding 
country is of all nationalities, though the greater 
number appear to be negroes. 

All these people are of the Roman Catholic 
religion, and they celebrate Saints' days by a 
great display of fireworks. During the two visits 
of the "Valhalla" there were a number of these 
displays, and the continual banging of crackers 
at all hours of the day and night was infinitely 
less amusing to us than to the Brazilians. 

On the occasion of our first visit, a great pro- 
cession of boats filled with priest and choristers 
started from the shore, and visited most of the ships 
in the harbour. When they arrived at a Brazilian 
ship they fired off a number of crackers which they 
had with them, and one of these ships, a Brazilian 
man-of-war, replied with a salute of guns. On 



36 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
every Saint's day a procession takes place, 
generally on land, but on special occasions, as on 
this one, which was the day after Christmas Day, 
the ships in the harbour are visited. 




SOUTH TRINIDAD ISLAND, NEAR THE LANDING PLACE. 



f36 



CHAPTER IV. 

SOUTH TRINIDAD. 

AT 6 o'clock on the morning of the 3rd January, 
1905, the island of South Trinidad was sighted. 

This island is situated in the South Atlantic 
Ocean off the coast of Brazil, lat. 20 23' S., 
long. 29 43' W. It is volcanic, and of the same 
formation as the coast of Rio de Janeiro. 

South Trinidad had been visited by naturalists 
three times previously. In 1868 the Italian 
corvette "Magenta" came to the island, and two 
species of petrels were obtained and described as 
new to science by Dr. Giglioli.* 

The second expedition was made in August, 
1875, by Lord Crawford (then Lord Lindsay), 
who, when on the way to Mauritius to observe the 
transit of Venus, landed at South Trinidad and 
made a small collection of birds. | 

Thirdly, on 13th September, 1901, the naturalists 
of the " Discovery," when bound for the Antarctic 
regions, landed there and made a collection. 

* (Estrelata arminjoniana and (E. trinitatis. " Ibis," 1869, pp. 62-66. 
f " Proceedings Zoological Society," March 2nd, 1880, p. 161. 

E 



38 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Amongst the birds obtained by the last-named 
expedition were several specimens of a petrel, 
which Dr. Bowdler Sharpe described as a new 
species. * 

As we gradually drew near to the island, the 
" Ninepin," a huge upright column of rock, came 
into view. This rock is several hundred feet in 
height, and in shape is much like an enormous 
tree-trunk. It was at one time undoubtedly of a 
much larger diameter than now, long exposure to 
the weather having worn its surface away to such 
an extent that only the hard central core remains 
at the present time. 

When we were within a mile or two of the island, 
we could see that the greater part of it was covered 
with grass, while against the skyline at the extreme 
summit a mass of trees could be distinguished. 
Extending from the summit to the base were many 
fissures, which formed deep valleys, and these 
were thickly overgrown with tree-ferns. 

Sea-birds, chiefly large petrels, appeared in 
numbers, and circled round the ship, while a good 
many gannets settled in the rigging. 

A strong northerly gale was blowing, and Captain 
Caws had little hopes of the sea being smooth 



* (Eatrelata Wilsoni Sharpe. " Bulletin Brit. Orn. Club," XII., p. 49 
(February, 1902) 

This bird has, however, since been found to be identical with (Estrelata 

arminjoniana, Giglioli and Salvadori c/. Godman, "Monograph of 

Petrels," pp. 229-231. Therefore there are but two species of petrels 

inhabiting South Trinidad. 




TREE-FERNS ON SOUTH TRINIDAD ISLAND. ] [39 



LANDING ON SOUTH TRINIDAD 39 

enough to lower a boat. As we drew under the 
lee of the island, however, the sea proved perfectly 
calm, and but little surf was beating on the 
shore. 

A large amount of treasure hidden in former 
days by pirates is said to be buried on South 
Trinidad, and Mr. E. F. Knight visited the island 
on two occasions for the purpose of searching for it. 

We kept a careful look-out for the " Cascade " 
and the " Pier," mentioned by Mr. Knight in his 
" Cruiseof the 'Alert.'" The "Cascade" was soon 
sighted, and proved to be a small trickle of water 
which had its source among the groves of tree-ferns 
near the summit of the island, and ran down 
a deep valley into the sea at a point about 200 
yards from the jutting promontory of black rock 
which has been named so aptly the " Pier." 

A boat having been lowered we started for the 
shore. On getting near in we met with several 
large turtles, which were swimming about close 
to the rocks. These turtles visit South Trinidad 
for the purpose of depositing their eggs, and during 
our two days' visit we saw many of them swimming 
about, but none were on the beach, and it is probable 
that we were too early in the year to find their 
eggs. 

The boat was backed up to the natural " pier," 
and with one of the seamen I scrambled on to the 
rocks. At first it seemed doubtful whether the 
" pier " was connected with the shore, but we soon 

E2 



40 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

found that it was not difficult to climb over the 
huge boulders forming the " pier," and thus reach 
the strip of sand which fringes this part of the 
island. 

Directly I had landed I was mobbed by a 
screaming crowd of white terns and noddies, which 
rose from their nesting-places on the rocks. So 
close to me did these birds fly, that I was able to 
touch them with the barrels of my gun. 

Between the " Cascade " and " Pier ' the 
coastline is slightly indented and fringed with 
a narrow strip of sand. Beyond the sand a mass 
of rocks had to be climbed before we could reach 
a plateau, which could be seen about 200 feet from 
the water's edge. After passing the rocky base 
of the hill, we found the rest of the way com- 
paratively easy. The ground, which was covered 
with long wiry grass, was very treacherous, and 
slid away underfoot at every step. 

Half-way up the slope the carpenter of the ship 
planted a board on which " Valhalla " was carved. 
This board was very thick and heavy, and will 
probably last for many years. We found the 
remains of several such boards on the island, but 
the names they originally bore were all illegible. 
We found also some letters painted in white on 
a huge rock on the plateau, but owing to long 
exposure to the weather these were also illegible. 

This rock was covered with noddy terns and 
their eggs. The birds, which were of the same 




i* 



NODDY TERN AT THE NEST, SOUTH TRINIDAD ISLAND. 



VEGETATION OF THE ISLAND 41 

species as the large noddy met with on Saint 
Paul's Rocks, were very tame, and several photo- 
graphs of them were taken at close quarters. 

On the plateau are great numbers of fallen trees, 
apparently of a species of acacia, which from all 
appearances have been dead for many years, 
though why they died it is impossible to say. 
They show no signs of having been destroyed 
by fire. The whole of the island is covered with 
these dead trees ; some standing with their bare 
branches spread out as in life, and others lying 
in all positions. In some places so thickly is the 
ground strewn with them that it is difficult to force 
one's way through. When South Trinidad was 
first discovered it was thickly wooded, but no 
record seems forthcoming as to when and why 
the trees died. It may have been that some 
volcanic disturbance destroyed all the vegetation, 
but this seems unlikely, because on the summit of 
the island there flourish trees and tree-ferns, 
which appear to be of a great age. 

At one time a number of goats inhabited the 
island, but for many years these have disappeared, 
though the reason for this is also unknown. There 
is at the present time sufficient green food to 
support any number of goats, for, besides the grass, 
which covers the greater part, there are quantities 
of beans growing in masses on the fallen trees on 
the windward side. 

As soon as we began to ascend to the plateau 



42 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

numbers of petrels appeared flying overhead ; 
these were of two species, the most numerous 
being the (Estrelata arminjoniana. About the 
size of a pigeon, this bird has a dark slate- 
coloured back and head, with white, or in some 
individuals grey, underparts. These birds were 
just commencing to breed in the holes and crannies 
in the rocks. The other petrel ((Estrelata trini- 
tatis), which is dark brown all over, with black 
legs and feet, was less numerous, but higher up the 
ravine a few were tending their well-grown young, 
which were sitting in hollows in the rocks and under 
overhanging ledges. The young birds were covered 
with long thick brownish-grey down, and resembled 
big " powder-puffs." They were extremely fat, 
and when handled they ejected a greenish fluid 
from their tube-like nostrils. The old birds 
circled overhead in great numbers and screamed 
at us angrily. 

Occasionally a long bubbling note, not unlike 
the call of a female cuckoo, was heard. This note 
was only uttered by the Arminjon's petrels. The 
plumage of the birds of this species showed two 
distinct varieties or " phases." The majority 
had pure white breasts, but many others had these 
parts of a smoky-grey colour : these may have 
been younger birds. I caught many pairs of 
these petrels at their nesting-places, and in 
every case the birds had white breasts, and 
although I handled a good many petrels (a hundred 




' 5 

1 



li 

h-" Q 

P < 



LAND-CRABS 43 

at least) on South Trinidad, I never found a light- 
breasted bird in company with a dark-breasted 
one. It may well be, therefore, that the dark- 
breasted ones are birds not fully adult. All these 
petrels, whether white or grey-breasted, had the 
legs and the bases of the toes flesh-coloured, 
the rest of the feet and webs black. 

Very few eggs of these petrels were found. 
Arminjon's petrels had barely begun to lay, while 
the eggs of the other species had almost all hatched 
out. The eggs of the former petrel which we 
found were pure white, and about the size of a 
small hen's egg. 

After collecting a number of these petrels for 
specimens, I climbed higher up the ravine. It 
was a very warm and tiring business. The water 
had worn the rocky bed until it had formed a 
deep valley. In some places in the bed of the 
stream there was a sheer drop of twelve or fourteen 
feet from one rock to another. Followed by the 
ship's carpenter I went laboriously on, carefully 
searching every nook and cranny for the nests 
of petrels. In some places we found deep caves, 
hollowed out by the stream probably during heavy 
rainfalls. These caves were dripping with moisture 
and were full of land-crabs, which scuttled away 
at our approach, their legs making a peculiar 
rattling noise on the rocky floor. They also made 
a continuous snapping sound with their pincers, 
which they waved about in a threatening manner. 



44 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

The land-crabs of Trinidad have been described 
as ferocious and of huge size ; but all those we 
saw were small and most inoffensive, their one idea 
being to hurry away from us and to hide in the 
nearest available hole. They were all of a pale 
saffron colour, and the largest we were able to 
catch was not more than four inches across the 
carapace. 

The higher up the ravine we climbed the more 
abundant the dead trees became. In all of them, 
as well as on the rocks which were scattered about 
on the sides of the valley, white terns were nesting 
in great numbers. I knocked over several with a 
stick, and at once noticed that they belonged to a 
different species to those obtained in the South 
Pacific during our first voyage. The bill of these 
Trinidad birds was wholly black, while that of 
the Pacific and Indian Ocean birds has a base of 
a hyacinth-blue colour. There are also other less 
noticeable differences between the white terns of 
South Trinidad and those of the Pacific Ocean. 

On our return to England, and after a thorough 
examination and comparison, I had the pleasure 
of describing as a new species this lovely little 
tern of South Trinidad, and naming it after Lord 
Crawford (Oygis crawfordi).* There was only one 
other specimen of this bird from South Trinidad 
in the British Museum, and this example had been 
collected by Lord Crawford in 1875 during his 

* "Bulletin Brit. Orn. Club," XVL, p. 102. 



LORD CRAWFORD'S TERN 45 

first visit to the island. This skin had remained 
undescribed, owing to the fact that the bills of 
both forms become totally black in the dried 
skins, the light blue of the Pacific and Indian 
Ocean birds turning black within two days after 
the bird has been skinned. 

Gygis crawfordi lays a single egg, either on a 
narrow ledge of rock or else on the branch of a 
dead tree. No nest is made, the egg being laid 
in a cleft or in a small hollow, and some of those 
we found were placed in such a shallow depression 
on the bare branch of some dead tree that a slight 
push was sufficient to dislodge them. 

The way these eggs are balanced is extraordinary 
but the tenacious hold of the young bird in a 
similarly insecure position is perhaps more aston- 
ishing. Several times I drove a tern suddenly 
from its nest for the purpose of seeing if the young 
bird could retain its position. Although the old 
bird in every case left the nest in such a hurry as 
to upset the balance of the young one, the latter 
clung on and pulled itself back in a few seconds 
by means of its sharp claws and bill. 

It was well for the birds that they could retain 
their hold so cleverly, for the ground underneath 
the trees was covered with land-crabs, which would 
have quickly devoured any unfortunate young 
bird falling from its nest. 

During the whole of the time we spent amongst 
the colonies of these white terns we were continually 



46 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

mobbed by the old birds, which tried to divert our 
attention from the eggs and young. They were not 
aggressive in any way, but fluttered within a few 
inches of our faces, uttering all the while a soft 
croak. On several occasions they settled on our 
hats, so fearless were they, or was it in ignorance 
of the nature of man ? 

I stopped opposite a fallen tree, on which a pair 
were nesting, for the purpose of photographing 
them and their nest. The birds sat quite still 
while I put up my half-plate tripod camera, 
and were not at all alarmed at the flapping 
focussing cloth. All seemed easy, but before I 
could expose a plate I was surrounded by a flutter- 
ing, croaking swarm of birds, and I had to keep 
driving them off as they hovered in front of my 
camera. 

The number of these birds on South Trinidad 
is incalculable. The entire plumage is of an ivory 
whiteness, and they flash in the sunlight like 
flakes of snow. From the sea-shore to the extreme 
summit of the island they were sitting in swarms 
on every rock and dead tree, while the air seemed 
full of them. After leaving Trinidad, too, while 
steaming southward, we passed flock after flock. 

The eggs are most handsome. About the size 
of a bantam's, and large for the bird, they are 
heavily blotched and streaked with yellowish olive- 
brown on a somewhat lighter ground colour. 

We found young birds of all ages. They are 




H a 



TAMENESS OF THE BIRDS 47 
covered with a grey down at first, but older birds 
have their white feathers suffused with a dirty 
yellow colour. On leaving the nest they have 
black quills to the wings and tail-feathers, but the 
plumage of the adult is entirely white, with the 
exception of a narrow ring of black feathers en- 
circling the eye. The bill, as I have already noted, 
is jet black, while the feet are pale sea-blue, the 
webs joining the toes being milky white. Both 
old and young have the middle toe furnished 
with a strong and sharp claw, which is specially 
useful to the young bird when it is in danger of 
falling from the nesting-place. 

Several pairs of gannets,* a smaller bird than 
our well-known solan goose, but somewhat simi- 
larly coloured when adult, were found sitting 
on their nests or tending their young. The nests 
were in every case a collection of sticks placed 
in a suitable position on the fallen trees. We found 
no eggs, but the young were in all stages of growth. 
The newly-hatched bird is covered with pure 
white down, but it has a black bill, and a patch of 
bare black skin surrounding the eyes and extend- 
ing down the neck under the chin. The down 
on the forehead stands erect, and gives the bird 
a most comical appearance. 

Photographs were obtained of these birds 
without any difficulty, and most of the old gannets 
took no notice at all of our presence. In fact, 

* Sula piscator. 



48 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

one old bird, which was sitting by a well-grown 
youngster, took so little interest in our proceedings 
that we found it necessary to wake it up in order 
to take its portrait. 

High overhead a number of frigate birds were 
circling. Every now and again one would plunge 
downwards and chase a gannet which, slowly 
flapping up from the sea, was bearing a mouthful 
of food to its young on the hillside. 

These frigate birds, of which there are two 
species on South Trinidad, get their food chiefly 
by robbing the gannets. Woe betide the gannet, 
as it slowly wends its way to its nest and young, 
if it is spied by a frigate bird. The robber at once 
hurls itself on its victim, and the gannet, terrified 
at the attack of a bird so much larger than 
itself, drops from its mouth and throat all the 
fish which it has been at such pains to catch. 
The frigate bird then swoops down and, catching 
up the fallen fish before it reaches the ground 
or sea, makes off and swallows the stolen food at 
leisure. 

Frigate birds, however, do not always rely on 
this method of getting a meal. I have frequently 
seen them catching fish for themselves, and 
plunging into the water somewhat after the manner 
of a tern. I have also seen them feeding on the 
remains of a shark which had been killed and 
thrown overboard. 

The commoner of the two frigate birds on South 



FRIGATE BIRDS 49 

Trinidad is the greater frigate,* a bird of large 
size, larger than the common kite, and with a long 
forked tail. The adult male is a glossy greenish 
black, the feathers are of a lanceolate shape, and 
under the chin is a large red bag, to which I 
alluded in a former chapter. The bill is long and 
sharp, and the upper mandible ends with a large 
curved hook, a most formidable weapon of offence 
and defence. The females and young have no 
bag on the throat, and have the underparts white. 

The other species was the lesser frigate,! which 
resembles the larger except for its much smaller 
dimensions. We obtained one specimen, and 
this was shot from the deck of the yacht by Mr. 
Lindsay. The lesser frigate bird has only once 
previously been obtained in the Atlantic. This 
was on the occasion of the visit of the " Dis- 
covery " to South Trinidad, in September, 1901. 
It is, however, a common bird in the Pacific and 
Indian Oceans. 

Apparently neither of these frigate birds was 
nesting on South Trinidad during our visit, but they 
may breed on the neighbouring islets of Martin 
Vas, in the immediate vicinity of which we found 
them numerous. 

My great hope was that there might be a land- 
bird on South Trinidad, because all the other 
South Atlantic islands, with, of course, the excep- 
tion of Saint Paul's Rocks, on which there are no 

* Fregata aquila. f F. arid. 



50 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

trees or vegetation of any kind, have their peculiar 
forms of land-birds. During the first day we were 
ashore, I kept to the " Cascade," knowing that 
there was no time to search thoroughly amongst 
the tree-ferns and other vegetation at the summit 
of the island. I wished, moreover, to make as 
complete a collection as possible of the sea-birds, 
and especially of the petrels peculiar to the 
islands. In this I was successful, as specimens of 
all the birds previously known from South Trinidad, 
as well as of one species the noddy tern new to 
its avifauna, were collected during that afternoon. 

During the following night we steamed slowly 
away, and at daylight went about, returning to 
our former landing place. At 9 o'clock we were 
ashore again, and at once climbed to the plateau. 
Mr. Meade- Waldo and I then set off to climb 
to the summit. We each took a sailor with us to 
carry our lunch, cameras, and so on, but soon after 
we had begun the ascent of the " Cascade," one 
of the sailors gave out, and we had to leave him 
to return to the ship. After this we had to carry 
our own cameras, and soon found that these, 
together with collecting gun, butterfly net, and 
other things, considerably retarded our progress. 

After leaving the plateau we decided that our 
best way to reach the tree-ferns was to follow 
the " Cascade " as much as possible, and then 
climb round a huge crown-shaped rock, which 
towered above us. Passing up the rocky bed of 




THE l ' CROWN" BOCK, SOUTH TRINIDAD ISLAND. 



[50 



WE CLIMB TO THE SUMMIT 51 

the " Cascade," which I had explored the previous 
day, we found that beyond it the bed of the stream 
was somewhat more open. Masses of ferns were 
growing close to the water, and in these my com- 
panion caught a number of moths. The sides of 
the valley were here very steep and covered with 
grass, but we soon discovered that the ground was 
remarkably brittle. 

We kept to the bed of the stream until the 
" Crown " rock was reached. The stream here 
was full of fallen trees, every one of them tenanted 
by a pair or more of white terns. The trees were 
lying at all angles, several of them completely 
blocked our passage, while the sides of the valley 
were literally covered with dead branches, which 
lay partly or wholly overgrown by the ferns and 
grass, so that our progress was extremely slow 
and tedious. Every now and again a moth 
fluttered out from under our feet, and many were 
captured. 

A little further on the bed of the stream was dry 
and full of boulders of all sizes, round which we 
had to make a wide detour. At last we reached 
the " Crown " rock, where a halt was made for 
luncheon. 

After a too short half -hour's rest we started 
our climb again, and soon found that we still had 
the most difficult part of our journey in front, 
for after we had skirted the " Crown " rock we 
came to a narrow ridge of crumbling ground, 



52 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

covered with grass but giving no safe foothold. 
On each side of us the ground sloped down pre- 
cipitously for several hundred feet, and a slip 
would have been disastrous. For some distance 
we proceeded in slow fashion, planting our feet 
firmly in the crumbling earth, not daring to hold 
on by the long grass, which would have torn 
away at once, till at length a broader stretch of 
land opened in front of us. The ground was still 
very brittle, but it offered a good foothold. In 
front of us, at a distance of a few hundred feet, 
we could see the top of the island covered with 
low bushes resembling lauristinus, amongst which 
was a clump of trees bearing shining leaves. In 
these trees numbers of gannets were sitting on 
their nests, and they seemed to be considerably 
astonished at seeing us approaching their home. 
We quickly scrambled to the trees, and a few 
minutes later the summit of South Trinidad was 
gained. 

I shall never forget the magnificent view which 
now lay revealed. Behind us was the " Cascade," 
on each side deep valleys filled with tree-ferns, 
while to our front the whole of the windward side 
of the island was exposed to view. Immediately 
below a precipice fell sheer down for several 
hundreds of feet, and then the land gradually 
sloped away to the green undulating country 
which borders the windward side of South 
Trinidad. In the distance, and close to the water's 



A SPLENDID VIEW 53 

edge, the remains of a Portuguese convict 
settlement was to be seen. There appeared to be 
little of it standing, but the foundations of the 
houses, deserted for many years past, could be 
clearly distinguished. To our immediate right 
was a peak of about the same height as that upon 
which we were standing. The ground had slipped 
away from it to such an extent that all vegetation 
had been destroyed, and only the deep red-coloured 
earth was to be seen. Further to the right 
towered the " Sugarloaf," boldly outlined against 
the deep blue sea. It was full of crannies and 
ledges, in which petrels were nesting in vast 
numbers. As soon as we appeared above the sky- 
line these birds left their nests and flew backwards 
and forwards in immense and continually in- 
creasing numbers, until the air was full of a 
screaming multitude of birds. Below, above and 
on all sides of us these birds wheeled and shrieked, 
until the clamour became almost deafening. 

Beyond the " Sugarloaf " we could see " Noah's 
Ark," a mass of rock rising straight up from the 
sea, and shaped like the familiar toy so dear to 
children. This rock was likewise covered with 
petrels, and they also joined the tumult. At the 
foot of " Noah's Ark " the pirate's treasure is 
supposed to be buried. Whether there is really 
any treasure is doubtful, but if there is, it is 
probable that it will never be found, as, owing to 

the brittle character of the soil, the land is con- 

F 



54 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

tirmally slipping, so that by this time the treasure 
must be buried deep, beyond all hope of recovery. 

Far away and almost on the horizon the rocky 
islets of Martin Vas, on which no one is yet known 
to have landed, were discernible. 

It was next to impossible to make our way 
down to the windward side of the island ; 
moreover, it was getting late in the afternoon, 
so we decided that the best thing to do was to 
descend to the " Pier " by the same way we had 
come. But instead of taking the " Cascade " 
valley, we begun to descend by another deep 
valley close to it. The surface of the ground 
here was even more brittle than in the " Cascade " 
valley, and the descent was very steep. My 
companion and a sailor started first and safely 
reached the first of the tree-ferns. Seeing that 
they were safely down I started, but the ground 
was now considerably broken up by their feet, 
and I found that it was extremely difficult to get 
a foothold in the powdery red-coloured earth, 
which slipped away from under me like sand. 
Suddenly, and without any warning, the whole of 
the ground gave way, and, enveloped in a cloud of 
choking dust, I felt myself rushing down the 
incline, and, before I could realize what had 
happened, I was standing, or rather sitting, close 
to my companions. My first thought was for the 
camera and slides which, together with my gun, 
had been slung on my back. Most fortunately 



A VALLEY OF TREE-FERNS 55 

these were uninjured, and, as I afterwards found, 
none of the plates had suffered in any way, 
although the camera-case was full of dust. 

After this the way became a little easier. The 
bed of the valley was dry, but it had evidently 
been hollowed out by water, for the rocks showed 
considerable wear from trickling water. Possibly 
it is only in the rainy season that there is any 
water in this valley, for at the time of our visit 
the rocks were covered with a thick tangle of grass. 
Amongst the grass and climbing over some of the 
fallen trees, a few of which were to be seen in this 
valley, was a species of climbing bean. This bean 
was in flower and is doubtless the same as that 
mentioned by Mr. Knight as growing thickly on 
the windward side of the island. 

Mention may here be made of some mice which 
we saw in considerable numbers both in this 
and in the " Cascade " valley to what species 
they belonged we were unable to determine. 
They were small and of a greyish colour. We 
both thought that they looked like a small vole, 
but they were extremely quick in their movements, 
and the grass was so thick and high that we were 
unable to shoot any specimens. 

The sides of this valley were thickly grown 
with tree-ferns, and to these we now turned our 
attention. The ferns were from twelve to twenty- 
five feet in height. Their stems were quite bare, 
but at the top a number of fern-like fronds grew 

F2 



56 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

at right-angles to the stem. The tree-ferns on 
South Trinidad grow very close together, and 
owing to this fact and to the ground being strewn 
with boulders of all sizes, over which the grass 
had sprung up in great luxuriance, walking through 
a forest of these ferns was a tedious business. 

Every now and again I was thrown into a state 
of excitement on hearing a shrill twittering sound 
just above my head. Visions of a land-bird were 
always in my mind, but time after time I was 
disappointed to find that the twitterings were 
caused by white terns which were nesting on the 
tops of the decaying trunks of dead tree-ferns. 
Finally we came to the reluctant conclusion that 
there is no land-bird of any kind on South 
Trinidad. We had carefully searched the tallest 
trees on the summit, and there, as in the tree- 
ferns, we found no signs of such a bird. 

On the trunk of one of the tree-ferns, Mr. Meade- 
Waldo found an orchid, which he sent home to 
England, but apart from this and the bean there 
was no other plant in this valley which we had 
not found in that of the " Cascade." 

Instead of taking us down to the shore, as we 
had fully expected, we found that the valley was 
a mere cul-de-sac, and ended with a steep 
precipice of several hundreds of feet in height. 

It was by this time nearly four o'clock in the 
afternoon, and we had arranged to be at the 
landing place at five, and here we were nearly 
two thousand feet above the sea, and the yacht 



A DIFFICULT CLIMB 57 

looking a mere speck far below us. It was 
necessary, therefore, to get out of the valley in 
which we were trapped as quickly as possible. 
To climb the slide we came down was an impos- 
sibility, my fall earlier in the afternoon having 
completely shut that way off from us. To descend 
from where we were was also an impossibility 
owing to the precipice. The only way open to us 
was to force our way through the tree-ferns and gain 
the ridge and climb up that to the gannets' nests. 

We all three felt that we had had enough 
climbing. Water there was none ; all our drink 
had been consumed earlier in the afternoon. 
However, we had to get out somehow, and the 
sooner the better ; so we started off, and at length 
reached the ridge up which we slowly made our 
way. Arrived at the top we started for the 
" Cascade " valley, and followed the same track 
as that we had ascended some hours previously. 

Going down this track was much more un- 
pleasant than coming up. On our right was a 
precipice, while the outlook on our left was 
scarcely less formidable, for in that direction the 
ground fell away almost sheer for at least three 
hundred feet. Our path was a narrow ridge, 
just wide enough to give a foothold, and that a 
most insecure one. At length, however, we reached 
the " Crown " rock, and skirting it again we came 
in sight of the beginning of the " Cascade," the 
clear water of which was so tempting that the 
seaman and I resolved to climb down to it. Never 



58 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

was water more refreshing, and not even the 
presence of vast numbers of land-crabs was suffi- 
cient to deter us from a long and much-needed 
drink. Then, feeling greatly refreshed, we fol- 
lowed the course of the " Cascade," and little by 
little made our way down towards the shore. 

In many places the " Cascade " formed waterfalls 
as much as ten or twelve feet in height, and these 
falls were not easy to negotiate. " Jack," however, 
produced a piece of rope, and so we were able to 
lower ourselves down from rock to rock, and 
finally reached the shore without mishap. 

The sailor who accompanied us on this, and 
afterwards on many excursions of this kind, was 
the coxswain of the steam launch, and volunteered 
to carry our extra baggage, such as cameras and 
so on. Throughout this voyage he gave his 
services in this way, and to his untiring persever- 
ance and willingness we are greatly indebted. 

We reached the " Pier " about six o'clock in 
the evening, and for my part I was most thankful 
to get into the boat and rest. Notwithstanding 
the hard work, however, I had never spent a more 
delightful or interesting time. 

During the three voyages that it has been my 
good fortune to make in the " Valhalla " with 
Lord Crawford, many interesting and beautiful 
islands were visited, but to my mind none of these 
places possesses the charm of this small unin- 
habited spot in the South Atlantic. 



CHAPTER V. 

MARTIN VAS. 

THE ship was hove to off South Trinidad during 
the following night, and early next morning we 
steamed slowly towards the rocky islets of Martin 
Vas. 

Owing to the insufficient manner in which the 
sea surrounding this group of islands has been 
charted, it was necessary to proceed very 
cautiously. Suddenly the water became very 
shallow, and, although we were then about two 
miles away from the nearest islet, it was necessary 
to go full speed astern. While we were backing 
in this way a large rock, covered by some six 
feet of water, was seen within a few yards of the 
ship. This rock is not marked on the chart, and 
we thus had a very narrow escape from an enforced 
residence on South Trinidad. 

At length a passage was found for the ship, 
and we drew in to within about half a mile of the 
main islet. We then set out in boats and rowed 
towards the shore. 

Martin Vas consists of four rocks, the two 



60 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

largest being connected together by a narrow 
strip of land which is only noticeable at low 
water. 

It does not seem to have been previously 
mentioned that when approached from the south- 
east, three of these islets bear a striking resemblance 
to the outline of South Trinidad, though on a 
much smaller scale. The largest of them is about 
300 feet in height, and its sides are precipitous ; 
but the summit appears to form a plateau. If 
the ground of this island is as brittle as that of 
South Trinidad, I should imagine that it would be 
nearly impossible to climb to the plateau. No 
one, however, has, so far as I can ascertain, landed 
on Martin Vas. 

It has been said that the heavy surf makes it 
impossible to land. At the time of our visit, 
however, the weather was exceptionally fine 
and the sea quite smooth, and had we been able 
to spare the time, we could without any doubt 
have got ashore on the largest of the islets. 

As we approached numbers of the greater 
frigate bird appeared and circled overhead. Many 
sooty terns* also came off from the main islet, 
and these in company with the common noddy 
seemed to be the commonest birds inhabiting the 
group. A few Arminjon's and Trinidad petrels 
were observed, but all these were flying over the 
sea, either in the direction of, or away from, 

* Sterna fuliginosa* 



BIRDS ROUND THE ISLETS 61 
Trinidad. None of them seemed to be nesting 
on Martin Vas. 

An example of the smaller noddy tern* was 
seen amongst the common noddy and sooty terns, 
and a large white-breasted shearwater")" passed 
my boat. Several pairs of gannets, of the same 
species as that found on South Trinidad, were also 
seen, but they did not appear to have nests on 
Martin Vas. 

The sooty tern does not seem to have been 
recorded from Martin Vas or South Trinidad 
before, though it probably is quite common there. 
To authenticate our identification a specimen was 
obtained, and this was the only bird we shot during 
the morning. 

I do not think that the islets of Martin Vas 
are inhabited by any birds of great interest, and 
probably South Trinidad offers more suitable 
nesting-places. 

The sea round these islets is inhabited by 
numerous sharks, almost as many being seen here 
as at Saint Paul's Rocks. Many were caught from 
the ship while we were away in the boats, but 
they were not of any great size, their average 
length being about six feet. 

Shortly after mid-day we returned to the yacht, 
which at once got under steam and left for 
Tristan da Cunha. 

During the two days spent on South Trinidad 

* M icranoua leucocapillus. f Puffinus grama ? 



62 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

and Martin Vas a large collection of birds was made. 
They were kept in the refrigerator until I could 
finish skinning them, a task which occupied several 
days. 



CHAPTER VI. 

TRISTAN DA CUNHA. 

OWING to the very fine weather and light winds 
the passage from Trinidad and Martin Vas to 
Tristan da Cunha occupied twelve days. 

Tristan da Cunha is the largest of a group of 
three islands, all of which are within sight of one 
another ; but Nightingale Island and Inaccessible 
Island, the other two of the group, are insignificant 
in size and appearance compared with Tristan da 
Cunha, the peak of which rises over 8,000 feet 
above the sea. 

Gough Island, which is situated about two 
hundred miles to the south and slightly east of 
Tristan da Cunha, should probably be included 
in this group, owing to its somewhat similar 
avifauna. 

A large number of sea-birds, including several 
species of albatroses, as well as petrels, breed on 
Tristan da Cunha and the two smaller islands in 
the immediate neighbourhood. 

Long before the islands were sighted sea-birds 
became very numerous. Two species of petrels 



64 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

which we saw at no great distance from Tristan 
da Cunha deserve special mention, because up 
to the present time no one has succeeded in dis- 
covering where they breed. 

One of these is the great shearwater,* a well- 
known visitor to British seas, and I think the only 
" British " bird whose eggs are now unknown. 
These birds were seen in some abundance in the 
neighbourhood of these islands, and in nearly every 
case there were two individuals, doubtless male 
and female, together. A few weeks later I ex- 
amined a skin of the great shearwater in the Cape 
Town Museum, which had been caught on Inac- 
cessible Island, and there would seem to be little 
doubt that this bird breeds on one of these three 
islands. 

The other petrel which was encountered, not 
only before we reached Tristan da Cunha but also 
between that island and the Cape of Good Hope, 
was CEstrelata incerta, of which very few specimens 
have ever been obtained. It is about the size 
of a large pigeon, and of a dull brown on the back 
with yellowish-brown, almost golden, neck, and 
white underparts. The three skins in the British 
Museum were all obtained in the South Atlantic 
near the Cape of Good Hope, and possibly this 
bird also nests on one of these three islands. 

As the yacht gradually drew nearer to the 
islands the number of albatroses increased. The 

* Puffinus gravis. 



A MAIL FOR THE ISLANDERS 65 

yellow-nosed albatros* was by far the commonest 
of the three species seen here. This bird somewhat 
resembles a very large black-backed gull, the head, 
however, is washed with smoky-grey, and a bright 
yellowish-orange streak extends along the whole 
length of the bill. The great albatrosf was in 
smaller numbers, and most of them left the vicinity 
of the ship when within a few miles of the island. 
Every now and then a sooty albatros, J easily 
recognisable by its sooty-brown colour, was 
observed. 

The people on shore soon sighted the ship, 
and, when we were within a mile of the settlement, 
two boats put out, and a few minutes later the 
islanders scrambled aboard. 

Lord Crawford had brought a mail from England 
and some time was spent in sorting the various 
letters and packages. By the time this was 
finished it was too late to go on shore that day, 
and all we could do was to spend an hour in a 
boat between the ship and the island. 

I had a talk with several of the islanders about 
the birds, and especially the three species of land- 
birds, which have been described from Tristan 
da Cunha. I succeeded in getting a certain 
amount of information, but how much of it was 
correct I cannot say. 

I was told that there is now only one land-bird. 
This is a thrush called Nesochicla eremita, which 

* Diomedea chlororhyncha. f * exulans. J D. fuliginosa. 



66 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

in colour and size much resembles a young black- 
bird in nestling plumage. The Tristan finch,* 
about the size of a sparrow and of a greenish colour, 
appears to be extinct on Tristan da Cunha, though 
we were told that it is still common on Inaccessible 
Island. Tristan da Cunha is overrun with rats, 
and they are probably responsible for the ex- 
tinction of the finch. 

I also made enquiries as to whether the flight- 
less moorhen| still existed on the Main Island, 
but none of the islanders had any knowledge of 
the bird. They, however, told me that a bird 
like a " little black chicken " with long legs is 
quite common on Inaccessible. There is little 
doubt that this rail, of which I believe no specimens 
have yet been obtained, is a different species to 
that which was formerly found on Tristan da 
Cunha. Moseley states J that the rail of Inacces- 
sible Island was described to him by two men 
who had been living on that island as " much 
smaller " than Porphyriornis nesiotis, and differing 
from it in " having finer legs and a longer beak." 

The name " Inaccessible," it should be mentioned, 
was given to the island on account of the inac- 
cessibility of its peak. The island itself, being 
fringed with a thick growth of kelp weed, is not 
difficult to land upon, as the weed prevents the 
surf from breaking on the shore. 

* Nesospiza acunhae. f Porphyriornis nesiotis. 

J "Notes by a Naturalist," 1892, p. 105. 



A DIVING PETREL 67 

We rowed to within half a mile of the shore of 
Tristan da Cunha, near the settlement. The sea 
was perfectly smooth, and had it been earlier in 
the afternoon we should have landed. The settle- 
ment is composed of about sixteen stone houses, 
and is situated at the foot of the peaks where the 
grass-covered ground slopes gradually down to 
the sea. Great numbers of cattle were feeding 
on this grass land. The islanders sell them to 
passing ships, and we ordered two bullocks, but 
owing to the stormy weather which set in that 
night we were unable to hold any further com- 
munication with the shore. 

During the evening I made a small collection 
of sea-birds. Two fine examples of the yellow- 
nosed albatros were shot, also some terns.* The 
latter, which are much like our common tern, 
were very numerous, and, judging by the number 
of young birds which were only just able to fly, 
there must be a considerable nesting colony. 

The most interesting birds which we saw, 
however, were some diving petrels, which 
proved to belong to a species not hitherto 
recorded from Tristan da Cunha. Superficially 
these petrels resemble the diving petrel of the 
Straits of Magellan, but they are somewhat 
smaller and have a much greater power of 
flight. On several occasions I saw them rise off 
the water and fly away out of sight, whereas 

* Sterna vittata. 



68 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

those found in the Magellan Straits drop into the 
water after a flight of about fifty to one hundred 
yards. The Tristan da Cunha diving petrels 
are constantly exposed to rough weather and break- 
ing waves, and in consequence have to take wing 
continually to avoid being drowned, and this fact 
may account for their greater powers of flight. 

They were met with soon after we left the 
yacht, and became more numerous as we ap- 
proached the land. Half a mile from the shore 
they were on all sides of us, and appeared con- 
tinually close to the boat, when instead of diving 
they at once took to flight, and passed away at a 
great speed. 

The peak was covered by a mass of dense 
clouds, through which there appeared every now 
and then a yellow-nosed albatros sailing down 
from its nesting-place to the sea. We were informed 
that a great many of these birds as well as sooty 
albatroses breed inside the crater at the top of the 
peak, and that the great albatros does not nest 
on the main island, but only on Inaccessible. 

We made arrangements with one of the natives 
to visit the peak the next day, and had great hopes 
of making some interesting additions to our col- 
lection of petrels. Alas, early next morning the 
sea had risen to such an extent that landing was 
quite out of the question. We lay to off the island 
for three days, but the gale increased in fury 
instead of abating, and as our stock of coal was 



CLOUDS AND MIST 69 

getting very low, we were forced to leave and shape 
our course for Cape Town. 

The steward bought from the natives of Tristan 
da Cunha a quantity of small red berries which, 
when stewed, were much like cranberries in flavour. 
This fruit, which we were told formed the prin- 
cipal food of the thrush-like bird, is probably the 
Nertera depressa mentioned by Moseley (ibid., 
p. 99). 

While the ship was hove to a great many birds 
were seen, Antarctic skuas and sooty albatroses 
being the most conspicuous. They were too know- 
ing or else too well fed to be caught on a hook, 
although much time was spent in fishing for them. 
We also saw two very large porpoises, which were 
nearly pure white ; they played about for several 
hours round the bows of the ship. 

During the three days of waiting the weather 
was so thick that, although we were repeatedly 
within a mile of Tristan da Cunha, we only twice 
saw the peak, which suddenly appeared from 
amongst the clouds and remained visible for 
several minutes, the rest of the island being com- 
pletely buried in clouds and mist. 



CHAPTER VII. 

DASSEN ISLAND. 

SEVEN DAYS after leaving Tristan da Cunha we 
sighted Table Mountain, and a few hours later 
the anchor was dropped in Table Bay. 

During the week at sea between the Tristan 
Islands and the Cape we had a strong west wind 
which was most favourable for sailing, and one 
day's run under these conditions was 275 miles. 

During our second day at sea, when nearly 
400 miles from Tristan da Cunha, an Antarctic 
skua and many terns* were met with. These 
birds must wander many hundreds of miles from 
land, and, as they were not likely to have been 
migrating, it is probable that they follow shoals 
of small fish, and thus in time get into mid-ocean 
and far from land. Great numbers of petrels 
and albatroses were also seen, and, indeed, birds 
were more numerous in this part of the South 
Atlantic than elsewhere in the oceans that we 
visited. Petrels of several species were frequent, 
either singly or in large flocks, while yellow-nosed 

* Sterna vittata. 



TABLE BAY 71 

albatroses followed us until we were within sight 
of Table Mountain, when they disappeared, and 
their place was taken by the " Cape hen." * 

Table Mountain was quite clear and free of 
clouds, and the sea was a flat calm as we turned 
into Table Bay. When we anchored in the Bay, 
at some distance from Cape Town, we found that 
cormorants were swarming in incredible numbers 
right up to the shipping. 

During our stay at Cape Town, the " Valhalla " 
was dry-docked for scraping and painting, and 
this necessitated our leaving the ship and taking 
rooms in an hotel. Eleven days were spent here, 
and we made several most interesting excursions 
in company with Mr. W. L. Sclater, who was at 
that time the director of the Cape Town Museum. 
Under his guidance we climbed Table Mountain, 
but by far the most interesting experience was 
a trip to Dassen Island. 

This island is situated about 35 miles from 
Cape Town and is of great importance, not only 
on account of its fine lighthouse, but also owing 
to its being a Government " bird-preserve." 

Cormorants' guano and penguins' eggs are 
collected on the island in great quantities and 
shipped to Cape Town. 

Having obtained special permission to visit the 
island we left Cape Town on February 3rd in the 
Government tug " Magnet," which was carrying the 

* Majaqueua cequinoctialis. 



72 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

mails there. Soon after leaving Cape Town we 
passed close to Robben Island, which is set apart 
as a leper station. Many penguins were seen 
during the passage, and numbers of Cape hens 
followed the launch. Occasionally sooty and 
black-browed albatroses flew by, but no specimens 
were obtained as we had no guns with us, on 
account of the strict regulations enforced on Dassen 
Island, where the firing of guns is prohibited for 
fear of disturbing the nesting birds. 

As we drew close to the island, after a few 
hours' passage, we came in view of enormous 
numbers of penguins sitting in rows upon the 
shore, while the sea in the immediate neighbour- 
hood was crowded with them. I had never before 
seen so many birds together, but even this was 
nothing to what we were to witness the next 
day. As soon as we landed we were met by one 
of the lighthouse-keepers, as well as by one of the 
men whose duty it is to see that the birds are 
undisturbed. 

Dassen Island is in no place more than a few 
feet above the level of the sea ; it is entirely 
uncultivated, and almost completely covered with 
a low growing ice-plant. On the windward side 
the shore is rocky, but in no place steep, while 
on the leeward side it is sandy. The rest of the 
island is covered with a deep layer of sand 
in which the penguins dig holes for their nests 
at the roots of the ice-plants. 



M ( 




PENGUINS AND THEIR BURROWS 73 

As soon as we had superintended the landing 
of the baggage, of which our cameras formed an 
important part, we set off for the lighthouse, 
which is on the windward side of the island, under 
the guidance of one of the assistant light-keepers. 

A narrow path leading from the landing-place 
to the lighthouse is the only track in which one 
may walk when the birds are nesting. 

On each side of the track were numbers of 
penguins, both adult and young birds, while in 
many cases we saw old birds digging out their 
burrows, at the end of which their two eggs are 
laid. They appear to use their feet only for 
digging. Lying flat on their breasts they throw 
the sand out behind them with their strong 
webbed feet, and all over the island as far as the 
eye could reach showers of sand were shooting 
up into the air. 

Our guide informed us that we were too early 
for the height of the nesting season, only a few 
penguins being at this time on the island. He 
added that the number of breeding penguins on 
this small island, little more than a mile square, 
was estimated at nine millions, a truly astonishing 
number ; but as the birds on shore at the time 
of our visit were described as " very few " I can 
well believe that the total estimate is not ex- 
aggerated. 

By the time we reached the lighthouse it was 
nearly dark, and the light was already shining 



74 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

from the iron tower. Mr. Bennett, the light-keeper, 
was most kind and obliging, and at once told us 
that he would be delighted to put us up for the 
night in his house. Moreover, he showed us over 
the lighthouse, which is one of the most important 
at the Cape. It is about 160 feet in height, and 
is built entirely of iron. The light is revolving 
and white, and about 4J gallons of oil are burnt 
every night. Mr. Bennett told me that very few 
birds ever strike the glass of the lighthouse, 
and this is not surprising, as Dassen Island is too 
far south for migrating passerine birds. 

Outside the windows of my room was a small 
colony of about twenty penguins which, through- 
out the night, kept up a continual " braying." 
The name " Jackass Penguin " has been given 
most appropriately to this bird, for their cry is a 
perfect imitation of the bray of an ass. The birds 
near the house were answered by the rest of the 
penguins on the island, and a most extraordinary 
noise was the result, a constant " braying " 
resounding from all parts of the island. 

Early next morning we met outside the light- 
house and examined some of the penguins' 
nesting holes, many of which contained eggs and 
sitting birds. No nest is made, but the two eggs, 
which are white, with a shell of coarse texture, 
are deposited in a hollow scooped out at the foot 
of the ice-plants, or in a natural depression in the 
ground. The female sits very close, and when 



A MOST WONDERFUL SIGHT 75 

disturbed crouches down and rolls her head from 
side to side, occasionally making a short rush at 
the intruder, and all the while she utters a 
grunting noise. As a rule the male stands close 
to the nest ; occasionally, however, he leaves his 
mate and walks down to the sea in search of food 
for her and himself. 

Dassen Island must offer a most wonderful sight 
when all the birds are ashore, as even at the time 
of our visit there were at least one pair of birds 
to every square yard. 

Mr. Almada, the " watcher," informed us that 
most of the birds on shore at this time were 
moulting. They come up from the sea coated with 
fat and remain on shore for the period of the moult, 
which takes about a month, and during this time 
they never enter the sea for food, but appear to 
live on their accumulated fat. When the moult is 
complete, the penguins go to sea again for another 
month and again become enormously fat. They 
then land again and commence to breed, and as 
soon as the young are completely feathered, 
all of them leave the island and spend some time 
at sea before the next breeding season commences. 
All the year round there are a few pairs nesting 
on the island. These may possibly be early bred 
young of the previous year, or old birds which 
for some reason have had their moult retarded. 

The eggs are collected and sent to Cape Town 
for sale, where they fetch about ten shillings per 



76 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

hundred. Penguins do not make guano to the 
same extent as do the cormorants and their 
nesting-places are " scraped " once only every 
year. 

After breakfast we set out for the sandy shore, 
where most of the penguins were gathered together. 
It was a truly remarkable sight. As far as the 
eye could see was an unending mass of penguins. 
Thousands upon thousands of the comical-looking 
birds were sitting close together along the sandy 
shore, while many more were arriving from the 
sea and walking solemnly up to join their com- 
panions. All were either in full moult or just 
beginning to cast their feathers. The moult of 
these birds is somewhat peculiar. The feathers of 
the back come off in large patches beginning 
from the tail, and the birds are then bare except 
for a coating of soft down amongst which the new 
feathers make their appearance. The sand was 
thickly covered with feathers, while amongst the 
rocks and ice-plants were " drifts " of them 
several inches in depth. 

We photographed the penguins as they sat 
on the shore, and they showed little fear of us. 
We walked amongst them without causing them 
much alarm, and they would not go into the sea 
unless they were very hard pressed, and then they 
remained but a very short time in the water. 

There were a few young ones on the island, and 
one which I took alive with the intention of making 



CORMORANTS IN VAST NUMBERS 77 

a " skin " of it, became so tame and friendly 
that I had not the heart to kill it. It subsequently 
became a great pet and was brought safely home. 
Young penguins are at first covered with a dark 
greenish-brown down, and the feathers when they 
begin to grow make their appearance first just 
above the tail, the head and neck being the last 
to be feathered 

After spending some time with the penguins 
we walked over to another part of the island where 
the cormorants were nesting. Three, if not four, 
species of cormorants nest on Dassen Island, but 
of these the commonest is the Cape cormorant,* 
which was breeding in vast numbers. A few pairs 
of the darker coloured P. neglectus were nesting, 
but they appeared to be rare. The Cape cor- 
morant is the principal guano-producing bird on 
the island. In appearance this bird somewhat 
resembles our shag, but is smaller. They had 
young at the time of our visit, and all of these were 
ready to fly. The stench in this part of the island 
was almost unbearable at first, but after a time 
we became accustomed to it, and did not notice it. 

Several photographs were taken of the cor- 
morants, but they were not so tame as the penguins, 
and if one approached to within a few yards of the 
colony, all the old birds and most of the young 
took to flight with an outburst of screaming. 

Hovering over the colony were numbers of 

* Phalacrocorax capensis. 



78 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

black-backed gulls,* a bird much like our lesser 
black-backed gull in shape and coloration. These 
birds, we were told, are most destructive to the 
cormorants, as they devour the eggs and newly- 
hatched young as soon as the old birds leave the 
nests uncovered. 

Here also were a great number of sacred ibises, | 
which had built their nests in colonies amongst 
those of the cormorants. So close together were the 
nests of these ibises that they appeared to be one 
mass of rubbish with numerous depressions, in 
each of which were eggs or young, but mostly 
young. The ibises rose in a cloud and flew away 
at our approach. A great number of young ones, 
however, were unable to fly, and two were caught 
alive and taken back to the ship, where they were 
safely reared, and they are now in the London 
Zoological Gardens. When newly-hatched these 
ibises are covered with grey and black down. The 
head and neck of the adult are covered with jet 
black skin bare of feathers, but this baldness is 
not attained until the bird is two years old. Prior 
to that the head and neck are clothed with black 
feathers ; those of the throat and foreneck are, 
however, moulted after a few weeks, and are 
replaced by new white feathers, which are the last 
to be shed before the bird arrives at its fully 
adult plumage. 

We were somewhat surprised to see the sacred 

* Larua dominicanus. f Ibis aethiopica. 



SACRED IBISES 79 

ibis here, as there is no regular supply of fresh 
water on the island, but we were told that they 
usually came to the water troughs which are put 
round the lighthouse for the fowls belonging to 
the keeper. The principal food of this bird on 
Dassen Island appears to be the intestines of the 
young cormorants, and all the young ibises which 
we caught ejected a mass of entrails. Owing to 
their predilection for this food, these beautiful 
birds are considered as vermin, and are slaughtered 
on every possible occasion by the inhabitants. 
A great many of the young escape, however, 
owing to the nests being placed close to those of 
the cormorants, near which no one is allowed to 

g- 

Besides the birds already mentioned there was 

seen close to the lighthouse a pair of ringed plovers, * 
from whose actions it became evident that there 
were young in the vicinity, and after a careful 
search we found one in downy plumage. These 
birds are not unlike the Kentish plover in size 
and general appearance, but they are somewhat 
darker and have no black collar ; moreover, 
the breast of the adult is of a buff colour. 
Several pairs of them were seen on the island. 
This species is found over the whole of Africa, 
from the Cape to Egypt. 

A pair of black oyster-catchers f were evidently 
about to breed. There was also a large flock of 

* JEgialitis pecuaria. f Haematopus moquini. 



80 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

sanderlings in full winter plumage on the shore, 
and in their company were several turnstones, 
both very common visitors to England in spring 
and autumn. Occasionally a few small parties 
of ruffs and reeves,* another well-known British 
bird, were met with. Flying about round the 
lighthouse were several swallows of our familiar 
speciesf and a pair of wagtails of one of the Cape 
species, which is not unlike our pied wagtail, were 
about to nest on the lightkeeper's house. 

Giant petrels were swimming in the sea close 
to the shore on the windward side, and they 
probably fed on the young cormorants and 
penguins, especially those that were weak and 
sickly. 

As we had to get on board the tug at mid-day, 
our time ashore was limited, but we managed to 
cover a good deal of ground and saw most of the 
principal nesting-places. 

On our way back to Cape Town we saw little 
of interest, with the exception of a noddy tern, 
which has not previously been recorded from the 
Cape of Good Hope. 

The day before we sailed away from Cape Town 
a ribbon fish (Regalecus) of about seven feet in 
length was caught by some fishermen in Table Bay. 
It was brought on board, and Lord Crawford 
purchased it for the British Museum. It was 

* Machetes pugnax. f Hirundo rustica 

| Motacilla capensis. Anotts atolidus. 



i B 




A RIBBON FISH 81 

somewhat damaged about the head, and the bril- 
liant scarlet dorsal fin was unfortunately rather 
broken. We put it in the freezing room and so 
brought it to England. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL AND COMORO ISLANDS. 

WE sailed from Cape Town on February 8th, 
1906, and proceeded to Durban, where a day was 
spent in coaling. 

After leaving Durban Lord Crawford intended 
to land on Europa Island, which has only once 
been visited by a naturalist ; but this idea had 
to be abandoned, owing to the extremely bad 
weather encountered throughout the Mozambique 
Channel. 

Two days after we left Durban, a gale got up, 
and in two more days this developed into a cyclone, 
which blew with unabated fury for twenty-four 
hours. It started about nine o'clock at night ; 
rain fell in torrents, and for several hours we all 
stood on deck holding on to the rigging of the 
mizzen-mast. The sea was terrible, and enormous 
waves towered above the ship. The " Valhalla " 
was hove to, and rode out the gale in splendid 
fashion. 

Distinguished above the roaring of the wind and 
the tumult of the breaking waves we could hear the 



A CYCLONE 83 

wild cries of whimbrels and great numbers of other 
wading birds, and terns could be seen flying round 
the ship. At early dawn a tern was blown against 
the rigging so fiercely that one of its wings was 
completely ripped away. 

In the morning the sea was still as high as 
during the previous night, and as far as the eye could 
see enormous quantities of birds terns, whimbrels, 
little stints, curlew-sandpipers were flying round 
the ship in flocks, though none came aboard. 
Later in the day common swallows* appeared, 
as also did a large harrier. The swallows came 
on board at dusk and crowded together on the top 
of the deck house. A night jarf was also caught 
on deck. Throughout the day we remained 
hove to, and it was impossible to ascertain our 
position owing to the thick mist which hung over 
the sea. We knew that somewhere on our star- 
board side there was a small coral island, Bassas 
da India, while to port was the coast of Africa. 
Suddenly, however, about two o'clock in the 
afternoon, the wind dropped, and, the fog lifting 
for a few minutes, we obtained a glimpse of the 
Mozambique coast. After this we got under steam 
again, and continued on our course for the Comoro 
Islands. 

Two hours later an open boat was sighted, 
and we steamed for it. It proved to be a fishing 
boat full of natives, who had been blown out from 

* Hirundo rustica. | Caprimulgus unwini. 



84 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
the Mozambique coast the night before. Their 
sail was torn to pieces, and they had no food or 
water. Our lifeboat was lowered at once in 
charge of the second mate, and we provided the 
natives with biscuits, water, a sail, and some 
rope. 

I believe that boats often get blown away from 
the coast in the Mozambique Channel in this way. 
Later on, when we were in the SeycheJle Islands, 
we heard several extraordinary tales of boats being 
blown away during a hurricane, and being carried 
for great distances. 

At daybreak on February 23rd, Mayotte, one 
of the Comoro Islands, was sighted, and a short 
time afterwards we entered the harbour, which is 
studded with little islands thickly covered with 
vegetation. 

As soon as we anchored off the town black kites* 
appeared. These birds seem to be very common 
winter visitors to the Comoro Islands, as well as 
to Madagascar and many islands to the west of 
it. Round about the ship, during the whole of 
the time we spent at Mayotte, were many sharks, 
though most of them were small ones. Several 
of these sharks were caught with a tarpon rod and 
line, and gave excellent sport. 

Nearly the whole of the original vegetation has 
been cleared on Mayotte, and on one peak only 
is it now possible to see the virgin forests with 

* Mttvus migrans. 



MANGROVE SWAMPS 85 

which the island was formerly covered. The island 
was cleared for the cultivation of sugar cane, but 
this industry being at a very low ebb the greater 
part is now uncultivated, and is becoming covered 
with a thick growth of acacia trees. At one 
place we landed at a wharf, which formerly belonged 
to a large sugar factory, which was still standing 
with the machinery for crushing the cane, although 
it had been abandoned for several years. 

The shore on the leeward side is bordered with 
mangrove swamps, which are covered by the sea 
at high tide. The mud in these swamps makes a 
fine feeding ground for wading birds. The most 
remarkable of these was the crab-plover,* a bird 
which much resembles an avocet in size and 
coloration. Its bill, however, is short and stout, 
and very different from the avocet's slender 
upturned bill. These crab-plovers were feeding 
in considerable numbers on the shore in company 
with curlews and whimbrels, and other well-known 
British wading birds, such as the common sand- 
piper| and greenshank.J 

Among the mangrove trees were numbers of 
little kingfishers, somewhat smaller than the 
common kingfisher and with a remarkable mop-like 
crest, composed of long soft feathers which hang 
down over the eyes and back of the head. 

The country close to the town is cultivated, 

* Dromas ardeola. f Tetanus hypoleucus. 

J Totanus canescens. Corythornis cristata. 

H 



86 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

sugar cane and maize being the principal crops, 
while a few limes are also grown. Our first ex- 
cursion was to the cultivated country close to the 
harbour, where several interesting birds and butter- 
flies were obtained. Among the former should be 
mentioned the white-eye,* a little bird of about 
the size of a willow-wren, but of a deep lemon- 
yellow colour on the breast, and with pale chestnut 
flanks. The eye is encircled by a ring of white 
silky feathers. This species is peculiar to Mayotte, 
and is one of the commonest birds there. They 
were in large flocks, especially at the edge of the 
mangrove swamps. 

Paradise flycatchers were also seen in plenty, 
and one of these birds which we shot proved to 
belong to a new species.")" A beautiful little sun- 
bird was also very common near the shore, and 
two species of red weaver birds were obtained. 
One of these, Nesocanthis eminentissima, which 
is peculiar to the Comoro Islands, is slightly 
larger than our sparrow, and the male has a bright 
crimson breast during the breeding season, but 
when not in breeding plumage it is duD olive-brown, 
like the females and young. The other weaver 
bird, called Foudia madagascariensis, is of a 
brilliant scarlet, the back being spotted with 
black. It is probable that this species, in 
common with other birds, has been introduced 
from Madagascar. 

* Zosterops mayottensis. f Terpsiphone lindsayi. 



A NEW SWIFT 87 

The grey-headed lovebird* is not uncommon 
on the cultivated land near the seashore. This 
small green parroquet, the males of which have a 
grey head and neck, is an inhabitant of Madagascar, 
and possibly owes its presence in the Comoros 
to human agency. It is a common cage bird, 
and great numbers are imported from Madagascar 
to Europe. 

On one occasion we visited a small island situated 
in the middle of the harbour. This island, which 
is marked on the charts as " Buzi," was thickly 
covered with vegetation, and in some places it 
was impossible to force a way through the prickly 
clumps of acacia trees. The heat was intense, 
and I have never felt the sun so much as I did 
on Buzi. 

A number of swifts were flying over the island, 
and after I had waited for some time they flew 
near enough to be secured. These birds, which 
somewhat resembled our common swift, proved to 
belong to an undescribed species which I have 
named Cypselus mayottensis.^ 

This little island was tenanted by a large colony 
of fruit bats.J They were, however, in the thick 
trees on the inaccessible side of the island, where 
it rises straight up from the sea. Every evening 
numbers of them flew across to the main island, 

* Agapornis cane*. 

f " Bulletin Brit. Orn. Club," Vol. XVI., p. 104, June, 1906. 

% Pteropu* comorensia. See Preface to 2nd Edition. 

H2 



88 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

and one evening, on our way back to the ship 
after a day's collecting in the mangrove swamps, 
we shot one as it flew over the steam launch. 
Its fur was of a reddish colour, thick and soft. 
A most unpleasant skunk-like smell clings to one's 
hands after touching one of these bats, and this 
is especially noticeable when the animal has just 
been shot. On several occasions I saw these fruit 
bats splash into the salt water of the harbour, 
but whether they were drinking or washing I 
do not know. 

During our visit to the Comoros we steamed 
across to Anjouan Island, but owing to the heavy 
sea and strong wind we were unable to get in close, 
and had to return to Mayotte. This was much 
to be regretted, as the fauna of Anjouan is some- 
what different from that of Mayotte. 

Our last day was spent in the virgin forest, 
on one of the highest peaks of Mayotte. My special 
object on this excursion was to get examples of 
the peculiar fruit-pigeon,* which is only to be found 
on the wooded peaks. We saw, altogether, four 
examples of this remarkable bird, and I shot two 
adults. In appearance it is short and thickset, 
the entire plumage is deep blue, with the ex- 
ception of the head, neck, and upper breast, 
which are grey tinged with yellow. The feathers 
of the fore neck and upper breast are elongated 
and lanceolate in form, while round the eye is a 

* Alectroenaa sganzini. 




FORET D AMBRE, MADAGASCAR. 



[89 



VIRGIN FOREST 89 

bare patch of red skin. The " coo " of the Comoro 
fruit-pigeon is extraordinarily deep and resonant. 
These pigeons were very tame, and took no notice 
whatever of our presence. There is no doubt 
that they are now extremely rare. 

A native guide told me that he had often seen 
the black parrot* in this same forest-covered 
peak, but unfortunately we did not come across 
it. 

The Madagascar weaver bird was somewhat 
abundant on the outskirts of the forest, and 
the only other bird seen there was a thrush| of 
about the size of our blackbird ; it has an orange- 
coloured bill, but the plumage is greyish and the 
crown of the head black. It is a very noisy bird, 
its loud chattering call-note at once betrays its 
presence. 

This patch of virgin forest extends from about 
1,000 feet above sea-level nearly to the summit 
of the peak, and is composed of tall trees under 
which dense masses of creepers and ferns grow in 
luxuriance. Numerous streams of pure fresh water 
intersect the narrow pathway through the forest, 
and owing to this and to the deep shade given by 
the trees, the air was quite refreshing, and in strik- 

* Two species of these parrots are found in the Comoros, Coracopaia 
comorenaia and C. aibilana, though neither have apparently been 
previously recorded from Mayotte. My informant gave me such 
a clear description of a black parrot, however, that there is no doubt 
that one of the above species is found on Mayotte. 

f Ixocincla madagaacarienais. 



90 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

ing contrast to that of the lower parts of the 
island. 

On the edge of the forest we found a large 
colony of fruit bats, which were hanging from the 
upper branches of the trees. They became very 
restless as soon as we approached, many taking 
to flight with shrill cries. Others climbed about 
from branch to branch, using the long claw on their 
wings as well as their feet, and hanging head down- 
wards. 

In the depth of the forest we came on a small 
party of lemurs,* which were feeding on the fruit 
of a densely foliaged tree. I shot one for identi- 
fication, but was unwilling to sacrifice more of 
these charming little creatures, which showed not 
the slightest fear, but merely looked down at us 
with their great black eyes, and uttered continually 
their characteristic grunting noise. 

While walking quietly along under the trees 
on the look-out for pigeons I surprised a family 
party of tenrecs, which were rooting amongst the 
dead leaves for insects. These creatures are much 
like large hedgehogs in appearance, but their 
spines are much softer ; moreover, they have the 
same disagreeable stench as the fruit bats, and 
those I brought on board were not favourably 
received by my companions. In spite of its un- 
pleasant smell the tenrec is used as an article of 
food in Madagascar, and is greatly appreciated 

* Lemur mayottensis. 



A WALKING FISH 91 

by the natives. Possibly it has been introduced 
into the Comoro Islands from Madagascar on 
account of its edible qualities. The natives of the 
Comoro Islands also hold the lemur in great esteem 
as a delicacy, and they declare it to be, when young, 
quite as good eating as chicken. 

Lower down the hill, amongst the sugar cane 
and other cultivated crops, were several species of 
birds, but most of these were without any doubt 
introductions, and as such were not worthy of 
notice. Numbers of small swifts* were flying round 
the coconut palms near our landing place. Owing 
to its rapid flight this swift is very difficult to shoot, 
so that only one specimen was obtained. This 
one fell on a patch of bare ground which was 
honeycombed by the burrows of land-crabs ; before 
I could pick it up a crab, starting forward and 
seizing it, dragged it underground, and only with 
great difficulty was I able to open up the burrow 
and rescue the bird. 

Green bee-eaters")" were seen in numbers on the 
low ground amongst the cultivation, and it is 
interesting to note that this species ranges from 
Madagascar across Africa to the west coast. 

Late in the afternoon we walked down to the 
mangrove swamp where our boat was waiting for 
us. Here we came across that peculiar fish, the 
walking goby.J It was in great numbers on the 

* Tachornis gracilis. t Merops superciliosus. 

J Periophthalrmts koebreuteri. 



92 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

mud of the mangrove swamp, where it spends most 
of its time, though always close to water. We 
found it extremely difficult to obtain a specimen. 
The fish stays quite still until one at temps to catch 
it, when it at once makes off across the water with 
a series of leaps, to reappear at some distance away 
on the mud or on a dead branch lying on the water's 
edge. Sometimes, as one walks through the 
swamp, numbers of these fish skip away in all 
directions, but however closely they are pursued 
they never remain long in the water. On land the 
pectoral fins are used as legs, and the fish is able 
to walk with ease over the soft mud. Species of 
this genus are found throughout the tropics. 

Early on the morning of March 3rd, 1906, we 
left Mayotte and steamed away, bound for Diego 
Suarez, the principal port of Madagascar. 



CHAPTER IX. 

LA FORET D' AMBRE, MADAGASCAR. 

THE day after we left Mayotte, Cape Ambre was 
sighted, and at noon we entered the harbour of 
Diego Suarez, the principal port of Madagascar. 
The town is strongly fortified and, owing to a 
deep indentation of the coastline, it has an ideal 
harbour. 

The governor of Diego Suarez was exceedingly 
kind. He granted us a permit for collecting 
during out stay, and also supplied us with free 
passes for the " train " from the town to Camp 
d' Ambre, which we wished to visit in order to see 
the great forest of Ambre. Moreover, a message 
was sent to the officer in charge of this camp to 
give us all the help possible during our stay there. 
We started at 7 o'clock in the morning and boarded 
the " train," which was in reality a tram consisting 
of two carriages drawn by four mules. The road 
was a steep ascent, and we were three hours in 
reaching the camp, which is 2000 feet above sea- 
level. The first part of the road led through 
fields of long grass, in which were great numbers 



94 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

of quails, and every now and then one would rise 
close to the hoofs of the mules. Small dark- 
coloured larks Mirafra hova which were even 
more abundant, rose in flocks from almost under 
the wheels of the tram, and along the track 
in front of us swarms of these little birds were 
running. 

After a few miles forest took the place of pasture 
land, and for a considerable distance the track 
lay between rows of tall trees, the branches of which 
almost met overhead. In this forest we saw a 
flock of Guinea fowls* which, being surprised at a 
bend in the track, took to flight close ahead of the 
tram. At some distance from the camp the tram 
lines came to an end, and the rest of the journey 
had to be performed in a large two- wheeled waggon 
drawn by mules, which brought us, after an hour's 
hard pulling, to our destination. We were met 
by the colonel commanding the camp, who con- 
ducted us to the hotel where rooms had been 
ordered. Camp d'Ambre is a convalescent station, 
and all soldiers suffering from fever are sent there 
to recuperate. The camp consists of barracks, 
officers' quarters, and a small, but clean and 
well-managed hotel. The surroundings are very 
beautiful. In front the hill slopes abruptly, allow- 
ing a distant view of Diego Suarez. On both sides 
the country is covered with grass, while in the rear 
lies the Foret d'Ambre a splendid virgin forest 

* Numida mitrata. 




FORET D'AMBRE, MADAGASCAR. 



~ 
[95 



BLACK PARROTS 95 

stretching for four hundred miles into the interior 
of Madagascar. 

As soon as we had lunched we set off, under 
the guidance of one of the officers who was a keen 
entomologist, to explore a strip of forest in a small 
valley near the camp. Every valley in this 
neighbourhood was filled with luxuriant vegetation 
while the sides and summits of the hills were 
covered with good pasture. In this particular 
valley a path led from the camp to a patch of 
cultivated ground, which was about half an hour's 
walk below us. The forest was full of birds, but 
they were not easy to see, on account of the height 
of the trees and the thick foliage. As we walked 
down, I saw a small hawk, much like a sparrow- 
hawk, sitting on a branch of one of the trees, and, 
on shooting it, I found it was Astur franciscce, 
a species which is peculiar to Madagascar. 

As we entered the cultivation at the bottom of 
the valley, a large dark-coloured bird flew overhead 
uttering a loud, but most musical, whistle. This 
proved to be one of the Madagascar " black " 
parrots Coracopsis vasa. We were much sur- 
prised at the extremely rapid flight of this bird, 
as it dashed over us with outstretched neck, into 
the forest. The following day we had a good view 
of a pair of these parrots sitting in the top of a tree 
close to the camp, and we also became acquainted 
with a smaller species C. nigra. These parrots 
are, we were informed, quite common in every 



96 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

strip of forest in the neighbourhood of the Camp 
d'Ambre. 

The cultivated ground at the foot of the valley 
was only a few acres in extent, and not many birds 
were to be seen there. A pair of wagtails,* feeding 
in a small stream of water, and a stonechatj were 
both interesting because found only in Madagascar; 
but on the edge of the cultivation I saw a bird of 
more general interest the lark-heeled cuckoo. 
The foot of this bird is most remarkable. The two 
toes which point forward are normal, but the two 
which project backwards are of a peculiar forma- 
tion, one of them being fitted with a short curved 
claw, while the other has a long straight spur, 
like the hind claw of a skylark. This species also 
is found only in Madagascar, where it appears to 
be abundant. There were great numbers of 
weaver birds in the cultivated ground, and they 
all belonged to the brilliantly coloured species 
(Foudia madagascariensis), which we had met 
with at Mayotte. 

Early in the afternoon it began to rain, and this 
developed into a steady downpour, which continued 
for the rest of the day. We were soon wet 
through, and in this condition had to attend a 
reception. We were received by the colonel 
commanding the camp, and his staff, and were 
so hospitably entertained that it was long after 

* MotacUla ftaviventris. f Pratincola sybilla. 

* Centropus toulou. 




FORET D'AMBRE, MADAGASCAR. 



[96 



BIRD-LIFE IN THE FOREST 97 

midnight before we got back to our hotel. 
However, at six o'clock next morning we were 
ready for an excursion into the big forest, and, 
after a time, our friends, who were to accompany 
us, arrived. An hour's walk brought us to the 
forest, and on entering it we followed for several 
miles a broad path, which was made by the 
Foreign Legion many years ago, and extends for 
twenty miles. The forest was full of life ; 
brilliant butterflies fluttered over the vegetation 
bordering the path, and numerous birds flitted 
through the trees. The vegetation was so dense 
that the only way I was able to get specimens 
at all was by shooting those which came into the 
trees overhanging the path. Pigeons* and black 
parrots appeared to be numerous ; and in the dense 
growth of bushes near the path there were reed- 
warblers of a species called Bernieria madagasca- 
riensis, peculiar to Madagascar. I had some 
difficulty at first in seeing the latter, as they 
rarely showed themselves, and the call-note, a 
deep " churr," was quite ventriloquial in effect. 
Flocks of white-eyest were flying from tree to 
tree, searching for insects ; their clear calls re- 
sounded from all sides, but owing to the great 
height of the trees they were usually out of range, 
and I only obtained one example. One of the 
most striking birds was the grey-headed love-bird, J 

* Alectroenas madagascariensis. f Zoster ops madagascariensis. 

J Agapornis cana. 



98 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
well-known as a cage bird in Europe. It is in- 
digenous to Madagascar, but has been introduced 
into the Comoros and doubtless other islands. The 
male is green with a grey head and neck, while 
the female is green all over ; both have a black 
bar across the tail. They were always in pairs, 
and their flight was wonderfully rapid. 

We were somewhat disappointed at not meeting 
with lemurs in Madagascar. After having seen 
so many in the Comoro Islands we had had hopes 
of finding them in the Foret d' Ambre, but although 
several hours were spent there we saw none of these 
beautiful creatures. The only mammal we actually 
met with in this forest was the tenrec,* several of 
which were caught by a small terrier belonging to 
our guide. In one place, guided by the barking 
of the dog, I found a family party of these strange- 
looking " hedgehogs " under the roots of a fallen 
tree, while, in an open tract of grass, lying near the 
edge of the forest, the dog found several and killed 
them all, in spite of the fearful smell which they 
emitted on being annoyed. 

Early in the afternoon, after our walk in this 
fascinating forest, we returned to Diego Suarez. 
We descended in the same tram as that used for 
the ascent on the previous day, but so steep was 
the slope that the tram slid down of its own accord, 
and no mules were required until shortly before 
we reached the town. While passing through a 

* Centetes ecaudatiw. 



A WILD CAT 99 

strip of forest, we had a good view of a fossa,* a fine 
cat peculiar to Madagascar, which stood in the 
middle of the track and gazed at the car. When 
we had approached to within about 50 yards, 
however, it dashed off into the forest. In another 
place we rushed through a party of guinea-fowls, 
old and young, which scattered themselves right 
and left to avoid the tram. 

The following two days were spent in collecting 
in the neighbourhood of the harbour. Here were 
some of the largest sharks I have ever seen, and 
every morning two or three of these monsters 
were swimming idly round the yacht, but they 
would not take a bait of any kind. They were in 
every case surrounded by a shoal of sucking fish. 

On March 9th, 1906, we left Madagascar for 
Glorioso Island. 

* Cryptoprocta ferox. 



CHAPTER X. 

GLORIOSO ISLAND. 

GLORIOSO, or Tile Glorieuse, which we sighted on 
March 10th, 1906, belongs to France, and is at the 
present time rented by a Frenchman, who grows 
there a large quantity of coconuts for export. 
It comprises besides the main island, which is 
from a mile and a half to two miles long and about 
a mile in breadth, a small, densely wooded islet, the 
He de Lise, separated from the mainland by about 
three miles of very shallow water. Moreover, 
between these two islands is a third, which is little 
more than a large rock covered with grass, on 
which thousands of noddy terns,* as well as one 
or two pairs of boobies, | were nesting at the time 
of our visit. 

Glorioso is a coral island, but to all appearances 
not of so ancient a formation as the neighbouring 
islands of Assumption and Aldabra. A deep layer 
of sand covers most of it, and on the leeward side 
this has drifted into a fairly high ridge. At the 
time of our visit, the greater part of the island was 

* Anous atolidu*. f ^ u ^ a leucogastra. 



* * 











THE ISLAND INHABITED 101 

overgrown with trees and scrub, which in some 
places had become so thick as to be impenetrable. 
Here and there were groves of coconut trees, and 
in one place a large plantation of maize. 

Our information in Madagascar was to the effect 
that Glorioso had no inhabitants, so that when 
we put in to the sandy leeward shore we set off 
immediately in different directions to collect. 
It was with some surprise that, after a short walk, 
I came upon a large field of maize in which two 
negroes were working. They at once came to me, 
and informed me that the owner of the island 
wished to see me. I followed them to a small 
settlement, almost hidden by casuarina trees. 
Over one of the houses the French flag was flying. 
On entering the house I was met by the pro- 
prietor, who appeared to be somewhat indignant 
at our landing on his territory without permission. 
When matters were explained, however, he became 
quite friendly, and after a while gave us permission 
to collect or do whatever we liked on his property. 
He informed me that he had rented Glorioso for 
a term of years to cultivate all the spots suitable 
for coconuts. The palms which he had already 
planted appeared to be doing well indeed, for, 
although young, they had already borne an ex- 
cellent crop of nuts. 

There are five resident species of land-birds 
in Glorioso : all except one of these are identical 

with Madagascan species. The only bird which 

I 



102 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

has been described as peculiar is a dove,* but since 
we did not find it, although we walked nearly over 
the whole of the island during our short stay, I 
fear it must be nearly, if not quite, extinct. 
Great frigate birds were most conspicuous. The 
males were flying overhead, their scarlet pouches 
extended, while the females were sitting upon 
their nests mere heaps of sticks placed near the 
top of tall trees or were crowded together in 
the tree-tops in company with gannets.f Lord 
Crawford shot several adult frigate birds to take 
home in spirit, as it was not known by what 
means this bird extends its pouch during the 
breeding season. 

Of the land-birds the white-eye, of the same 
species as that seen in the Foret d' Ambre, Madagas- 
car, was the most abundant, and it was to be found 
in great numbers all over the island. Now and 
again a black kitej was observed sailing overhead. 
This species is, as far as we could ascertain, only a 
winter visitor to Glorioso, and it is at no time 
abundant there. A few crows of the same 
species as that found in the Comoros and Mada- 
gascar are residents. It is somewhat surprising 
that there is no rail on Glorioso, as on both Assump- 
tion and Aldabra there are forms of this bird, 
distinct but nearly allied to the rail of Madagascar. 
We made particular enquiries of the proprietor 

* Turtur coppingeri. f Svla piecator. 

J Mttvua migrans. Corvus scapulatus. 



HAWK-MOTHS AND TURTLES 103 

on this subject, but he assured us that there was 
no bird of the kind there. 

Numbers of domestic fowls were running about 
in a more or less wild state. They did not show 
any signs of reversion to their ancestral form ; 
on the contrary, those we met with were of all 
kinds and colours, though very small ; many of 
them took to flight on being alarmed. 

Butterflies and moths were numerous, and a 
species of hawk-moth was hovering round the 
flowers of a convolvulus in incredible numbers. 
On several occasions we took three or more at 
one sweep of the net. 

There seems to be little fresh water here ; as 
far as we could see there was none at all on the 
leeward side, and but a small pool near the 
settlement, though I believe there is a well near 
the house of the proprietor. This scarcity of 
fresh water may account for the rareness of the 
dove before mentioned, as pigeons and doves are 
known to require plenty of water. I presume 
that the fowls visit the settlement for water ; 
at all events they were more numerous near the 
houses than elsewhere. 

Both the green turtle* and the hawksbillf were 
abundant in the neighbourhood of Glorioso, the 
latter being the more valuable, as it is from the 
shell of this turtle that tortoise-shell is made. The 
green turtles frequent the sandy beach to deposit 

* Chelone mydaa (Linn.). | Chelone imbricate (Schweigg). 

i2 



104 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

their eggs, and the shore was covered with their 
tracks. Two large ones were caught during our 
stay, and were kept alive on board until we reached 
Aldabra, when they were given to the overseer 
of that island. 

The second day of our stay off Glorioso was 
spent on the neighbouring He de Lise. Landing 
first on Glorioso, we took on board the proprietor, 
who volunteered to act as our guide, and then we 
started on a three mile row to our destination. 
On the way we visited the rocky islet previously 
mentioned as lying between the two islands. 
Here was a large colony of sea-birds. Noddy 
terns were all sitting on their eggs, most of which 
were fresh. The eggs were laid in a shallow 
depression on the grass, and the " nests " were so 
close together that it was difficult to walk without 
treading on the eggs. The gannets had not com- 
menced to lay, while a few sooty terns,* which were 
flying overhead, were evidently not nesting. 

After a long and difficult " pull," owing to the 
quickly falling tide, we at last reached He de Lise. 
In spite of the thick growth of trees and bushes, 
there was not a bird of any kind to be seen no 
sign of a land or sea-bird, although, judging from 
the dried remains of sooty terns on a bare portion 
of the islet, I fancy that there must be a large colony 
nesting there at some period of the year. There is 
a roughly-built shed on the island, and close by 

* Sterna fuliginosa. 



FORMIDABLE ROBBER-CRABS 105 

are two huge iron tanks filled with rainwater, 
which is stored, as our host informed us, in case of 
a ship being wrecked there. 

The most interesting event of our excursion 
was the discovery of several robber-crabs (Birgus 
latro), a highly specialized form of hermit-crab 
of huge proportions. It is a most formidable- 
looking creature, and, unlike the hermit-crab, 
carries no shell, but has the tail covered with a 
jointed " armour," like that of the lobster. The 
robber-crab is of a reddish colour, though in some 
specimens there is a tinge of blue both on the head 
and on part of the upper surface of the body. 
Its food is said to consist chiefly of coconuts, 
but as there are none of these nuts on He de Lise 
it feeds on maize, of which it devours enormous 
quantities. Curiously enough, although plentiful 
on He de Lise, this crab is not found on Glorioso 
Island, and our host was fearful lest it should by 
some means get across to his coconut plantations. 
I examined several heads of maize, from which 
the seed had been shorn off by the claws of this 
crab. Each head of corn had the appearance of 
having been shaved with a sharp knife. The 
robber-crab is nocturnal here, and during the day 
hides in hollows up in the trees. We found several, 
but they were so securely ensconced that we had 
to hew part of the tree-trunks with an axe before 
we could get at them. Their strength is terrific. 
When held by the claws they twine their legs 



106 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

round one's hand and squeeze with a vice-like 
grip. The huge claws are of prodigious strength, 
and one of our sailors, who caught a small specimen, 
had a piece of flesh cut clean out of the palm of 
his hand by a single nip. The two crabs which we 
secured were enclosed in a paraffin tin and brought 
on board. Either these, or two others, which we 
afterwards caught on Assumption Island, escaped 
from the tin by tearing off a large piece near the 
lid. After such an exhibition of strength, one can 
more easily credit the accounts of the destruction 
done to coconuts by these crabs. 

On our way back to the ship we fell in with 
numbers of both kinds of turtles and several large 
fishes, probably barracuda. Leaving our host at 
Glorioso and boarding the " Valhalla," we shortly 
afterwards steamed away, bound for Assumption. 



CHAPTER XI. 

ASSUMPTION ISLAND. 

EARLY on the morning following our departure 
from Glorioso, Assumption Island was sighted. 

Assumption, like Glorioso, as I have previously 
mentioned, is of coral formation, but apparently 
of a much older date. It is about two miles long 
by a mile in width, at the broadest part, and is 
less thickly wooded than Glorioso. The central 
part is almost bare of vegetation, the only growth 
being a few low bushes and a thin wiry grass 
which springs from the cracks and fissures in the 
coral. At one end of the windward side is a mass 
of drifted sand, about 60 feet in height, covered 
with Jow straggling bushes, while on the leeward 
side there are a few casuarina trees, and in one 
spot on the shore three coconut palms. 

The shore is composed of sand, but the island 
itself is a rock-like mass of coral. Close to the shore 
are some deep wells containing water, but whether 
salt or fresh we were unable to ascertain. These 
wells are perfectly circular, and apparently of 
natural formation. That there is a constant supply 



108 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
of fresh water is proved by the numbers of in- 
habitant land-birds, but, so far as we could as- 
certain, the water-supply is entirely dependent on 
the rainfall. At the time of our visit there was 
plenty of it, every depression in the coral being 
full of sweet, clear water. 

All these small islands to the north-west of 
Madagascar are inhabited by a few species of land- 
birds, and most of them have their peculiar species. 
Previous to our landing on it, Assumption had 
only once been visited by a naturalist Dr. W. 
L. Abbott who landed there some years ago, 
but I believe only for a very short time. We 
therefore looked forward to our visit with pleasur- 
able anticipation, and we were not disappointed, 
for, apart from spending a most enjoyable time, 
we were successful in obtaining, amongst other 
interesting things, three previously undescribed 
birds. 

On first entering the belt of trees and low bushes 
which fringes the shore, we were greeted by a chorus 
of squeals and grunts, as though a litter of pigs 
was hidden in the cover. This remarkable noise 
proceeded from a number of rails,* birds much 
like our water-rail but rather more stoutly built, 
and with wine-red breasts, barred on the flanks 
and belly with black and white. These rails 
were very tame, and walked about close to us in a 
perfectly unconcerned manner. We never saw 

* Eallus dbbotti. 



A FLIGHTLESS RAIL 109 

one of them fly, or even try to do so : they trusted 
entirely to their legs when pursued. In several 
patches of bush we came across family parties of 
them, and although the young were mostly full- 
grown and feathered, we saw several which were 
still covered with black down. They were found 
on all parts of the island, except on the summit of 
the sandy hill on the windward side. While 
uttering its remarkable note, this rail stands quite 
still and puffs out all its feathers; from what I 
observed I should say that the skin of the throat 
is also expanded. The notes are loud a strange 
mixture of squealing, grunting and booming 
and during its song the bird appears to be gradually 
collapsing, until at the end it is once more of 
normal size. I have heard our English water-rail 
utter a somewhat similar noise when near its nest, 
but its cries are never so loud as those of the 
Assumption rail. We caught two of them alive 
and brought them safely to England, and they are 
at the time I write living in the London Zoological 
Gardens. 

White-necked crows* were present on the island 
in small numbers, and were nesting in the tallest 
trees, but I have no doubt that this species has 
recently wandered hither from Madagascar or East 
Africa. 

Leaving the shore we found more open country, 
and came across some large turtle doves with brown 

* Corvus scapulatus, inhabiting also parts of Africa. 



110 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

backs and claret-coloured breasts. These doves, 
of which we obtained specimens, proved to belong 
to a hitherto undescribed species,* nearly allied to 
those inhabiting Aldabra and Glorioso ; they were 
remarkably tame, and could almost be caught by 
hand. A few were nesting in the branches of the 
bushes, and one nest that we found contained a 
single newly-hatched bird. Its flight is somewhat 
heavy and laboured, and the bird is remarkably 
unwilling to take to wing at all, spending most 
of its time running on the ground under the 
bushes, often in company with the rails, with 
which it appears to be on excellent terms. 

We had not proceeded far before we heard the 
long bubbling note of a lark-heeled cuckoo, | 
and soon found the bird sitting in a thick bush near 
its nest a large domed structure built of dried 
grasses, and containing two perfectly white eggs. 
This " cuckoo," which is, by the way, not a true 
cuckoo, builds its own nest and rears its own 
young. The Assumption species is closely allied 
to the one I have mentioned as seen in the Foret 
d'Ambre, but is somewhat larger. Although they 
were extraordinarily tame, we were unable to catch 
any of them alive, as they rarely left the thickest 
parts of the bushes. 

The tameness of several of the birds on Assump- 

* Turtur assumptions, Nicoll, " Bulletin Brit. Orn. Club," Vol. XVI. 
p. 105. 

f Centropus assumptions, Nicoll, " Bulletin Brit. Orn. Club." VoL 
XVI., p. 105. 



TAMENESS OF THE BIRDS 111 

tion was noteworthy. At first thought it would 
seem to be accounted for by the fact that the 
island is uninhabited and very seldom visited; 
but if this be the reason, one would expect all the 
birds to be tame, which was not the case. Indeed, 
a small heron, which proved to be a perfectly new 
species,* was so wild that, although we saw a great 
number, I was able to shoot only a single specimen. 
Also the only small land-bird, a tiny sunbird,| 
which is found nowhere else, was by no means 
tame. On Saint Paul's Rocks, as I have 
mentioned in a previous chapter, one species of 
noddy tern is quite tame, while the other is 
extremely shy and wild, though there is probably 
no island in the world more seldom visited by man. 
It would seem, then, that tameness and timidity 
in birds are to a great extent specific traits. 

Unfortunately, rats have been imported by some 
means into Assumption and are now very abundant. 
There is little doubt that they devour many eggs 
of the rail and of other birds which nest near 
the ground, and should the rats increase to any 
extent, there is a great danger of these interest- 
ing birds becoming extinct in the near future. 
All the rats which I shot were of a very pale 
coloration, probably due to the nature of the 
ground. 

On the open ground near the foot of the sandhill 

* Butoridea crawfordi, Nicoll, "Bulletin Brit. Orn. Club," Vol. XVI. , 
p. 105. f Cinnyria abbotti, Ridgway. 



112 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

we came upon a flock of some twenty goats. 
They were of many colours black, white, grey, and 
piebald and some of the males were remarkably 
fine animals. They were excessively wild, and 
would not allow us to approach to within any 
reasonable distance of them. They were originally 
turned out to provide food for any shipwrecked 
crew, and, as it so happened, we ourselves were all 
but shipwrecked in the neighbourhood of this 
island a few days later. 

The sea round Assumption swarmed with fish, 
and turtles were also very plentiful. At the time 
of our visit the latter were in great numbers close 
to the shore, where several were " turned." A 
number of " nests " was found by following the 
turtle tracks in the sand. Some contained fresh 
eggs, others were on the point of hatching, and 
several newly-hatched young were found. 

Robber-crabs were also numerous, and appeared 
to be more diurnal in habits than they were on 
Glorioso. Many were seen crawling about under 
the bushes which fringe the shore. There were 
but three coconut trees, and they appeared to 
have little if any fruit ; neither was there 
any maize, so I imagine the crabs feed on the 
young sea-birds. Indeed, they appeared to be 
omnivorous, and greedily devoured a rat which I 
threw to them. 

We landed on Assumption twice, getting ashore 
about eleven o'clock on the first day, and spending 



WE LEAVE ASSUMPTION 113 

about three hours there on the following morning. 
Leaving at mid-day on March 13th, 1906, we 
steamed to Aldabra, sighting it an hour or two 
later. 



CHAPTER XII. 

ALDABRA ISLAND. 

VERY soon after leaving Assumption we sighted 
the island of Aldabra. 

Aldabra is undoubtedly a huge atoll of very 
ancient formation. The coral of which it is formed 
is, like that of Assumption, of a deep brown 
colour. The lagoon enclosed by this atoll is very 
large, with several outlets into the sea, how many 
we were unable to estimate in the time at our 
disposal. The principal outlet is situated on the 
leeward side, and, as the anchorage is marked 
on the charts as if it were in the mouth of this 
passage, we steamed up and dropped anchor 
clear of the tide " rip." The place, however, 
proved to be totally unsafe, owing to the rush 
of water entering the lagoon. Indeed, the tide 
came in with such violence that the " Valhalla " 
soon dragged her anchor. We therefore put to 
sea again, cruising off the leeward side of the 
island until the morning, when a boat was sent 
from the shore to pilot us to a much safer and 
better spot, not far from the settlement. 




ABBOTTS IBISES ON ALDABRA ISLAND. 



[114 



THE GIANT TORTOISE 115 

Aldabra is the home of a huge tortoise,* which 
was at one time fairly abundant, but is now 
confined to a small area on the northern side. 
So difficult is it to get to this locality that we 
were unable to see the tortoises in their wild 
state. The Hon. Walter Rothschild rents the 
island of Aldabra from the British Government 
and protects the tortoises as well as a peculiar 
species of ibis, so that it is to be hoped 
that these interesting creatures may long hold 
their own. 

A great part of the leeward side has lately been 
planted with coconuts, which are now growing 
on nearly every patch of sand above high-water 
mark. The settlement is composed of a few 
wooden huts, inhabited by negroes, who, under 
the supervision of an overseer, work in the 
coconut plantations and at turtle-catching and 
curing. Near the houses grow casuarina trees, 
with their beautiful feathery foliage ; they seem 
to be the tallest trees on the island, the greater 
part of the vegetation being a thick scrub, 
relieved occasionally by groups of trees of 
a species of Ficus and a few pandani or 
screw-pines. 

In several parts of the island there are pools 
of fresh water, but, like those on Assumption, 
they seem to be dependent for their supply on the 
rainfall.^ All the water holes near the settlement 

* Testudo elephantina. 



116 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

were carefully covered over with branches, to 
prevent fouling by herons and other wading birds, 
which are to be found in great numbers. 

Owing to the very shallow water between our 
anchorage and the land we were only able to go 
ashore at high tide, and we were thus somewhat 
handicapped during our short stay, since our time 
for collecting was necessarily curtailed. 

Early in the afternoon of our first day we 
landed on the sandy beach, where we were met 
by the overseer, who conducted us to the settle- 
ment, about half a mile distant. But our arrival 
was followed by a heavy rain, which continued 
for the rest of the day, and obliged us to seek 
shelter in a house. I was, on that account, unable 
to do more than watch several species of birds. 
The commonest, and at the same time the 
most brilliant, was a weaver-bird,* a tame and 
familiar bird which fed in large flocks close to 
the houses. It has a brilliant coloration, the 
whole of the breast is of a rich scarlet, the 
abdomen is yellow, the back greenish with black 
streaks, and the rump is again scarlet. A flock 
of males presented a striking sight as they 
roamed the village in search of food ; all were in 
full breeding plumage, and several pairs were 
nesting in the casuarina trees which surround the 
settlement. 

Another familiar bird in Aldabra is the sacred 

* Neaacanthis aldabranus. 



NUMEROUS BIRDS 117 

egret,* an interesting species with two distinct 
phases, or forms of plumage irrespective of age 
or sex. Wholly white, or entirely blue, examples 
are equally common, while one specimen which I 
shot was mottled with white and blue-grey, all 
the feathers being parti-coloured. These egrets 
collect in great numbers round the pools of fresh 
water near the settlement, and when disturbed 
fly but a little way, quickly assembling again at 
the same spot. One can realise what a nuisance 
they must be to the inhabitants, so soon do they 
foul the scanty supply of fresh water. 

A small kestrel and a sunbird were also fairly 
common in the casuarina trees ; the latter is 
peculiar to Aldabra, though closely allied to the 
sunbird of Assumption, from which it differs only 
in having more yellow on the underparts. 

Doves| also, somewhat similar to those found 
on Assumption, were fairly numerous, but the 
Aldabra rail was not at all common, and I 
only met with two, both of which I obtained 
during our stay. The jet black males and grey 
females of a drongo shrikef were conspicuous 
inhabitants of the bush in the neighbourhood 
of the village, but they were exceedingly shy and 
difficult to approach. 

As the tide rolled in, numbers of shore-birds 
left the sandy beach and flew over into the lagoon, 

* Demiegretta sacra. t Turtur alddbranus. 

J Dicrurus alddbranus. 

K 



118 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

where they remained until the tide began to ebb. 
The commonest and most striking of these was 
the crab-plover,* which appeared in enormous 
numbers. A few sanderlings were running about 
on the water's edge, and so many other birds that 
to mention them all would be tedious. The 
richness of Aldabra in peculiar forms will be 
realized by the fact that out of eighteen species 
obtained by us during our visit ten are restricted 
to this island, and one other is found elsewhere 
only in Madagascar. 

We had been looking forward to seeing giant 
tortoises in a wild state during our stay, but in 
this we were doomed to disappointment. We 
found that it would take at least two days to visit 
the locality where they are now only to be found, 
and as we had not the necessary time at our 
disposal, we were reluctantly compelled to abandon 
our hopes.")" 

Aldabra is also famous for its turtles ; large 
numbers are caught annually, their flesh being 
dried for export. Trays, shaped like huge sieves, 
were arranged in front of the settlement, and in 
these a great quantity of turtle-flesh lay exposed 
to the sun. The neighbourhood of the curing place 
was not at all pleasant, for although the drying 
flesh did not smell objectionably, the same could 

* Dromas ardeola. 

f This tortoise has been introduced into the Seychelles, where it is 
kept in a semi-domestic state, and later on we saw many of them in the 
tortoise " farms" in that group of islands. 



A GREAT LAGOON 119 

not be said for the deposits near by of other parts 
of the turtles. Close to one of the houses we saw 
a tame frigate bird belonging to one of the men 
employed in the turtle industry which was in 
beautiful condition and so tame that it could be 
handled. 

We were most anxious to see the Ibis abbotti, 
a striking bird much like the well-known sacred 
ibis, and also closely allied to the Ibis bernieri 
of Madagascar, but differing from both so decidedly 
that it has been rightly claimed as a distinct 
species, confined to Aldabra, so far as is known. 
The overseer of the island informed us that the 
bird was seldom seen near the settlement, and 
that it nested some miles away across the lagoon 
in a part seldom visited. Accordingly early on 
the second morning of our stay, we set out from 
the yacht in the steam launch for this ibis colony, 
taking on board the overseer and a pilot. 

The lagoon, which is enclosed by the island or 
islands of Aldabra, is very shallow, but for 
some miles there is a narrow channel of suffi- 
cient depth to allow a boat, drawing several feet 
of water, to proceed. This lagoon is of so great a 
size that during our passage through it we were 
frequently almost out of sight of land. The man 
we had taken as a pilot seemed to know every 
part of it, and without him we should have been 
unable to proceed for any distance. We passed 
numerous rocks, the bases of which were so Water- 



120 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

worn that they looked like enormous mushrooms. 
They were inhabited by noddy terns, which were 
sitting on their eggs. 

After three hours' steaming, during which we 
saw many turtles and sharks, we came into very 
shallow water. The tide was ebbing, and we were 
forced to take to the dinghy which we had been 
towing astern. A row of about an hour then 
brought us to our destination, within half a mile 
of the place where the ibises were said to be 
nesting. The ground here was of the same forma- 
tion as that in the neighbourhood of the settle- 
ment a mass of ancient brown-coloured coral 
covered with long grass and clumps of bushes. 

After a very few minutes' walk we came on a 
few scattered pairs of Abbott's ibis feeding on the 
margin of a large pool of rain-water. I soon ob- 
tained a couple of old birds. Their necks, like 
those of the sacred ibis, were bare of feathers, 
and the skin was black and wrinkled ; their eyes 
were of a pale china-blue. We then came to a 
more open piece of country, covered with grass 
and intersected by narrow rivulets of water, in 
one of which were two young ibises. They were 
ridiculously tame, and allowed of such a near 
approach that several photographs of them were 
taken without any difficulty. 

In a clump of fig trees, shortly afterwards 
reached, the ibises were very numerous ; many 
were perched in the trees, while many more, 




RIVER NEAR PORT VICTORIA, MAHK, SEYCHELLES. 

(Photographed by E. (1. B. Mcadr- Waldo.) [121 



MARVELLOUSLY TAME IBISES 121 

chiefly full-grown young birds, were walking in a 
pool of fresh water searching for food. In the 
middle of the pool several were sitting together 
on a bare rock. They appeared to be tame enough 
to photograph at close quarters, so I at once 
unpacked my tripod camera and set it in position, 
using great care not to frighten the birds. This 
precaution was, however, needless, for they were 
not only quite fearless but so inquisitive that they 
waded across the pool, and, coming close up to the 
camera, began to peck at the tripod. We drove 
them back to the rocks, but before a plate could 
be exposed they were back again inspecting the 
legs of the camera ; it was only by repeated 
threats a novel experience for them and for us 
that we could keep them far enough away to enable 
us to get a series of photographs in proper per- 
spective. After this we allowed them to come 
close up, and when we had examined them at 
very close quarters, we decided to try to catch 
one. To our astonishment they would all allow 
themselves to be picked up, nor did they show 
any signs of fear when released, but merely ran 
round our feet plucking at the tags of our boot- 
laces. I have seen many wild birds which 
showed little fear of man, but have never come 
across such extraordinarily familiar birds as these 
ibises. 

We counted all the individuals we could on this 
part of the island, and estimated that there were 



122 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

about forty pairs. I should imagine that there are 
several other nesting places, but, owing to the great 
size of the island and to the difficulties of landing 
on most parts of it, we were not able to find another 
colony. 

While photographing these birds I noticed some 
pigeons flying round the clump of fig trees, and 
as they appeared to be constantly settling there, 
I walked up to the foot of one of the trees to wait 
for them. In a very short time I had shot four 
examples, which proved to be Alectroenas minor 
a species peculiar to Aldabra. In appearance they 
were not unlike the Comoro pigeon, but were 
very much smaller. Some young birds were in 
their first plumage, which is not only much greener 
than that of the adults, but each feather is tipped 
with yellowish buff, giving the bird a peculiar 
spangled appearance. In the shade of the trees 
numbers of robber-crabs were creeping, and they 
showed considerable annoyance at our presence, 
waving their claws in a threatening manner 
whenever we approached. 

After a very pleasant time spent amongst the 
ibises and pigeons, we walked back to our boat 
and put off for the steam launch. The tide had 
fallen considerably, and it was a long time before 
we made out the launch in the distance. On the 
way we landed at a small deserted village, where 
half an hour was spent in search of the Aldabra 
rail, only two of which were seen. A pair of 



A DANGEROUS CURRENT 123 

Aldabra doves* was also procured, and then, as 
it was getting late, we hurried on to the launch 
and steamed away. Darkness fell, however, long 
before we sighted the yacht, and had it not been 
for our pilot we should have had great difficulty 
in getting aboard that night. The water was so 
low that it was necessary to keep exactly in the 
middle of the channel, a task by no means easy, 
for even under the guidance of the pilot we once 
missed our way and suddenly found ourselves in 
very shallow water, from which we had to make 
our way with extreme caution. 

Aldabra is undoubtedly of a great age, as is 
evidenced by the fact that nearly all its birds have 
become differentiated from the nearest allies found 
elsewhere. Amongst these the ibis, dove,* and 
a nightjarj are, perhaps, the most remarkable. 
The giant tortoise is also peculiar, although, as 
I have mentioned above, it has been exported to 
the Seychelle Islands, where numbers are kept 
in a semi-domesticated state. 

After leaving Aldabra Lord Crawford intended 
to pay a visit to Cosmoledo and Astove, two small 
coral islands in the immediate neighbourhood. 
As far as I can ascertain, these islands have never 
been visited by a naturalist, and they are said to 
be inhabited by several species of birds. But 
during the night, while steaming to Cosmoledo, 
we were carried several miles out of our course 

* Turtur aldabranua. | Caprimulgus aldabrenris. 



124 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

by a strong uncharted current, and in the pitch 
darkness, in which it was impossible to see more 
than a few yards ahead, we ran ashore on the 
leeward side of Assumption. Here we remained 
fast for some twenty-four hours, fixed on the sand. 
I shall not soon forget that night. As soon as 
we made sure that we were fast, and that the ship 
had suffered no harm, I finished off the birds I was 
engaged in skinning, then joined my companions in 
watching dismally the water as it gradually fell 
away from our bows. 

At daybreak all arrangements were made to try 
to get the ship off at high tide. An anchor was 
carried out astern, and as the water rose we 
hauled on it, at the same time working the engines 
at full speed astern, but to no purpose. All the time, 
however, the" Valhalla" was grinding out for herself 
a bed in the soft sand, and during the next high 
tide she floated off, the captain having previously 
lowered all the boats and cables, and a quantity of 
coal to lighten her. The yacht was, fortunately, 
none the worse, and, as soon as she was shipshape 
again, we steamed away for the Seychelle Islands. 

Thus the fauna of Cosmoledo and Astove is 
still unknown. I feel sure that these two islands 
would well repay a visit, as we were told by people 
in the Seychelles that they abounded with bird- 
life, but should any of my readers ever attempt 
to visit them I would suggest that they approach 
them in daylight. 




CASCADE, MAKE. SEYCHELLES. HOME OF AlectroeUdS 

pulcherrima. 
(Photographed by Mr. E. G. B. Meadc-Waldo.) 



[125 



CHAPTER XIII. 

SEYCHELLE ISLANDS. 

ON 22nd March, 1906, Mahe, the largest island 
of the Seychelle group, was sighted, and shortly 
afterwards we came to anchor off the town. 

Lord Crawford's intention was to take the yacht 
round to all the most interesting islands of the 
group, but owing to very bad weather the greater 
part of this plan had to be abandoned. However, 
we spent sixteen delightful days here, and visited 
the islands of Praslin and Felicite. 

Mahe rises almost perpendicularly from the sea 
to a height of about 2000 feet. Deep valleys 
run down from the summit to the sea-shore, 
and the island is for the most part covered with 
forest. 

During our stay we were most kindly enter- 
tained by Mr. H. Thommasset, who invited us to 
his beautiful " Cascade Estate," which is situated 
about 1000 feet above the sea. Vanilla was the 
principal crop grown at the time, though, owing 
to a fall in the price, it is not now nearly so 
profitable as it formerly was. For this reason a 



126 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

large quantity of rubber-trees were being imported 
and planted, and these promised to do well. 

Mr. Meade- Waldo and I started out to pay our 
visit early one morning. Driving from Mahe 
to the foot of the cascade, we engaged two natives 
to carry our baggage, and climbing up the winding 
pathway to Mr. Thommasset's house an exceed- 
ingly steep ascent we were immediately rewarded 
for our exertions when we reached, just below the 
house, a magnificent sheet of water which fell 
in a glorious cascade over the brow of the hill 
into the valley below. We stood for a time close 
to the waterfall, and were deliciously cooled by 
the refreshing spray as well as by the draught 
made by the rush of the water. From this a few 
minutes' walk brought us to the Cascade Estate. 
The house, situated on a small plateau, com- 
mands a splendid view; the well-wooded ravine, 
with its beautiful waterfall, runs sharply down 
to the shore, while far away in the haze of distance 
rises the island of Praslin, and, nearer, small 
islets, covered with vegetation, stand out in clear 
relief against the deep blue sea. 

Mr. Thommasset's estate is one of the best 
places on the island in which to observe birds, 
but, unfortunately, indigenous species are few. 
A number of different kinds of " foreign " birds 
have been introduced, and it is probably owing 
to the excessive numbers of Indian mynahs that 
the indigenous species are so scarce near the 



ALIEN BIRDS A CURSE 127 

town ; in fact, the original avifauna is threatened 
with extinction. These mynahs have spread even 
as far as the Cascade Estate, but in the town itself 
they are in such numbers that every garden and 
tree is covered with them. 

The Madagascar weaver bird* has also, most 
unfortunately, been introduced. The history of 
this stupid act, as told me on good authority, 
is that two neighbours went to law concerning 
the ownership of a certain field which each claimed 
as his property. The loser, to be revenged on 
his adversary, brought from Madagascar a cage 
full of weaver birds, which he liberated on his 
neighbour's land. In any case, whether this 
account of the origin of the birds be true or not, 
the effect of their introduction has been that it is 
now impossible to grow any rice or grain on 
Mahe, and at the present time these " weavers " 
are, next to the mynah, the commonest land- 
birds. 

Nearly all the indigenous land-birds of the 
Seychelles are peculiar to the group, and one 
species of sunbirdj is found only on Mahe, the 
other islands being inhabited by a somewhat 
similar species, which differs in that it has the 
tufts of feathers on the breast of a fiery-red colour 
instead of yellow. Both species are otherwise 
dull brownish-grey, and are thus very different 

* Foudia madagascariensis. 

t Cinnyris mahei. "Bull. B.O.C.," VoL XVI., p. 106. 



128 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

from the brilliantly-plumaged sunbirds of Africa, 
which in general coloration are perhaps even more 
beautiful than the majority of humming-birds. 
Dull coloration is characteristic of other birds of 
the Seychelles. The white-eye* is of a dull 
brownish-grey instead of being bright yellow and 
green, as are the majority of the species of this 
genus, while the Seychelle parrot f is also greyish- 
brown with but a faint tinge of yellow. The 
Madagascar and Comoro parrots, however, are 
similar in this respect. It is remarkable that on 
this group of islands there should be three such 
dull-coloured species belonging to genera noted 
for their bright-coloured species. Possibly this 
is the effect of isolation for a very great time, 
and these birds may be the oldest members of 
the avifauna of the Seychelles.^ 

During the night spent at Cascade Estate I 
made several unsuccessful attempts to shoot a 
small owl, which was calling continually through- 
out the night in a large tree just outside the 
house. This owl Gymnoscops insularis Mr. 
Thommasset informed me he frequently heard, 
and occasionally saw as it flew by day when 
driven out of its hiding-place amongst the rocks 
or hollow trees. A small kestrel appeared to 
be not very abundant, but I think that it may be 

* Zosterops modesta. f Ooracopsis bnrTdeyi. 

% The Seychelle Islands are like St. Paul's Rocks, of neither volcanic 
nor coral origin. 

Tinnunculus gracilis. 




5- 

P 



TORTOISE FARMS 129 

more so than a casual visitor would imagine, 
for it is extremely tame and will sit for hours 
motionless and hidden amongst the thick foliage. 

A fine fruit-pigeon* is not uncommon on the 
higher parts of the Seychelle Islands. This bird 
is also exceedingly tame, but, unlike the kestrel, 
it loses rather than profits by its fearlessness. 
It is good to eat, and being readily caught by 
means of a noose fastened to a long stick, it falls 
an easy victim to natives, by whom the flesh is 
greatly esteemed. The bird much resembles the 
previously mentioned pigeon of the Comoros, 
but is somewhat larger and has a deep crimson 
crown. 

In the grounds of Government House we saw 
a large number of Aldabra tortoises enclosed 
within a stone wall. Some of them were of large 
size, and a great many were newly hatched. We 
were informed that they bred freely in confine- 
ment, and that the young grew very quickly. 
These tortoises are used for food by the natives, 
and on visiting the market we saw several tethered 
by the leg and exposed for sale. On all the 
islands and inhabited islets of this group there 
were tortoise-farms. We were astonished to 
find how easily these huge creatures were able to 
climb. On Felicite, for instance, there was a 
walled enclosure, one side of which was formed 
by a high mass of rock, and the tortoises were 

* Alectroenas pulcherrima. 



130 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

climbing over this or lying at rest on narrow 
ledges. 

In nearly all these farms the tortoises bear a 
number which is painted in white on the shell. 
Many farm-owners keep a record of all their 
stock, while at Government House a complete 
register is made with the dates of hatching and 
so forth. In the latter place we rode upon the 
largest tortoise. This creature was of a fierce 
disposition, for with outstretched neck and every 
appearance of anger he attacked all who ventured 
near him, and we were told that he would bite if 
allowed the opportunity. All these tortoises have 
been imported from Aldabra, and there are now 
probably considerably more individuals on the 
Seychelles than on the former island. 

After we had spent about a week on Mahe 
the ship steamed across to Praslin, about twenty 
miles distant. We anchored in Curieuse Bay, 
an inlet of Praslin, and sheltered by the island 
of Curieuse, which lies close on the other side of 

a narrow channel. 

/ 

A short walk on shore during our first afternoon 
was not productive. There were fewer birds 
than on Mahe. A paradise flycatcher* of the 
size of a sparrow, but jet black, with the 
central tail-feathers prolonged to a great length, 
was the most interesting bird seen. It is known 
locally as the " veuve," or widow, but apparently 

* Terpsiphone corvina. 



A RARE PARROT 131 

it is not common, as during our stay only two were 
met with. A thrush, or " bulbul "* is by far the 
most abundant land-bird on Praslin, as it is also 
on most of the other islands of the group. Its 
notes are among the most unmelodious sounds I 
have ever heard. All day long it pours forth 
harsh shrieks. Several of them were brought 
home alive, and regularly every morning at day- 
break they would begin to scream, rarely ceasing 
before sunset. In captivity they are of a most 
quarrelsome disposition, though in a wild state 
they are usually seen together in parties of from 
two to twenty individuals. 

One of our chief objects in visiting Praslin was 
to get a specimen of the black parrot. | These 
birds are strictly protected by Mons. E. Boulle, 
the owner of a greater part of the island, and 
through his kindness we were able to see this rare 
bird in a wild state. It is now only to be found in 
one locality, where, close to Mons. Boulle' s house, 
numbers come to feed on the flowers of a magnolia 
tree. To this tree we made our way, but the only 
birds we could find on our arrival were numbers 
of thrushes and sunbirds. I shot two of the 
former and one of the latter ; while packing them 
up a native came to tell me that he had just seen 
two parrots higher up the hillside. I started off, 
but after spending a short time wandering 
about amongst bushes, a most unlikely place for 

* Ixocincla craaairoatris. f Coracopsis barUeyi. 



132 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

parrots, I descended the hill again and took up 
my station under the magnolia tree. After an 
hour's interval I heard a musical whistle, 
reminding me of the call of the Madagascar 
black parrot, and, to my delight, the coveted bird 
came flying straight to the tree. A minute later 
it was in my hand ; it proved to be immature, 
and though full-grown, was not so dark as an 
adult. The general colour of its plumage was a 
sooty-brown with a yellowish wash on the chin 
and throat, and a distinct greenish sheen on the 
wing. As no more parrots appeared, we started 
back for the ship. I was told by one native that 
he had never seen more than ten of these parrots 
together at a time, but Mons. Boulle assured me 
that he had quite recently seen " a hundred " 
sitting together in this particular magnolia tree, 
which is the only one of its kind on the island. 

Next day we steamed across to Felicite, a 
small island given over to the cultivation of 
coconut trees, with which it is for the most part 
covered. We were conducted over it by the 
owner, Mr. Birgne. The most interesting bird 
here was the fruit-pigeon of the same species as 
that found on Mahe. It was extremely abundant, 
owing entirely to the care Mr. Birgne had taken 
to preserve it. He told me that he never allowed 
it to be caught or molested in any way. 

On returning to Praslin we landed in Marie 
Louise Bay, at the foot of the " Coco de Mer " 




** COCO DE MER," PRASLIN ISLAND, SEYCHELLES. 



[132 



THE COCO DE MER 133 

Valley, and spent the afternoon amongst these 
remarkable double-coconut trees, which are 
found in a wild state nowhere except in this one 
small valley. They are not so tall as the common 
coconut trees, but the leaves are much larger 
and of a great breadth. The fruit is of immense 
size, somewhat resembling a huge double-coconut, 
and is said to take many years to ripen ; its kernel 
is of a grey jelly-like substance, and the taste 
is very insipid far inferior to that of the common 
coconut. The principal use to which the nut 
is put is for the manufacture of bowls for water 
or food ; the shells, when split in half, make 
capacious basins or dishes, and are largely used 
by the natives of India for rice. 

The first description of the Coco de Mer was 
given to some of the fruit found floating in the 
open sea, which was supposed to belong to a sea 
plant, and so received the name of "Coco de Mer." 
When the Seychelles were discovered, the fruit 
of these trees in Praslin was found to be identical 
with that of the co-called Coco de Mer. Many 
of the trees have now been introduced into Mahe, 
bub their growth is exceedingly slow, and, so far 
as I know, they have not as yet borne fruit. 

During the night the yacht lay at anchor at 
the foot of the Coco de Mer Valley, and early in 
the morning we started for North Cousin, a small 
islet to the south and east of Praslin. As we 
made our passage the wind rose ; rain fell in tor- 

L 



134 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

rents, and it became impossible to see more than 
a few yards ahead. For an hour and a half every 
sign of land was blotted out, although there were 
islands on all sides ; in fact, the wind increased 
to such a degree that when the weather finally 
cleared our position was found to have remained 
practically unchanged for over an hour, although 
the ship had been kept at full speed. The sea had 
risen so high that landing upon Cousin Island 
became an impossibility, and we were forced to 
return to Mahe. Several more days were spent 
at anchor during incessant rain ; frequently 
a squall would spring up without warning, 
and several times the " Valhalla " dragged her 
anchor. 

On one occasion we had a visit from King 
Prempeh, who is kept in exile on Mahe. He came 
on board in full native dress, though some per- 
suasion was required before he would discard the 
top hat and frock coat in which he usually appears. 
Prempeh seems to be treated far better than he 
deserves, for if all reports are true, he was one of 
the most bloodthirsty tyrants that ever existed ; 
and I must say that his appearance does not belie 
this, for a more repulsive-looking creature I never 
saw. Of immense bulk, with small head and low 
retreating forehead, he was not prepossessing as 
he waddled about the deck. A phonograph 
and pianola amused him exceedingly, and when 
an iced drink was given to him he took the 




COCO DE HER," PRASLIN ISLAND, SEYCHELLES. 



[135 



FAREWELL TO THE SEYCHELLES 135 

liveliest interest in it, though he must have seen 
ice during his " residence " in the Seychelles. 

The day before we left Mahe Lord Crawford 
gave a " garden " party on board, which was 
attended by nearly all the inhabitants ; we thus 
had an opportunity to bid farewell to our good 
friends before we sailed in the early morning for 
Aden, en route for home. 



L2 



A VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES. 



&MO$ 




CHAPTER XIV. 

MARTINIQUE. 

ON December 18th, 1903, the " ValhaUa " sailed 
from Cowes for the Canary Islands, en route to the 
West Indies. 

On 5th February, 1904, we dropped anchor at 
Port de France, which has been, since the 
destruction of St. Pierre, the principal harbour 
of Martinique. Our object was to obtain permis- 
sion from the Governor to visit the ruins of St. 
Pierre, which was destroyed by an earthquake 
on 8th May, 1902. 

It may be well to mention that the destruction 
wrought by the volcanic eruptions at Martinique 
and St. Vincent was not nearly so complete as 
many appear to think. It seems to be supposed 
that these islands suffered to such an extent 
that their peculiar species of birds became extinct 
at the time of the volcanic disturbances. This 
is not so, for in both islands the only damage 
done was in the immediate vicinity of the 
volcanoes ; thus, on St. Vincent only a very small 
portion of the country has been destroyed; the 



140 VOYAGES OF A NATUEALIST 

grass and other vegetation in 1904 was again 
showing over the sides of the Soufriere. 

On St. Vincent the fine parrot Chrysotis 
guildingi which is found nowhere else in the 
world, has not yet become extinct, and is still 
found in some numbers on the high peaks. 

On Martinique the havoc caused by the eruption 
was more serious, inasmuch as St. Pierre, its 
principal port, was entirely destroyed with its 
inhabitants.* Little damage, however, has been 
done to the surrounding country. The trees on 
the top of a neighbouring range of hills have 
been burned, but the country at the foot of these 
hills is quite untouched. Several villages within 
a couple of miles of the city are quite uninjured, 
and are inhabited ; the sides of the hills up to 
within a short distance of the summit are covered 
with vegetation, and show no signs of injury. 

The country round Port de France is almost 
entirely cultivated sugar being the principal 
crop even to the tops of the peaks. We were 
informed that, owing to this excessive clearance 
of the trees, the rainfall has been considerably 
lessened, and at times there is a considerable 
shortage of fresh water. A strict law has, I believe, 
now been passed against the felling of timber. 
Owing to this scarcity of trees, the land-birds 

* There is a story that one man, a black, was rescued from St. Pierre 
owing to the fact that, being in a prison cell underground at the time, 
he escaped the choking ashes which covered the town. I do not vouch 
for this story, but mention it as it was related to us in other islands of 
the West Indies. 



ST. PIERRE 141 

are by no means numerous, and the only ones 
seen were a few starlings,* grass finches,")" and 
flycatchers. J 

At one time most of the islands of the West 
Indies were inhabited by peculiar forms of 
parrots, while several parroquets inhabited the 
larger islands. Many of these are now extinct, 
including the macaws, of Jamaica, and at the 
present time the parrots of St. Vincent, St. Lucia, 
Dominica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Bahamas 
are the only living representatives of this group. 
No parrot or parroquet is now to be found on 
Martinique, and this is scarcely surprising, as there 
are no forests existing there of sufficient size to 
offer a home for these birds. 

The Governor of Martinique having kindly 
granted us permission to land at St. Pierre, we 
steamed round to that place on 7th February. 
The whole town has been completely destroyed, 
and that part which was situated at the foot of 
Mont Pelee is buried under the ashes and debris 
from the volcano. 

The anchorage has not been disturbed in any 
way, so that we steamed up close to the shore 
and dropped anchor in the once prosperous har- 
bour. Lowering a boat we landed, and started 
off for a walk, or rather a scramble, through the 
ruins of the town. The largest wall standing was 

* Quisccdus inftexirostria. f Euethia bicolor. 

Elainea martinica. 



142 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

that of the cathedral. All the other buildings 
had completely collapsed, though in some places 
a few feet of wall still remained in an upright 
position. 

The ruins of the town were becoming covered 
by a creeping plant bearing scarlet flowers, while 
bread-fruit trees were shooting up amongst the 
broken-down houses and even in the streets. 
The main street was still discernible, and, 
although one's passage was blocked by debris 
in many parts of the smaller thoroughfares, it 
was quite easy to walk over a great part of the 
town. The effects of the earthquake were such 
that the walls of nearly all the buildings fell 
inwards ; the whole of the roof and the tops of 
walls of the cathedral have fallen inside the 
building, and the same is the case with nearly all 
the houses. 

A number of persons were searching amongst 
the ruins for anything valuable or curious, and 
from one of them I bought a small blue glass 
tumbler which had been made shapeless by the 
fierce heat to which it had been exposed. One of 
my companions purchased a small " Crown Derby " 
coffee cup and saucer for a shilling. One of our 
sailors found a quantity of wire nails run together 
into a solid block, weighing, perhaps, a couple of 
pounds, and several similar bundles were offered 
to us. One man was " hawking " a marble figure 
of Venus, while another offered us a bust of the 



THE RUINS OF THE TOWN 143 

Pope, both quite undamaged by the heat, and 
showing no signs of having been buried in the 
ruins. 

During our visit the top of Mont Pelee was 
completely hidden by clouds of smoke, which 
had been pouring out ever since the eruption. 

A few birds were seen amongst the ruins of the 
town. We were informed that during and shortly 
before the disturbances on Martinique and St. 
Vincent, enormous flocks of pigeons* appeared 
on the island of Grenada, where they remained 
for a fortnight. During the eruption, and for 
several days afterwards, quantities of dust fell 
over many of the islands, especially the Barbados, 
where it was collected in bottles and sold to 
visitors. 

* Columba fquamosa. 



CHAPTER XV. 

GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND. 

AFTER leaving Jamaica on 8th March, 1904, we 
laid our course for Grand Cayman, the largest 
of the three islands of the Cayman group, which 
lies to the west of Jamaica. 

The Cayman Islands have been but rarely 
visited by naturalists, and as they are inhabited 
by many species of land-birds which are found 
nowhere else, we looked forward to spending an 
interesting time there. 

Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman 
Brae form part of the Colony of Jamaica, and 
are said to have been discovered by Columbus on 
his return voyage from Portobello to Hispaniola 
(now Hayti), and were named by him Las 
Tortugas, owing to the number of turtles which 
abound on the coast. The present name is 
supposed to be derived from caiman an alli- 
gator, which Grand Cayman somewhat resembles 
in shape when viewed from the east. 

Grand Cayman is about seventeen miles in 
length, and from four to seven miles in breadth. 



VEGETATION AND INHABITANTS 145 

On the northern side is the " Sound " an 
expanse of shallow water about six miles in 
length off George Town, the capital. Ships, as 
a rule, find this the best anchorage, although its 
advantage somewhat depends on the prevailing 
winds. 

The island is well covered with vegetation,* 
the largest trees being mangroves, which here 
rise to a considerable height, while a low growing 
species of palm provides useful material for 
thatching and the manufacture of baskets, etc. 
Like the smaller islets of the group, Grand Cayman 
is composed of coral, and in no spot is it many 
feet above the level of the sea. There is, however, 
in most parts sufficient soil for the cultivation of 
sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and other plants, 
and in many places there is a luxuriant growth 
of grass which is used as pasturage for a small 
number of cattle. Poultry and pigs are also 
reared, and besides providing food for the in- 
habitants, are occasionally shipped to neighbour- 
ing islands. 

The inhabitants of the Cayman Islands are, 
I believe, descended from bucaneers who at one 
time made these islands their headquarters. 
They are of a fair complexion, and those who 
live at a distance from the port are extremely 
hospitable. A number of small schooners have 

* An orchid, said to be peculiar to it, grows in quantities on Grand 
Cayman. 



146 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

been built on Grand Cayman, and are used for 
trading between the islands of the group and 
Jamaica. The principal trade is in turtles, which 
are for the most part caught on the coasts of the 
mainland, and brought to Grand Cayman, where, 
until required for shipment, they are kept in an 
enclosed portion of the Sound. 

We arrived off George Town too late in the 
afternoon to go ashore the same day, but early 
the following morning we landed and called on 
the Governor, His Honour F. Sheddon Sanguinetbi, 
who most kindly gave us a special permit to collect 
birds. The time of our visit corresponded with 
the close time for wild birds, and a law for their 
protection is very properly enforced. 

Having been provided with a guide in the 
shape of a small native boy, one of my companions 
and I started off for a long walk into the interior. 
Before we had gone far from the settlement we 
became greatly struck by the abundance of bird 
life. In no other island in the West Indies did I 
see such numbers of so many different kinds of 
birds as on Grand Cayman. In each patch of 
vegetation we came upon fresh species, and we 
were very soon busily engaged in observing and 
collecting them. 

Most of the land-birds are peculiar to the 
island, though there are a considerable number 
of immigrants from America which spend the 
winter there, and one, at least, of these appears 




FEMALE LEAF-INSECT, SECOND GENERATION, BRED BY 
MR. W. H. ST. QUINTIN, FROM EGGS LAID BY INSECTS 
'BROUGHT HOME ON "VALHALLA" FROM SEYCHELLES. 

(From a Photograph kindly supplied by Mr. W. H. St. Quintin.) 

[146 



CROWNED WARBLERS 147 

to have established itself as a resident species. 
This is the crowned warbler,* a small bird of a 
dull greyish-brown above, white below, with a crest 
of yellow feathers. Two other species of this genus 
are found on the island, and one Dendrceca 
auricapilla which is very common on Grand 
Cayman, but is found nowhere else, is a most 
handsome little bird of a beautiful golden canary 
yellow, with the crown of the head tinged with 
chestnut. We found it close to the settlement, 
where small flocks were flitting about through the 
trees and bushes. Nearly all the West Indian 
Islands possess species closely allied to the Cayman 
golden warbler, but the latter surpasses all others 
in the purity and brilliance of its colouring. The 
other species Dendrceca vitellina is smaller and 
of less brilliant coloration, the general plumage 
being greenish-yellow slightly streaked on the 
sides of the neck with black. This bird is also 
peculiar to Grand Cayman, and it is in- 
teresting to note that another warbler Dendrceca 
discolor an American species, much resembling it, 
though perfectly distinct, is a winter visitor. 
A pleasant surprise awaited us later, for on 
Little Cayman yet another species of this genus 
was found, and this one proved to be new to 
science. 

On cannot walk far on Grand Cayman without 
seeing the almost grotesque-looking black ani, or 

* Dendrceca coronata. 



148 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

cuckoo. This bird is extremely abundant, as it 
is in some of the other West Indian Islands, and 
also in Brazil. Several individuals are usually 
seen together, and they roam over the pasture 
land in follow-my-leader style, uttering a 
monotonous bubbling cry. They are said to be 
partial to the company of cattle and sheep, and 
to relieve them of their ticks, but I cannot vouch 
for this on personal observation. Usually they 
were, when feeding, sitting together in a flock on 
the grass, amongst the roots of which they were 
apparently searching for insects. They are of 
about the size of our cuckoo, but jet black in 
colour, though old examples in fresh plumage 
have a bluish sheen on the upperparts. The bill 
is peculiarly shaped, being deep, with the upper 
mandible strongly arched. Common though these 
birds are, I believe that little is known of their 
nesting habits. Several females are said to lay 
their eggs in the same nest, but they do not, like 
true cuckoos, deposit their eggs in the nests of 
other birds. 

Another and more handsome cuckoo was 
Coccyzus maynardi, of about the same size as the 
black ani, but of totally different coloration, 
the upperparts being clove-brown, the tail blacker, 
and edged with white and black, and the underparts 
buffish white. This bird did not appear to be so 
abundant as the ani, and during our stay we saw 
but one example. 



A RARE PARROT 149 

Mocking-birds* and Carolina thrushesf were 
very common, and we also shot specimens of a 
handsome woodpecker { peculiar to the island, 
and one of the tamest birds I have ever seen. 

Grand Cayman is the home of a species of parrot 
found nowhere else. We wished to obtain 
specimens of this bird, but were told that they 
were all gathered together in the tallest mangrove 
trees on the north side, to which they retired for 
nesting, but as soon as they had finished breeding 
they were to be seen in numbers all over the island. 
Several were brought alive on board, and some 
were purchased for about six shillings apiece 
a very low price for such a rare bird. I could not 
get any wild specimens near the settlement, so 
I arranged to go over to the north end for them. 
As I had but twenty-four hours at my disposal, 
I had my doubts as to whether I should even see 
any parrots. However, I resolved to try, and 
accordingly the Governor placing a guide at my 
disposal, we set out late one afternoon, and after 
a drive of some miles arrived at our destination 
shortly before dark. Here we obtained rooms 
in a farmhouse, where I was considerably cheered 
by the information that a number of parrots had 
been seen close by a few hours before. 

At daybreak next morning we started for a long 
walk to the nearest belt of mangrove trees. For 

* Mimus orpheus. f Galeoscoptes carolinensis. 

J Melanerpes caymanensis. Chrysotis caymanensis. 

M 



150 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

several hours we saw no signs of either mangrove 
trees or parrots, and I began to think that our 
journey had been in vain. Presently, however, 
we reached a small farm, where we stopped for 
a short time at the invitation of the owner. This 
man told me that every morning, shortly after 
daybreak, the parrots came down to his land to 
feed on the fruit of the guavas, and that only an 
hour ago he had seen several. We thereupon 
started off again, and after an hour's walk came 
up to the mangroves, a belt of tall trees about 
half a mile in length. Before we reached them 
the discordant cries of the parrots were plainly 
heard, and presently a party of them flew across 
the path. We entered the wood, and, after wait- 
ing a short time, I shot a fine adult bird. It was 
very handsome, the feathers of the upperparts 
being green, edged with black, the forehead white, 
and the underparts of a rich crimson, banded 
with black. 

We obtained two more parrots on our way back, 
and finally got on board the ship late in the after- 
noon after a most successful and enjoyable ex- 
cursion. 

It is somewhat remarkable that Grand Cayman 
should have a peculiar form of parrot, while Little 
Cayman is inhabited by a Cuban species. This, 
however, is one of many cases in which isolation 
produces a new form or species. Some species 
of birds appear to change more rapidly than 



ISLAND FORMS 151 

others. The Cayman Islands offer some good 
examples of this, for apart from the two species 
of parrots, Grand Cayman has a peculiar starling,* 
while Little Cayman is inhabited by the Cuban 
species, t and, as already mentioned, both islands 
have peculiar forms of warblers. There are 
several other equally interesting cases. On the 
whole, the avifauna of the Cayman Islands seems 
to be nearest to that of Cuba, though a new species 
of tyrant flycatcher, J which was found by us on 
Grand Cayman, is more nearly allied to a species 
found on the Bahamas. 

On 13th March we left Grand Cayman, and 
steamed to Little Cayman, off which we anchored 
early the same afternoon. 

* Quiacalu* caymanenaia f Q. guncttochi. 

J Pitangus caymanenaia. "Ibis," 1904, p. 582. 



M 2 



CHAPTER XVI. 

LITTLE CAYMAN ISLAND. 

LITTLE CAYMAN ISLAND is considerably smaller 
than the main island of this group. It is of the 
same formation, but the centre is partly covered 
with mangrove swamps. 

Lord Crawford had not placed this island in 
the original programme, but he was anxious to 
obtain a series of specimens of a small gannet, 
none of which the British Museum possessed. This 
bird was supposed to be found only on the Cayman 
Islands, but we could not obtain any on Grand 
Cayman, and decided to visit this smaller island 
where, as we were informed, great numbers bred. 

The winds on Little Cayman are variable. At 
the time of our visit the anchorage we chose on 
the lee side was the most sheltered, though it is 
often impossible to anchor there, in which case 
ships have either to anchor off the settlement 
in somewhat rough water or stand off and wait 
for the wind to drop. 

Some of the inhabitants having seen the yacht 
approaching, were waiting for us when we landed, 
and on being questioned as to w^here the gannets 



A GREAT GANNET COLONY 153 

were, they at once offered to take us to their 
haunt, which proved to be close to the settlement 
and about three-quarters of an hour's walk from 
our anchorage. The way led through a thickly- 
wooded country, but after a time we emerged 
into a plantation of coconut trees, the fruit of 
which forms the main product of the island, and 
shortly afterwards we reached the settlement a 
group of wooden cottages thatched with leaves of 
the coconut palm. 

The sea was dashing on the shore within a few 
yards of the village, behind which was a large 
mangrove swamp, where we discovered the nesting- 
place of the gannets. Their numbers were in- 
calculable ; thousands upon thousands were flying 
round overhead ; streams of them were coming 
from the sea ; and every tree was covered by them. 
Frigate birds were also very abundant, and they 
doubtless secured plenty of food, for the gannets 
were most cowardly ; directly a frigate bird 
appeared they dropped the fish they were carrying 
and made off with harsh cries of alarm. 

The breeding season appeared to be nearly over, 
and, as the night was fast approaching, it was 
necessary to obtain such specimens as we required 
without delay. At the first shot the air was filled 
with an immense number of birds, and their 
clamour as they whirled overhead was deafening. 

The nests were mere collections of sticks in 
the branches of mangrove trees. A few of them 



154 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

contained young birds covered with white down, 
but most of the young were flying overhead in 
company with their parents. After climbing up 
to several nests we succeeded in finding two eggs, 
which were of a white chalky texture. After 
obtaining as many birds as we required we started 
on our walk back to the ship. 

Early next morning we landed again and walked 
towards the " gannetry." Our chief object was 
to get specimens of some of the land-birds. In 
this we were successful ; amongst the number of 
small birds shot during the morning I obtained 
three specimens of a new species of warbler.* 
Most of the other land-birds we met with were 
similar to those found on Grand Cayman. 

The only mammals we saw on the Cayman 
Islands were rats, which have been introduced, 
and one bat on Grand Cayman. Reptiles were 
equally scarce. A snake t was obtained on Grand 
Cayman, but was not seen on Little Cayman. 

During the first night I spent some hours fishing 
from the deck of the yacht, and, although I caught 
nothing, I never remember seeing so many fishes 
together. The sea appeared to be full of them, 
and as they darted about they left flashing 
phosphorescent tracks behind them. 

At mid-day we steamed away from Little 
Cayman, and shaped our course for Havana. 

* Dendrceca crawfordi. "Bull. B.O.C.," Vol. XIV., p. 95. 

f Dromicus amgulifer. 



A VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

MONTE VIDEO AND THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN. 

DURING this voyage, on which we started on 
November 19th, 1902, we were unable, for various 
reasons, to visit the island of South Trinidad. 
After a stay a Bahia, we sailed for Monte Video 
and the Straits of Magellan. 

On 9th January, 1903, in Latitude 24 23' 
39" S., Longitude 40 1' W., a number of the two 
species of Trinidad petrels, which I have described 
in a previous chapter, followed the ship for three 
days. At this time I was extremely anxious to 
get specimens of these birds, but, owing to the 
rough weather we were experiencing, it was 
impossible to lower a boat. Thus I was in the 
exasperating position of seeing within a few yards 
of the ship a quantity of birds quite unobtainable, 
of which very few specimens existed in collections, 
for these two species of petrel had hitherto been 
found only on the island of South Trinidad.* 

* Since the above was written a single specimen of (Eatrelata armin- 
joniana has been obtained off the West Indies (c/. " Bull. B.O.C." 
XIX., p. 98). 

During our third voyage as previously related, we landed on South 
Trinidad and obtained a fine series of these interesting Petrels. 



158 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Three days later, in Latitude 33 29' 33" S., 
Longitude 50 3' 47" W., the first albatros* was 
seen. 

I may here mention that, though many attempts 
were made in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian 
Oceans, we never caught an albatros on a line. 
We subsequently came to the conclusion that they 
will not take a baited hook unless they are very 
badly in want of food. Possibly we were sailing 
at too great a speed, but a long line was used, 
and the bait was kept motionless on the water 
for as long a time as possible. When hove-to off 
Tristan da Cunha, Captain Caws and I spent hours 
"fishing" for sooty albatroses, but although several 
of these birds took the bait in their bills, they 
would not swallow, and usually dropped it im- 
mediately. This is, I know, not the experience 
that others have had with albatros " fishing," 
as several friends have since assured me that these 
birds are easily caught. 

The next day the giant petrel f was seen. In 
size this fine bird equals several of the smaller 
species of albatroses, and when on the wing it 
much resembles the sooty albatros, but its yellow 
bill serves to distinguish it. Occasionally, almost 
entirely white examples of the giant petrel are 
met with, but we only once saw one. It is now, 
I believe, well known that the attacks which have 
often been reported as having been made by 

* Diomedea exulans. f Ossifraga gigantea. 



ASHORE AT MONTE VIDEO 

albatroses on sailors, who have fallen overboard, 
are in fact attributable to this species. 

Early on the morning of 14th January we 
anchored off Monte Video. Owing to the shallow 
water the " Valhalla " had to lie about two miles 
distant from the town, and on account of this we 
made but one excursion into the country. 
Travelling by rail to the small town of Los Piedros, 
we walked into the country, which is mostly flat 
pasture land for miles round. Quantities of 
large blue-flowered thistles covered the country. 
An interesting account of these thistles is given 
by Darwin. He says : " There is little good 
pasture, owing to the land being covered by beds 
either of an acrid clover or of the great thistle ; 
in some parts they were as high as the horse's 
back, but in others they had not yet sprung up. 
When the thistles are full-grown, the great beds 
are impenetrable except by a few tracks, as 
intricate as those of a labyrinth. These are only 
known to the robbers, who in this season inhabit 
them, and sally forth at night to rob and cut 
throats with impunity. Upon asking at a house 
whether robbers were numerous, I was answered 
' The thistles are not yet up ' the meaning of 
which reply was not at first obvious." 

During our stay here some time was devoted 
to fishing from the ship. Examples of two species 
were caught, one of which proved to be new to 
science, and has since been described under the 



160 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

name Corvina crawfordi. This fish was exceedingly 
abundant, and we were much surprised to find 
that it had not previously been named. 

On 20th January, having taken a pilot for the 
Straits of Magellan, we left Monte Video, but as 
the day advanced we had to drop anchor, owing 
to a very strong head wind, and for the remainder 
of that day and the next we lay to. From this 
time onward it became much colder, and we were 
glad to get into winter clothing. This, however, 
only applied to the temperature at sea on 
land in the Straits of Magellan, the furthest south 
we reached, the air, although fresh, was certainly 
not colder than during a fine April in England. 

On 22nd January the first diving petrels were 
met with. These curious little birds were con- 
tinually rising under our bows, flying a few yards, 
and dropping suddenly into the sea, when they 
immediately dived. This diving petrel Peleca- 
noides urinatrix is exceedingly abundant through- 
out the whole of the waters of the Straits of 
Magellan. In appearance it reminds one forcibly 
of the little auk, being glossy black above and 
white below. The throat is speckled with grey, 
and a white band crosses the wings. The wings 
are very small and weak ; the bird, doubtless, is 
losing the power of flight. A second species was 
met with a week or two later in the Bay of 
Valparaiso. This was Pelecanoides garnoti, which 
differs from the former species chiefly in being 



PENGUINS AT SEA 161 

larger and having a broader white bar on the 
wing. 

In the Southern Indian Ocean a third species 
of this peculiar genus inhabits the coasts of the 
Crozette Islands, and extends to Kerguelen Land, 
while during the third voyage of " Valhalla," 
in 1905-6, we obtained specimens of a fourth and 
previously undescribed species at Tristan da Cunha. 

Penguins* were also seen during the same day, 
as well as later, after we had entered the Straits. 
Most of those seen at sea were lying on their sides 
with one leg out of the water, a characteristic 
attitude of these birds as well as of other members 
of the genus, the nearly-allied 8. demursus of 
South Africa and the adjacent islands being 
frequently seen in a similar position. 

A few days later we shot a Magellan penguin 
for our collection. I shall not readily forget the 
great difficulty I had in skinning this bird. 
Between the skin and the flesh lay a mass of oily 
fat more than half-an-inch thick, in which were 
embedded the stiff quills of the breast feathers. 

We afterwards found that just before the moult 
the Cape penguins,")" coming up from the sea 
enveloped in fat, remain during the moulting season 
on shore, and never enter the water. As soon as 
the moult is finished they are quite thin, and then 
proceed to sea for a month before returning to 
breed. 

* Spheniscus magellanicus. f Spheniscus demursus. 



162 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Later in the evening of this day we entered the 
Straits of Magellan, and after passing a jutting 
point of shingle, called Dungeness Point, a name 
which reminded us forcibly of home, we anchored 
in Possession Bay. Early next morning we 
weighed anchor, but, owing to a very strong head 
wind, we were not able to make any way, and were 
obliged to anchor again. 

During the day two curiously-marked porpoises 
played round the ship. They were pure glossy 
white excepting the head, tail, and dorsal fin, 
which were black. Comparatively little is known 
of the porpoises and dolphins of the southern 
oceans, and these may very likely have belonged 
to some undescribed species, but all our attempts 
to harpoon them were unsuccessful. 

At eight o'clock next morning, the wind having 
dropped, we started westwards and passed through 
the first " narrows." Three hours later we steamed 
close past St. Elizabeth and St. Magdalena 
Islands, formerly famous for the large number 
of kelp geese which bred on them, and thence 
onward through the second " narrows." In these 
" narrows " enormous numbers of sea-birds 
terns, skuas, albatroses, and diving petrels were 
seen. Of these birds perhaps the most noteworthy 
was the skua,* as from this time until we reached 
Valparaiso this species was continually encountered. 
The country, as seen from the ship, was, from 

* Megalestris chilensis. 



CONDORS AND STEAMER-DUCKS 163 

the east of the Straits to Punta Arenas, bare and 
sandy. Here in the desert were numbers of 
huanacos,* large parties of them were standing 
close to the shore. Unfortunately, we had no 
opportunities for landing, and had, therefore, 
to be content with a distant view of these 
animals. 

As soon as Punta Arenas the only town in the 
Straits of Magellan is reached, the aspect of the 
land entirely changes ; mountains and trees take 
the place of the desert, and on every side one gets 
the impression of fertility. The large trees, of 
which these forests are composed, are of two 
species : the deciduous Antarctic beech| and the 
evergreen beech, J the former being by far the 
more abundant. 

While passing through the first " narrows " a 
fine, if distant, view was obtained of three condors, 
which were sailing, or rather circling, round a wall 
of rock close to the water. This was the only 
occasion on which we saw this magnificent bird, 
and from what we heard, I fear that it is not 
nearly so abundant as it was a few years ago, 
but what has caused the decrease it is difficult to 
say. 

The steamer-duck || has also undoubtedly de- 
creased in number of late years. It cannot now 
be called abundant the description given by the 

* Llama huanacos. f Fagus antarcticus. % F. betuloides. 
Sarcorhamphus gryphus. \\ Tacky erea cinereua. 



164 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

early voyagers though many may still be seen 
throughout the western portion of Magellan 
Straits and in Smythe's Channel. 

The condor may have been shot down by 
shepherds, of whom there are now numbers ; 
but the decrease of the steamer-duck cannot be 
ascribed to human agency, as all the vast tract of 
country bordering the waters of Smythe's Channel, 
in which these birds are found, is practically 
uninhabited except by Fuegian Indians ; and, 
although very few of these people were to be seen, 
we found no vestige of duck-remains either in their 
boats or in their deserted camps. 




l 



o g 

^ o 1 

S-iS 
2 
* a, 

CO "" 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

PTJNTA ARENAS, STRAITS OF MAGELLAN. 

AT mid-day we anchored off Punta Arenas, or 
Sandy Point, a town which is rapidly becoming 
of importance, not only because it is the only town 
in the Magellan Straits, but also because of the 
very large number of sheep raised in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood, from which a quantity of 
wool is shipped to England. I am indebted to 
Messrs. Jacomb, Son & Co., wool brokers, of 
London, for the following facts regarding the Punta 
Arenas wool clip. 

" The wool is practically all from cross-bred 
sheep, varying in quality from fine half-bred to 
coarse Lincoln, the bulk being coarse. The 
quantity of wool exported to the United Kingdom 
is, roughly, from 30,000 to 40,000 bales yearly, 
and nearly all goes to London for sale. This 
wool shows yearly marked improvement, and is 
nearly equal to the best New Zealand clips. It 
is in good demand from buyers of all nation- 
alities. After being sold by public auction, part 
of it is shipped to the United States of America, 

N 



166 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Germany, France, etc., while rather more than 
half remains to be forwarded to English manu- 
facturing centres." 

The greater part of the country about Punta 
Arenas is covered with virgin forest, except 
certain large tracts which have been cleared for 
pasture land. Clearings are made by firing the 
trees, and during our stay there was a forest fire 
continually raging ; indeed, it had been doing so, 
we were told, for more than a month, and its 
blaze on a windy night lit up the whole town 
magnificently for our view. 

I walked through some of the cleared parts 
of this forest. The ground was covered with a 
thick, rich-looking grass, studded here and there 
with bushes of berberis. There appeared to be 
two, if not three, kinds of berberis in these 
Straits. 

The most numerous species of birds about the 
town were a chat-like tyrant-bird,* the adult male 
of which is chestnut brown, with a black head and 
underparts, and a small kestrel. I also saw and 
obtained specimens of a bunting, | a fly catcher, + 
and a martin ; the last-named resembles our 
house-martin, except that it has no feathering on 
the tarsi or toes. || 

* Centritea niger. f Zonotrichia canicapilla. 

J Elainea cUbiceps. Tachycineta meyeri. 

|| I have frequently obtained in Sussex autumn specimens of our 
house-martin (Chelidon urbica) with these parts bare of feathers, but in 
these cases the feathers had doubtless been worn off. 



THE EXTINCT GROUND-SLOTH 167 

One of my first excursions at Punta Arenas 
was a long walk on the shore towards a small 
iron lighthouse, which marks the eastern ex- 
tremity of the point. Hundreds of terns,* the 
commonest sea-bird in this part of the Straits, 
were met with. A few siskins| were also seen ; 
but the commonest land-bird was the above- 
mentioned Centrites, which was in great numbers, 
most of them being young birds. 

Chilian skuas were chasing the terns. Several 
" quail-snipe "J were met with, feeding on a strip 
of grass close to the sea. This remarkable bird 
resembles a sandpiper in form, but it has a bill 
like that of a quail. A goose, probably the kelp- 
goose^ and the southern black-backed gull were 
also noted. 

In several shops in the town the skins both of 
mammals and of birds were exposed for sale. 
These skins were worthless as specimens, as in 
all cases the bones of the legs had been removed. 
Cormorants 1 1 and rheas^f were shown, but the 
most interesting exhibit was a piece of skin of the 
extinct ground-sloth (Mylodori), a portion about 
four inches long and two inches broad, with much 
of the hair still attached. On enquiring the 
price I was asked 50. This piece of skin had 
been found with other remains in a cave, several 

* Sterna hirundinacea. f Chrysomitris barbatus. 

J Thinocorus rumicivorus. Chlotphaga magdlanica. 

|| Phalacrocorax atriceps. ^ Rhea americana. 

N2 



168 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

miles east of Punta Arenas, and not far from the 
shore of the Straits. 

This giant ground-sloth appears to have 
inhabited the shores of the Straits of Magellan, 
and quite recently it was believed that specimens 
were still living in Patagonia. This, however, 
is most unlikely, as the Patagonian natives live 
almost entirely on the money they obtain for the 
skins of the wild animals of the country, and they 
regularly bring their collections of skins to Punta 
Arenas for sale. If the mylodon were still in 
existence in a living state, these natives long ago 
would have been aware of the fact, and have 
brought in specimens for sale. 

One afternoon the Governor, Captain Gomez, 
invited us to visit some coal mines which had just 
been opened, and we gladly availed ourselves of 
the opportunity. We travelled up to the mines, 
about five miles distant, in a light railway. The 
track was laid through a fine forest of Antarctic 
beech trees, and in a stream which ran through 
this forest several men were searching for gold. 
The coal mines were situated in the forest at an 
altitude of about 500 feet above the level of the 
sea. The mouth of the shaft was at the foot of 
a low cliff and we went in on a truck, lying on our 
backs. It was a curious sensation, rushing down 
into the tunnel, which was on a slight slope. 
We soon came to the " working," where the coal 
was being hewn out and loaded into trucks. The 



A COAL MINE 169 

mine had but recently been opened, and the 
Governor could not say whether it would pay or 
not. The coal seemed remarkably brittle. Close 
to the entrance of the shaft I found a number of 
oysters embedded in the black clay, and succeeded 
in digging out a perfect specimen. 

We afterwards spent a delightful hour in the 
forest. Birds were extremely scarce,* and we saw 
little else besides a small tree-creeper,"]" a bird 
afterwards met with in most of our anchorages 
in the Straits of Magellan and in Smythe's Channel. 
Although it has a tail composed of stiff feathers 
like our well-known creeper,J it does not seem to 
climb the trunks of trees like that bird : those 
we saw were hopping about the trees like tits. 
It is a familiar little bird, and follows one 
through the forest, continually uttering its shrill 
cry. 

On 3rd February we left Punta Arenas, having 
been delayed for twenty-four hours, owing to a 
slight breakdown in the engine room, and pro- 
ceeded westwards. At seven o'clock the same 
day we anchored in Port Gallant anchorage, 
about eighty miles from Punta Arenas. 

Ships going through the Straits have to anchor 
every night, owing to the difficult and dangerous 
passages. All through the Straits and Smythe's 

* Insects are less numerous in the country bordering the Straits 
than are birds, and during the whole passage through, the only insects 
I saw were a bee and two beetles. 

f Oxyurua spinicaudata. J Certhia familiaris. 



170 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Channel are natural harbours, where ships can 
anchor with safety. These anchorages were a great 
pleasure to all of us, for as soon as the ship came 
to one of them a boat was lowered, and we set off 
to visit some of the beautiful islets with which 
the Straits are studded. 

In Port Gallant we had our first view of 
steamer- ducks. Seeing two ducks sitting on the 
water we steered towards them, when, to OUT 
delight, they " got up steam " and raced away. 
In different accounts we read of the various ways 
in which this duck is supposed to propel itself 
through the water. The older accounts say that 
it uses its " tiny wings as paddles " and " rows 
itself through the water." It was then called the 
" racehorse-duck." During our passage through the 
Straits we paid much attention to this subject, 
and came to the following conclusions : when 
alarmed, steamer-ducks at once run away over the 
water, flapping their wings (which are not nearly 
so " tiny " as those of the Guillemot in proportion 
to the sizes of the birds), and travelling at an almost 
incredible speed in fact, almost as fast as an 
ordinary duck can fly. The feet of the bird are 
large and strong, the muscles enormously developed. 
The wings, although not of sufficient size to raise 
the bird completely from the water, are able 
to lift the body clear of the surface, so that the 
feet come into play, when, by running on the water 
and flapping their wings, the birds race so fast 



THE STEAMER-DUCK 171 

that a six-oared boat is never able to get within 
gunshot of them while they are moving. 

It has been stated by some authors that the 
immature steamer-ducks are able to fly ; again, 
others say that there are two species, one volant 
and the other flightless. Personally, I never saw 
one fly, though one of our party, Major Wilbraham, 
did see one rise from the water and fly away. 

Of this bird Professor Cunningham writes * : 
" It was first noted by Pedro Sarmiento, in 
1582. Penethy, Byron, and Cook gave it the 
name of " racehorse-duck." Later, however, 
Captain Kingf changed this name to that of 
steamer-duck. He also observed that certain of 
these ducks had volant powers, and thought that 
he distinguished two species, recognisable both by 
size and plumage the flying birds he called 
patachonicus, the non- volant birds brachypterus." 
Professor Cunningham further states his belief 
that there is but one species, and that the volant 
birds are immature examples, as all the flying 
birds that he examined anatomically showed 
signs of incomplete ossification of their bones. 

All the examples we obtained, and all those 
I have examined in the British Museum, un- 
doubtedly belong to one species only ; and if I 
may venture to give an opinion, I should say that 
Professor Cunningham's is undoubtedly the right 

* Transactions of the Zoological Society of London. 

t Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1830-1, p. 15. 



172 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

solution, as it would surely be an almost un- 
precedented thing to find two very nearly allied 
species living together, one able to fly and the other 
unable to do so. At the same time, it is somewhat 
remarkable that, although we saw examples of 
this duck of all ages and in all stages of develop- 
ment, we met with but one which was able to fly. 
It may be that this species is gradually becoming 
entirely flightless, and that the volant individuals 
met with are survivals of a former stage in a state 
of transition, and have not as yet lost the full 
power of flight. 

A fine pair of adult steamer-ducks which we 
obtained, weighed respectively 9J and 10 pounds 
(a young bird with downy wings was only 5 pounds 
in weight). I, therefore, cannot believe that this 
species can ever weigh, as has been stated, as much 
as 20 pounds. The gizzards of all those examined 
by us contained broken fragments of the shells of 
mussels.* 

In Port Gallant anchorage we saw a large flock 
of surface-feeding ducks, but were unable to obtain 
specimens. Some dotterel")" a southern repre- 
sentative of the bird which nests now so rarely 
on the hills of the north of England and Scotland 
were feeding on the edge of a large fresh-water 
lagoon, and I shot two young examples. A black- 
bird;]: was also obtained a bird in first plumage, 

* Mytilua magellanicus. f Eudromiaa modesta. 

$ Turdus magellanicu*. 



A BEAUTIFUL BAY 173 

in which state it much resembles the young of 
our blackbird, except that it has a black cap. 
This bird was met with frequently later on in 
Smythe's Channel, and was, in fact, one of the 
few land-birds seen there. Its melancholy 
whistle was to be heard continually ringing out 
over the otherwise silent fjords towards sunset. 

At daybreak the next morning we left Port 
Gallant, and, proceeding westwards, anchored 
towards evening at Churruca Bay, which is the 
most western anchorage in the Straits of Magellan. 
This place is one of the most beautiful that it has 
ever been my good fortune to see. Towering 
peaks, covered from summit to base with im- 
penetrable beech forests, almost encircled the 
deeply indented bay, the water of which was inky 
black, and the surface smooth as glass. Here 
and there were little islets, some fringed with a tall 
white-flowered plant ; others surrounded with 
hedges of fuchsias in full flower. Flock after flock of 
Magellan cormorants flew by us, their white breasts 
flashing bright against the dark water of the bay, 
while steamer-ducks scudded to right and left, 
as we glided to our anchorage in the glorious 
natural harbour. 

As soon as the anchor was down we had two 
boats lowered. A long chase after steamer-ducks 
proved unsuccessful. The birds dived at the least 
alarm, to reappear far out of shot, and escaped 
over the water with their curious flapping " run." 



174 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

On one island the remains of an encampment 
of Fuegian Indians was seen ; this consisted of 
a few " wigwams " built up with branches, and 
outside them a large heap of mussel shells of 
natives there was no sign. 

Afterwards, when we were under steam, the 
people themselves brought their canoes alongside, 
but when we were on land they kept out of 
our way, disappearing in a wonderful fashion. 
Major Wilbraham one day saw a canoe-load of 
them land in one of these harbours, and, wishing 
to try to converse with them, he steered his boat 
for the same place. When he arrived, however, 
he found that people, canoe, and all had vanished 
into the forest, and by no amount of searching 
could he find any trace of them. 

The food of these people is composed almost 
entirely of mussels, which are very plentiful in all 
these waters. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

SMYTHE'S CHANNEL GULF OF PENAS VALPARAISO. 

EARLY on the morning of 5th February we left 
Churruca Bay and entered Smythe's Channel. 
The scenery in this channel is even more beautiful 
than that of the Straits of Magellan. Mountains, 
covered with primeval forest, tower high on 
both sides, while the water, smooth and of an inky 
blackness, is dotted with islands of all sizes. 
Unfortunately, these splendours cannot be seen 
to advantage, on account of the execrable climate 
of this part of the world. All the winter it is said 
to be snowing continually, and during the five days 
we spent in the channel it rained continuously, 
while a perpetual mist veiled the snow-topped 
peaks. 

To wander through the dripping forests was not 
pleasant. At the best of times they are almost 
impenetrable, owing to the thick vegetation, 
but when at every step one was met with a shower 
of water falling from the trees and bushes, the dis- 
comfort was great. 

Soon after mid-day, a boat-load of Fuegians 



176 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

appeared in front of us, and as the ship was slowed 
down, they came alongside, and after a little 
persuasion came on board. They soon made 
friends with the crew, and the pilot, who knew 
their language, talked to them. They at once 
began to bargain for biscuits, etc. All they had 
to offer in exchange were the well-worn otter skins 
with which they were clothed. They readily 
divested themselves of these and implored us to 
give them biscuits, tobacco, and matches : the 
latter they seemed to understand perfectly. We, 
of course, gave them a plentiful supply, and they 
went away quite happy. 

It appears that whole families travel about in 
one canoe, in which they go from island to island 
in the channel. In the canoe a fire is kept con- 
tinually burning, and if this should go out, these 
poor people are in a bad way, as, owing to the 
dampness of the wood, it is almost, if not quite, 
impossible to kindle fire by friction. 

Owing to the greatly reduced number of these 
natives, Tierra del Fuego, which was so named 
on account of their custom of signalling by fire, 
can hardly now be said to be appropriately 
named. 

The same evening we anchored in Port Dixon, 
where the night was spent, and sailing at daylight 
next morning we arrived towards evening in 
Puerto Bueno harbour. Here we visited a large 
fresh-water lake, which our pilot assured us was a 



A BARREN LAKE 177 

" fine place for ducks." A fine place it undoubtedly 
is, but as for ducks, there were none. In no place 
have I been more struck with the entire absence 
of life than in the immediate surroundings of this 
lake. Although the country appeared to be per- 
fectly suited to birds and animals, the only living 
creatures we saw were a single bird, a creeper 
of the species I have previously described, and 
one small toad* found on the margin of the lake : 
this was in an immature state, black, striped with 
yellow. 

After leaving the lake we took to the boats 
again and landed on a small island. On the rocky 
shore some oyster-catchers were feeding, but they 
were extremely shy, and we were unable to get 
within shot of them. A tiny humming-bird was 
fairly numerous, and several were seen perched 
on the bare tree-tops. At least two species of 
humming-birds have been recorded from the Straits 
of Magellan, but I was unable to identify the 
examples we saw, as no specimens were obtained. 
It seemed strange to meet with humming-birds 
on the chilly coasts of the Magellan Straits : one 
always associates them with the tropical portions 
of America. 

We also saw and shot a large railf which in size 
and colouring resembles our moorhen, but has a 
long curved bill somewhat like that of a curlew 
in shape, but on a much smaller scale. It is only 

* Nannophryne variegata. f Rallus vigilantis. 



178 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

found on the shores of the Straits of Magellan 
and Smythe's Channel, and is somewhat rare in 
collections. 

A fine male kelp-goose was seen on this island. 
This species Chloephaga magellanica is re- 
markable in that the males are white while the 
females are grey, banded with black. The Governor 
of Punta Arenas gave us two little goslings of 
this goose, but they died as soon as we got into a 
warmer latitude. 

On the rocks which border the shore, in most of 
the anchorages in Smythe's Channel, an interesting 
bird the Cinclodes patagonicus was seen and 
obtained. It is somewhat like a dipper in action, 
as it runs over the rocks searching for insects. On 
several occasions one of these birds came into the 
boat as we were rowing about the harbour, and 
showed little fear, remaining perched on the side 
of the boat for a minute or more. 

When we reached the ship at dusk, wet through 
with the continuous rain, we heard that a canoe- 
load of Indians had been to pay a visit during our 
absence. 

The following day we reached Molineux Sound, 
and after we had anchored, the rain ceased, the 
sun appeared, and we much enjoyed the first fine 
afternoon we had experienced since leaving Punta 
Arenas. 

Molineux Sound differs somewhat from the 
other anchorages we visited, the country being 



MOLINEUX SOUND 179 

much more open, less wooded, and not nearly so 
mountainous. One small valley in the immediate 
vicinity of the harbour was occupied by a chain of 
reed-girt lakes, rising one above the other like a 
series of lochs. On each side of the valley the 
gentle slopes of the hills were covered with shrubs 
and low beech trees. 

Though this appeared to be an ideal place for 
land-birds, we met with very few, and these 
were of two species only a large hawk,* and a 
pair of the Magellan thrushes. The scarcity of 
animal life on the shores of Smythe's Channel 
has been previously mentioned by Captain 
Macfarlane.| Sea-birds were, however, fairly 
numerous, cormorants being the most abundant, 
though steamer-ducks were not uncommon. We 
here saw a brood of downy ducklings of this 
species, which, though apparently not many days 
old, scudded away over the water at such speed 
that, although my boat was rowed by six men, 
we were unable with all our exertions to get within 
shot. The ducklings were accompanied by their 
parents, which swam round the boat, quacking 
in alarm, but they kept well out of shot, and only 
occasionally showed themselves above the water. 
Most of the time during which they were sub- 
merged their bills were visible above the surface 
of the water. 

The steamer-ducks appear always to frequent 

* Milvago chimango. f <?/ " Ibis," 1887, p. 201. 



180 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

the growth of kelp-weed, which grows in profusion 
round the rocky islets in the Straits of Magellan 
and Smythe's Channel. Amongst this weed they 
obtain their food, which consists entirely of mussels 
of two species.* Some of these mussels grow to 
a large size, and we frequently found shells measur- 
ing up to six inches in length. 

In Molineux Sound two examples of the diving 
petrel were obtained. Other petrels are strong- 
flying ocean birds, but this species trusts entirely 
to its diving powers for means of escape when 
pursued. Its flight is weak and short : the bird 
soon drops back to the water and at once 
dives. When skinning this bird, one cannot 
fail to be struck by the curious formation of the 
gizzard, which is soft and flabby, and is, in fact, 
merely an enlargement of the proventriculus. 
All those I examined were crammed with small 
fishes. 

In each anchorage throughout these channels, 
a trammel net was set, and in most of the harbours 
we had good catches of fish. By far the most 
numerous appeared to be a species of grey mullet. 
Small sharks were also caught and preserved, 
while one specimen of Aphrites gobio was obtained 
and brought home in spirits. This fish has an 
enormous head, out of all proportion to its small 
body. In the Straits of Magellan some large spider- 
crabs were caught, several of which were as much 

* Mytilua magellanicus and M . patagonicus. 



TIERRA DEL FUEGIANS 181 

as two feet across from claw to claw. These 
crabs are excellent eating, being far superior to 
any lobster we had ever tasted. 

On 8th February we left Molineux Sound. 
During that morning two canoe-loads of Indians 
came alongside. In one of these I saw the head 
of a deer, which I bought for three biscuits. It 
proved to be the head of a " huemule," and, 
although too decomposed to skin, I managed to 
save its skull, but this was washed overboard 
during the fearful weather we encountered in the 
Gulf of Pen as. After a little persuasion the 
natives came aboard. They were wretched- 
looking creatures, little more than four feet ten 
inches in height, with long straight black hair, 
cut square across the forehead, while their faces 
were almost repulsive, and their otter-skin clothing 
was worn and scanty. 

Through our pilot I learned that they had 
caught the " huemule " with the aid of their dogs 
fearful looking mongrels which they had in 
the boat with them. Before they left these strange 
people completely divested themselves of their 
otter-skin clothes, which they presented to 
Captain Caws ; then, caring nothing for the most 
inclement weather, they cast off the leather thong 
which held their boat to the gangway of the ship, 
and rode away, naked, to the shore. It was thus 
that we saw the last of these Indians, the exter- 
mination of whom is but a matter of a short time. 

o 



182 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

We were informed* that they are annually carried 
off in numbers to a large missionary station not 
far from Punta Arenas, where they soon die from 
the effects of civilization. Every year, we heard, 
they become fewer and fewer, and there can be 
no doubt that in a comparatively short time the 
natives of Tierra del Fuego will be a race of the past. 

An hour later we passed Eyre Sound, and 
afterwards for several miles the water of the 
channel was full of broken ice, which had originated 
from a neighbouring glacier. This was our 
only experience of steaming through ice. The 
ship was obliged to proceed at " dead slow," 
and, for several hours, blocks of ice of various sizes 
were grinding and crashing against our bows. 
Many of these miniature icebergs contained rocks 
and masses of earth, while, during our passage 
through them, many streaks of paint from the 
ship's side were left on their surfaces. 

Looking up Eyre Sound we had a splendid view 
of a glacier, a mass of ice and snow, extending 
upwards for several thousands of feet. Late on the 
same afternoon we entered water free of ice, and, 
towards sunset, anchored in Eden Harbour. 

The weather, as usual, was wet, and a thick mist 
hung over the mountains. We rowed up the 
harbour to the mouth of a small river. Here 
geese were more plentiful than in the other 

* This information was given us by our pilot, a man who had spent 
many years in these waters, and whose information always proved 
reliable. 



EDEN HARBOUR 183 

anchorages visited. I saw but one species 
Chloephaga poliocephala which is one of the most 
handsome geese in the world. It is about the 
size of the well-known Egyptian goose, and 
somewhat resembles it in the coloration of its 
upperparts ; the underparts are white, barred on 
the flanks with black, and the breast is encircled 
by a broad band of bright chestnut-red. In this 
harbour we met with another kind of cormorant 
Phalacrocorax vigua which, is, I believe, the 
species found so abundantly in the roadstead at 
Monte Video. This being so, it is rather remark- 
able that we did not meet with it in the Straits 
of Magellan. 

In Eden Harbour we saw a steamer lying on 
the rocks, and were told by our pilot that it had 
been wrecked a few months previously. In 
many parts of Smythe's Channel we saw such 
wrecks, and I believe that in few parts of the world 
is navigation so difficult and dangerous as in these 
waters ; there are so many offshoots from the 
main and only navigable channel, that it is 
necessary to know the passage very well to get 
through with safety. Fortunately, both the 
Straits and Smythe's Channel are well provided 
with natural harbours, where ships can anchor 
with perfect safety. 

In nearly all these harbours there are numbers 
of boards, on which are painted the names of the 
ships which have anchored there, nailed to the 

o 2 



184 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

trees near the shore, thus completely disfiguring 
the beauty of nature. 

In many parts of Smythe's Channel otters* 
were met with. These animals nearly always 
sink when shot, and we had some difficulty in 
obtaining the single specimen which we brought 
home. They were usually seen in parties of 
three or four, swimming about among the kelp 
weed close to the shore. In this thick growth 
of weed it was not so difficult to retrieve them 
when shot, as the strands of kelp prevented 
them sinking before the boat's arrival. 
Superficially, this animal is much like our well- 
known otter, but the fur is perhaps slightly darker 
in colour, and rather thicker. Several of the 
parties of Indians we met with in this channel 
had the remains of otters in their boats, and the 
whole of their clothing seems to consist of the 
skins of this animal. How they kill them I do 
not know, but it may be that their dogs catch 
them. I saw no arrows or any other weapons 
in their canoes. The Patagonian natives use 
bow and arrow to obtain their skins, but, from 
all accounts, they appear to be more of a hunting 
race than the Fuegians. 

On the morning of 9th February, we passed 
through the " English narrows." This is the 
most difficult part of the channel, as there is only 
room for one ship to go through at a time, and 

* Lutra patachonica. 



A DANGEROUS CHANNEL 185 

the current is so strong that it is necessary to pro- 
ceed at full speed. Blowing our steam whistle, 
to warn any ship that might be coming in an 
opposite direction, we steamed through. On 
either side of us the mountains towered so high 
and so close that one almost imagined they were 
within a stone's throw. Exactly in the centre of 
the narrows there lay the remains of a steamer 
which had been wrecked some time before, and 
we seemed to be carried straight for this by the 
current, but when close to it we swept aside 
and steamed safely through. 

Early in the afternoon we anchored in Gray's 
Harbour, our last anchorage in Smythe's Channel, 
and here a most delightful afternoon was spent. 
Birds were more abundant, and examples of 
several species were shot. A grebe,* much 
resembling our little grebe, or " dabchick," in 
appearance, was shot by Lord Crawford. This 
was the only time we saw a grebe in either the 
Straits of Magellan or Smythe's Channel. 
Cormorants of the three species mentioned pre- 
viously were seen in large numbers. Steamer- 
ducks were also fairly common, and one, the finest 
we had yet shot, was obtained by Lord Crawford. 
I landed alone on a projecting arm of the 
harbour, and forced my way through the forest. 
The undergrowth was composed entirely of prickly 
berberis bushes, while the ground was strewn 

* Podiceps americanus. 



186 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

with the rotting remains of fallen trees, which, 
from their appearance, had probably lain there 
for many years. Without having experienced it, 
I should not have realized how difficult it was to 
walk even a few yards through the undergrowth. 
I was considerably surprised when, as I stepped 
on an apparently sound tree which had fallen across 
the path, the whole tree-trunk as well as the ground 
beneath it, crumbled away. The next minute I 
was buried up to the waist in decaying wood. 
This happened very frequently, so that great 
care had to be taken to avoid a serious 
accident. 

While extricating myself from one of these 
rotten tree-trunks, I suddenly saw in front of me 
a bird* which I had not hitherto met with. In 
appearance it somewhat resembled a wren with an 
enormously long tail. It was too close to shoot 
with a large-bore gun, such as I was armed with, 
and, in spite of all that I could do to frighten it 
away to a reasonable distance, it refused to move. 
All my attempts to secure it were unsuccessful, and 
I was obliged to leave the place without obtaining 
it. I was very anxious to get a specimen, as the 
bird is rare in collections, so I went back to the 
ship for a small-bore gun, and was successful 
in finding and shooting another of these birds, 
only to see it fall amongst dense bushes and 
decayed wood, in which it was utterly lost. 

Early the next morning we sailed from Gray's 

* Sylviorthorhynchus desmursi. 



A GALE 187 

Harbour, and emerging from the smooth waters of 
Smythe's Channel we entered the stormy seas of the 
Gulf of Penas. A gale was blowing in our teeth, and 
although going at full speed for twenty-four hours 
we covered a distance of only fifteen miles. All 
night long the screw was racing, and the water was 
breaking over the bows of the ship a most un- 
pleasant change from the smooth and easy passages 
we had enjoyed previously. Skinning birds I 
found to be quite impossible, owing to the pitching 
of the ship, and, although a good sailor, I have 
never experienced a more uncomfortable time. 
During this gale albatroses were sailing over the 
stern of the ship, their wings spread and almost 
motionless against the wind. 

Soon after mid-day on 14th February the coast 
of Chile was sighted, and during the afternoon 
we entered the Bay of Valparaiso. The sur- 
roundings of Valparaiso, as seen from the harbour, 
are bare and desolate in the extreme. There is 
little vegetation, and the whole country has a dry 
and barren appearance. Far away in the distance 
we could see the outline of the Andes. 

Most of my time here was spent in cruising 
about in the bay, in our steam launch, in quest of 
sea-birds. Land-birds are scarce, owing to the 
fact that they are shot by the Chilians for food. 
Sea-birds are far more numerous, and in the bay 
we met with several interesting species. Perhaps 
the most striking was a pelican,* which was in 

* Pdecanua thagus. 



188 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

numbers amongst the shipping in the harbour, 
where it was quite tame and allowed of a near 
approach. The fact that it is plentiful and tame 
in the harbour may be accredited to protection 
by law. Outside the harbour we found it very 
shy and wary, and for some days we tried in vain 
to shoot one for the collection. Gulls, terns, 
and petrels were also very numerous in the bay. 

The very handsome Franklin's gull,* in general 
appearance much resembling our well-known 
black-headed gull, and having the whole of the 
underparts of a beautiful rosy pink,t was 
numerous in the harbour. This pink colour, 
which is also found on the feathers of the under- 
parts of many other gulls and terns, does not show 
in dried skins. I pulled several feathers from the 
breast of one of the gulls and placed them in an 
envelope, which was at once put inside a book, 
but in spite of these precautions I found that after 
a week the feathers had turned quite white a fact 
which shows that the disappearance of the pink 
colour is not due tof adingfrom exposure to the light. 

On the day of our arrival we saw large 
flocks of grey phalaropes sitting on the smooth 
waters of the bay. Later on, when cruising about 
in the launch some miles from the shipping, I 
met with small parties of these birds, and one 
specimen was obtained. The bird breeds in the 

* Larus franklini. 

t Very old examples of our Larus ridibundus have the breast 
suffused with pink after the spring moult. 



SEA-BIRDS AT VALPARAISO 189 

high north, and occurs in England on " passage " 
during its migrations, which extend as far south 
as Chile and New Zealand. 

Richardson's skua, another sea-bird well known 
off English coasts, was also obtained at Valparaiso. 
We were somewhat surprised to see this species 
so far south, as it had not previously been recorded 
from this latitude. It varies considerably in 
coloration, some examples being dark chocolate- 
brown on the breast, while others are white. A 
specimen of the latter " phase " was shot. 

Every evening great numbers of petrels of two 
species came in close to the shipping. The more 
common was a dark brown bird, and this proved 
to be Puffinus griseus, which is an occasional 
visitor to England; the other was Puffinus 
creatopus, a somewhat rare bird. The former was 
seen every evening in vast numbers in fact, 
so many came into the bay of an evening that the 
water was literally black with them. 

A few giant petrels were noticed, and they 
deserve special mention, owing to the fact that 
they are one of the most voracious of sea-birds ; 
nothing seems to come amiss to them in the way 
of food. The example we shot was feeding 
greedily on a dog, long dead ! As we had not 
previously obtained a specimen of the bird, it was 
taken on board and skinned. I shall not easily 
forget it, not only on account of its fearful stench, 
which seemed to penetrate to all corners of the 



190 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

yacht, but also because of the remarks of my 
companions, which were scarcely complimentary, 
either to me or to my " specimen." 

Round about the shipping were numbers of 
fishes, and it was a most interesting sight to see the 
pelicans feeding on them. All day these huge birds 
remained perched on the buoys, but towards 
evening they flew round the harbour in search of 
food. They wouid fly in circles round a shoal of 
small fishes, and every now and then one would 
suddenly close its wings and plunge head foremost 
into the water. As soon as it appeared on the 
surface again, the pouch under the bill was seen to 
be enormously extended with fish, which were 
then swallowed in a somewhat leisurely manner. 
Frequently, however, a black-backed gull* ap- 
peared on the scene, and, settling on the pelican's 
head, endeavoured bo extract the fish from its 
mouth. We could not be certain if the gull ever 
succeeded in stealing anything in this manner, 
but from the frequent attacks of this kind made 
by the gulls, there can be little doubt that they 
often succeed in robbing the larger bird of its 
prey. The pelicans, however, did not seem to 
resent this treatment in the least. 

At length, after several unavoidable delays, 
we left Valparaiso, and, falling in with a local 
" trade wind," we got under sail, and proceeded 
westwards, bound for the South Sea Islands. 

* Larus dominicanus. 



CHAPTER XX. 

EASTER ISLAND. 

FOURTEEN DAYS after leaving Valparaiso, Easter 
Island, the " Mystery of the Pacific " was 
sighted. 

Easter Island is 2300 miles west of Chile, and, 
though it is comparatively well known by repute 
on account of the huge images, hewn out of lava, 
that are to be found in many parts of the island, 
especially near the sea shore, it has been very 
seldom visited. 

This Island was first discovered by Roggewein, 
a Dutch captain, on Easter Day, 1721. Roggewein 
states that on first landing he was surrounded by 
several thousand natives. Cook, during his second 
voyage, estimated the number of inhabitants as 
700. This, however, would appear to be an 
under-estimate, as in 1860 they are said to have 
numbered 3000. Mr. A. A. Salmon, after many 
years' residence on the island, states that during 
the years 1850-60 the population was nearly 20,000 ! 
Various other statements as to the numbers of 
Easter Islanders have been made by other writers 



192 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

so it would seem that no absolute " census " can 
be given with any accuracy. 

It is said that in 1863 the depredations of slavers 
had reduced the population to one-half, and later an 
epidemic of measles wrought further havoc, so that 
by 1868 only some 900 inhabitants remained. In 
1872 there were only 295, and ten years later only 
150, while at the time of our visit the population 
was not more than 100. Of these several informed 
us that they had all been imported from Tahiti, to 
work at the sheep and cattle which are now bred 
on the island. It has been stated that after the 
epidemic of measles, between 1863-68, the 
remainder of the population was carried off to a 
Mission Station. Therefore it would seem that our 
informants were correct, and that the present 
population of Easter Island are "imported." 

When we arrived the weather was rough, and 
we were unable to lower a boat, and but for the 
fact that Lord Crawford had taken the mails 
from Valparaiso for the inhabitants, we should 
no doubt have sailed away without landing. 
Fortunately, however, the people on shore saw 
the yacht, and sent a surf-boat out to us, and by 
this means we were able to go ashore. 

We were only there a very short time, and in 
consequence were unable to see many of the 
interesting caves and carvings which abound on 
the island ; and this was especially unfortunate, 
as practically nothing is known of the former 




HUMAN SKULLS FROM EASTER ISLAND. 

(From a photograph of two imperfect specimens in the Author's possession.) 



LAVA STATUES 193 

inhabitants, while the fauna and flora, such as 
they are, have never been collected. 

There are now two Easter Island images in 
the British Museum. The images, we judged, 
are on an average at least twenty feet 
in height, while some of them are probably 
considerably more. They have been hewn out 
of the lava in one or more of the craters on 
the island. In one of the smaller of these 
craters, Major Wilbraham saw several statues in 
an unfinished condition, the features being carved 
on the surface of the lava. It would seem, 
therefore, that the outline of the statue was first 
carved, and that the block of lava was afterwards 
cut out and carried by some unknown means 
down to the coast, where it was set upright, facing 
the sea. 

Apparently all these images are alike in general 
appearance. The carving is rough: it represents 
a human face with a very large and prominent 
nose, a rather protruding mouth, a pointed chin, 
the forehead narrow, and the brows beetling. 
(Fig. 1.)* 

Each statue is mounted on a platform of loose 
blocks of lava, and these platforms seem to be 
ancient burial-places. All the stones with 
which the platforms are built are of the size of a 
man's head, perhaps slightly larger, and they are 

* This and the following seven figures are from rough drawings 
made by Major Wilbraham during our visit. 



194 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

arranged in the form of a rough square of about 
the dimensions of an ordinary dinner-table ; in 
the centre of each platform there is a hollow 
space. 

Soon after we first landed, one of the party 




Fio. 1. Lava Image. 

noticed a fragment of a human skull lying near 
one of the statues, and, on enquiry, we were told 
that the skull had come from one of the plat- 
forms. Our informant added that there were 
human remains in all the piles of rocks at the 
foot of the images, and that, if we liked, he would 




HUMAN BONES 195 

tell the rest of the natives to collect a quantity 
of bones for us. This same man a native of 
Tahiti, who had been on Easter Island for several 
years told us emphatically that the bones were 
on the island when the present inhabitants first 
arrived there from Tahiti. 

We, of course, accepted his offer, and, on our 

return to the landing 
place a few hours after- 
wards, we found a large 
stack of bones awaiting 
us. We ourselves ex- 
amined several of the 
FIG. 2. Lava crown for statue, platforms, and in each 

one there were remains 

of human skeletons. Some were complete, and 
some consisted only of a few small bones, such as 
vertebrae or ribs. Many of the bones were in good 
condition, but others were much decayed, and 
showed signs of having lain in these graves for 
a very great length of time. 

So far as we could discover, only one body was 
buried in each platform. The body seemed to 
have been placed in its grave in no special position 
at least, the bones were all together in a pile, 
though possibly the body may have been placed 
in a crouching position, a supposition borne out 
to a certain extent by the fact that the spaces in 
the platforms were of no great size. 

All the bones collected were carefully packed 



196 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

and taken on board, and are now in the British 
Museum. Mr. T. A. Joyce has examined this 
collection and has most kindly placed his notes on 
the subject at my disposal. I have made several 
extracts from them and owing to his courtesy am 
able to give a fuller account of all that is known 
of this interesting island than would otherwise 
have been possible. A series of forty-nine skulls 
was brought from Easter Island by Capt. -Lieu- 
tenant Geiseler, after the visit of the German 
gunboat " Hyane " to the island. Geiseler ob- 
tained several of the skulls himself either from 
the " platforms " or from specially built mortuary 
chambers. He stated that the " platforms " were 
used by the present inhabitants as burial places, 
and adds that this practice was in vogue at the 
time of his visit ; and that the natives were in the 
habit of removing the bones as the bodies decayed 
to make room for further burials, leaving only the 
skulls. 

After a careful examination of the skulls brought 
back by us, Mr. Joyce finds in them distinct 
evidences of a Melanesian type, and he naturally 
describes this as a most surprising find in an 
island so far removed from Melanesia ; his words 
are, " and considering the remoteness of Easter 
Island from Melanesia of the present day, this fact 
in itself is sufficiently puzzling and interesting." 

We were informed by the overseer of the island 
that the present inhabitants were imported from 



SKULLS 197 

Tahiti,* and if this be the case it is difficult to 
account for the presence of Melanesian types in 
the skulls found on the island, unless, indeed, 
the original inhabitants of Easter Island were 
totally unconnected with the Polynesian race. 

The huge images set up on a platform of stones, 
arranged so as to form a covered chamber or 
vault, seem to point to these having been in- 
tended to mark a burial place. In fact, it is 
difficult to imagine for what other purpose they 
were erected. 

The portions of skulls from which the accom- 
panying photograph was taken are in my posses- 
sion and are crumbling with age. 

Caves were seen and the stone houses ex- 
amined, during our visit, by Major Wilbraham, 
who has kindly supplied me with the following 
short description of them, and the carvings they 
contain. It is much to be regretted that, owing 
to the short time available, Major Wilbraham 
did not have sufficient opportunity to make an 
even more thorough examination. In company 
with Doctor Macdonald he spent a night ashore, 
as guest of the overseer, Mr. Cooper, and the 
following are extracts from his journal : 

" March 13th. Macdonald and I got up early 
and rode to the top of the crater, which is called 
on the map Rano Kao. This is perfectly circular, 

* The present inhabitants are in appearance pure-bred Polynesians 
and possess the handsome features of the Tahitians. 

P 



198 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

seven hundred feet deep, and two and a half miles 
round, while the bottom is covered by a marsh. 
Part of the way down the crater are a series of cliffs 




FIG. 3. Plan of stone house at the lip of the crater of 
Rano Kao. 

each of which has a cave-dwelling entrance, but 

we had no time to examine these. 

" We rode to the south-west or sea-side of the 

crater, where the lip was broken away into the 

sea, and looks on three rocky islets. 

" There are just on the lip a number of low stone 

houses facing the sea. In plan they are narrow 
ellipses (Fig. 3), the walls and 
roofs being built of shallow, 
undressed slabs. The door- 
ways are very narrow and low. 
The floors are clay, but as 
there is at present only about 

FIG. 4. Carved stone. 

four feet headroom, they were 
probably once lower. I found an oval smooth 
stone, about ten inches long, with a scratched 




STONE HOUSES AND CARVINGS 199 

device (Fig. 4). The rough boulders outside were 
covered with figures, not ungraceful, generally a 
female form in a curved position, sometimes 
with a sort of chignon, decorated with two long 
feathers pointing forwards. This figure was 
sometimes doubled, and a particularly fine 
one was inside one of the houses (Fig. 5). Odd 




FIG. 5. Female figures cut on the boulders. 

corners of the rock were filled up with these designs 
(Fig. 6). There was also a block with a rather 
deeply carved sort of owl's face inside one house. 
Outside one house were the deep marks of tool 
grinding. 

" Some houses had two entrances on the same 
side, and sometimes a middle partition. I found 
no implements, but had no means of digging. 
I saw a few obsidian chips, and have no doubt 
there is much to find here. 

" Mr. Cooper gave me a broken stone fish-hook 

and an old wooden idol. 

p2 



200 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

" We rode down to a cave by the sea on the 
west side, called in the map c Hangaroa.' There 
were many paintings in red and white and black, 
principally frigate birds (Fig. 7), and a man-of-war 






FIG. 6. Designs carved in the rock outside the houses at the lip 
of the crater. 

with white portholes, and another square-sailed 
ship. These do not appear to be of great 
antiquity. 

" In the village I got some rough obsidian spear- 
heads and a large stone adze.* 

" Mr. Cooper tells me that there are, in other 




FIG. 7. A painting in a cave of a frigate bird. 

parts of the island, inscriptions in stone, but we 
saw none ; he describes them as like ' Japanese 

* An obsidian implement which we brought home, has been sub- 
mitted to Mr. J. Edge-Partington, who kindly writes to me concerning 
it as follows : " It is a cutting implement, probably at one time 
mounted on a wooden handle. I have figured one from British Museum 
Collection in Edge-Partington and Heape Ethnographical Album of 
the Pacific Islands/ 1st S. f PL 3, No. 5." 



PAINTINGS AND IDOLS 201 

writing.'* The more modern idols are of the type 
of the statues, with a broad nose with narrow 
bridge. The old wooden idol (mentioned pre- 
viously) is quite different, with high cheek bones 
and a 'Wellington' nose." The wooden "charm," 
Fig. 8, was purchased by Major Wilbraham from 




FIG. 8. Wooden " charm." Worn, perhaps, on the heart. 

a native on the island. It does not appear to be 
very old, and is probably a " modern " ornament. 
There is evidently much of great interest to 
be found on Easter Island, and it would well 
repay the trouble and expense of a thorough 
investigation ; but, if anything is going to be 
done it must be done soon. Every year makes 
a great difference to the state of the carvings 
and caves, as the latter are now much used as 
shelters for sheep, and in a comparatively short 
time all traces of any carvings will be worn away 

* The Easter Islanders alone of all the inhabitants of Oceanea and 
South America possessed a written language. Wooden tablets, on which 
the script has survived, are described by Mr. O. M. Dalton, cf. " Man," 
19041. 



202 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

by the frequent passing to and fro of these 
animals. 

It would not be so very difficult for an ex- 
pedition to visit the island, for at least once every 
month a schooner or a small steamer leaves 
Valparaiso and calls there, and I have no doubt 
that one could easily reach it by these means. 

The whole of my time during our short visit 
was spent in collecting specimens of natural 
history, and I had no opportunity of visiting the 
caves and stone houses. Birds and insects were 
very scare in fact, I have never seen an island of 
the size of Easter Island inhabited by so few 
birds. 

There is apparently but one species of indigenous 
land-bird. This bird I did not meet with, but it 
was described to me by Dr. Macdonald, who saw 
a single example near the settlement, as being 
somewhat like a reed-bunting but with a red 
breast. I believe this to be an undescribed species, 
and it is unfortunate that no specimen was 
procured. 

There is a tinamou, a bird much resembling 
a partridge, but this has been introduced from 
South America. Two of these birds, which were 
shot and skinned, proved to belong to a common 
species of tinamou, known as Nothoprocta 
perdicaria. Sea-birds were rather more numerous, 
but these were mostly seen from the ship before 
we landed. On the island itself I saw but two 



A POOR FAUNA 203 

species, the common noddy tern, the same bird 
as that found on Saint Paul's Rocks, and white 
terns.* The latter were seen in the crater of 
Rano Kao, where they were apparently nesting. 
In a marsh at the bottom of the crater were 
numbers of small geese, which were seen both by 
myself and Major Wilbraham. These geese may 
have been introduced, but as none of us had time 
to get to the bottom of the crater, no specimens 
were procured. In coloration they appeared to 
belong to two species ; some being black with a 
patch of white on the wing, while others were of 
a red colour. These differences may, however, 
be due to sex. A golden plover was, we were told, 
introduced by Mr. Cooper, who, several years ago, 
turned out six of these birds on the island. 

There are no indigenous mammals on Easter 
Island, the rat which inhabits it having been 
imported, and a cat, which is found wild, being 
descended from the domestic cat. 

On the second day of our visit I landed early 
in the morning, and set off in the direction of the 
crater. After a long walk I eventually reached 
the Up of this volcano, but, owing to lack of time, 
I was unable to get to the marsh at the bottom of 
it. I scrambled about half-way down to pick 
up a tern which I had shot, but at this point it was 
extremely difficult to descend, owing to the nature 
of the ground, which was covered with loose stones 

* Oygia alba. 



204 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

and debris. I obtained a glimpse of the geese, 
and had a good view of the marsh about 1000 feet 
below me. 

Easter Island is now almost entirely covered 
with grass, and, from the sea, presents an unbroken 
view of rolling grass-covered country. A closer 
inspection shows that amongst the grass lie in- 
numerable rocks of lava of various sizes, and were 
it not for the number of sheep tracks in all 
directions, it would be a tedious matter to walk 
any distance in many parts of the island. 

A few low trees have been planted amongst 
the houses at the settlement, and at the bottom 
of the crater I noticed some small trees and bushes. 
In former times there were many trees, but all 
appear to have been felled, and the land cleared 
to make grazing ground for sheep and cattle. 

At the time of our visit there were 40,000 sheep. 
They were very small, and their wool was of a 
yellowish colour, doubtless discoloured by the 
earth. All the wool is shipped to Valparaiso, 
whence it goes to Bradford, in Yorkshire. 

Two sheep and a bullock were required for the 
ship, and we watched the natives catching them. 
The sheep were easily ridden down by a couple of 
men on horseback, and were at once slaughtered. 

A bullock was then singled out and separated 
from the herd by the two mounted natives. Each 
man was armed with a strong lasso made of raw 
hide, the end of which was fastened to the saddle 



LASSOING A BULLOCK 205 

of his horse. As soon as the bullock was cut off 
from its companions it was headed for the shore. 
Driven frantic by the cries of its pursuers it 
charged straight for us, and we had barely time to 
scramble out of the way before it was galloping 
over the spot where we had been sitting. Then 
brought to a standstill by a low cliff, it was most 
skilfully lassoed by one of the horsemen, who, 
from a distance of some twenty yards, threw his 
thong in such a way that the running noose fell 
over the horns of the bullock and at once drew 
tight. The second native then cast his lasso 
over the beast's hindquarters, the lower end of the 
loop lying on the grass just behind its hind feet. 
The other native then rode to the front making 
the bullock step backwards and thus stand within 
the circle of the lasso which was at once pulled 
tight, so that the poor beast fell heavily to the 
ground. It was then dispatched by a knife thrust 
in the throat. 

I was indeed sorry when we sailed away from 
Easter Island after so short a stay. I had been 
able to spend only some six hours on shore, and 
the greater part of that time was taken up in 
walking from the landing place to the crater, a 
distance of something over three miles along an 
exceedingly rough track. 

In a voyage of this kind, however, it is im- 
possible to do so much as was originally intended, 
owing to delays which are always experienced in 



206 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
ports. For instance, we were delayed for various 
reasons at Bahia for two weeks, and the same 
length of time at Valparaiso, where the ship was 
dry-docked, owing to an injury to the propeller, 
sustained while steaming through the ice in 
Smythe's Channel. 

In such ways as these, days were lost in places 
of little interest compared to that of Easter 
Island and Pitcairn. The whole of this voyage 
occupied nine months only, and so we were forced 
to be content with extremely short stays at many 
of the islands, while visits to others, such as South 
Trinidad and the Marquesas, had to be abandoned 
altogether. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

PITCAIRN ISLAND. 

AT six o'clock on the morning of March 22nd, 
1903, we sighted Pitcairn. The history of this 
island and its people is well-known, but a brief 
account here of the origin of the inhabitants 
may not be out of place. 

At the time of its discovery by Carteret in 1767, 
Pitcairn was uninhabited, but afterwards it 
became the home of some of the survivors of the 
mutineers of H.M.S. " Bounty," who, after cap- 
turing the ship, visited Tahiti and, taking native 
wives, finally settled on Pitcairn and destroyed 
the " Bounty." Here they remained undiscovered 
for twenty years, until a passing ship, noticing 
signs of inhabitants, lowered a boat and found 
them with their descendants. Since that time 
Pitcairn has been inhabited almost solely by the 
descendants of the mutineers, and at the time of 
our visit there were about one hundred and ninety 
persons living there. 

As we drew close we could see that it was of 
small size, and rose precipitously from the sea. 



208 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 
Banana trees, coconut palms, and bushes were 
growing in great profusion, and gave a green, 
fertile appearance. Here and there, where the 
land had been tilled, the red-coloured earth made 
a vivid contrast with the green foliage, while the 
deep blue of the sea and sky put the finishing 
touch to a charming picture. 

Immediately the anchor was dropped in "Bounty 
Bay " two boats came off to the ship, and as they 
drew alongside their occupants scrambled on deck. 
Nearly all of the men were well-built, several of 
them being six feet in height. They were bare- 
footed, and clothed in blue cotton coats and 
trousers. Their boats were laden with fruit 
bananas, limes, and water melons which was soon 
offered for barter or sale. Their first request was 
one for cartridges in order to shoot their fowls, 
which ran wild over the island. Later on, while 
pushing our way through the thick bushes on 
Pitcairn, we frequently disturbed parties of these 
fowls, birds of all colours, which took to flight and 
sailed away at a great rate. Some were pur- 
chased by the steward for our consumption, but, 
as might have been expected, they were ex- 
ceedingly tough and leathery. 

As soon as possible we went ashore in one of 
the boats. The surf is always breaking, even on 
the best landing place, and these islanders gave us 
a fine exhibition of boat management. We rowed 
straight at the breaking surf until within a few 



A CURIOUS WARBLER 209 

feet of it, when suddenly our boatmen swung 
the boat sharply and, almost touching a huge 
rock, passed in safety into a small sheltered bay, 
where we landed on a sloping sandy shore. 

High up on the shore, under the shade of banana 
trees, was a boathouse containing several large 
boats, one of which was pointed out to us as " the 
boat Queen Victoria gave us." It was pre- 
sented to the Pitcairn Islanders several years 
ago by the late Queen, who always took a deep 
interest in this little British colony. 

We ascended a steep winding pathway to the 
settlement, and as we walked numbers of small 
blue-tailed lizards* ran across the path in front 
of us, while many were seen climbing over the 
rocks and tree-trunks. Amongst the tree-tops 
small warblers were busily searching for insects, 
and uttering a loud " chack-chack." This bird, 
a reed-warbler Tatare vaughani is the only 
land-bird to be found on Pitcairn. It has a rare 
peculiarity of plumage. When young the colour 
is normally a greenish-brown, but after the first 
moult many of the feathers in the wings and tail 
become a creamy white. In no case are these 
white feathers evenly distributed, but they are 
scattered indiscriminately amongst the normally 
coloured quills, f The uneven distribution of the 

* Lygoeoma cyanurum. 

f It is possible that very old birds may have entirely white wings and 
tail. Amongst the specimens we obtained some were whiter than 
others, though in no case were they evenly marked with white. 



210 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

white feathers points to a tendency to albinism 
from some cause, and it may be due to excessive 
interbreeding. This seems quite likely, as the 
island is very small, and this one sedentary species 
is particularly abundant from the shore to the 
highest peak. For its size it utters an extremely 
loud note, and I was frequently surprised by a 
harsh screaming, like that of a jay, which I found 
to be made by this little reed-warbler. 

Flying over the tops of the coconut palms 
were numbers of white terns,* while now and 
again a red-tailed tropic bird| sailed high 
overhead. 

A short walk brought us to the settlement, 
and there we were met by the women and children. 
The arrival of a ship at Pitcairn is a rare event, 
and every one seemed very pleased to see us. All 
the houses originally built by the mutineers of 
the " Bounty " are still standing, and were in- 
habited at the time of our visit. They are strongly 
made of wood, which was probably taken from 
the " Bounty." Each house has two rooms, 
both of which are on one floor, raised about 18 
inches from the ground by means of stout posts. 
The roofs are thatched with palm leaves, and the 
windows are unglazed openings cut in the wooden 
walls, and fitted with sliding wooden shutters. 
The newer houses in the settlement are for the most 
part built after the same pattern. In the centre 

* Oygia alba. f Phaethon rubricauda. 



THE INHABITANTS 211 

of the village is a large wooden building, which is 
used both as church and school. 

The ruler of the people of Pitcairn is a Mr. 
McCoy, who is called the chief magistrate. Un- 
fortunately he was away on a visit to Tahiti, and 
we therefore did not see him. Lord Crawford 
paid a visit to the two oldest inhabitants, Mr. 
Thursday October Christian, aged 84, and Mrs. 
Young, aged 82, both of whom are grandchildren 
of original mutineers. Both these old people were 
ill in bed, but appeared to be much delighted to 
see us. In each home were three pictures, cut out 
of an illustrated paper, representing Queen 
Victoria and our present King and Queen. 

The older people, as well as the young children 
of Pitcairn, have fair complexions, but the people 
of from 30 to 50 years of age are quite as dark as 
the average Polynesian. It appears from this 
that the Pitcairners resemble their ancestors, 
the " Bounty " mutineers, every alternate 
generation. 

Having obtained a guide, Dr. Macdonald and I 
started on a walk over the island. From the settle- 
ment we ascended the highest peak, about 1000 feet 
above the level of the sea, the way leading through 
a luxuriant grove of bananas, amongst which the 
reed-warblers were very abundant. The peak is 
composed of a mass of bare rock, and from the 
summit we had a fine view of the settlement and 
the southern end of the island. Well-made paths 



212 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

were numerous, and during the day we walked 
over the whole of the island, the greater part of 
which is under cultivation. Water-melons, 
oranges, and bananas are the principal crops ; 
the fruit was ripe and in great abundance. A 
continual supply of fresh water trickles from near 
the summit of the peak, and this is conducted to 
the settlement by means of wooden troughs. The 
water is collected in paraffin barrels, and in these 
we found the larvce of a mosquito.* Near the 
summit we passed through a grove of coconut 
palms, in which several pairs of white terns were 
nesting, and our guide told me that there are 
several places in the island where some sea-bird 
nests in holes in the ground, but that it was not 
then its breeding season. This bird must be a 
petrel, but of what species I do not know. 

The windward side of the island is precipitous, 
and in the cliff there is a cave which Major Wil- 
braham examined. He found little of interest, 
however, except a rough carving of the rising sun. 
The only records of inhabitants previous to the 
mutineers which we could discover were some 
stone axe-heads, which we brought away.f There 
appear to be no burial-places, such as those found 
on Easter Island, nor any images or monuments 
of any kind. Possibly, however, Pitcairn was never 
previously inhabited, and the axe-heads may have 

* Stegomyia fasciata. 

f Mr. Edge-Partington kindly informs me that an " axe blade " sub- 
mitted to him is Tahitian in type. 




ffi ^ 
fc ^ 



A MEETING 213 

been left by visitors from a neighbouring shore. * 
It may be that the Easter Island people paid 
periodical visits. 

No mammals are indigenous to Pitcairn, but 
rats have been imported by ships, and their burrows 
were seen in plenty. A number of goats, of which 
we saw a large herd, run wild, and provide meat 
for the inhabitants. Occasionally they are driven 
in a valley to be counted, as only a certain number 
may be shot annually. 

We saw no butterflies on the island, but there 
were many small moths, and one species 
Plutella maculipennis was most abundant. 

At sunset we went on board the yacht, which 
was anchored off the settlement, but early next 
morning a heavy squall arose and the anchor was 
found to be dragging. Fortunately steam was up, 
and we got away from the rocky shore, towards 
which the wind had been rapidly carrying us, 
without mishap. It was found afterwards that 
the flukes of the anchor had been broken off, 
probably by striking a rock when "let go " on 
the previous morning. During the following day, 
for as long as we remained at Pitcairn, the yacht 
had to be hove to off the island. 

During the morning we landed again and 
attended in the large building previously mentioned 
a meeting of the islanders, at the close of which 

* It is possible that these " visitors " were those " vanquished in 
war " and cast adrift on a raft from neighbouring islands, as suggested 
by Brodie (Pitcairn Island, 1851, p. 48). 

Q 



214 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

the National Anthem was sung. Each verse, 
written on a blackboard, was held up by a stalwart 
native for everyone to read. The singing was 
excellent, and in part singing I have rarely heard 
its equal ; every one of the islanders sang heartily 
in perfect tune and time. At the close of this 
meeting the Union Jack was hoisted over Mr. 
McCoy's house, and a salute of twenty-one guns 
was thereupon fired from the " Valhalla." Before 
we left all the inhabitants visited the yacht, and 
Lord Crawford was presented with a piece of iron 
ballast and some copper nails, which had been 
saved from the " Bounty." 

Soon after mid-day we steamed slowly away, 
and four boats laden with men and women singing 
a farewell song followed for some distance in our 
wake. 

All the inhabitants of Pitcairn can speak perfect 
English, but when speaking among themselves 
they cannot easily be understood by a stranger, 
as they then clip their words, sounding only the 
first and last letters. Why they do this it is 
difficult to say. When questioned, they replied 
that they were talking their " own language," 
adding that this language only differed from 
English in the above mentioned particular. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

TAHITI SOCIETY ISLANDS. 

Six DAYS after leaving Pitcairn, Tahiti,* the largest 
and most important of the Society Islands, was 
sighted, and at 10 o'clock in the morning we 
dropped anchor off the town of Papeete. The 
barrier-reef protecting the harbour is almost 
a-wash at low water, and we had to lie outside 
and wait for a pilot. 

From this position a splendid view of the island 
was obtained. A series of jagged peaks extends 
through its whole length peaks covered from 
base to summit with dense forest, and intersected 
by narrow gorges filled with rushing torrents of 
clear water. The town of Papeete is built in a 
clearing in the forest ; between it and the 
shore lies a stretch of grass dotted with trees, 
many of which grow within a few feet of the sea 
and overhang the water. The main street runs 
parallel with the harbour, and a short distance 

* Tahiti is often referred to as Otaheite. This name, we were 
assured by the Tahitians, is incorrect, and originated from a mistake 
made by Captain Cook. 

Q2 



216 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

inland we could see the French flag flying over 
Government House. 

The pilot, after a little delay, made his appear- 
ance, and, taking us safely through the opening in 
the reef into the still water beyond, brought us to 
an anchorage close up to the town. 

It is forbidden to shoot birds both on Tahiti 
and on the neighbouring island of Eimeo, nor 
were we able to obtain permission from the 
Governor to collect for scientific purposes. During 
the whole of our stay, which lasted for nearly a 
fortnight, we saw very few birds indeed. A swift 
of a species of Collocalia was most frequently seen ; 
this, with a few small grass-finches and a single 
thrush-like bird, completed the list of indigenous 
land-birds met with by us. The Indian mynah 
was introduced some years ago for the purpose of 
destroying a large yellow-bodied wasp which is so 
numerous as to be a pest. The mynah increased 
enormously, and is now very plentiful, but the 
number of wasps remains the same. There can 
be little doubt that it is entirely owing to the 
presence of this bird that the native species have 
become so scarce. 

Sea-birds were also scarce, the greater frigate 
birds,* tropic birds, and noddies t were occasionally 
observed, while white terns J were seen in some 
numbers flying round the palm trees, on the leaves 
of which they lay their single egg. Both blue 

* Fregata aquila. j- Anous stolidua. J Oygia alba. 



A REMARKABLE SANDPIPER 217 

and white forms of a small heron* were seen to- 
gether on a small islet, and lastly, at the mouth 
of a river at Tautira, some miles from Papeete, 
a single sandpiper! was met with. 

Tahiti at one time was the home of a handsome 
sandpiper J so aberrant as to be placed in a genus 
by itself. The bird was discovered by Captain 
Cook, and the only specimen of it now in existence 
is in the Leyden Museum. Dr. Bowdler Sharpe 
has lately described, from an old coloured figure, 
a second species of the genus from the neighbouring 
island of Eimeo. There is, of course, a chance 
that the Prosobonia may yet be re-discovered on 
Tahiti, or on one of the neighbouring islands, 
for the group has been by no means thoroughly 
explored. 

We paid several visits to the barrier-reef, where 
the water was so clear that we could see every- 
thing as in a glass tank. There were many large 
holothurians, one of which on being captured 
ejected an example of the long silvery fish which 
has been described as living in these "sea-slugs." 

The coral was covered in many places with sea- 
urchins, which were possessed of spines three or 
four inches in length, so that when walking on the 
reef great care had to be taken to prevent a nasty 
wound. 

One evening we watched some natives spearing 

* Demiegretta sacra. f Totanus incanus. 

J Proaobonia leucoptera. 



218 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

fish by torch-light. Two canoes paddled out a 
few yards apart until they were exactly over the 
reef. A torch, composed of dead leaves of the 
coconut palm, was then lighted and waved to 
and fro until the fish, attracted by the glare, rose 
to the surface of the water and swam near the 
boats. Then followed a delightful exhibition of 
skill. A native standing up in the bows of his 
canoe would hurl his long spear at a fish as it 
crossed in front of him, and so deadly was the aim 
that even small fish, several yards distant, were 
seldom fortunate enough to escape. The spears 
were made of light wood, with five straightened 
fish-hooks bound in a cluster at the end. 

Afterwards we all waded on the reef attempting, 
in native fashion, to spear the fish as they darted 
about in the masses of coral, but we were not very 
successful, and soon were glad to abandon the sport, 
since several of us were badly pricked by the 
sea-urchins, the spines of which broke off short 
after entering the flesh and produced intense pain. 

One day our friends on shore arranged a picnic 
in our honour at a place called Fautawa, which 
was reached by about an hour's drive through 
magnificent scenery. The road for a great part of 
the way led along the edge of a mountain stream, 
winding through a deep valley in which Fautawa 
is situated. At the top of the valley there 
towered above us a tall peak the summit of which 
was composed of a series of jagged points clustered 



A PICNIC 219 

together in the shape of a crown. Having arrived 
at our destination we were in time to see the last 
of the festal preparations made by the natives 
for our entertainment the removal of the sucking- 
pig from the oven. The oven was a hole dug in 
the ground and lined with large stones which had 
been previously heated in a fire. Banana leaves 
had been placed over the hot stones, then the pig 
had been laid in whole and completely buried, 
first with the banana leaves, and finally with a 
layer of earth. Here it had remained for an hour 
or more, and certainly when it was exhumed it 
was perfectly cooked, and served up with plantains 
it made a most palatable dish. We were given 
several other native dishes, of which the most 
choice perhaps was the famous " coconut salad." 
This salad is made of the heart of the green top of 
a coconut tree, and as each salad involves the 
destruction of a tree, it is only prepared on a special 
occasion. 

After a few days' stay at Papeete we were 
invited to pay a visit to the village of Tautira, 
which is reputed to be the most picturesque spot 
in Tahiti. We gladly accepted the invitation, 
and got under weigh early one morning. Steam- 
ing close to the land we had a fine view of the 
wild rugged coast, and of the high jagged peaks 
with their cloud-covered summits. Many water- 
falls, looking in the distance like threads of silver, 
were falling sheer down the precipitous wall of 



220 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

rock which forms the coast in this part of Tahiti. 
Now and again valleys would open into view, 
and down them sparkling rivers rushed into the 
sea. 

It was late in the afternoon when we reached 
Tautira, and a boat at once put off from the 
shore. In it came the chief of the village, who 
piloted us safely through the passage in the reef. 
We anchored off the mouth of the small river, 
near the banks of which the village of Tautira is 
built. 

The barrier-reef in this part of the island is 
almost a-wash at high tide ; it is nearly semi- 
circular in shape, and so perfectly flat on the top 
that, as we entered the passage, we seemed to be 
steaming through a gateway in a low wall. 

The shore is a strip of red-coloured sand, with 
a narrow belt of coconut palms. Behind the 
palm trees lies the village, and beyond rises a 
magnificent range of hills clothed to the summit 
with almost impenetrable forests. The houses 
are well built, of native pattern ; the walls are made 
of upright bamboos, with a half -inch space between 
each to allow a free passage of air into the house. 
Rows of mats are so arranged that they can be 
let down to cover the walls in case of rain, while 
at other times they are rolled up under the eaves. 
All the houses are thatched with leaves of either 
the coconut palm or pandanus. 

The surroundings of Tautira are very beautiful. 



CLIMBING FOR COCONUTS 221 

The ground is covered with a thick growth^of 
green grass, studded with hibiscus and other 
flowering plants, while orange trees grow in great 
profusion. 

In Tahiti, as well as in most of the South Sea 
Islands, great numbers of coconuts are grown, 
and after being dried for copra are shipped in large 
quantities to Europe. We were much interested 
in the different methods of gathering the nuts in 
various islands. In Tahiti the natives climb the 
trees with the help of a strip of green fibrous bark 
torn off the stem of a hibiscus tree. After knotting 
the two ends together, the climber slips his feet 
half through the circle, and, standing with his legs 
apart, so as to stretch the thong tight, ascends the 
tree in a series of leaps, with a foot on each side of 
the trunk. A practised climber will thus mount 
trees of a very considerable height with a celerity 
and ease which do not suggest the long practice 
actually required. On making a trial myself, 
I found it difficult to climb even so much as a foot 
from the ground. 

In its fresh green state the coconut provides 
a most refreshing drink, but as it grows older the 
" milk " hardens and forms the white kernel with 
which we are all familiar. This kernel is the 
celebrated copra, and is commercially put to 
many different uses. In Tahiti it is used for sauces 
and for coconut oil. One sauce, which was served 
with fish at the above-mentioned picnic, although 



222 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

compounded of scraped nut and sea-water, was 
really quite palatable. 

At Tautira one of the sailors brought me the 
dried shell of a coconut which he told me was full 
of lizards. I at once plugged the " eye-holes " 
and took the nutshell on board, where a careful 
examination showed that it contained 136 lizard 
eggs, 294 empty egg-shells, and 13 newly-hatched 
lizards. It would seem, therefore, that many 
females of this species* repair to the same place 
to deposit their eggs. The eggs themselves were 
found to be in all stages of incubation, from 
" newly-laid " to shells containing perfect lizards. 
I afterwards found several hundreds of eggs of 
this species in a hole in the ground, close to the 
sea, at Papeete. Butterflies were very scarce 
on Tahiti ; at Papeete we met with only one 
species ;t and on a small coral island some miles 
from Tautira, with but one more.J A large 
hawk-moth, much resembling the well-known 
convolvulus hawk-moth, was caught on board 
while we were at anchor. Five species of Micro- 
lepidoptera were also caught at the poop light. 
These have been determined by Lord Walsingham, 
who has described one as a new species under the 
name of Pyroderces crawfordi. 

Mosquitoes were extremely troublesome on 
shore, but very few appeared on the ship until 

* Lygoeoma cyanurum. f Nipara deutha var. walkeri. 

, J Hypolimnas bolina var. thomsoni* Stegomyia fasciata. 



HABITS OF LAND-CRABS 223 

after we left the island, when we discovered that 
they had been breeding freely in a can of water 
containing a growing "ti" plant. 

Everywhere along the sea-shore and about the 
villages the ground was honeycombed with the 
burrows of land-crabs, and in some places the 
whole surface appeared to be moving with these 
creatures. At the least alarm they popped into 
their holes, from which they never strayed far 
during the day. When chased, a crab would often 
hurry into the wrong burrow, and be ejected im- 
mediately by the rightful owner, but the inhospi- 
tality did not help one to catch them, owing to 
the speed with which they vanished ultimately 
underground. If one stood quite still they would 
reappear at the mouth of the burrow, waving 
their stalk-eyes in all directions on the look-out 
for danger. I caught one by cutting it off from 
its burrow and driving it against a fallen tree, 
where it turned at bay, rolling its eyes and waving 
its claws in a formidable manner. 

Some of the smaller species of land-crabs 
on these islands have yellow, others bright blue, 
claws, and one gains a striking impression of 
colour when some hundreds of these crabs wave 
their bright claws as they run over the dried mud 
close to the sea. 

During our stay at Tautira our friends arranged 
a native concert. This consisted of the singing of 
" himinees." About one hundred natives sat in 



224 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

a semi-circle cross-legged on the grass, facing a 
conductor who gave out the words of the song in 
a loud voice. The subject of the song, usually 
chosen on the spur of the moment, refers to some 
topic of local interest ; on this occasion the arrival 
of the " Valhalla " was the chosen theme. The 
singing was somewhat weird, but by no means 
displeasing, and the entertainment would be 
varied frequently by the conductor, who would 
leave his seat and run a few paces towards us, 
shouting and stamping, before he turned again 
to the performers to urge them to greater efforts. 

The day before we left Tautira the ship was 
visited by a continual stream of canoes, which came 
from far and near, bringing gifts of fruit, etc., to 
Lord Crawford. By nightfall the " Valhalla " had 
the appearance of a huge vegetable and fruit 
market ; there must have been at least a ton of 
bananas, oranges, plantain, coconuts and other 
fruit on board, as well as several Muscovy ducks 
and a little piebald pig. When all was aboard the 
chief of Tautira, one of the finest looking men I 
have ever seen, made a speech, and then formally 
presented the gifts. 

At ten o'clock the next morning we left Tautira 
for Papeete again, to complete our coaling, which 
took a long time owing to the scarcity of lighters. 

During our last day at Tahiti we were confined 
to the ship by one of the heaviest storms I have 
ever witnessed, the rain falling in such torrents 



HOSPITABLE TAHITIANS 225 

that in a few minutes the streets were literally 
full of water. 

Early on the morning of 17th April, 1903, we 
left Tahiti, and in a few minutes the island was 
completely hidden in rain clouds. During our 
visit we were treated with the greatest kindness 
by the inhabitants, who, with the characteristic 
hospitality of the Tahitian, gave up the whole of 
their time in order that we might see the many 
beauties of their island home ; and our stay, which 
had been all too short, will ever be recollected as 
one of the most delightful experiences enjoyed 
during the voyages of the "Valhalla." 

Shortly after leaving Tahiti on the morning of 
17th April we passed close to Eimeo, or Morea, as 
it is now called. We had made arrangements to 
visit this island, but our plans were upset by 
unavoidable circumstances, and only a distant 
view of its beauties was obtained. It rises almost 
perpendicularly from the sea ; the summit is 
composed of a series of peaks so sharp and even 
that they somewhat resemble the teeth of a 
gigantic comb. Through one of these peaks 
there is a large boring known as the Giant's Spear 
Hole, which is discernible from Papeete Harbour, 
some twenty miles distant. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

TUTUILA ISLAND, SAMOA. 

AFTER leaving Tahiti our course was laid for 
Tutuila Island, one of the Samoan group, and six 
days later we arrived off the mouth of the harbour 
of Pago-Pago.* After waiting in vain for a pilot 
we entered the harbour without one, and steamed 
through the narrow intricate passage which ex- 
tends for some distance towards the centre of the 
island where the town is situated. 

Tutuila belongs to the United States of America, 
and is used principally as a coaling station for their 
ships, and the harbour of Pago-Pago is undoubtedly 
one of the best anchorages in the South Pacific 
Islands, owing to its sheltered position. 

Our visit was made solely for the purpose of 
obtaining coal, but, being unable to get a supply 
there, we were forced to leave almost immediately 
for Apia. Thus only one day was spent ashore, 
and it was impossible in the short time to do much 
in the way of collecting. 

* Pronounced " Pango-Pango." 



A WET CLIMATE 227 

Tutuila is apparently of volcanic origin, and the 
harbour is the centre of an ancient crater. From 
information given to us I imagine that the highest 
point in the island, the whole of which is covered 
with dense forest, is about 2500 feet above 
sea-level. The climate is very hot and damp, 
and the annual rainfall is considerable. During 
our stay rain fell heavily and without intermission, 
so that collecting under these conditions was by 
no means easy or pleasant. A butterfly net was 
soaked through in a very few minutes, and 
cartridges swelled to such an extent that shooting 
was almost out of the question. I managed to 
keep a few dry by carrying them in a sponge-bag 
a most useful plan in a damp climate. 

Butterflies and moths were extremely numerous, 
and a considerable number was obtained in spite 
of the wet weather. A large sphinx moth was 
hovering round the flowering bushes, apparently 
undisturbed by the rain, and several smaller 
kinds of moths were continually beaten out of the 
soaking wet grass. Birds were fairly abundant ; the 
most numerous being a small greenish-coloured 
species, with a moderately long curved bill, the 
gape of which was adorned with two orange- 
coloured wattles which extended over the cheeks. 
This bird Ptilotis carunculata is peculiar to 
the Samoan Islands, though other species, more or 
less closely allied, are found on the Fijis and in 
Australia and New Guinea. 



228 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

A fine kingfisher,* apparently restricted to the 
wooded] hillsides but common there, was feeding 
entirely upon insects, especially the larvce of some 
species of moth. In the coconut palms a small 
paroquet was seen, but not obtained, and a little 
sunbird,f of a vivid scarlet and black, was feeding 
among the blossoms of the trees. 

The most striking mammal was the fruit bat,{ 
numbers of which were seen flying about over the 
trees even in broad daylight, while at dusk so 
many of these huge bats came down from the high 
forests, that we judged there must be a large 
colony of them at no great distance from 
Pago-Pago. 

Dr. Macdonald and I climbed a pass between 
two high peaks. For some distance the path led 
through a plantation of coconut trees, where 
one of the natives engaged in gathering the fruit 
offered to climb a tree and procure nuts for us. 
Armed with a huge knife he approached a coco- 
nut tree, and with a sudden downward and side- 
ward stroke cut a small notch in the bark, into 
which he put the toe of one foot while he cut another 
notch with great rapidity a little above the first, 
then cutting notch after notch with marvellous 
rapidity he ascended the tree. 

While drinking the juice or " milk " of the 
coconuts, we entered into conversation with this 

* Halcyon pealii. f Myzomela nigriventris . 

J Pteropus ruficollis. 



FRUIT BATS 229 

man. He was a finely built fellow ; except for a 
waist-cloth of tappa* he wore no clothing, but 
nearly the whole of his body was covered with 
tattooing. On one arm we noticed a number of 
tattooed stripes, and on asking the reason for these 
bands we were informed that they signified the 
number of wives he possessed. He had, as far as 
I can remember, seven such stripes. 

After leaving the coconut grove we entered the 
forest, and a short time afterwards gained the 
crest of the island. Here a fine view was obtained. 
On one side Pago-Pago harbour, looking like a 
small pond below us ; on the other, the far side of 
the island sloping gradually downward towards 
a large village situated on the sea-shore. 

At the top of this pass we saw numbers of noddy 
terns, | also a few bosun or tropic birds, but no 
specimens were obtained. Fruit bats were very 
numerous, and were continually sailing high over 
our heads, evidently disturbed by the sounds of 
the shots we had fired. 

Throughout the day we were unable to get 
within shot of the fruit bats, and as I much wished 
to obtain a specimen, I landed again late in the 
evening, but, although they were then flying lower, 
I did not secure one. I afterwards shot one 
example on Upolu Island, and have no doubt 
that it is the same species as that inhabiting 

* A strong, stiff cloth made from the bark of the Paper Mulberry 
Tree (Brouaaonetia papyri/era). 
f Anous stolidus. 

B 



230 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

Tutuila, as these two islands are in sight of one 
another, and fruit bats can fly great distances. 
The damage these creatures cause to the coconut 
and banana trees must be very great. 

A number of natives gathered together on the 
shore to watch our departure. The rain was falling 
in torrents, and removing their scanty clothing 
they carried it under their arms rolled up in banana 
leaves. Nevertheless, most of them had umbrellas 
to protect their heads from the rain a ridiculous 
sight but a very necessary precaution, for it is 
the fashion in the Samoan Islands to dress the hair 
with lime, which, when exposed to the rain, runs 
down into the eyes and often causes blindness. 
Most of the natives are blind in one eye from this 
cause, and consequently considerable care has to 
be taken to keep the head dry during wet weather. 
The men without umbrellas kept their hair tightly 
bound up and well covered with banana leaves. 

In Tutuila we first saw that dread disease 
" Elephantiasis," which is said to arise from the 
bites of mosquitoes. In these islands nearly 25 
per cent, of the inhabitants were suffering from 
this disease, some having enlarged arms, others 
legs swollen to the size of a bolster, while others 
again were afflicted in various parts of the body. 
A man, apparently strong and well, but with one 
arm twice the thickness of the other, was no 
uncommon sight. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

UPOLTJ ISLAND, SAMOA. 

ABOUT twelve hours after leaving Tutuila we 
entered the harbour of Apia, the capital of Upolu, 
and the principal town of the Samoan group. 
Rain was falling heavily and the island and harbour 
had a dismal appearance. Much wreckage was 
lying about on the shore, a forcible reminder of 
the fearful hurricane when H.M.S. " Calliope " 
was the only vessel to escape out of the many 
anchored in the harbour at the time. 

The anchorage is by no means good. Reefs 
are plentiful, and some of them are just a- wash 
at low water, and there are no islets or pro- 
montories sufficient to shelter ships at anchor, 
should there be an on-shore wind. 

On some of the reefs we saw some natives fly- 
fishing. Standing up to the waist in water, they 
were flogging away with what seemed to be indif- 
ferent success. We afterwards had an opportunity 
of examining the tackle used by the Samoans. 
It proved to consist of a stout bamboo rod, to the 
point of which a strong line was attached ; at 

R2 



232 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

the end of the line a piece of wood about six inches 
long was tied crossways ; and to each end of this 
a black feather-fly of large proportions was tied. 
These two flies, not to mention the piece of wood 
to which they were attached, seemed quite enough 
to scare away any fish, but for all that we saw many 
small fish of about half-a-pound weight taken by 
these means. 

Wishing to know the regulations with regard to 
shooting on the island, Dr. Macdonald and I visited 
the vice-consul. During our conversation with 
him we learnt that he had been many years in 
the Samoan Islands, and as I was most anxious 
to see a living example of the tooth-billed pigeon,* 
or " manu mea," as it is called by the natives, 
I closely questioned the consul about it. He told 
us that it was not uncommon in some parts of the 
interior of the island, where it appears to live in 
colonies. The nearest place where he knew it 
could be found was, however, a two days' journey 
from Apia, and as we were only to stay at the 
island for three days an expedition thither was out 
of the question. I asked him if he could at once 
send a native to get a living example ; he promised 
to do so, but the man did not return before our 
departure. 

The following morning I went for a long walk 
on the sea-shore, returning by a path through 
the cultivated land. The sandy beach swarmed 

* Didunculus atrigirottris. 



THE HOSPITABLE SAMOAN 233 

with shore-birds, sandpipers* and a small species 
of golden plover")" the latter to be seen in vast 
numbers were the most conspicuous. At the 
mouth of a small river I saw some rails, and 
amongst the birds I shot was a brilliant scarlet 
and black sunbird.J The small parrot seen on 
Tutuila was also observed here in the coconut 
trees, but, owing to its extreme shyness, no speci- 
mens were obtained. 

During this walk, which led me some distance 
from the town, I was able to get an idea of the 
hospitable nature of the unspoilt Samoan native. 
Happening to enter a village on the banks of a 
small river, I was at once accosted by the head- 
man, who, by signs, invited me into his house 
for refreshment. The house, like all those in 
Samoa, was little more than a roof supported on 
long beams of wood, the walls being merely mats, 
which could be let down in bad weather. The 
floor was covered with large mats which, like those 
of the walls, were made of the leaves of the 
pandanus, or screw-pine, most neatly and strongly 
woven together. The people sleep on the floor, 
their heads, or rather necks, resting on a thick 
bamboo pillar, raised about an inch from the floor 
by means of long crossed pieces of wood, shaped 
like the letter X, and fastened one at each end of 
the bamboo. 

* Totanu* incanus. f Charadrius fulvus. 

J Myzomela nigriventris. 



234 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

The kindly chief gave me oranges, bananas, 
and coconuts, and after the repast, clapped his 
hands for " kava " to be brought in. I was 
then enabled to have my first taste of the 
national drink of the Samoan and Fiji Islanders, 
and as I have never seen a full description of 
the manner in which kava is prepared, or the 
ceremony of its drinking, I will describe here 
what I saw. 

A large wooden bowl, its surface highly polished 
by constant use, supported on four short wooden 
legs, was first placed in position ; then facing it 
we all sat cross-legged on the ground in a semi- 
circle, and when all were seated the " towpow," 
or chief dancing girl* of the village, to whom only 
the preparation of the kava is entrusted, entered, 
and took her seat facing us behind the bowl. 
A lump of kavaf was next produced and cut up into 
pieces of about the size of a walnut ; these were 
beaten into shreds between two stones, and then, 
being placed in the bowl, were covered with water 
brought in coconut shells from the nearest 
spring. When the bowl was nearly three parts 

* In calling the towpow the " chief dancing girl of the village," I 
infer that she is the chosen " performer " in the native dance where all 
the other " performers " are men. Towpow is Tahitian for virgin. 

t The dried root of a pepper tree. 

| Formerly the shredding of the kava root was done by the 4i towpows ' ' 
chewing the root, but this custom is now prohibited by law. In one 
village, situated some distance from the capital, I saw kava prepared 
in the original way ; but so cleverly and quickly was it done that, had 
I not been especially looking out for it, I should not have noticed 
anything unusual. 



CEREMONY OF KAVA DRINKING 235 

full of water, a bunch of fibres, made from the 
inner bark of the hibiscus, was handed to the girl, 
who, after vigorously stirring the liquid, scooped 
out a mass of sodden kava root and handed the 
fibres to an attendant, who carried them outside. 
This proceeding having been repeated several 
times, the kava was declared, amidst a clapping 
of hands, to be ready. The towpow thereupon 
dipped a large coconut shell, holding about a pint, 
into the bowl and carried it first to the most im- 
portant guest, and then to all the others in turn. 
The cup is delivered with a most graceful down- 
ward and then upward swing of the arm, and the 
guest, still sitting cross-legged, takes the cup and 
calling loudly " Manuia," drains it at a draught. 
No sipping is allowed, and to anyone not accustomed 
to kava the experience is by no means pleasant. 
Kava looks like soapy water, and the taste of it 
well, anyone desirous of ascertaining what it 
tastes like can make a very good imitation by 
mixing a dessert-spoonful of " Gregory " powder 
in a tumbler of water. Having drained the 
contents, one passes the coconut shell back to 
the donor. This may be done in two ways. An 
experienced drinker throws the shell in such a 
manner that it spins round in the air and falls 
" dead " at the foot of the bowl. A less ex- 
peiienced guest had better hand it back with a 
bow as the easiest way out of a difficulty, for it 
is considered the height of bad manners if the cup 



236 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

is thrown so as to roll even a short way past the 
kava bowl. 

Europeans who have lived for several years in 
these islands assured us that they became so 
accustomed to drinking kava that they acquired 
a taste for it, but we never took it without an 
inward shiver. 

A too liberal indulgence of this drink causes 
temporary paralysis of the legs from the knees 
downwards, as well as a numbing sensation of the 
tongue, though we were told that even at this stage 
the brain remains perfectly clear. 

The vice-consul had very kindly invited me to 
visit his farm, about three miles from Apia, and 
there I spent the second day of our stay. It was 
very warm work walking thither, as the whole way 
was uphill under a blazing sun. Arriving at the 
farm, I struck off into the forest with a guide in 
search of birds. The most numerous and probably 
the most beautifully coloured of all the birds in 
Samoa is a small dove,* of about the size of a 
turtle-dove, with an emerald green back, a ruby 
red crown, and a brilliantly-coloured breast of 
several shades of red and yellow. 

We climbed up the hillside for a considerable 
distance, and from the highest point we had a 
distant view of the grave of Robert Louis 
Stevenson, who was buried on the top of the hill 
overlooking Apia Harbour. I was most anxious 

* Ptilopus fasciatu*. 



THE KING OF SAMOA 237 

to visit this spot, but we were forced to abandon 
the idea as the day was drawing to a close. 

The day before our departure from Apia the 
King of Samoa, Mataafa, paid a visit to Lord 
Crawford on board the yacht. He was quite 
unexpected, and at the time we were entertaining 
a large party of native chiefs and their families, 
about thirty of whom were sitting in the saloon. 
Suddenly the king was announced, and we were 
somewhat astonished to see all our guests vacate 
their chairs and sit on the floor. This, however, 
so they told us afterwards, is the correct thing to 
do when in the presence of their king. He was 
a very striking looking old man, dressed in a 
plain white coat and kilt, his only ornament being 
a thick gold chain, which he wore round his neck. 

The Samoan Islands, with the exception of 
Tutuila, belong to Germany, and are ruled by a 
Governor. So Mataafa is now a king in name 
only. Nevertheless he appears to be an im- 
portant personage amongst his subjects, all of 
whom treat him with the greatest respect. 

Our last evening in Apia was spent at a native 
dance, which provided one of the most picturesque 
scenes we witnessed during this voyage. We sat 
in a semi-circle round a large covered enclosure, 
and faced the dancers, of whom there were about 
forty, all in native dress. 

The Samoan " dance," or " Siva," as it is called, 
consists chiefly of a series of arm exercises 



ADIEU TO THE SOUTH SEAS 239 

accompanied by a weird chanting and clapping 
of hands. The proceedings were brought to a 
close by a kava drink, for which the most remark- 
ably beautiful cups were used. They were made 
from shells of coconuts polished and re-polished 
to such an extent that they had become scarcely 
thicker than eggshells, and had darkened to a 
deep black colour. We were informed that these 
cups were very valuable owing to the great amount 
of labour required for their manufacture ; they 
were only used on very special occasions. 

On 3rd May, four days after leaving the Samoan 
Islands, the " Valhalla " came to anchor off the 
town of Suva, the capital of the Fiji Islands. A 
very short time was spent here, and we conse- 
quently saw very little of interest. The town of 
Suva is as unlike a South Sea Island town as can 
possibly be imagined. Shops of all kinds are 
scattered along the whole length of the sea-front, 
and it is almost impossible to realize that 
cannibalism was once rampant in this island. 

Sailing from Suva on 6th May, 1903, we bade 
adieu to the South Sea Islands, amongst which 
so many delightful and never-to-be-forgotten days 
had been spent. Every year these islands are 
more and more visited by ships from all parts of 
the world, and each year brings to their inhabit- 
ants the very doubtful blessings of civilization. 
The people living in the less accessible parts, 
although quickly becoming spoiled by European 



240 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 

influence, are quite superior, not only in appear- 
ance, but in manners and physique, to those of 
the larger towns. 

After passing through the Torres Straits, where 
we visited Thursday and Prince of Wales Islands, 
we "coaled" at Singapore and Colombo and 
thence proceeded via the Suez Canal for home, 
and on August 1st, 1903, we dropped anchor at 
Cowes. 



THE END. 



INDEX. 



dbbotti, Cinnyris, 111. 

Ibis, 119. 

Rallus, 108. 

acunhae, Nesospiza, 66. 
cequinoctialis, Majaqueus, 71. 
cethiopica, Ibis, 78. 

alba, Oygis, 14, 51, 56, 203, 210, 

212, 216. 
Albatroses, 158, 187. 

(Diomedea chlororhynca), 65, 

67, 68, 71. 

(D. exulans), 65, 158. 

(D. fuliginosa), 65, 68, 72, 158. 

(D. melanophrys), 72. 

albiceps, Elainea, 166. 
Aldabra Island, 114-124. 
aldabranus, Dicrurus, 117. 

Nesacanthus, 116. 

Turtur, 117. 

aldabrensis, Caprimulgus, 123. 
Ambre, Cape, Camp, Forfit d', 93. 
americana, Rhea, 167. 
americanus, Podiceps, 185. 
amgulifer, Dromicus, 154. 

Ani, black, 147. 

Anjouan (Comoro Islands), 88. 

antarcticus, Fagus, 163. 

Ants, 29, 31. 

Apia, 231, 236. 

aquila, Fregata, 14, 48, 60, 102, 216. 

ardeola, Dramas, 85, 118. 

ariel, Fregata, 49. 

arminjoniana, CEstrelata, 157. 

Assumption Island, 107-113. 

assumptionis, Centropus, 110. 

Turtur, 110. 

Astove (coral island), 123. 
atratus, Cathartes, 30. 
atriceps, Phalacrocorax, 167. 
aura, Cathartes, 30. 
auricapilla, Dendrceca, 147. 
auriculata, Zenaida, 15. 

Bahia, 20-36. 

barbatus, Chrysomitris, 167. 

barkleyi, Coracopsis, 131. 



Barracuda (fish), 106. 
Beeches : Antarctic (Fagus Ant- 
arcticus), 163. 

evergreen (F. betuloides), 163. 

Bee-eaters, green (Merops super- 

ciliosus), 91. 
Beri-beri disease, 35. 
betuloides, Fagus, 163. 
bicolor, Euethia, 141. 
Blackbird( Turdus magellanicus ), 1 72. 
bolina, Hypolimnas, 222. 
Boobies, 3, 4, 10. 
brachypterus, 171. 
braziliensis, Nettion, 33. 

Scops, 30. 

Bulbul (Ixocincla crassirostris), 131. 
Buntings (Zonotrichia canicapilla), 

166. 
Butterflies, 16, 21, 27, 213, 227. 

(Hypolimnas bolina), 222. 

(Nipara eleutha), 222. 

" Buzi," (Comoro Islands), 87. 

cana, Agapornis, 87, 97. 
canescens, Totanus, 85. 
canicapilla, Zonotrichia, 166. 
" Cape hen " (Majaqueus cequinoc- 

tialis), 71. 
Cape Town, 71. 
capensis, Motacilla, 80. 

Phalacrocorax, 77. 

Caracara, 20. 

carolinensis, Galeoscoptes, 149. 
carunculata, Ptilotis, 227. 
Casuarina trees, 101, 115. 
Catamarans, 19. 

Cats, 29, 203. 
" Cavalli " (fish), 6. 
Cayman Islands, 144-154. 
caymanensis, Melanerpes, 149. 

Quiscalus, 151. 

chilensis, Megalestris, 162, 167. 
chlororhyncha, Diomedea, 65, 67, 

68, 71. 

Churruca Bay, 173. 
cinereus, Tachyeres, 163. 



242 



VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 



Coconut trees, 18, 219, 228, 233. 
" Coco de Her," 132. 
Collocalia, 216. 
comorensis, Coracopsis, 89. 

Pteropus, 87. 

Comoro Islands, 82-92. 

Condors (Sarcorhamphus gryphus), 

163. 

coppingeri, Turtur, 102. 
Copra, 221. 
Cormorants, 71, 173. 

(P. capensis), 77. 

(Phdlocrocorax atriceps), 167. 

(P. neglects), 77. 

(P. vigua), 183. 

coronata, Dendrceca, 147. 
corvina, Terpsiphone, 130. 
Cosmoledo (coral island), 123. 
Crab-plovers (Dromas ardeola), 85, 

118. 
Crabs, 3, 181 ; land-crabs, 43, 45, 

58, 91, 223 ; robber-crabs (Birgus 

latro), 105, 112, 122; spider-crabs, 

180. 

crassirostris, Ixocincla, 131. 
crawfordi, Buteroides, 111. 

Corvina, 160. 

Dendrwca, 154. 

Gygis, 44. 

Pyroderces, 222. 

creatopus, Puffinus, 189. 
cristata, Corythornis, 85. 

Crows (Corvus scapulatus), 102, 109. 
Cuckoos (Coccyzus maynardi), 148. 

lark-heeled, 96, 110. 

Curieuse (island), 130. 
Curlews, 85. 
Curlew-Sandpipers, 83. 
cyanurum, Lygosoma, 209, 222. 

dacunhae, Pelecanoides, 67. 
Dassen Island, 70, 81. 
delicata, Gallinago, 33. 
demursus, Spheniscus, 161. 
depressa, Nertera, 69. 
desmursi, Sylviorthorynchus, 186. 
Diego Suarez, 92. 
discolor, Dendro&ca, 147. 
Dolphins, 162. 

dominicanus, Larus, 78, 190. 
Dotterel (Eudromias modesta), 172. 
Doves (Turtur aldabranus), 117, 123. 

(T. assumptionis), 109. 

(T. coppingeri), 102. 

(Ptilopus fasciatus), 236. 

(Zenaida auriculata), 15. 



Easter Island, 191, 206. 
ecaudatus, Gentetes, 90, 98. 
Eden Harbour, 182. 
Egrets, sacred (Demiegretta sacra), 

117, 217. 

Eimeo (island), 216, 225. 
Elephantiasis, 230. 
elephantina, Testudo, 116. 
eleutha, Nipara, 222. 
eminentissima, Nesocanthis, 86. 
eremita, Nesochicla, 65. 
Europa Island, 82. 
exulans, Diomedea, 65, 158. 

fasciata, Stegomyia, 212, 222. 
fasciatus, Ptilopus, 236. 
Fautawa, 218. 
Felicite Island, 129. 
Fernando de Noronha, 11, 20. 
ferox, Cryptoprocta, 99. 

Myiarchus, 32. 

Fiji Islands, 239. 

Finches (Euethia bicolor), 141, 216. 

(Nesospiza acunhae), 66. 

Fishing : at St. Paul's Rocks, 6, 10 ; 

at Tahiti, 217 ; at Upolu, 231. 
ftaviventris, Motacilla, 96. 
Flycatchers (Elainea albiceps), 166. 

(E. martinica), 141. 

(Myiarchus ferox), 32. 

(M. pelzelni), 32. 

(Pitangus caymanensis), 151. 

(Terpsiphone corvina), 130. 

(T. lindsayi), 86. 

(Tyrannus melancholicus), 32. 

Flying fish, 3. 

Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), 99. 
Fowls, domestic, in a wild state, 

103. 

franciscce, Astur, 95. 
franklini, Larus, 188. 
Frigate birds, 119, 153. 
great (Fregata aquila), 14, 48, 

60, 102, 216. 

lesser (F. ariel), 49. 

Fruit : bananas, 208, 224 ; coco- 
nuts, 18, 208, 224; figs, 16; 
guavas. 150 ; limes, 208 ; man- 
goes, 30 ; oranges, 224 ; plan- 
tains, 219, 224 ; sapodillas, 18 ; 
water-melons, 208. 

Fruit bats (Pteropus comorensis), 87. 

(P. rufficollis), 228, 230. 

Fuegians, 174, 175, 181, 184. 
fuliginosa, Diomedea, 65, 68, 69, 72. 

Sterna, 17, 60, 61, 104. 



INDEX 



243 



fulvus, Charadrius, 233. 
fumosa, Chcetura, 32. 

Gannets, 2, 152, 153. 

(Sula leucogaster), 3. 

(8. piscator), 47, 61, 102. 

garnoti, Pelecanoides, 160. 
George Town, 145. 

Glorioso Island, 99-106. 

Goats, 41, 112, 213. 

gobio, Aphrites, 180. 

Goby (Periophthalmus koebreuteri), 

91. 
Goose, 2Q3(Chloephagapoliocephala), 

183. 

kelp(<7. magellanica), 162, 167, 

178. 

gracilirostris, Vireo, 16. 
gracilis, Tachornis, 91. 

Tinnunculus, 128. 

grams, Puffinus, 64. 
Gray's Harbour, 185, 187. 
Grebes (Podiceps americanus), 185. 
Greenshanks (Totanus canescens), 85. 
griseus, Puffinus, 189. 
Ground-sloth (Mylodon), 167. 
gryphus, Sarcorhamphus, 163. 
guildingi, Chrysotis, 140. 
Guinea-fowls (Numida mitrata), 94, 

99. 

Gulls (Larus dominicanus), 78, 167, 
190. 

(L. franklini), 188. 

Hawks (Astur franciscae), 95. 
(Asturina nattereri), 30. 

(Milvago chimango), 179. 

(Tinnunculus gracilis), 108. 

Hawksbill (Chelone imbricate), 103. 
Herons (Buteroides crawfordi), 111. 

(Demiegretta sacra), 117, 217. 

Hibiscus, 107, 110, 221. 
hirundinacea, Sterna, 167. 
Holothurians, 217. 
hova, Mirafra, 94. 
Huanacos (Llama huanacos), 163. 
" Huemule," 181. 
Humming-birds, 27, 177. 
hypoleucus, Totanus, 85. 

Ibises, Abbott's (76w? abbotti), 119- 
121. 

sacred (/6t cethiopica), 78. 

Ice in Eyre Sound, 182. 
Ice-plants, 72, 74. 

He de Lise, 100, 104, 105. 



imbricata, Chelone, 103. 
Inaccessible Island, 63, 66. 
incamis, Totanus, 217, 233. 
incerta, (Estrelata, 64. 
inftexirostris, Quiscalus, 141. 
insularis, Oymnoscops, 128. 
interpres, Strepsilas, 4. 
Itaparica, 21-36. 

jacana, Parra, 28, 33. 

" Kava," 234, 235. 
Kelp-weed, 66, 180, 184. 
Kingfishers (Corythornis cristata), 85. 

(Halcyon pealii), 228. 

Kites (Milvus migrans), 84, 102. 
koebreuteri, Periophthalmus, 91. 

Larks (mirafra hova), 94. 

latro, Birgus, 105. 

Lauristinus, 52. 

Lava-images on Easter Island 

(illust.), 194. 

Lemurs (Lemur mayottensis), 90. 
lepturus, Phaethon, 15. 
leucocapillus, Micranous, 5. 
leucogaster, Sula, 3, 100. 
leucoptera, Prosobonia, 217. 
lindsayi, Terpsiphone, 86. 
Lizards (Mabuia punctata), 20. 

(Lygosoma cyanurum), 209, 

222. 

Love-birds (^Ig'opornis cana), 87, 97. 

wocrttra, Eupetomena, 27. 
maculipennis, Plutella, 213. 
Madagascar, 93. 
madagascariensis, Alectrosnas, 97. 

Bernieria, 97. 

Foudia, 86, 96, 127. 

Ixocincla, 89. 

Zosterops, 97. 

magellanica, Chloephaga, 167, 178. 
magellanicus, Mytilis, 172, 174, 180. 

Spheniscus, 161. 

Turdus, 172. 

Magnolias, 131. 

Mahe, 125-127. 

Mango trees, 30, 32, 149. 

Mangrove swamps, 85, 153. 

Marie Louise Bay, 132. 

Marmosets, 30. 

Martin Vas, 58-62. 

Martins (Tachycincta meyeri), 166. 

house (Chelidon urbica), 166. 

Martinique, 139-143. 



244 



VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 



maynardi, Coccyzus, 148. 
Mayotte (Comoro Islands), 84-92. 
Mayottensis, cypselus, 87. 

Lemur, 90. 

Zosterops, 86. 

melancholicus, Tyrannus, 32. 
meyeri, Tachycincta, 166. 
Microlepidoptera, 222. 
migrans, Milvus, 84, 102. 
minor, Alectroznas, 122. 
mitrata, Numida, 94, 99. 
Mocking-birds (Mimus orpheus),l4:9. 
modesta, Eudromias, 172. 

Zosterops, 128. 

Molineux Sound, 178-181. 
Monte Video, 157-160. 
Mont Pelee, 141, 143. 

Moorhen, flightless (Porphyriornis 

nesiotis), 66. 
moquini, Hcematopus, 79. 
Mosquitoes : 16, 28, 29, 34 ; (Stego- 

myia fasciata), 212, 222. 
Moths, 51, 228; (feather-feeding), 

6 ; catching, 29. 

(Plutella maculipennis), 213. 

Sphinx, 103, 227. 

Mouse ( Mus musculus), 18, 29, 55. 
Mozambique Channel, 82-92. 
Mullet, grey, 180. 
Muscovy ducks, 224. 
musculus, Mus, 18, 29. 
Mussels (Mytilus, magellanicus}, 
172, 174, 180. 

(M. patagonicus), 180. 

mydas, Chelone, 103. 

Mylodon, 167 

Mynahs, Indian, 126, 127, 216 

"Narrows," 184. 
natterri Asturina, 30. 
neglectus, Phalacrocorax, 77. 
nesiotis, Porphyriornis, 66. 
niger, Centrites, 166, 167. 
Nightingale Island, 63. 
Nightjars, 30. 

(Caprimulgus aldabrensis), 123. 

((7. unwini), 83. 

nigra, Coracopsis, 95. 
nigriventris, Myzomela, 228, 233. 
North Cousin (islet), 133, 134. 

Orchids, 56, 145. 

orpheus, Mimus, 148. 

Otters (Lutra patachonica), 184. 

Owls (Oymnoscops insularis), 128. 

(Scops brasiliensis), 30. 



Oyster-catchers, black (Hcema- 
topus moquini), 79. 

Pago-Pago, 226, 228, 229. 
Palm trees, 216, 220, 228. 
pandanus, 115, 220, 233. 
Papeete, 215. 
Parroquets, 141, 228. 
Parrots, 141, 233. 

(Chrysotis caymanensis), 149. 

(C. guildingi), 140. 

(Coracopsis barkleyi), 128, 131. 

(C'. comorensis), 89. 

(C. nigra), 95. 

(C. sibilans), 89. 

(C. vasa), 95. 

patachonica, Lutra, 184. 
patachonicus, 171. 
patagonicus, Cinclodes, 178. 

Mytilus, 180. 

pealii, Halcyon, 228. 
pecuaria, dUgialitis, 79. 
Pelicans, 190. 

(Pelecanus thagus), 187. 

pelzelni, Myiarchus, 32. 
Pefias, Gulf of, 187. 
Penguins, 72-76. 

(Sphenicus demursus), 161. 

(S. magellanicus), 161. 

perdicaria, Nothoprocta, 203 
Petrels, 37, 38, 53, 70. 

((Estrelata arminjoniana), 60, 

61, 157. 

(CE. incerta), 64. 

(GE. trinitatis), 42. 

(CE. wilsoni), 41, 42, 43, 60, 

61. 

(Ossifraga gigantea), 80, 158, 

189. 

(Pelacanoides dacunhae), 67. 

(P. garnoti), 160. 

(P. urinatrix), 160. 

Phalaropes, grey, 188. 

Pigeons (Alectrcenas madagascari- 
ensis), 97. 

(A. minor), 122. 

(A. pulcherrima), 129. 

(A. sganzini), 86, 89. 

(Columba squamosa), 143. 

(Didunculus strigirostris), 232. 

piscator, Sula, 47, 102. 

Pitcairn Island, 207-214. 
Plover, golden, 203. 

(Charadrius fulvus), 233. 

ringed (dSgialitis pecuaria), 

79. 



INDEX 



245 



poliocephala, Chloephaga, 183. 
Porpoises, 69, 162. 
Port de France, 139. 
Praslin Island, 130. 
Puerto Bueno, 176. 
pugnax, Machetes, 80. 
punctata, Mabuia, 20. 
Punta Arenas, 165-169. 

Quail-snipe (Thinocorus rumi- 
civorus), 167. 

Rafts used in surf, 19. 
Rails, 66, 102. 

(Rallus abbotti), 108. 

(R. vigilantis), 177. 

Rano Kao (crater), 198, 203. 
" Rat Island," 18. 

Rats (Mua rattus), 18, 29, 66, 111, 

154, 203, 213. 

Rheas (Rhea americana), 167. 
Ribbon fish (Regalecus), 80. 
ridibundus, Larus, 188. 
ridleyana, Elainea, 18. 
rubricauda, Phaethon, 210. 
rufficollis, Pteropus, 228. 
Ruffs (Machetes pugnax), 80. 
rumicivorus, Thinocorus, 167. 
rustica, Hirundo, 80, 83. 

sacra, Demiegretta, 117, 217. 
Samoan Islands, 226-239. 
Sanderlings, 118. 

Sandpipers (Prosobonia leucoptera), 
217. 

(Totanus hypoleucus), 85. 

(T. incanus), 217, 233. 

scapulatus, Corvus, 102. 
Screw-pines (pandani), 115. 
Sea-serpent (illust.), 22-26. 
" Sea-slugs," 217. 
Sea-urchins, 217. 
Seychelle Islands, 125-135. 
sganzina, Alectr&nas, 88, 89. 
Sharks, 6, 7, 10, 61, 99. 
Shearwaters (Puffinus creatopus), 

189. 

(P. grams], 64. 

(P. griseus), 189. 

white-breasted, 61. 

Shrikes, drongo (Dicrurus aldabra- 

nus), 117. 

sibilans, Coracopsis, 89. 
Siskins (Chrysomitris barbatus), 167. 
Skuas (Megalestris chilensis), 162, 

167 



Skuas antarctic, 69, 70. 

Richardson's, 189. 

Smythe's Channel, 175-187. 
Snipe (Qallinago delicata), 33. 

jack, 33. 

Society Islands, 215. 
Soufriere (volcano), 140. 
South Sea Islands, 191. 
South Trinidad, 37-58. 
spinicaudata, Oxyurus, 169. 
St. Paul's Rocks, 1-10. 
St. Pierre, 139. 

St. Vincent, 139. 

Starlings ( Quiscalus caymanensis ) , 
151. 

(Q. gundlachi),l51. 

(Q. inftexirostris), 141. 

Steamer-ducks (Tachyeres cinereus), 

163, 164, 170-173, 179. 
Stelgidopteryx, 31. 
Stints, little, 83. 
stolidus, Anous, 4, 9, 40, 50, 60, 80, 

100, 104, 111, 203, 216, 229. 
Stonechats (Pratincola sybilla), 96. 
Straits of Magellan, 162-174. 
strigirostris, Didunculus, 232. 
strigosus, Grapsus, 3. 
Sucking fish, 99. 
Sunbirds, 117, 131. 

(Cinnyris abbotti), 111, 116. 

(G. mahei), 127. 

(Myzomela nigriventris), 228, 

233. 

superciliosus, Merops, 91. 
Swallows (Stelgidopteryx), 31, 83. 

- (Hirundo rustica), 80, 83. 
Swifts (Chaetura fumosa), 32. 

(Collocalia), 216. 

(Cypselus mayottensis), 87. 

(Tachornis gracilis), 91. 

sybilla, Pratincola, 96. 

Table Bay, 70, 71. 
Tahiti, 215-225. 
Tanagers, 31. 
" Tappa," 229. 
Tautira, 217, 222. 
Teal (Nettion brasiliensis), 33. 
Tenrecs (Oentetes ecaudatus), 90, 98. 
Terns (Anous stolidus), 4, 9, 40, 50, 
60, 80, 100, 104, 203, 216, 229. 

(Oygis alba), 14, 40, 51, 56, 

203, 210, 212, 216. 

(Q. craw/ordi), 44, 45. 

(Micranous leucocapillus), 5, 

8, 61, 



246 VOYAGES OF A NATURALIST 



Terns (Sterna fuliginosa), 17, 60, 61, 
104. 

(S. hirundinacea), 167. 

- (S. vittata), 67, 70. 

thagus, Pelecanus, 188. 
Thrushes (Ixocincla madagascari- 
ensis), 89. 

(Nesochicla eremita), 65. 

Carolina (Galeoscoptes caro- 

linensis), 149. 

Magellan, 179. 

Ticks, 6, 29, 34. 

Tierra del Fuego, 176, 182. 
Tinamou (Noihoprocta perdicaria), 

202. 

Toads (Nannophryne variegata), 177. 
Tortoise, giant (Testudo elephantina), 

115, 118, 123, 129. 
toulou, Centropus, 96. 
Tree-creepers (Oxyurus spinicau- 

data), 169. 
Tree-ferns, 39, 55. 
Trinidad, South, 37-58. 
trinitatis, (Estrelata, 42. 
Tristan da Cunha, 63-69. 
Tropic (or Bo'sun) bird (Phaethon 

lepturus), 15, 17. 
red-tailed (P. rubri- 

cauda), 210. 
Turnstones (Strepsilas interpres), 4, 

20. 
Turtles, 39, 106, 112. 

(Chelone my das, Linn.), 103. 

Tutuila Island, 226-230. 
Tyrant-bird (Centrites niger), 166. 

unwini, Caprimulgus, 83. 
Upolu Island, 231-239. 



urbica, Chelidon, 166. 
urinatrix, Pelecanoides, 160. 

Valparaiso, 187-191. 
variegata, Nannophryne, 177. 
vasa, Coracopsis, 95. 
vaughani, Tatare, 209. 
vigilantis, Rallus, 177. 
vitellina, Dendrceca, 147. 
vittata, Sterna, 67, 70. 
Vultures (Cathartea aura), 30. 

(C. atratus), 30. 

Wagtails (Motacilla capensia), 80. 

(M. flaviventris), 96. 

Warblers (Bernieria madagascar- 

iensis), 97. 

(DendroBca auricapilla), 147. 

(D. coronata), 147. 

(D. crawfordi), 154. 

(D. discolor), 147^ 

(D, vitellina), 147. 

(Tatare vaughani), 209, 210. 

(Vireo gracilirostris), 16. 

Wasps at Tahiti, 216. 
Weaver bird (Foudia madagascar- 
iensis), 86, 89, 96, 127. 

(Nesacanthis aldabranus), 116. 

(N. eminentissima), 86. 

Whimbrels, 83, 85. 

White-eyes (Zoster ops madagascar- 
iensis), 97, 102. 

(Z. mayottensis), 86. 

(Z. modesta), 128. 

unlsoni, (Estrelata, 41, 42, 43, 60. 
Woodpeckers ( Melanerpes caymanen- 

sis), 149. 




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