The Reed Warbler, though entirely insectivorous, is a very tame and amusing cage-bird, and may easily be fed on raw meat chopped fine and a little hard-boiled egg; but its favourite food is flies, and of these it will eat any quantity, and woe even to the biggest bluebottle that may buzz through its cage, for the active little bird will have it in a moment, and after a few sharp snaps of the beak there is quite an end of the bluebottle. Daddy long-legs, too, are favourite morsels, and after a little beating about disappear down the bird's throat—legs, wings, and all, without any difficulty. The indigestible parts are afterwards cast up in pellets in the same manner as with Hawks.
I have never seen the nearly-allied and very similar Marsh Warbler, Acrocephalus palustris, in Guernsey, but, as it may occasionally occur, it may be as well perhaps to point out what little distinction there is between the species. This seems to me to consist chiefly in the difference of colour, the Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus streperus, at all ages and in all states of plumage, being a warmer, redder brown than Acrocephalus palustris, which is always more or less tinged with green. The legs in A. streperus are always darker than in A. palustris; the beak also in A. palustris seems rather broader at the base and thicker. This bird also has a whitish streak over the eye, which seems wanting in A. streperus. These distinctions seem to me always to hold, good even in specimens which have been kept some time and have faded to what has now generally got the name of "Museum colour."
Mr. Dresser, in his 'Birds of Europe,' points out another distinction which no doubt is a good one in adult birds with their quills fully grown, but fails in young birds and in adults soon after the moult, before the quills are fully grown, and also before the moult if any quills have been shed and not replaced. This distinction is that in A. streperus the second (that is the first long quill, for the first in both species is merely rudimentary) is shorter than the fourth, and in A. palustris it is longer.
Though I think it not at all improbable that the Marsh Warbler, Acrocephalus palustris, may occur in Guernsey, I should not expect to find it so much in the wet reed-beds in the Grand Mare and at the Vale pond as amongst the lilac bushes and ornamental shrubs in the gardens, or in thick bramble bushes in hedgerows and places of that sort.
36. SEDGE WARBLER. Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, Linnaeus. French, "Bee-fin phragmite."—The Sedge Warbler is by no means so common as the Reed Warbler, though, like it, it is a summer visitant, and is quite as local. I did not see any amongst the reeds which the Reed Warbler delighted in, but I saw a few amongst some thick willow hedges with thick grass and rushes growing by the side of the bank, and a small running stream in each ditch. Though perfectly certain the birds were breeding near, we could not find the nests. So well were they hidden amongst the thick grass and herbage by the side of the stream that Colonel l'Estrange and myself were quite beaten in our search for the nest, though we saw the birds several times quite near enough to be certain of their identity. I did not shoot one for the purpose of identification, as perhaps I ought to have done, but I thought if I shot one it would be extremely doubtful whether I should ever find it amongst the thick tangle—certainly unless quite dead there would not have been a chance. I felt quite certain, however, that all I saw were Sedge Warblers; had I felt any doubt as to the possibility of one of them turning out to be the Aquatic Warbler, Acrocephalus aquaticus, I should certainly have tried the effect of a shot. As it is quite possible, however, that the Aquatic Warbler may occasionally, or perhaps regularly, in small numbers, visit the Channel Islands, as they are quite within its geographical range, I may point out, for the benefit of any one into whose hands it may fall, that it may easily be distinguished from the Sedge Warbler by the pale streak passing through the centre of the dark crown of the head.
The Sedge Warbler is not mentioned by Professor Ansted in his list, and there is no specimen of either this or the Reed Warbler in the Museum.
37. DARTFORD WARBLER. Melizophilus undatus, Boddaert. French, "Pitchou Provencal," "Bee-fin Pittechou."—The Dartford Warbler is by no means common in the Channel Islands—indeed I have never seen one there myself, but Miss C.B. Carey records one in the 'Zoologist' for 1874 as having been knocked down with a stone in the April of that year and brought into Couch's shop, where she saw it. I have no doubt of the correctness of this identification, as Miss Carey knew the bird well. I see no reason why it should not be more common in Guernsey than is usually supposed, as there are many places well suited to it, but its rather dull plumage, and its habit of hiding itself in thick furze-bushes, and creeping from one to another as soon as disturbed, contribute to keep it much out of sight, unless one knows and can imitate its call-note, in which case the male bird will soon answer and flutter up to the topmost twig of the furze-bush in which it may have previously been concealed, fluttering its wings, and repeating the call until again disturbed. This is the only occurrence of which I am aware in any of the Islands, included in the limits I have prescribed for myself; but Mr. Harvie Brown has recorded two seen by him near Greve de Lecq, in Jersey, in January. See 'Zoologist' for 1869, p. 1561.
It is not included in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen in the Museum.
38. WHITETHROAT. Sylvia rufa, Boddaert. French, "Fauvette grise," "Bec-fin Grisette."—The Whitethroat has hitherto perhaps been better known by the name used in the former edition of 'Yarrell' and by Messrs. Degland and Gerbe, Curruca cinerea, but in consequence of the inexorable rule of the British Association the name "rufa," given by Boddaert in 1783, has now been accepted for this bird. I have not generally thought it necessary to point out these changes, but in this instance it seemed necessary to do so, as in the former edition of 'Yarrell' the Chiffchaff was called by the name Sylvia rufa, and this might possibly have caused some confusion unless the change had been pointed out.
The Whitethroat is by no means so common in the Channel Islands as it is in England, and though a regular summer visitant it only makes its appearance in small numbers. A few, however, may be seen about the fields and hedgerows in the more cultivated parts of the country. It certainly has not got the reputation for mischief in the garden it has in England, as none of the gardeners I asked about it, and who were complaining grievously of the mischief done by birds, ever mentioned the Whitethroat, or knew the bird when asked about it.
Professor Ansted includes the bird in his list, and restricts it to Guernsey, but I see no reason why it should not occur equally in Sark and Herm. There is no specimen at present in the Museum.
39. LESSER WHITETHROAT. Sylvia curruca, Linnaeus. French, "Bee-fin babillard."—Like the Whitethroat, the Lesser Whitethroat is a regular, but by no means a numerous summer visitant to Guernsey. I saw a few in the willow-hedges about the Grand Mare, and in one or two other places near there, and young Le Cheminant had one or two eggs in his collection, probably taken about L'Eree.
The Lesser Whitethroat is included in Professor Ansted's list, and only marked as occurring in Guernsey. There is at present no specimen in the Museum.
40. BLACKCAP. Sylvia atricapilla, Linnaeus. French, "Fauvette a tete noire," "Bec-fin a tete noire."—Though generally known as the Guernsey Nightingale, the Blackcap, though a regular, is by no means a numerous summer visitant. I have, however, always seen a few about every time I have been in the Island in the summer. There are a few eggs in the Museum, and in Le Cheminant's collection.
The Blackcap is mentioned by Professor Ansted in his list, and restricted to Guernsey. There is only one specimen—a female—at present in the Museum.
41. WILLOW WREN. Phylloscopus trochilus, Linnaeus. French, "Bee-fin Pouillat."—The Willow Wren is a tolerably numerous summer visitant, I believe, to all the Islands, though I have only seen it myself in Guernsey and Sark. In Guernsey I have seen it about the Grand Mare, and in some trees near the road about St. George, and about the Vallon on the other side of the Island. It remains all the summer and breeds.
Professor Ansted has not included it in his list, although it seems tolerably well known, and has a local name "D'mouaiselle," which Mr. Metivier, in his 'Dictionary,' applies to the Willow Wren of the English. This name, however, is probably equally applicable to the Chiffchaff.
42. CHIFFCHAFF. Phylloscopus collybita, Vieillot. French, "Bee-fin veloce."—The Chiffchaff is certainly more common in Guernsey than the Willow Wren. In Guernsey I have seen it in several places; about Candie, where a pair had a nest this summer in the mowing-grass before the house; near the Vallon; and about St. George. I have also seen it in Sark, but not in either of the other Islands, though no doubt it occurs in Herm, if not in Alderney.
It is mentioned by Professor Ansted as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. I have never seen the Wood Wren in Guernsey, and, judging from its favourite habitations here in Somerset, I should not think it at all likely to remain in the Channel Islands through the summer, though an occasional straggler may touch the Islands on migration. There is no specimen of either the Chiffchaff or Willow Wren in the Museum.
43. GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. Regulus cristatus, Koch. French, "Roitelet ordinaire."—The Golden-crest is resident in the Islands, but not very numerous, and I doubt if its numbers are regularly increased in the autumn by migrants, as is the case in the Eastern Counties of England. Migratory flocks, however, sometimes make their appearance; and Mr. MacCulloch writes to me—"The Golden-crest occasionally comes over in large flocks, apparently from Normandy, flying before bad weather. This, however, cannot be said to have been the cause of the large flight that appeared here so recently as the last days in April," 1878. This flock was mentioned in the 'Star' of April the 27th as follows:—"A countryman informs us that a few days since, whilst he was at L'ancresse Common, he saw several flocks of these smallest of British birds, numbering many hundreds in each, settle in different parts of the Common before dispersing over the Island. In verification of his words he showed us two or three of these tiny songsters which he had succeeded in knocking down with a stick." This large migratory flock had entirely disappeared from L'ancresse Common when we went to live there for two months in May of the same year; there was not then a Golden Crest to be seen about the Common. The whole flock had probably resumed their journey together, none of them having "dispersed over" or remained in the Island, and certainly, as far as I could judge, the numbers in other parts of the Island had not increased beyond what was usual and one might ordinarily expect. I have not been able to learn that the migratory flock above spoken of extended to any of the other Islands.
The Golden-crested Wren is mentioned by Professor Ansted, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two—a male and female—in the Museum.
44. FIRE-CRESTED WREN. Regulus ignicapillus, C.L. Brehm. French, "Roitelet a triple bandeau."—I have a pair of these killed in Guernsey about 1872, but I have not the exact date; and Mr. Couch, who knew the Fire-crested Wren well, writing to me on the 23rd of March, 1877, says:—"I had the head and part of a Fire-crest female brought me by a young lady. She told me her brother knocked down two, and the other had a beautiful red and gold crest; so it must have been the male." As Mr. Couch knew both the Goldcrest and Fire-crest well, and the distinction between them, I have no doubt he rightly identified the bird which was brought to him. These and the pair in my collection are the only Guernsey specimens I can be certain of.
The 'Star' newspaper, however, in the note above quoted as to the migratory flock of Golden-crests, says:—"It may be a fact hitherto unknown to many of our readers that the Fire-crested Wren, very similar in appearance to the Golden-crested Wren, is not very uncommon in our Island. The Fire-crested Wren so closely resembles its confrere, the Golden-crested Wren, that only a practised eye can distinguish the difference between them." I do not quite agree with the 'Star' as to the Fire-crest not being "very uncommon," though it occasionally occurs. I do not think it can be considered as anything but a rare occasional straggler. And this from its geographical distribution, which is rather limited, is what one would expect; it is not very common on the nearest coast of France or England, though it occasionally occurs about Torbay, which is not very far distant.
The name Fire-crest has probably led to many mistakes between this bird and the Golden-crest, as a brightly-coloured male Gold-crest has the golden part of the crest quite as bright and as deeply coloured as the Fire-crest; and the female Fire-crest has a crest not a bit more deeply coloured than the female Gold-crest. In point of fact the colour of the crest is of no value whatever in distinguishing between the birds, and the "practised eye" would find itself puzzled if it only relied upon that.
The French name for the Fire-crest, however, "Roitelet a triple bandeau," is much more descriptive, as under the golden part of the crest there is a streak of black, and under that again a streak of white over the eye, and a streak of black through the eye; there is also a streak, or rather perhaps a spot of white, under the eye. The Gold-crest has only the streak of black immediately under the gold crest; below that the whole of the side of the face and the space immediately surrounding the eye is a uniform dull olive-green. If this distinction is once known and attended to the difference between the two birds may be immediately detected by even the unpractised eye.
A very interesting account of the nesting of this bird is given by Mr. Dresser, in his 'Birds of Europe,' he having made a journey to Altenkirchen, where the Fire-crest is numerous, on purpose to watch it in the breeding-season. The nest he describes as very like that of the Golden-crest; the eggs also are much like those of that bird, though a little redder in colour.
The Fire-crest is not mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen at present in the Museum.
45. WREN. Troglodytes parvulus, K.L. Koch. French, "Roitelet," "Troglodyte mignon," "Troglodyte ordinaire."—The Wren is common and resident in all the Islands, and very generally distributed, being almost as common amongst the wild rocks on the coast as in the inland parts. On the 7th of July, 1878, I found a Wren's nest amongst some of the wildest rocks in the Island; the hinder part of the nest was wedged into a small crevice in the rock very firmly, the nest projecting and apparently only just stuck against the face of the rock. A great deal of material had been used, and the nest, projecting from the face of the rock as it did, looked large, and when I first caught sight of it I thought I might have hit upon an old Water Ouzel's nest. On getting close, however, I found it was only a Wren's, with young birds in it. I visited this nest several times, and saw the old bird feeding her young. I could not, however, quite make out what she fed them with, but I think with insects caught amongst the seaweed and tangle amongst the rocks. After the young were flown I took this nest, and was astonished to find, when it was taken out of the crevice, how much material had been used in wedging it in, and how firmly it was attached to the rock. This was certainly necessary to keep it in its place in some of the heavy gales that sometimes happen even at that time of year; in a very heavy north-westerly gale it would hardly have been clear of the wash of the waves at high water.
The Wren is included in Professor Ansted's list, but marked as only occurring in Guernsey. There is no specimen in the Museum.
46. TREE-CREEPER. Certhia familiaris, Linnaeus. French, "Grimpereau," "Grimpereau familier."—The Tree-creeper is resident and not uncommon in all the Islands, except perhaps Alderney, in which Island I have never seen it. In Guernsey it may be seen in most of the wooded parts, and frequently near the town, in the trees on the lawns at Candie, Castle Carey, and in the New Ground. I have never seen it take to the rocks near the sea, like the Wren.
It is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.
47. GREAT TIT. Parus major, Linnaeus. French, "Mesange Charbonniere."—The Paridae are by no means well represented in the Islands, either individually or as to number of species; and the Guernsey gardeners can have very little cause to grumble at damage done to the buds by the Tits. The Great Tit is moderately common and resident in Guernsey, but by no means so common as in England. During the whole two months I was in the Island this last summer, 1878, I only saw two or three Great Tits, and this quite agrees with my experience in June and July, 1866, and at other times.
The Great Tit is included in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked by him as occurring in Sark.
48. BLUE TIT. Parus caeruleus, Linnaeus. French, "Mesange bleue."—Like the Great Tit, the Blue Tit is resident in all the Islands, but by no means numerous. In Guernsey it is pretty generally distributed over the more cultivated parts, but nowhere so numerous as in England. It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark.
I have not included either the Cole Tit or the Marsh Tit in this list, as I have never seen either bird in the Islands, and have not been able to find that they are at all known either in Guernsey or any of the other Islands.
Professor Ansted, however, includes the Cole Tit in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey, but no other information whatever is given about it; and there is no specimen in the Museum, as there is of both the Great and the Blue Tits. I have not succeeded in getting a specimen myself.
49. LONG-TAILED TIT. Acredula caudata, Linnaeus. French, "Masange a longue queue."—The Long-tailed Tit is certainly far from common in Guernsey at present, and I have never seen it in the Islands myself. But Mr. MacCulloch writes me word—"The Long-tailed Tit is, or at least was, far from uncommon. Probably the destruction of orchards may have rendered it less common. The nest was generally placed in the forked branch of an apple-tree, and so covered with grey lichens as to be almost indistinguishable. I remember, in my youth, finding a nest in a juniper-bush."
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is, however, no specimen now in the Museum.
I am very doubtful as to whether I ought to include the Bearded Tit, Panurus biarmicus of Linnaeus, in this list. There are a pair in the Museum, but these may have been obtained in France or England. One of Mr. De Putron's men, however, described a bird he had shot in the reeds in Mr. De Putron's pond in the Vale, and certainly his description sounded very much as if it had been a Bearded Tit; but the bird had been thrown away directly after it was shot, and there was no chance of verifying the description.
50. WAXWING. Ampelis garrulus, Linnaeus. French, "Jaseur de Boheme," "Grand Jaseur."—As would seem probable from its occasional appearance in nearly every county in England, the Waxwing does occasionally make its appearance in Guernsey as a straggler. I have never seen it myself, but Mr. MacCulloch writes me word—"I have known the Bohemian Waxwing killed here on several occasions, but have not the date."
An interesting account of the nesting habits of this bird, and the discovery of the nests and eggs by Mr. Wolley, was published by Professor Newton in the 'Ibis' for 1861, and will be found also in Dresser's 'Birds of Europe.' and in the new edition of 'Yarrell,' by Professor Newton.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey; and there is one specimen in the Museum.
51. PIED WAGTAIL. Motacilla lugubris, Temminck. French, "Bergeronette Yarrellii."—The Pied Wagtail has probably been better known to some of my readers as Motacilla Yarrellii, but, according to the rules of nomenclature before alluded to, Motacilla lugubris of Temminck seems to have superseded the probably better-known name of Motacilla Yarrellii.
For some reason or other the Pied Wagtail has grown much more scarce in Guernsey than it used to be; at one time it was common even about the town, running about by the gutters in the street, and several were generally to be seen on the lawn at Candie. But this last summer—that of 1878—I did not see one about Candie, or indeed anywhere else, except one pair which were breeding near the Vale Church; and when there in November, 1875, I only saw one, and that was near Vazon Bay. Mr. MacCulloch has also noticed this growing scarcity of the Pied Wagtail, as he writes to me—"Of late years, for some reason or other, Wagtails of all sorts have become rare." In the summer of 1866, however, I found the Pied Wagtail tolerably common.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark.
52. WHITE WAGTAIL. Motacilla alba, Linnaeus. French, "Lavendiere," "Hoche-queue grise," "Bergeronette grise."—The White Wagtail is still scarcer than the Pied, but I saw one pair evidently breeding between L'ancresse Road and Grand Havre. The White Wagtail so much resembles the Pied Wagtail, that it may have been easily overlooked, and may be more common than is generally known.
The fully adult birds may easily be distinguished, especially when in full breeding plumage, as the back of the Pied Wagtail is black, while that of the White Wagtail is grey. After the autumnal moult, however, the distinction is not quite so easy, as the feathers of the Pied Wagtail are then margined with grey, which rather conceals the colour beneath; but if the feathers are lifted up they will be found to be black under the grey margins. The young birds of the year, in their first feathers, cannot be distinguished, and the same may be said of the eggs.
The White Wagtail is included in Professor Ansted's list, but marked as only occurring in Guernsey. There is no specimen either of the Pied or White Wagtail in the Museum.
53. GREY WAGTAIL. Motacilla melanope, Pallas. French, "Bergeronette jaune."—The Grey Wagtail is by no means common in the Islands, though it may occasionally remain to breed, as I have seen it both in Guernsey and Sark between the 21st of June and the end of July in 1866, but I have not seen it in any of the Islands during the autumn. It is, however, no doubt an occasional, though never very numerous, winter visitant, probably more common, however, at this time of year than in the summer, as I have one in winter plumage shot in Guernsey in December, and another in January, 1879, and there is also one in the Museum in winter plumage.
Professor Ansted includes it in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark.
54. YELLOW WAGTAIL. Motacilla raii, Bonaparte. French, "Bergeronnette flaveole."—As far as I have been able to judge the Yellow Wagtail is only an occasional visitant on migration. A few, however, may sometimes remain to breed. I have one Channel Island specimen killed in Guernsey the last week in March. Mr. MacCulloch, however, writes me word that in some years they—i.e., Yellow Wagtails—are not very uncommon, but of late, for some reason or other, Wagtails of all sorts have become rare. He adds—"I am under the impression that we have more than one Yellow Wagtail." It is, therefore, possible that the Greyheaded Wagtail, the true Motacilla flava of Linnaeus, may occasionally occur, or in consequence of the bright yellow of portions of its plumage the last-mentioned species—the Grey Wagtail—may have been mistaken for a second species of Yellow Wagtail. I have not myself seen the Yellow Wagtail in either of the Islands during my summer visits in 1866, 1876, or 1878; so it certainly cannot be very common during the breeding-season, or I could scarcely have missed seeing it.
Professor Ansted has not included it in his list, and there is no specimen at present in the Museum.
55. TREE PIPIT. Anthus trivialis, Linnaeus. French, "Pipit des arbres," "Pipit des buissons."—A very numerous summer visitant to all the Islands, breeding in great numbers in the parts suited to it. In the Vale it was very common, many of the furze-bushes on L'Ancresse Common containing nests. The old male might constantly be seen flying up from the highest twigs of the furze-bush, singing its short song as it hovered over the bush, and returning again to the top branch of that or some neighbouring bush. This continued till about the middle of July, when the young were mostly hatched, and many of them flown and following their parents about clamorous for food, which was plentiful in the Vale in the shape of numerous small beetles, caterpillars, and very small snails. The young were mostly hatched by the beginning of July, but I found one nest with young still in it in a furze-bush about ten yards from high water-mark as late as the 27th of July, but the young were all flown when I visited the nest two days afterwards. The Tree Pipits have all departed by the middle of October, and I have never seen any there in November.
The Tree Pipit is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, but no letters marking the distribution of the species amongst the Islands are given. There is no specimen of this or either of the other Pipits in the Museum.
56. MEADOW PIPIT. Anthus pratensis, Linnaeus. French, "Le cujelier," "Pipit des pres," "Pipit Farlouse."—The Meadow Pipit is resident and breeds in all the Islands, but is by no means so numerous as the Tree Pipit is during the summer. I think, however, its numbers are slightly increased in the autumn, about the time of the departure of the Tree Pipits, by migrants.
It is included by Professor Ansted in his list, but marked as occurring only in Guernsey.
57. ROCK PIPIT. Anthus obscurus, Latham. French, "Pipit obsur," "Pipit spioncelle."—Resident and numerous, breeding amongst the rocks and round the coast of all the Islands. It is also common in all the small outlying Islands, such as Burhou, and all the little rocky Islands that stretch out to the northward of Herm, and are especially the home of the Puffin and the Lesser Black-backed Gull. On all of these the Rock Pipit may be found breeding, but its nest is generally so well concealed amongst the thrift samphire, wild stock, and other seaside plants which grow rather rankly amongst those rocks, considering how little soil there generally is for them and what wild storms they are subject to, that it is by no means easy to find it, though one may almost see the bird leave the nest.
The Bock Pipit is included in Professor Ansted's list, but marked as only occurring in Guernsey. All the Rock Pipits I have seen in the Channel Islands have been the common form, Anthus obscurus; I have never seen one of the rufous-breasted examples which occur in Scandinavia and the Baltic, and have by some been separated as a distinct species under the name of Anthus rupestris.
58. SKY LARK. Alauda arvensis, Linnaeus. French, "Alouette des champs."—Mr. Metivier, in his 'Dictionary,' gives Houedre as the local Guernsey-French name of the Sky Lark. As may be supposed by its having a local name, it is a common and well-known bird, and is resident in all the Islands. I have not been able to find that its numbers are much increased by migrants at any time of year, though probably in severe weather in the winter the Sky Larks flock a good deal, as they do in England. The Sky Lark breeds in all the Islands, and occasionally places its nest in such exposed situations that it is wonderful how the young escape. One nest we found by a roadside near Ronceval; it was within arm's length of the road, and seemed exposed to every possible danger. When we found it, on the 15th of June, there were five eggs in it, fresh, or, at all events, only just sat on, as I took one and blew it for one of my daughters. On the 19th we again visited the nest; there were then four young ones in it, but they were so wonderfully like the dry grass which surrounded the nest in colour that it was more difficult to find it then than when the eggs were in it, and except for the young birds moving as they breathed I think we should not have found it a second time. A few days after—July the 3rd—there was very heavy rain all night. Next day we thought the Sky Larks must be drowned (had they been Partridges under the care of a keeper they would have been), but as it was only one was washed out of the nest and drowned; the rest were all well and left the nest a few days after. So in spite of the exposed situation close to a frequented road, on a bit of common ground where goats and cows were tethered, nets and seaweed, or "vraic," as it is called in Guernsey, spread for drying, dogs, cats, and children continually wandering about, and without any shelter from rain, the old birds brought off three young from their five eggs.
The Sky Lark is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list as occurring only in Guernsey and Sark. It is, however, quite as common in Alderney and Herm. There is no specimen in the Museum.
59. SNOW BUNTING. Plectrophanes nivalis, Linnaeus. French, "Ortolan de neige," "Bruant de neige."—The Snow Bunting is probably a regular, though never very numerous, autumnal visitant, remaining on into the winter. It seems to be more numerous in some years than others. Mr. Mac Culloch tells me a good many Snow Buntings were seen in November, 1850.
Mr. Couch records one in the 'Zoologist' for 1874 as having been killed at Cobo on the 28th of September of that year. This seems rather an early date. When I was in Guernsey in November, 1875, I saw a few flocks of Snow Buntings, and one—a young bird of the year—which had been killed by a boy with a catapult, was brought into Couch's shop about the same time, and I have one killed at St. Martin's, Guernsey, in November, 1878; and Captain Hubbach writes me word that he shot three out of a flock of five in Alderney in January, 1863.
Professor Ansted mentions the Snow Bunting in his list as occurring in Guernsey and Sark, and there is a specimen at present in the Museum.
60. BUNTING. Emberiza miliaria, Linnaeus. French, "Le proyer," "Bruant proyer."—The Bunting is resident in Guernsey and breeds there, but in very small numbers, and it is very local in its distribution. I have seen a few in the Vale. I saw two or three about the grounds of the Vallon in July, 1878, which were probably the parents and their brood which had been hatched somewhere in the grounds.
It is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list as occurring only in Guernsey. There is one specimen in the Museum.
61. YELLOW HAMMER. Emberiza citrinella, Linnaeus. French, "Bruant jaune."—The Yellow Hammer, though resident and breeding in all the Islands, is by no means as common as in many parts of England. In Alderney perhaps it is rather more common than in Guernsey, as I saw some near the Artillery Barracks this summer, 1878, and Captain Hubbach told me he had seen two or three pairs about there all the year. In Guernsey, on the other hand, I did not see one this summer, 1878. I have, however, shot a young bird there which certainly could not have been long out of the nest. I have never seen the Cirl Bunting in any of the Islands, nor has it, as far as I know, been recorded from them, which seems rather surprising, as it is common on the South Coast of Devon, and migratory, but not numerous, on the North Coast of France; so it is very probable that it may yet occur.
The Yellow Hammer is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are also a pair in the Museum.
62. CHAFFINCH. Fringilla caelebs, Linnaeus. French, "Pinson ordinaire," "Grosbec pinson."—- The Chaffinch is resident, tolerably common, and generally distributed throughout the Islands, but is nowhere so common as in England. In Guernsey this year, 1878, it seemed to me rather to have decreased in numbers, as I saw very few,—certainly not so many as in former years,—though I could not find that there was any reason for the decrease.
It is, of course, mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, but by him only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is only one—a female—at present in the Museum.
63. BRAMBLING. Fringilla montifringilla, Linnaeus. French, "Pinson d'Ardennes." "Grosbec d'Ardennes."—The Brambling can only be considered an occasional autumn and winter visitant, and probably never very numerous. I have never seen the bird in the Channel Islands myself. I have, however, one specimen—a female—killed in Brock Road, Guernsey, in December, 1878, and I have been informed by Mr. MacCulloch that he had a note of the occurrence of the Brambling or Mountain Finch in January, 1855. It cannot, however, be looked upon as anything more than a very rare occasional straggler, by no means occurring every year.
It is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen at present in the Museum.
64. TREE SPARROW. Passer montanus, Linnaeus. French, "Friquet."—The Tree Sparrow breeds, and is probably resident in the Islands. Up to this year, 1878, I have only seen it once myself, and that was on the 7th of June, 1876, just outside the grounds of the Vallon in Guernsey. From the date and from the behaviour of the bird I have no doubt it had a nest just inside the grounds. I could not then, however, make any great search for the nest without trespassing, though I got sufficiently near the bird to be certain of its identity. This year, 1878, I could not see one anywhere about the Vallon, either inside or outside the grounds. I saw, however, one or two about the Vale, but they were very scarce. I have not myself seen the Tree Sparrow in any of the other Islands.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Sark only. I have not seen a specimen at Mr. Couch's, or any of the other bird-stuffers, but there is one in the Museum and some eggs, all of which are probably Guernsey.
65. HOUSE SPARROW. Passer domesticus, Linnaeus. French, "Moineau domestique," "Grosbec moineau."—The House Sparrow is very numerous throughout the Islands, abounding where there are any buildings inhabited by either man, horses, or cattle. In the gardens near the town of St. Peter's Port, in Guernsey, it is very common, and does a considerable amount of mischief. It is, however, by no means confined to the parts near the town, as many were nesting in some ilex trees near the house we had on L'Ancresse Common, although the house had been empty since the previous summer, and the garden uncultivated; so food till we came must have been rather scarce about there. As the wheat is coming into ear the Sparrows, as in England, leave the neighbourhood of the town and other buildings and spread themselves generally over the country, for the purpose of devouring the young wheat while just coming into ear and still soft. In Alderney, owing probably in a great measure to the absence of cottages, farm-buildings, and stables at a distance from the town, and also perhaps owing to the absence of hedges, it is not so numerous in the open part, and consequently not so mischievous, being mostly confined to the town, and to the buildings about the harbour-works. The young wheat, however, is still a temptation, and is accordingly punished by the Sparrows.
The House Sparrow is mentioned by Professor Ansted in his list, but no letters are given marking the general distribution over the Islands, probably because it is so generally spread over them. The local Guernsey-French name is "Grosbec," for which see Metivier's 'Dictionary.'
66. HAWFINCH. Coccothraustes vulgaris, Pallas. French, "Grosbec."—The Hawfinch or Grosbeak, as it is occasionally called, is by no means common in Guernsey, and I have never seen it there myself, but I have a skin of one killed in the Catel Parish in December, 1878; and Mr. MacCulloch informs me it occasionally visits that Island in autumn, but in consequence of its shy and retiring habits it has probably been occasionally overlooked, and escaped the notice of the numerous gunners to whom it would otherwise have more frequently fallen a victim. The bird-stuffer and carpenter in Alderney had one spread out on a board and hung up behind his door, which had been shot by his friend who shot the Greenland Falcon, in the winter of 1876 and 1877, somewhere about Christmas. I know no instance of its remaining to breed in the Islands, though it may occasionally do so in Guernsey, as there are many places suited to it, and in which it might well make its nest without being observed. As it seems increasing in numbers throughout England, it is by no means improbable that it will visit the Channel Islands more frequently. The Hawfinch is included in Professor Ansted's list, and by him marked as occurring only in Guernsey. There are two specimens in the Museum.
67. GREENFINCH. Coccothraustes chloris, Linnaeus. French, "Grosbec verdier," "Verdier ordinaire."—The Greenfinch is a common resident, and breeds in all the Islands, but is certainly not quite so common as in England. It is more numerous perhaps in Guernsey and Sark than in Alderney; it is also pretty common in Jethou and Herm.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.
68. GOLDFINCH. Carduelis elegans, Stephens. French, "Chardonneret," "Grosbec chardonneret."—The Goldfinch is resident in and breeds in all the Islands. In Guernsey I was told a few years ago that it had been much more numerous than it then was, the bird-catchers having had a good deal to answer for in having shortened its numbers. It is now, however, again increasing its numbers, as I saw many more this year (1878) than I had seen before at any time of year. There were several about the Grand Mare, and probably had nests there, and I saw an old pair, with their brood out, at St. George on the 5th of June, and soon after another brood about Mr. De Putron's pond, where they were feeding on the seeds of some thistles which were growing on the rough ground about the pond. I have also seen a few in Alderney; and Captain Hubbach writes me word that the Goldfinch was quite plentiful here (Alderney) in the winter of 1862 and 1863. But he adds—"I have not seen one here this year." So probably its numbers are occasionally increased by migratory flocks in the winter.
Professor Ansted includes the Goldfinch in his list, but marks it as occurring only in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.
69. SISKIN. Carduelis spinus, Linnaeus. French, "Tarin," "Grosbec tarin."—The Siskin can only be looked upon as an occasional, accidental visitant—indeed, I only know of one instance of its occurrence, and that is recorded by Mr. Couch at p. 4296 of the 'Zoologist' for 1875 in the following words:—"I have the first recognised specimen of the Siskin; a boy knocked it down with a stone in an orchard at the Vrangue in September." This communication is dated November, 1874. I have never seen the Siskin in any of the Channel Islands myself, and Mr. MacCulloch writes me word—"I have never heard of a Siskin here, but, being migratory, it may occur." I see, however, no reason to doubt Mr. Couch's statement in the 'Zoologist,' as the bird was brought into his shop. He must have had plenty of opportunity of identifying it, though he does not tell us whether he preserved it. There can, however, be no possible reason why the Siskin should not occasionally visit Guernsey on migration, as it extends its southern journey through Spain to the Mediterranean and across to the North-western Coast of Africa; and the Channel Islands would seem to lie directly in its way.
The Siskin, however, is not mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen at present in the Museum.
70. LINNET. Linota cannabina, Linnaeus. French, "Linotte," "Grosbec linotte."—The Linnet is resident and the most numerous bird in the Islands by far, outnumbering even the House Sparrow, and it is equally common and breeds in all the Islands. The Channel Islands Linnets always appear to me extremely bright-coloured, the scarlet on the head and breast during the breeding-season being brighter than in any British birds I have ever seen. Though the Linnet is itself so numerous, it is, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the only representative of its family to be found in the Channel Islands; at least I have never seen and had no information of the occurrence of either the Lesser Redpole, the Mealy Redpole, or the Twite, though I can see no reason why each of these birds should not occasionally occur.
The Linnet is included in Professor Ansted's list, but marked by him as only occurring in Guernsey and Sark; and there is a specimen in the Museum.
71. BULLFINCH. Pyrrhula europaea, Vieillot. French, "Bovreuil commun."—Miss C.B. Carey, in the 'Zoologist' for 1874, mentions a Bullfinch having been brought into Couch's shop in November of that year, and adds—"This bird is much more common in Jersey than it is here." Miss Carey is certainly right as to its not being common in Guernsey, as I have never seen the bird on any of my expeditions to that Island, nor have I seen it in either of the other Islands which come within my district.
Professor Ansted includes the Bullfinch in his list, but oddly enough only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark, although Mr. Gallienne, in his remarks published with the list, says—"The Bullfinch occasionally breeds in Jersey, but is rarely seen in Guernsey," so far agreeing with Miss Carey's note in the 'Zoologist,' but he does not add anything about Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.
72. COMMON CROSSBILL. Loxia curvirostra, Linnaeus. French, "Bec-croise," "Bec-croise commun."—The Crossbill is an occasional visitant to all the Islands, and sometimes in considerable numbers, but, as in England, it is perfectly irregular as to the time of year it chooses for its visits. Mr. MacCulloch writes me word—"The Crossbill is most uncertain in its visits. Many years will sometimes pass without a single one being heard of. When they do come it is generally in large flocks. I have known them arrive in early autumn, and do great havoc amongst the apples, which they cut up to get at the pips. Sometimes they make their appearance in the winter, seemingly driven from the Continent by the cold."
My first acquaintance with the Crossbill was in Sark on the 25th of June, 1866, when I saw a very fine red-plumaged bird in a small fir-plantation in the grounds of the Lord of Sark. It was very tame, and allowed me to approach it very closely. I did not see any others at that time amongst the fir-trees, though no doubt a few others were there. On my return to Guernsey on the following day I was requested by a bird-catcher to name some birds that were doing considerable damage in the gardens about the town. Thinking from having seen the one in Sark, and from his description, that the birds might be Crossbills, I asked him to get me one or two, which he said he could easily do, as the people were destroying them on account of the damage they did. In a day or two he brought me one live and two dead Crossbills, and told me that as many as forty had been shot in one person's garden. The two dead ones he brought me were one in red and the other in green plumage, and the live one was in green plumage. This one I brought home and kept in my aviary till March, 1868, when it was killed by a Hawk striking it through the wires. It was, however, still in the same green plumage when it was killed as it was when I brought it home, though it had moulted twice.
The Crossbill did not appear at that time to be very well known in Guernsey, as neither the bird-catcher nor the people in whose gardens the birds were had ever seen them before or knew what they were. This year (1866), however, appears to have been rather an exceptional year with regard to Crossbills, as I find some recorded in the 'Zoologist' from Norfolk, the Isle of Wight, Sussex, and Henley-on-Thames, about the same time; therefore there must have been a rather widely-spread flight. From that time I did not hear any more of Crossbills in the Islands till December, 1876, when Mr. Couch sent me a skin of one in reddish plumage, writing at the same time to say—"The Crossbill I sent from its being so late in the season when it was shot—the 11th of December; there were four of them in a tree by Haviland Hall. I happened to go into the person's house who shot it, and his children had it playing with."
I do not know that there is any evidence of the Crossbill ever having bred in the Islands, though it seems to have made its appearance there at almost all times of year. Mr. MacCulloch mentions its feeding on the apple-pips, and doing damage in the orchards accordingly, and I know it is generally supposed to do so, and has in some places got the name of "Shell Apple" in consequence, but though I have several times kept Crossbills tame, and frequently tried to indulge them with apples and pips, I have never found them care much about them; and a note of Professor Newton's, in his edition of 'Yarrell,' seems to agree with this. He says:—"Of late it has not been often observed feeding on apples, very possibly owing to the greatly-increased growth of firs, and especially larches, throughout the country. In Germany it does not seem ever to have been known as attacking fruit-trees."
The Crossbill is included in Professor Ansted's list, and only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.
73. COMMON STARLING. Sturnus vulgaris, Linnaeus. French, "Etourneau vulgaire."—The Starling is sometimes very numerous in the autumn, but those remaining throughout the year and breeding in the Island are certainly very few in number, as I have never seen the Starling in any of my summer visits; and Mr. MacCulloch tells me "the Starling may possibly still breed here, but it certainly is not common in summer. A century ago it used to nest in the garrets in the heart of the town." As to its not being common in summer, that quite agrees with my own experience, but a few certainly do breed in the Island still, or did so within a very few years, as Miss C.B. Carey had eggs in her collection taken in the Island in 1873 or 1874, and I have seen eggs in other Guernsey collections, besides those in the Museum. When I was in Guernsey in November, 1871, Starlings were certainly unusually plentiful, even for the autumn, very large flocks making their appearance in all parts of the Island, and in the evening very large flocks might be seen flying and wheeling about in all directions before going to roost. Many of these flocks I saw fly off in the direction of Jersey and the French coast, and they certainly continued their flight in that direction as long as I could follow them with my glass, but whether they were only going to seek a roosting-place and to return in the morning, or whether they continued their migration and their place was supplied by other flocks during the night, I could not tell, but certainly there never seemed to be any diminution in their numbers during the whole time I was there from the 1st to the 16th of November. I think it not at all improbable that many of these flocks only roosted out of the Island and returned, as even here in Somerset they collect in large flocks before going to roost, and fly long distances, sometimes quite over the Quantock Hills, to some favourite roosting-place they have selected, and return in the morning, and the distance would in many places be nearly as great. These flocks of Starlings seem to have continued in the Island quite into the winter, as Miss Carey notes, in the 'Zoologist' for 1872, seeing a flock in the field before the house at Candie close to the town as late as the 6th of December, 1871. At the same time that there were so many in Guernsey, Starlings were reported as unusually numerous in Alderney, but how long the migratory flocks remained there I have not been able to ascertain.
The Starling is included in Professor Ansted's list, but marked as only occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens in the Museum and some eggs.
74. CHOUGH. Pyrrhocorax graculus, Linnaeus. French, "Crave."—The Chough is a common resident in Guernsey, breeding amongst the high rocks on the south and east part of the Island, and in the autumn and winter spreading over the cultivated parts of the Island, sometimes in considerable flocks, like Rooks.
As Jackdaws are by no means numerous in Guernsey, and as far as I have been able to make out never breed there, the Choughs have it all their own way, and quite keep up their numbers, even if they do not increase them, which I think very doubtful, though I can see no reason why they should not, as their eggs are always laid in holes in the cliffs, and very difficult to get at, and at other times of year the birds are very wary, and take good care of themselves, it being by no means easy to get a shot at them, unless by stalking them up behind a hedge or rock; and as they are not good eating, and will not sell in the market like Fieldfares and Redwings, no Guernsey man thinks of expending powder and shot on them; so though not included in the Guernsey Bird Act, the Choughs on the whole have an easy time of it in Guernsey, and ought to increase in numbers more than they apparently do. In Sark the Choughs have by no means so easy a time, as the Jackdaws outnumber them about the cliffs, and will probably eventually drive them out of the Island—indeed, I am afraid they have done this in Alderney, as I did not see any when there in the summer of 1876, nor in this last summer (1878); and Captain Hubbach writes me word he has seen none in Alderney himself this year (1878). I, however, saw some there in previous visits, but now for some reason, probably the increase of Jackdaws, the Choughs appear to me nearly, if not quite, to have deserted that Island. In Herm and Jethou there are also a few Choughs, but Jackdaws are the more numerous in both Islands. No Choughs appear to inhabit the small rocky islets to the northward of Herm, though some of them appear to be large enough to afford a breeding-place for either Choughs or Jackdaws, but neither of these birds seem to have taken possession of them; probably want of food is the occasion of this. Mr. Metivier, in his 'Rimes Guernseaise,' gives "Cahouette" as the local Guernsey-French name of the Chough, though I suspect the name is equally applicable to the Jackdaw.
The Chough is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, but marked as only occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens in the Museum.
75. JACKDAW. Corvus monedula, Linnaeus. French, "Choucas," "Choucas gris."—I am quite aware that many Guernsey people will tell you that there are no Jackdaws in Guernsey, but that their place is entirely taken by Choughs. Mr. MacCulloch seems to be nearly of this opinion, as he writes me—"I suppose you are right in saying there are a few Jackdaws in Guernsey, but I do not remember ever to have seen one here;" and he adds—"I believe they are common in Alderney," which is certainly the case; as I said above, they have almost, if not quite, supplanted the Choughs there. There are, however, certainly a few Jackdaws in Guernsey, as I have seen them there on several occasions, but I cannot say that any breed there, and I think they are only occasional wanderers from the other Islands, Sark, Jethou, and Herm, where they do breed. Mr. Gallienne's note to Professor Ansted's list seems to agree very much with this, as he says—"The Jackdaw, which is a regular visitor to Alderney, is rarely seen in Guernsey." It is now, however, resident in Alderney, as well as in Sark, Jethou, and Herm.
It is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark, nothing being said about Alderney and the other Islands in spite of Mr. Gallienne's note. There is no specimen at present in the Museum.
76. RAVEN. Corvus corax, Linnaeus. French, "Corbeau," "Corbeau noir."—The Raven can now only be looked upon as an occasional straggler. I do not think it breeds at present in any of the Islands, as I have not seen it anywhere about in the breeding-season since 1866, when I saw a pair near the cliffs on the south-end of the Island in June; but as the Raven is a very early breeder, these may have only been wanderers. It is probably getting scarcer in Guernsey, as I have not seen any there since; and the last note I have of Ravens being seen in the Island is in a letter from Mr. Couch, who wrote me word that two Ravens had been seen and shot at several times, but not obtained, in November, 1873. I have not seen a Raven in any of the other Islands, and do not know of one having occurred there.
Professor Ansted includes it in his list, and marks it as only occurring in Guernsey. There is no specimen at present in the Museum.
77. CROW. Corvus corone, Linnaeus. French, "Corneille noire."—The Crow is pretty common, and breeds in most of the Islands, and probably at times commits considerable depredations amongst the eggs and young of the Gulls and Shags—at all events it is by no means a welcome visitor to the breeding stations of the Gulls, as in this summer (1878) I saw four Crows about a small gullery near Petit Bo Bay, one of which flew over the side of the cliff to have a look at the Gulls' eggs, probably with ulterior intentions in regard to the eggs; but one of the Gulls saw him, and immediately flew at him and knocked him over: what the end of the fight was I could not tell, but probably the Crow got the worst of it, as several other Gulls went off to join their companion as soon as they heard the row; and the Crows trespassed no more on the domain of the Gulls—at least whilst I was there, which was some time.
Professor Ansted includes the Crow in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.
78. HOODED CROW. Corvus cornix, Linnaeus. French, "Corbeau mantele," "Corneille mantelee."—The Hooded Crow can only be considered an occasional autumnal and winter visitant. I have never seen it myself in the Islands, though many of my visits to Guernsey have been in the autumn. Mr. Couch, however, reports a small flock of Hooded Crows being in Guernsey in November, 1873, one of which was obtained. Mr. MacCulloch writes me word that the Hooded Crow is a very rare visitant, and only, as far as he knows, in very cold weather; and he adds—"It is strange that we should see it so rarely, as it is very common about St. Maloes." Colonel l'Estrange, however, informed me that one remained in Sark all last summer—that of 1877—and paired with a common Crow, but we could see nothing of the couple this year. I believe it is not at all uncommon for these birds to pair in Scotland and other places where both species are numerous in the breeding-season, but this is the only instance I have heard of in the Channel Islands—in fact, it is the only time I have heard of the Hooded Crow remaining on till the summer.
The Hooded Crow is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark; and there are two specimens in the Museum.
79. ROOK. Corvus frugilegus, Linnaeus. French, "Freux", "Corbeau Freux."—I have never seen the Rook in the Islands myself, even as a stranger, but Mr. Gallienne in his notes to Professor Ansted's list, says, speaking of Guernsey, "The Rook has tried two or three times to colonise, but in vain, having been destroyed or frightened away." Mr. MacCulloch also writes me word much to the same effect, as he says "I have known Rooks occasionally attempt to build here (Guernsey), but they are invariably disturbed by boys and guns, and driven off. They sometimes arrive here in large flocks in severe winters."
The Rook is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list as occurring in Guernsey only, and there are two specimens in the Museum, both probably Guernsey killed.
80. MAGPIE. Pica rustica, Scopoli. French, "Pie", "Pie ordinaire."—The Magpie is resident and tolerably common in Guernsey, breeding in several parts of the Island; it is also resident, but I think not quite so common, in Sark. I do not remember having seen it in Alderney, and the almost entire absence of trees would probably prevent it being anything more than an occasional visitant to that Island.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, but marked as only occurring in Guernsey; and there are two specimens in the Museum.
81. LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER. Picus minor, Linnaeus. French, "Pie epeichette."—As may be expected, the Woodpeckers are not strongly represented in the Islands, and the present species, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, is the only one as to the occurrence of which I can get any satisfactory evidence.
Professor Ansted, however, includes the Greater Spotted Woodpecker in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey only; and there is one specimen of the Green Woodpecker, Gecinus viridis, in the Museum, but there is no note whatever as to its locality; so under these circumstances I have not thought it right to include either species. But as to the occurrence of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, though I have not seen it myself, nor have I a Channel Island specimen, I have some more evidence; for in reply to some questions of mine on the subject, Mr. Couch wrote to me in April, 1877, "Respecting the Woodpecker, you may fully rely on the Lesser Spotted as having been shot here, four examples having passed through my hands; and writing from memory I will, as near as possible, tell you when and where they were shot. I took a shop here in 1866. In the month of August, 1867, there was one brought to me alive, shot in the water lanes, just under Smith's Nursery by a young gent at the College; he wounded it in the wing. I wanted too much to stuff it (2s. 6d.); he took the poor bird out, fixed it somewhere; he and his companions fired at it so often they blew it to atoms. The same year, early in September, one was shot at St. Martin's; I stuffed that for a lady: there were four in the same tree; the day following they were not to be found. The second week in October, the same year I had one, and stuffed it for the person who shot it out at St. Saviour's; there were two besides in the same tree, but I had neither one myself. In 1868, I stuffed one that was shot at St. Peter's, in December; it was taken home the Christmas Eve. These were all I have had, but I have heard of their being seen about since, twice or three times." In addition to this letter, which I have no reason to doubt, Mr. MacCulloch wrote me word—"We have in the Museum a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, shot near Havilland Hall, in November, 1855; I saw it before it was stuffed." This bird was not in the Museum this year, (1878), as I looked everywhere for it, so I suppose it was moth-eaten and thrown away, like many others of the best specimens in the Museum, after the years of neglect they have been subject to. From these letters, there can be no doubt whatever that the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker has been occasionally procured in Guernsey, and that it may be considered either an occasional autumnal visitant, remaining on into winter, or, what is more probable, a thinly-scattered resident.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as only occurring in Guernsey. As above stated, the specimen formerly in the Museum no longer exists.
82. WRYNECK. Yunx torquilla, Linnaeus. French, "Torcol ordinaire."—The Wryneck, or, as it is called in Guernsey-French, "Parle" is generally a numerous summer visitant to the Islands, arriving in considerable numbers, about the same time as the mackerel, wherefore it has also obtained the local name of "Mackerel Bird." It is generally distributed through the Islands, remaining through the summer to breed, and departing again in early autumn, August, or September. Its numbers, however, vary considerably in different years, as in some summers I have seen Wrynecks in almost every garden, hedgerow, or thick bush in the Island; always when perched, sitting across the branches or twigs, on which they were perched, and never longways or climbing, as would be the case with a Woodpecker or Creeper; and the noise made by the birds during the breeding-season, was, in some years, incessant; this was particularly the case in the early part of the summer of 1866, when the birds were very numerous, and the noise made was so great that on one occasion I was told that the Mackerel Birds seriously interrupted a scientific game of Croquet, which was going on at Fort George, by the noise they made; I can quite believe it, as, though I was not playing in the game, I heard the birds very noisy in other parts of the Island. This last summer, however (1878), I saw very few Wrynecks—only four or five during the whole of the two months I was in the Islands, and hardly heard them at all.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens in the Museum.
83. HOOPOE. Upupa Epops, Linnaeus. French, "La Huppe," "Huppe ordinaire."—The Hoopoe, as may be supposed from its geographical range and from its frequent occurrence in various parts of England, is an occasional visitant to the Channel Islands during the seasons of migration, occurring both in spring and autumn with sufficient frequency to have gained the name of "Tuppe" in Guernsey-French. Though occurring in spring and autumn, I am not aware that it ever remains to breed, though perhaps it might do so if not shot on every possible occasion. This shooting of every straggler to the Channel Islands is a great pity, especially with the spring arrivals, as some of them might well be expected to remain to breed occasionally if left undisturbed; and the proof of the Hoopoe breeding in the Channel Islands would be much more interesting than the mere possession of a specimen of so common and well-known a bird: if a local specimen should be wanted, it could be obtained equally well in autumn, when there would be no question as to the breeding. The autumn arrivals seem also to be most numerous, at least judging from the specimens recorded during the last four or five years, as Mr. Couch records one, a female, shot near Ronseval, in Guernsey, on the 26th of September; and another also in Guernsey, shot on the 23rd of September; I have one, obtained in Alderney in August, though I have not the exact date; and another picked up in a lane in St. Martin's parish, in Guernsey, on the 24th of August. During the same time I only know of one spring occurrence; that was on April the 10th of this year (1878), when two were seen, and one shot in Herm, as recorded in the 'Star' newspaper, for April the 13th; this one I saw soon afterwards at Mr. Jago's, the bird-stuffer. These birds were probably paired, and would therefore very likely have bred in Herm, had one of them not been shot, and the other accordingly driven to look for a mate elsewhere. It would pay, as well as be interesting, as I remarked in a note to the 'Star' in reference to this occurrence of the pair of Hoopoe's, to encourage these birds to breed in the Islands whenever they shewed a disposition to do so, as, though rather a foul-feeder and of unsavoury habits in its nest, and having no respect for sanitary arrangements, the Hoopoe is nevertheless one of the most useful birds in the garden.
The Hoopoe is included in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are now only two specimens in the Museum, and these have no note of date or locality, but a few years ago there were several more, and one or two I remember were marked as having been killed in the spring; the rest were probably autumnal specimens.
84. CUCKOO. Cuculus canorus, Linnaeus. French, "Coucou gris."—The Cuckoo is one of the commonest and most numerous summer visitants to the Islands, and is generally spread over all of them; it arrives about the same time that it does in England, that is to say, about the middle of April. I know earlier instances—even as early as February—have been recorded, but these must have been recorded in consequence of some mistake, probably some particularly successful imitation of the note. Mr. MacCulloch seems to think that the time of their arrival is very regular, as he writes to me to say, "The Cuckoo generally arrives here about the 15th of April; sometimes as early as the 13th, as was the case this year (1878); the first are generally reported from the cliffs at St. Martin's, near Moulin Huet, the first land they would make on their arrival from Brittany." Very soon after their arrival, however, they spread over the whole Island of Guernsey, as well as all the other neighbouring islands, in all of which they are equally plentiful; they seem to cross from one to the other without much considering four or five miles of sea, or being the least particular as to taking the shortest passage across from island to island. As usual, there were a great number of Cuckoos in the Vale whilst I was there this summer (1878); but I was unfortunate in not finding eggs, and in not seeing any of the foster-parents feeding their over-grown proteges: this was rather surprising, as there were so many Cuckoos about, and many must have been hatched and out of the nest long before we left at the end of July. I should think, however, Tree and Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Stonechats, from their numbers and the numbers of their nests, must be the foster-parents most usually selected; other favourites, such as Wagtails, Hedgesparrows, and Robins, being comparatively scarce in that part of the Island, and Wheaters, which were numerous, had their nests too far under large stones to give the Cuckoo an opportunity of depositing her eggs there. I should have been very glad if I could have made a good collection of Cuckoos' eggs in the Channel Islands, and, knowing how common the bird was, I fully expected to do so, but I was disappointed, and consequently unable to throw any light on the subject of the variation in the colour of Cuckoos' eggs, as far as the Channel Islands are concerned, or how far the foster-parents had been selected with a view to their eggs being similar in colour to those of the Cuckoo about to be palmed off upon them. The only Cuckoos' eggs I saw were a few in the Museum, and in one or two other small collections: all these were very much the same, and what appears to me the usual type of Cuckoo's egg, a dull greyish ground much spotted with brown, and a few small black marks much like many eggs of the Tree or Meadow Pipit. It is hardly the place here to discuss the question how far Cuckoos select the nest of the birds whose eggs are similar to their own, to deposit their eggs in, or whether a Cuckoo hatched and reared by one foster-parent would be likely to select the nest of the same species to deposit its own eggs in; the whole matter has been very fully discussed in several publications, both English and German; and Mr. Dresser has given a very full resume of the various arguments in his 'Birds of Europe'; and whilst fully admitting the great variation in the colour of the Cuckoos' eggs, he does not seem to think that any particular care is taken by the parent Cuckoo to select foster-parents whose eggs are similar in colour to its own; and the instances cited seem to bear out this opinion, with which, as far as my small experience goes, I quite agree.
Whilst on the subject of Cuckoos I may mention, for the information of such of my Guernsey readers who are not ornithologists, and therefore not well acquainted with the fact, the peculiar state of plumage in which the female Cuckoo occasionally returns northward in her second summer; I mean the dull reddish plumage barred with brown, extremely like that of the female Kestrel: in this plumage she occasionally returns in her second year and breeds; but when this is changed for the more general plumage I am unable to state for certain, but probably after the second autumnal moult. The changes of plumage in the Cuckoo, however, appear to be rather irregular, as I have one killed in June nearly in the normal plumage, but with many of the old feathers left, which have a very Kestrel-like appearance, being redder than the ordinary plumage of the young bird; some of the tail-feathers, however, have more the appearance of the ordinary tail-feathers of the young Cuckoo soon after the tail has reached its full growth: the moult in this bird must have been very irregular, as it was not completed in June, when, as a rule, it would have been in full plumage, unless, as may possibly be the case, this bird was the produce of a second laying during the southern migration, and consequently, instead of a year, be only about six months old. This, however, is not a very common state of plumage; but it is by no means uncommon to find a Cuckoo in May or June with a good deal of rusty reddish barred with brown, forming a sort of collar on the breast. I merely mention these rather abnormal changes of plumage, as they may be interesting to any of my Guernsey readers into whose hands a Cuckoo may fall in a state of change and prove a puzzle as to its identity. The Cuckoo departs from the Channel Islands much about the same time that it does from England on its southern migration in August or September. Occasionally, however, this southern migration during the winter seems to be doubted, as a clerical friend of mine once told me that a brother clergyman, a well educated and even a learned man, told him, when talking about Cuckoos and what became of them in winter, that "it was a mistake to suppose they migrated, but that they all turned into Sparrow-hawks in the winter." As my friend said, could any one believe this of a well-educated man in the nineteenth century?
The Cuckoo is mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are three specimens, one adult and two young, in the Museum, as well as some very ordinary eggs.
85. KINGFISHER. Alcedo ispida, Linnaeus. French, "Martin Pecheur."—The Kingfisher is by no means uncommon, is generally spread over the Islands, and is resident and breeds at all events in Guernsey, if not in the other Islands also. It is generally to be seen amongst the wild rocks which surround L'Ancresse Common, where it feeds on the small fish left in the clear pools formed amongst the rocks by the receding tide; it is also by no means uncommon amongst the more sheltered bays in the high rocky part of the Island; it is also to be found about the small ponds in various gardens. About those in Candie Garden I have frequently seen Kingfishers, and they breed about the large ponds in the Vale in Mr. De Putron's grounds; they also occasionally visit the wild rocky islets to the northward of Herm, even as far as the Amfrocques, the farthest out of the lot. As well as about the Vale ponds, the Kingfisher breeds in holes in the rocks all round the Island. I have not myself seen it in Alderney, but Captain Hubbach writes me word he saw one there about Christmas, 1862. I think its numbers are slightly increased in the autumn by migrants, as I have certainly seen more specimens in Mr. Couch's shop at that time of year than at any other; this may perhaps, however, be accounted for, at all events partially, by its being protected by the Sea Bird Act during the summer and in early autumn, where the 'Martin pecheur' appears as one of the "Oiseaux de Mer."
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are three specimens now in the Museum.
86. NIGHTJAR. Caprimulgus enropaeus, Linnaeus. French, "Engoulevent ordinaire."—The Nightjar is a regular autumnal visitant, a few perhaps arriving in the spring and remaining to breed, but by far the greater number only making their appearance on their southward migration in the autumn. The Nightjar occasionally remains very late in the Islands, as Miss Carey records one in the 'Zoologist' for 1872 as occurring on the 16th of October; and I have one killed as late as the 12th of November: this bird had its stomach crammed with black beetles, not our common domestic nuisances, but small winged black beetles: these dates are later than the Nightjar usually remains in England, though Yarrell notices one in Devon as late as the 6th of November, and one in Cornwall on the 27th of November. Colonel Irby, on the faith of Fabier, says the Nightjars cross the Straits of Gibraltar on their southward journey from September to November; so these late stayers in Cornwall and Guernsey have not much time to complete their journey if they intend going as far south as the coast of Africa; perhaps, however the Guernsey ones have no such intention, as Mr. Gallienne, in his remarks published with Professor Ansted's list, says "The Nightjar breeds here, and I have obtained it summer and winter." Mr. MacCulloch tells me the Goatsucker is looked upon by the Guernsey people as a bird of ill-omen and a companion of witches in their aerial rambles. The bird-stuffer in Alderney had some wings of Nightjars nailed up behind his door which had been shot in that Island by himself.
Professor Ansted includes the Nightjar in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens, a male and female, in the Museum, but no date as to time of their occurrence.
87. SWIFT. Cypselus apus, Linnaeus. French, "Martinet de Muraille."—The Swift is a tolerably numerous summer visitant to all the Islands, but I think most numerous in Sark, where hundreds of these birds may be seen flying about the Coupee, amongst the rocks of which place and Little Sark they breed in considerable numbers. Mr. MacCulloch and Mr. Gallienne appear to think the Swift rare in Guernsey, as Mr Gallienne says in his remarks on Professor Ansted's list, "The swift appears here (Guernsey) in very small numbers, but is abundant in Sark;" and Mr. MacCulloch writes me word, "I consider the Swift very rare in Guernsey." I certainly cannot quite agree with this, as I have found them by no means uncommon, though certainly rather locally distributed in Guernsey. One afternoon this summer (1878) Mr. Howard Saunders and I counted forty within sight at one time about the Gull Cliff, near the old deserted house now known as Victor Hugo's house, as he has immortalised it by describing it in his 'Travailleurs de la Mer.' The Swifts use this and two similar houses not very far off for breeding purposes, a good many nesting in them, and others, as in Sark, amongst the cliffs. Young Le Cheminant had a few Swifts' eggs in his small collection, probably taken from this very house, as the Swift is certainly, as Mr. MacCulloch says, rare in other parts of Guernsey. In Alderney the Swift is tolerably common, and a good many pairs were breeding about Scott's Hotel when I was there this year (1878). Probably a good many Swifts visit the Islands, especially Alderney, for a short time on migration, principally in the autumn, as once when I was crossing from Weymouth to Guernsey, on the 18th of August, I saw a large flock of Swifts just starting on their migratory flight; they were plodding steadily on against a stormy southerly breeze, spread out like a line of skirmishers, not very high, but at a good distance apart; there was none of the wild dashing about and screeching which one usually connects with the flight of the Swift, but a steady business-like flight; they went a little to the eastward of our course in the steamer, and this would have brought them to land in Alderney or Cape la Hague.
Professor Ansted included the Swift in his list, but oddly enough, considering the remark of Mr. Gallienne above quoted, marks it as only occurring in Guernsey. There is no specimen at present in the Museum.
88. SWALLOW, Hirundo rustica, Linnaeus. French, "Hirondelle de Cheminee."—According to Metivier's 'Dictionary,' "Aronde" is the local Guernsey-French name of the Swallow, which is a common summer visitant to all the Islands, and very generally distributed over the whole of them, and not having particular favourite habitations as the Martin has. It arrives and departs much about the same time that it does in England, except that I do not remember ever to have seen any laggers quite so late as some of those in England. A few migratory flocks probably rest for a short time in the Islands before continuing their journey north or south, as the case may be; the earliest arrivals and the latest laggers belong to such migratory flocks, the regular summer residents probably not arriving quite so soon, and departing a little before those that pay a passing visit; consequently the number of residents does not appear at any time to be materially increased by such wandering flocks.
Professor Ansted includes the Swallow in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen of any of the Hirundines in the Museum.
89. MARTIN. Chelidon urbica, Linnaeus. French, "Hirondelle de fenetre."—The House Martin is much more local than the Swallow, but still a numerous summer visitant, like the Swallow, arriving and departing about the same time that it does in England. It is spread over all the Islands, but confined to certain spots in each; in Guernsey the outskirts of the town about Candie Road, and the rocks in Fermain and Petit Bo Bay, seem very favourite nesting-places. In Alderney there were a great many nests about Scott's Hotel and a few more in the town, but I did not see any about the cliffs as at Fermain and Petit Bo in Guernsey.
Professor Ansted includes it in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark.
90. SAND MARTIN. Cotyle riparia, Linnaeus. French, "Hirondelle de rivage."—When I first made out my list of Guernsey birds I had omitted the Sand Martin altogether, as I had never seen it in the Islands, but Mr. MacCulloch wrote to me to say, "Amongst the swallows you have not noticed the Sand Martin, which is our earliest visitant in this family and by no means uncommon." In consequence of this note, as soon as I got to the Island this year (1878), in June, I went everywhere I could think likely to look for Sand Martins, but nowhere could I find that the Sand Martins had taken possession of a breeding-station. Knowing from my own experience here that Sand Martins are fond of digging their nest-holes in the heads of quarries, (I had quite forty nest-holes in my quarry this year, and forty pairs of Sand Martins inhabiting them), I kept a bright look-out in all the stone-quarries in the Vale, and they are very numerous, but I did not see a single Sand Martin's hole or a single pair of birds anywhere; and it appeared to me that the sandy earth forming the head was not deep enough before reaching the granite to admit of the Sand Martins making their holes; and they do not appear to me to have fixed upon any other sort of breeding place in the Island; neither could Mr. MacCulloch point one out to me; so I suppose we must consider the Sand Martin as only a spring visitant to this Island, not remaining to breed. The same seems to me to be the case in Alderney, as Captain Hubbach writes to tell me he "saw some Sand Martins about the quarry here (in Alderney), for two or three days at the beginning of April, but cannot say whether they remained here to breed or not." I suppose they continued their journey, as I did not see any when there in June; I have not seen any in Sark or either of the other small Islands.
Professor Ansted includes the Sand Martin in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark.
91. WOOD PIGEON. Columba palumbus, Linnaeus. French, "Colombe ramier."—The Wood Pigeon is resident and breeds in several places in Guernsey; but fortunately for the Guernsey Farmers, who may congratulate themselves on the fact, the Wood Pigeons do not breed in very great numbers. I may mention the trees in the New Ground, Candie Garden, the Vallon and Woodlands, as places where Wood Pigeons occasionally breed. No doubt the number of Wood Pigeons is occasionally increased by migratory, or rather perhaps wandering, flocks, as Mr. Couch, in a note to the 'Zoologist,' dated October the 21st, 1871, says, "On Tuesday a great number of Wood Pigeons rested and several were shot." Mr. MacCulloch also writes me, "The Wood Pigeon occasionally arrives in large numbers. A few years ago I heard great complaints of the damage they were doing to the peas;" but luckily for the farmers these wandering flocks do not stay long, or there would be but little peas, beans, or grain left in the Islands; and the Wood Pigeons would be more destructive to the crops in Guernsey than in England, as there are not many acorns or Beech masts on which they could feed; consequently they would live almost entirely on the farmer; and to show the damage they would be capable of doing in this case, I may say that in the crops of two that I examined some time ago—not killed in Guernsey however—I found, in the first, thirty seven beech-masts in the crop, and eight others in the gizzard, sufficiently whole to be counted; and in the crop of the other the astonishing number of seventy-seven beech-masts and one large acorn; the gizzard of this one I did not examine. I only mention this to show the damage a few Wood Pigeons would do supposing they were restricted almost entirely to agricultural produce for their food, as they would be in Guernsey if they lived there in any great numbers.
The Wood Pigeon is mentioned by Professor Ansted and marked as only occurring in Guernsey, and probably as far as breeding is concerned this is right (of course with the exception of Jersey); but wandering flocks probably occasionally visit Alderney as well. There is no specimen in the Museum.
92. ROCK DOVE. Columba livia, Linnaeus. French, "Colombe biset."—I have never seen the Rock Dove in any of the Islands, though there are many places in all of them that would suit its habits well; and Mr. MacCulloch writes to me to say, "I have heard that in times past the Rock Pigeon used to breed in large numbers in the caves around Sark"; but this certainly is not the case at present. Captain Hubbach also writes to me from Alderney, "There were some Rock Doves here in the winters of 1862 and 1863; I shot two or three of them then." Probably a few yet remain in both Alderney and Sark, though they certainly are not at all numerous in either island.
Professor Ansted includes the Rock Dove in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum. Professor Ansted also includes the Stock Dove, Columba aenas, Linnaeus, in his list as occurring in Guernsey and Sark; but I think he must have done so on insufficient evidence, as I have never seen it and not been able to gain any information about it; neither does Mr. Gallienne say anything about it in his notes appended to the list; so on the whole I think it better to omit it in my list; but as it may occur at any time, especially as it is certainly increasing considerably in numbers in the West of England, I may mention that it may be immediately distinguished from the Rock Dove by the absence of the white rump, that part being nearly the same colour as the back in the Stock Dove, and from the Wood Pigeon, Columba palumbus, by its smaller size and the entire absence of white on the wing. It is perhaps more necessary to point out this difference, as the Stock Dove frequently goes by the name of the Wood Pigeon; indeed Dresser has adopted this name for it, the Wood Pigeon being called the Ring Dove, as is very frequently the case.
93. TURTLE DOVE. Turtur vulgaris, Eyton. French, "Colombe tourterelle."—The Turtle Dove is a regular, but probably never very numerous summer visitant, arriving and departing about the same time as in England. Neither Miss Carey nor Mr. Couch ever mention it in their notes on Guernsey birds in the 'Zoologist': and Mr. MacCulloch, writing to me about the bird, does not go farther than to say "The Turtle Dove has, I believe, been known to breed here." In June, 1866, however, I shot one in very wild weather, flying across the bay at Vazon Bay; so wild was the weather with drifting fog and rain that I did not know what I had till I picked it up; in fact, when I shot it I thought it was some wader, flying through the fog towards me. This summer (1878) I saw two at Mr. Jago's which had been shot at Herm in May, just before I came; and in June I saw one or two more about in Guernsey. The pair shot in Herm would probably have bred in that island if they had been left unmolested.
Professor Ansted mentions it in his list, but only as occurring in Guernsey, and there is one specimen in the Museum.
94. QUAIL. Coturnix communis, Bonnaterre. French, "Caille."—I have never seen the Quail in the Islands myself, and it cannot be considered more than an occasional straggler; there can be no doubt, however, that it sometimes remains to breed, as there are some eggs in the Museum which I have reason to believe are Guernsey taken, and Mr. MacCulloch writes me word that "Quails certainly visit us occasionally, and I remember having seen their eggs in my youth"; and Mrs. Jago (late Miss Cumber), who was herself a bird-stuffer in Guernsey a good many years ago, told me she had had two Quails through her hands during the time she had been stuffing; but evidently she had not had very many, nor did she think them very common, as she did not know what they were when they were brought to her, and she was some time before she found anyone to tell her. The Quail breeds occasionally, too, in Alderney, as the bird-stuffer and carpenter had some Quail's and Landrail's eggs; these he told me he had taken out of the same nest which he supposed belonged originally to the Landrail, as there were rather more Landrail's than Quail's eggs in it.
Professor Ansted includes the Quail in his list, but marks it as occurring only in Guernsey. There is a specimen in the Museum, and, as I said before, several eggs.
95. WATER RAIL. Rallus aquations, Linnaeus. French, "Rale d'eau."—The Water Rail is not very common in Guernsey, but a few occur about the Braye Pond, and in other places suited to them; and, I believe, occasionally remain to breed, as Mr. Jago, the bird-stuffer, told me he had seen a pair of Water Rails and four young, his dog having started them from a hedge near the Rousailleries farm; the young could scarcely fly. I saw one at the bird-stuffer's at Alderney, which had been shot in that Island; and the bird-stuffer told me they were common, and he believed they bred there, but he had no eggs. Their number, however, is, I think, rather increased in the autumn by migrants; at all events, more specimens are brought to the bird-stuffers at that time of year. I have before mentioned the incident of the Water Rail being killed by the Merlin, recorded by Mr. Couch in the 'Zoologist' for 1875.
The Water Rail is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens in the Museum.
96. SPOTTED CRAKE. Porzana maruetta, Leach. French, "Poule d'eau marouette."—I have some doubt as to the propriety of including the Spotted Crake in my list, but, on the whole, such evidence as I have been able to collect seems in favour of its being at all events occasionally seen and shot, though its small size and shy skulking habits keep it very much from general notice. Mr. MacCulloch, however, writes to me to say the Spotted Rail has been found here; and one of Mr. De Putron's labourers described a Rail to me which he had shot in the Vale Pond in May, 1877, which, from his description, could have been nothing but a Spotted Rail.
This is all the information I have been able to glean, but Professor Ansted includes it in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey. There are also two pretty good specimens in the Museum, which I have no doubt were killed in Guernsey.
97. LANDRAIL. Crex pratensis, Bechstein. French, "Rale des pres," "Rale de terre" ou "de Genet," "Poule d'eau de genet."—The Landrail is a common summer visitant, breeding certainly in Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney, and probably in Herm, though I cannot be quite so sure about the latter Island. It seems to be rather more numerous in some years than others, as occasionally I have heard them craking in almost every field. But the last summer I was in the Islands (1878) I heard very few. The Corn Crake arrives and departs much about the same time as in England, and I have never been able to find that any stay on into the winter, or even as late as November.
It is included in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens in the Museum.
98. MOORHEN. Gallinula chloropus, Linnaeus. French, "Poule d'eau ordinaire."—I have not seen the Moorhen myself in Guernsey, but Mr. Couch, writing to me in December, 1876, told me that Mr. De Putron informed him that Coots, Waterhens, and Little Grebes bred that year in the Braye Pond; and Mr. De Putron, to whom I wrote on the subject, said the information I had received was perfectly correct. I see no reason to doubt the fact of the Moorhen occasionally breeding in Mr. De Putron's pond, and perhaps in other places in the Island, especially the Grand Mare. But I do not believe they breed regularly in either place; they certainly did not in this last summer (1878), or I must have seen or heard them. As far as Mr. De Putron's pond is concerned, I could not have helped hearing their loud call or alarm note had only one pair been breeding there; I have, however, a young bird of the year, killed in Guernsey in November, 1878.
Professor Ansted includes it in his list, and marks it as only occurring in Guernsey. There are two specimens in the Museum, probably both Guernsey killed.
99. COMMON COOT. Fulica atra, Linnaeus. French, "Foulque," "Foulque macroule."—In spite of Mr. De Putron's statement that the Coot bred in the Braye Pond in the summer of 1876, I can scarcely look upon it in the light of anything but an occasional and never numerous autumnal visitant; and its breeding in the Braye Pond that year must have been quite exceptional. In the autumn it occurs both in the Braye Pond and on the coast in the more sheltered parts. I have the skin of one killed in the Braye Pond in November, 1876, which might have been one of those bred there that year.
Professor Ansted includes the Coot in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey. There is no specimen in the Museum.
100. LITTLE BUSTARD. Otis tetrax, Linnaeus. French, "Outarde canepetiere," "Poule de Carthage."—The Little Bustard can only be considered a very rare occasional visitant to the Channel Islands, and very few instances of its occurrence have come under my notice. The first was mentioned to me by Mr. MacCulloch, who wrote me word that a Little Bustard was killed in Guernsey in 1865, but unfortunately he gives no information as to the time of the year. Another was shot by a farmer in Guernsey early in March, 1866, and was recorded by myself in the 'Zoologist' for that year. Mr. Couch also recorded one in the 'Zoologist' for 1875, "as having been shot at the back of St. Andrew's (very near the place where one was shot fifteen years ago) on the 20th of November, 1874." This bird is now in the possession of Mr. Le Mottee, at whose house I saw it, and was informed that it had been shot at a place called the Eperons, in the parish of St. Andrew's, on the date above mentioned. These are all the instances of the occurrence of the Little Bustard in the Channel Islands that I have been able to gain any intelligence of, but they are sufficient to show that although by no means a common visitant, it does occasionally occur on both spring and autumn migration.
It is not included in Professor Ansted's list. There is, however, a specimen in the Museum, which I was told, when I saw it in 1866, had been killed the previous year, but there is no date of the month, and I should think, from the state of plumage, it was an autumn-killed specimen: it is still in the Museum, as I saw it there again this year, 1878. This is probably the bird mentioned by Mr. MacCulloch as killed in 1865, and also very likely the one spoken of by Mr. Couch, in 1875, as having been killed in St. Andrew's fifteen years ago; but there seems to have been some mistake as to Mr. Couch's date for this one, as, had it been killed so long ago as 1860, it would in all probability have been included in Professor Ansted's list, and mentioned by Mr. Gallienne in his remarks on some of the birds included in the list.
101. THICK-KNEE. Oedicnemus scolopax, S.G. Gmelin. French, "Oedicneme criard," "Poule d'Aurigny."—The Thick-knee, Stone Curlew, or Norfolk Plover, as it is called, though only an occasional visitant, is much more common than the Little Bustard; indeed, Mr. MacCulloch says that "it is by no means uncommon in winter. The French call it 'Poule d'Aurigny,' from which one might suppose it was more common in this neighbourhood than elsewhere." Miss C.B. Carey records one in the 'Zoologist' as killed in November, and Mr. Couch another as having been shot on the 31st December. I have also seen one or two hanging up in the market, and others at Mr. Couch's, late in November; and one is recorded in the 'Guernsey Mail and Telegraph' as having been shot by Mr. De Putron, of the Catel, on the 3rd January, 1879. From these dates, as well as from Mr. MacCulloch's remark that it is not uncommon in the winter, it would appear that—as in the Land's End district in Cornwall—the Thick-knee reverses the usual time of its visits to the British Islands, being a winter instead of a summer visitant; and probably for the same reason, namely, that the latitude of the Channel Islands, like that of Cornwall, is about the same as that of its most northern winter range on the Continent.