Birds of Guernsey (1879)
by Cecil Smith
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The Shag is included in Professor Ansted's list, but curiously enough only marked as occurring in Guernsey. There are two adult specimens and one young bird and one young in down in the Museum.

162. GANNET. Sula bassana, Linnaeus. French, "Fou de bassan."—The Gannet, or Solan Goose, as it is sometimes called, is a regular autumn and winter visitant to all the Islands, but never so numerous, I think, as on the south coast of Devon; birds, however, in all states of plumage, young birds as well as adults, and in the various intermediate or spotted states of plumage, make their appearance. It stays on through the winter, but never remains to breed as it does regularly at Lundy Island. I have seen both adults and young birds fishing round Guernsey, and Mrs. Jago (late Miss Cumber) told me she had had several through her hands when she was the bird-stuffer there; she also wrote to me on the 16th March, 1879, to say a fully adult Gannet had been shot in Fermain Bay on the 15th; and Mr. Grieve, the carpenter and bird-stuffer at Alderney, had the legs and wings of an adult bird, shot by him near that Island, nailed up behind the door of his shop. I do not think, however, that the strong tides, rough seas, and sunken rocks of the Channel Islands suit the fishing operations of the Gannet as well as the smoother seas of the south coast of Devon; not but what the Gannet can stand any amount of rough sea; and I have seen it dash after fish into seas that one would have thought must have rolled it over and drowned it, especially as it rose to the surface gulping down its prey.

It is included in Professor Ansted's list, but only marked as occurring in Guernsey. There are three specimens, an adult and two young, in the Museum.

163. COMMON TERN. Sterna fluviatilis, Naumann. French, "Hirondelle de mer," "Pierre garin." The Common Tern is a regular but not numerous spring and autumn visitant to the Islands, some remaining to breed. I do not know that it breeds anywhere in Guernsey itself, but it may do so, for in the Vale in the summer of 1878 I saw more than one pair about the two bays, Grand Havre and L'Ancresse, all through the summer; some of them certainly seemed paired, but I never could find where their nests were; some of the others apparently were non-breeding birds, as they did not appear to be paired. These bays and along the coast near St. Samson were the only places in Guernsey itself that I saw the Terns; there were some also about Herm, but we could not find any nests there; but Mr. Howard Saunders and myself found a few pairs breeding on one of the rocky islands to the north of Herm; when we visited them on the 27th June, 1878, we only found four nests, two with two eggs each and two with only one egg each. Probably these were a second laying, the nests having been robbed, as had everything else on these Islands; there must have been more than four nests there really, as there were several pairs of birds about, but we could not find any other nests; these four were on the hard rocks, with little or no attempt at a real nest. This was the only one of the small rocky islands on which we found Terns breeding, though we searched every one of them that had any land above water at high tide; the others, of course, were useless. I had expected for some time that Common Terns did breed on some of these rocks, as I have an adult female in full breeding-plumage, which had been shot on the 29th June, 1877, near St. Samson's, which is only about three miles from these Islands, and which certainly showed signs of having been sitting; and Mr. Jago, the bird-stuffer, had one in full breeding-plumage, killed at Herm early in June, 1878; but several of the sailors about, and some friends of mine who were in the habit of visiting these islands occasionally, seemed very sceptical on the subject; but Mr. Howard Saunders and I quite settled the question by finding the eggs, and we also thoroughly identified the birds. The Common Tern seemed to be the only species of Tern breeding on the rocks; we certainly saw nothing else, and no Common Terns even, except on the one island on which we found the eggs. The autumnal visitants are mostly young birds of the year, some of them, of course, having been bred on the Islands and others merely wanderers from more distant breeding-stations. No young Terns appeared to have flown when I left the Islands at the end of July; at least, I saw none about, though there were several adults about both Grand Havre and L'Ancresse Bay. The same remark applies to Herm, where my last visit to the shell-beach was on the 22nd of July, when I saw several adult Common Terns about, but no young ones with them; all these were probably birds which had been robbed of one or more clutches of eggs.

Professor Ansted includes the Common Tern in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey. There is one specimen in the Museum, a young bird of the year.

164. ARCTIC TERN. Sterna macrura, Naumann. French, "Hirondelle de mer arctique."[31]—The Arctic Tern is by no means so common in the Islands as the Common Tern, and is, as far as I can make out, only an occasional autumnal visitant, and then young birds of the year most frequently occur, as I have never seen a Guernsey specimen of an adult bird. I do not think it ever visits the Islands during the spring migration; I did not see one about the Vale in the summer of 1878, nor did Mr. Howard Saunders and myself recognise one when we visited the rocks to the north of Herm. It may, however, have occurred more frequently than is supposed, and been mistaken for the Common Tern, so it may be as well to point out the chief distinctions: these are the short tarsus of the Arctic Tern, which only measures 0.55 of an inch, whilst that of the Common Tern measures 0.7 of an inch; and the dark grey next to the shaft on the inner web of the primary quills of the Arctic Tern, which is much narrower than in those of the Common Tern. These two distinctions hold good at all ages and in all states of plumage; as to fully adult birds in breeding plumage there are other distinctions, the tail of the Arctic Tern being much longer in proportion to the wing than in the Common Tern, and the bill being nearly all red instead of tipped with horn-colour.

The Arctic Tern is not included in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen at present in the Museum.

165. BLACK TERN. Hydrochelidon nigra, Linnaeus. French, "Guifette noire," "Hirondelle de mer epouvantail."[32]—The Black Tern is by no means a common visitant to the Islands, and only makes its appearance in the autumn, and then the generality of those that occur are young birds of the year. I have one specimen of a young bird killed at the Vrangue on the 1st October, 1876. It does not seem to occur at all on the spring migration; at least I have never heard of or seen a Channel Island specimen killed at that time of year. As this is a marsh-breeding Tern, it is not at all to be wondered at that it does not, at all events at present, remain to breed in the Islands, there being so few places suited to it, though it is possible that before the Braye du Valle was drained, and large salt marshes were in existence in that part of the Island, the Black Tern may have bred there. I can, however, find no direct evidence of its having done so, and therefore can look upon it as nothing but an occasional autumnal straggler.

The Black Tern is not included in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen in the Museum. These are all the Terns I have been able to prove as having occurred in the Channel Islands, though it seems to me highly probable that others occur—as the Sandwich Tern, the Lesser Tern, and the Roseate Tern (especially if, as I have heard stated, it breeds in small numbers off the coast of Brittany). Professor Ansted includes the Lesser Tern in his list, but that may have been a mistake, as my skin of a young Black Tern was sent to me for a Lesser Tern.

166. KITTIWAKE. Rissa tridactyla, Linnaeus. French, "Mouette tridactyle."—The Kittiwake is a regular and numerous autumn and winter visitant to all the Islands, sometimes remaining till late in the spring, which misled me when I made the statement in the 'Zoologist' for 1866 that it did breed in the Channel Islands; subsequent experience, however, has convinced me that the Kittiwake does not breed in any of the Islands. Captain Hubback, however, informed me that a few were breeding on the rocks to the south of Alderney in 1878, but when Mr. Howard Saunders and I went with him to the spot on the 25th June, we found no Kittiwakes there, all those Captain Hubback had previously seen having probably departed to their breeding-stations before our visit, and after they had been seen by him some time in May. Professor Ansted includes the Kittiwake in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two specimens in the Museum, an adult bird and a young one in that state of plumage in which it is the Tarrock of Bewick and some of the older authors.

167. HERRING GULL. Larus argentatus, Gmelin. French, "Goeland argente," "Goeland a manteau bleu."—The Herring Gull is very common, indeed the commonest Gull, and is resident in all the Islands throughout the year, breeding in nearly all of them in such places as are suited to it. In Guernsey it breeds on the high cliffs, from the so-called Gull Cliff, near Pleinmont, to the Corbiere, the Gouffre, the Moye Point to Petit Bo in considerable numbers; from Petit Bo Bay to St. Martin's Point much more sparingly. In Sark it breeds in considerable numbers; on Little Sark on both sides of the Coupee, and on nearly all the west side; that towards Guernsey, especially about Harbour Goslin, a place called the Moye de Moutton near there, which is a most excellent place for watching the breeding operations of this Gull as well as of the Shags, as with a moderate climb on the rocks one can easily look into several nests and see what both old and young are about. On the island close to Sark, called Isle de Merchant, or Brechou, especially on the steep rocky side nearest to Sark; a great many also breed on and about the Autelets: in fact, almost all the grandest and wildest scenery in Sark has been appropriated by the Herring Gulls for their breeding-places, who, except for the Shags, hold almost undisputed possession of the grandest part of the Island. On the east side, or that towards France, few or no Herring Gulls breed; the cliffs being more sloping, and covered with grass and gorse, and heather, are not at all suited for breeding purposes for the Herring Gull. A few pairs have lately set up a small breeding-station on the rock before mentioned near Jethou, as La Fauconniere; a very few also breed on Herm on the south part nearest to Jethou, but none that we could see on the rocks to the north of Herm. A great many breed also in Alderney on the south and east sides, but none on the little island of Burhou, which has been entirely appropriated by the Lesser Black-backs; in all these places the Herring Gulls and Shags take almost entire possession of the rocks, the Lesser Black-backs apparently never mixing with them; indeed, except a chance straggler or two passing by, a Lesser Black-back is scarcely to be seen at any of these stations. The Herring Gull and the Lesser Black-back, though very distinct in their adult plumage, and even before they fully arrive at maturity, as soon as they begin to show the different colour of the mantle, which they do in their second autumn, when a few of either the dark or the pale grey feathers appear amongst the brownish ones of the young bird, are before this change begins very much alike. In the down I think they are almost, if not quite, indistinguishable after that in their first feathers, and up to their first winter they appear to me distinguishable. As far as the primary quills go I do not see much difference; the shafts, perhaps, of the quills of the Lesser Black-back are darker than those of the Herring, but the difference if anything is very slight; but the head and neck and the centres of the feathers of the back of the Lesser Black-back are darker,—more of a dark smoky brown than those of the Herring Gull: this difference of colour is even more apparent on the under surface, including the breast, belly, and flanks. The shoulder of the wing and the under wing-coverts of the Lesser Black-back are much darker, nearly dull sooty black, and much less margined and marked with pale whitey brown than those of the Herring Gull. The dark bands on the end of the tail-feathers of the Lesser Black-back are broader and darker than in the Herring Gull: this seems especially apparent on the two outer tail-feathers on each side; besides this, there is a slight difference in the colour of the legs, those of the Lesser Black-back showing a slight indication of the yellow of maturity. I have noted these distinctions both from living specimens of both species which I have kept, and noted their various changes from time to time, and from skins of both: unfortunately the two skins of the youngest birds I have are not quite of the same age, one being that of a young Herring Gull, killed at the Needles in August,—the other a young Lesser Black-back, killed in Guernsey in December; but I do not think that this difference of time from August to December, the birds being of the same year, makes much difference in the colour of the feathers; at least this is my experience of live birds: it is not till the next moult that more material distinctions begin to appear; after that there can be no doubt as to the species. Two young Herring Gulls which I have, and which I saw in the flesh at Couch's shop just after they had been shot, seem to me worthy of some notice as showing the gradual change of plumage in the Herring Gull; they were shot on the same day, and appear to me to be one exactly a year older than the other; they were killed in November, when both had clean moulted, and show examples of the second and third moult. No. 1, the oldest, has the back nearly uniform grey, and the rump and upper tail-coverts white, as in the adult. In No. 2, the younger one, the grey feathers on the back were much mixed with the brownish feathers of the young bird, and there are no absolutely white feathers on the rump and tail-coverts, all of them being more or less marked with brown. The tail in No. 2 has the brown on it collected in large and nearly confluent blotches, whilst that of No. 1 is merely freckled with brown. But perhaps the greatest difference is in the primary quills; the first four primaries, however, are much alike, those of No. 1, being a little darker and more distinctly coloured; in both they are nearly of a uniform colour, only being slightly mottled on the inner web towards the base; there is no white tip to either. In No. 1 the fifth primary has a distinct white tip; the sixth also has a decided white tip, and is much whiter towards the base, the difference being quite as perceptible on the outer as on the inner web. The seventh has a small spot of brown towards the tip on the outer web, the rest of the feather being almost uniform pale grey, with a slightly darker shade on the outer web, and white at the tip; the eighth grey, with a broad white tip. In No. 2 the fifth primary has no white tip; the sixth also has no white tip, and not so much white towards the base; the seventh is all brown, slightly mottled towards the base, and only a very slight indication of a white tip; and the eighth is mottled throughout. I think it worth while to mention these two birds, as I have their exact dates, and the difference of a year between them agrees exactly with young birds which I have taken in their first feathers and brought up tame. I may also add, with regard to change of plumage owing to age, that very old birds do not appear to get their heads so much streaked with brown in the winter as younger though still adult birds, as a pair which I caught in Sark when only flappers, and brought home in July, 1866, had few or no brown streaks about their heads in the winter of 1877-8, and in the winter of 1878-9 their heads are almost as white as in the breeding-season. These birds had their first brood in 1873, and have bred regularly every year since that time, and certainly have considerably more white on their primary quills than when they first assumed adult plumage and began to breed. Probably this increase of white on the primaries as age increases, even after the full-breeding-plumage is assumed, is always the case in the Herring Gull, and also in both the Lesser and Greater Black-backs, thus distinguishing very old birds from those which, though adult, have only recently assumed the breeding-plumage. I know Mr. Howard Saunders is of this opinion, certainly as far as Herring Gulls are concerned. Besides the live ones, two skins I have, both of adult birds, as far as breeding-plumage only is concerned, are evidently considerably older than the other. No. 1, the youngest of these,—shot in Guernsey in August, when just assuming winter plumage, the head being much streaked, even then, with brown, showing that though adult it was not a very old bird,—has the usual white tip on the first primary, below which the whole feather is black on both webs, and below that a white spot on both webs, for an inch; the white, however, much encroached upon on the outer part of the outer web by a margin of black. In No. 2, probably the older bird, the first primary has the white tip and the white spot running into each other, thus making the tip of the feather for nearly two inches white, with only a slight patch of black on the outer web. On the second primary of No. 1 the white tip is present, but no white spot; but on the same feather of No. 2 there is a white spot on the inner web, about an inch from the white tip; this would, probably, in a still older bird, become confluent with the white tip, as in the first primary. I have not, however, a sufficiently old bird to follow out this for certain. In No. 1, the older bird, the pale grey on the lower part of the feathers also extends farther towards the tip, thus encroaching on the black of the primaries from below as well as from above. I think these examples are sufficient to show that the white does encroach on the black of the primaries as the bird grows older, till at last, in very old birds, there would not be much more than a bar of black between the white tip and the rest of the feather; and this is very much the case with the tame ones I caught in Sark in 1866, and which are therefore, now in the winter of 1879, twelve and a half years old; but I do not believe that at any age the black wholly disappears from the primaries, leaving them white as in the Iceland and Glaucous Gulls. The Herring Gull is an extremely voracious bird, eating nearly everything that comes in its way, and rejecting the indigestible parts as Hawks do. Mr. Couch, in the 'Zoologist' for 1874, mentions having taken a Misseltoe Thrush from the throat of one; and I can quite believe it, supposing it found the Thrush dead or floating half drowned on the water. I have seen my tame ones catch and kill a nearly full-grown rat, and bolt it whole; and young ducks, I am sorry to say, disappear down their throats in no time, down and all. They are also great robbers of eggs, no sort of egg coming amiss to them; Guillemots' eggs, especially, they are very fond of; this may probably account for there being no Guillemots breeding in Guernsey or Sark, and only a very few at Alderney; in fact, Ortack being the only place in the Channel Islands in which they do breed in anything like numbers.

Professor Ansted includes the Herring Gull in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are two, an old and a young bird, in the Museum.

168. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. Larus fuscus, Linnaeus. French, "Goeland a pieds jaunes."—The Lesser Black-backed Gull is common in the Islands, remaining throughout the year and breeding in certain places. None of these birds breed in Guernsey itself, or on the mainland of Sark, and very few, if any, on Alderney. A few may be seen, from time to time, wandering about all the Islands during the breeding-season; but these are either immature birds or wanderers from their own breeding-stations. About Sark a few pairs breed on Le Tas[33] and one or two other outlying islets; their principal breeding-stations, however, appear to be on the small rocky islands to the north of Herm, on all of which, as far out as the Amfrocques, we found considerable numbers breeding, or rather attempting to do so; for this summer, 1878, having been generally fine, all these rocks were tolerably easily landed on, and the fishermen had robbed the Lesser Black-backs to an extent which threatens some day to exterminate them, in spite of the Guernsey Bird Act, which professes to protect the eggs as well as the birds; but a far better protection for these poor Black-backs is a roughish summer, when landing on these islands is by no means safe or pleasant, and frequently impossible. On Burhou, near Alderney, there are also a considerable number of Lesser Black-backs breeding, though they fare quite as badly from the Alderney and French fishermen as those on the Amfrocques and other islands north of them do from the Guernsey fishermen. On all these islands the nests of the Lesser Black-backs were placed amongst the bracken, sea stock, thrift, &c, which grew amongst the rocks, and on the shallow soil which had collected in places. When I was at Burhou in 1876 I found Lesser Black-backs breeding all over the Island, some of the nests being placed on the low rocks, some amongst the bracken and thrift; so thickly scattered amongst the bracken were the nests, that one had to be very careful in walking for fear of treading on the nests and breaking the eggs. On this Island there is an old deserted cottage, sometimes used as a shelter by the lessees of the Island, who go over there to shoot a few wretched rabbits which pick up a precarious subsistence by feeding on the scanty herbage; on the roof of this cottage several of the Lesser Black-backs perched themselves in a row whilst I was looking about at the eggs, and kept up a most dismal screaming at the top of their voices. The eggs, as is generally the case with gulls, varied considerably both in ground colour and marking; some were freckled all over with small spots—dark brown, purple, or black; others had larger markings, principally collected at the larger end; the ground colour was generally blue, green, or dull olive-green. None of the Gulls had hatched when I was there on the 14th of June, though some of the eggs were very hard set; and on the 29th of July I received two young birds which had been taken on Burhou; these still had down on them when I got them, and were then difficult to tell from young Herring Gulls. The distinctions I have mentioned in my note of that bird were, however, apparent, and the slight difference in the colour of the legs is perhaps more easily seen in the live birds than in skins which have been kept and faded into "Museum colour." It is some time, however, before either bird assumes the proper colour, either of the legs or bill, the change being very gradual. After the autumnal moult of 1878, however, the dark feathers of the mantle almost entirely took the place of the brownish feathers of the young birds; the quills, however, have still (February, 1879) no white tips, and the tail-feathers are still much mottled with brown. One Lesser Black-back, which I shot near the Vale Church on the 17th of July, 1866, is perhaps worthy of note as being in transition, and perhaps a rather abnormal state of change considering the time of year at which it was shot; it was in a full state of moult; the new feathers on the head, neck, tail-coverts, and under parts are white; the tail also is white, except four old feathers, two on each side not yet moulted, which are much mottled with brown. The primary quills had not been moulted, and are quite those of the immature bird, with no white tip whatever. All the new feathers of the back and wing-coverts are the dark slate-grey of the adult, but the old worn feathers are the brownish feathers of the young bird; these feathers are much worn and faded, being a paler brown than is usual in young birds. The legs and bill are also quite as much in a state of change as the rest of the bird. Before finishing this notice of the Lesser Black-back I think it is worth while to notice that it selects quite a different sort of breeding-place to the Herring Gull; the nests are never placed on ledges on the steep precipitous face of the cliffs, but amongst the bracken and the flat rocks, as at Burhou, the only rather steep rock I have seen any nests on was at the Amfrocques, but there they were on the flattish top of the rock, and not on ledges on the side.

Professor Ansted includes the Lesser Black-backed Gull in his list, but only marks it as occurring in Guernsey. There is one specimen in the Museum.

169. COMMON GULL. Larus canus, Linnaeus. French, "Goeland cendre," "Mouette a pieds bleus,"[34] "La Mouette d'Hiver".[35]—The Common Gull, though by no means uncommon in the Channel Islands during the winter, never remains to breed there, nor does it do so, I believe, any where in the West of England, certainly not in Somerset or Devon, as stated by Mr. Dresser in the 'Birds of Europe,' fide the Rev. M.A. Mathew and Mr. W.D. Crotch, who must have made some mistake as to its breeding in those two counties; in Cornwall it is said to breed, by Mr. Dresser, on the authority of Mr. Rodd. Mr. Dresser, however, does not seem to have had his authority direct from either of these gentlemen, and only quotes it from Mr. A.G. More. Mr. Rodd, however, in his 'Notes on the Birds of Cornwall,' published in the 'Zoologist' for 1870, only says, "Generally distributed in larger or smaller numbers along or near our coasts," which would be equally true of the Channel Islands, although it does not breed there; however, as Mr. Rodd is going to publish his interesting notes on the Birds of Cornwall in a separate form, it is much to be hoped that he will clear that matter up as far as regards that county and the Scilly Islands. Like the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull, the Common Gull goes through several changes of plumage before it arrives at maturity; like them it begins with the mottled brownish stage, and gradually assumes the blue-grey mantle of maturity; in the earlier stages the primaries have no white spots at the tips. The legs and bill, which appear to go through more changes than in other Gulls, are in an intermediate state bluish grey (which accounts for Temminck's name mentioned above) before they assume the pale yellow of maturity: although at this time they have the mantle quite as in the adult, there is a material difference in the pattern of the primary quills, and they do not appear to breed till their bills have become quite yellow and their legs a pale greenish yellow. I cannot quite tell at what age the Common Gull begins to breed, for, although I have a pair which have laid regularly for the last two years (they have not, however, hatched any young, which perhaps is the fault of the Herring Gulls, whom I have several times caught sucking their eggs), I do not know what their age was when I first had them as I did the Herring Gulls from Sark and the Lesser Black-backs from Burhou; I can only say when I first had them they had the bills and legs blue; in fact they were in the state in which they are the "Mouette a pieds bleus" of Temminck.

Professor Ansted includes the Common Gull in his list, and marks it as occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There is no specimen in the Museum.

170. GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL. Larus marinus, Linnaeus. French, "Goeland a manteau noir."—The Great Black-backed Gull is by no means so numerous in the Channel Islands as the Herring Gull and the Lesser Black-back, and is here as elsewhere a rather solitary and roaming bird. A few, however, remain about the Channel Islands, and breed in places which suit them, such as Ortack, which I have before mentioned, as the breeding-place of the Razorbill and Guillemot; and we found one nest on one of the rocks to the north of Herm, but it had been robbed, as had all the other Gulls' nests about there; we saw, however, the old birds about, and Mr. Howard Saunders found one nest on the little Island of Le Tas, close to Sark; it was quite on the top of the Island, and there were young in it. I have one splendid adult bird, shot near the harbour in Guernsey, in March: I should think this is rather an old bird, as, although there are slight indications of winter plumage on the head, the white tips of the primaries are very large, that of the first extending fully two inches and a half, which is considerably more than that of a fully adult bird I have from Lundy Island. The Great Black-backed Gull is sufficiently common and well known to have a local name in Guernsey-French (Hublot or Ublat), for which see 'Metivier's Dictionary.'

Professor Ansted includes the Great Black-backed Gull in his list, and marks it as only occurring in Guernsey and Sark. There are three specimens in the Museum—an adult bird, a young one, and a young one in down, with the feathers just beginning to show. In the young bird the head and neck were mottled and much like those of a young Herring Gull in the same state; the back, thighs, and under parts do not appear so much spotted as in the young Herring Gull; the feathers on the scapulars and wing-coverts were just beginning to show two shades of brown, as in the more mature state; the same may be said of the primary quills, which were also just beginning to make their appearance; the tail, which was only just beginning to show, was nearly black, margined with white.

171. BROWN-HEADED GULL. Larus ridibundus, Linnaeus. French, "Mouette rieuse."[36] This pretty little Gull is a common autumn and winter visitant to all the Islands, remaining on to the spring, but never breeding in any of them, though a few young and non-breeding birds may be seen about at all times of the summer, especially about the harbour. Being a marsh-breeding Gull, and selecting low marshy islands situated for the most part in inland fresh-water lakes and large pieces of water, it is not to be wondered at that it does not breed in the Channel Islands, where there are no places either suited to its requirements or where it could find a sufficient supply of its customary food during the breeding-season. Very soon after they have left their breeding-stations, however, both old and young birds may be seen about the harbours and bays of Guernsey and the other islands seeking for food, in which matter they are not very particular, picking up any floating rubbish or nastiness they may find in the harbour. The generality of specimens occurring in the Channel Islands are in either winter or immature plumage, very few having assumed the dark-coloured head which marks the breeding plumage. This dark colour of the head, which is sometimes assumed as early as the end of February, comes on very rapidly, not being the effect of moult, but of a change of colour in the feathers themselves, the dark colouring-matter gradually spreading over each feather and supplanting the white of the winter plumage; a few new feathers are also grown at this time to replace any that have been accidentally shed—these come in the dark colour. The young birds in their first feathers are nearly brown, but the grey feathers make their appearance amongst the brown ones at an earlier stage than in most other gulls. The primary quills, which are white in the centre with a margin of black, vary also a good deal with age, the black margins growing narrower and the white in places extending through the black margin to the edge, so that in adult birds the black margins are not so complete as in younger examples.

Professor Ansted mentions the Laughing Gull in his list, by which I presume he means the present species, and marks it as only occurring in Guernsey. There is no specimen in the Museum. As it is just possible that the Mediterranean Black-headed Gull, Larus melanocephalus, may occur in the Islands,—as it does so in France as far as Bordeaux, and has once certainly extended its wanderings as far as the British Islands,—it may be worth while to point out the principal distinctions. In the adult bird the head of L. melanocephalus in the breeding-season is black, not brown as in L. ridibundus, and the first three primaries are white with the exception of a narrow streak of black on the outer web of the first, and not white with a black margin as in L. ridibundus. In younger birds, however, the primaries are a little more alike, but the first primary of L. melanocephalus is black or nearly so; in this state Mr. Howard Saunders has given plates of the first three primaries of L. melanocephalus and L. ridibundus, both being from birds of the year shot about March, in his paper on the Larinae, published in the 'Proceedings of the Zoological Society' for the year 1878.

172. LITTLE GULL. Larus minutus, Pallas. French, "Mouette pygmee."—I have never met with this bird myself in the Channel Islands, nor have I seen a Channel Island specimen, but Mr. Harvie Brown, writing to the 'Zoologist' from St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, under date January 25th, says, "In the bird-stuffer's shop here I saw a Little Gull in the flesh, which had been shot a few days ago."[37] Mr. Harvie Brown does not give us any more information on the subject, and does not even say whether the bird was a young bird or an adult in winter plumage; but probably it was a young bird of the year in that sort of young Kittiwake or Tarrock plumage in which it occasionally occurs on the south coast of Devon.

Professor Ansted does not include the Little Gull in his list, and there is no specimen in the Museum.

173. GREAT SHEARWATER. Puffinus major, Faber. French, "Puffin majeur."[38]—I think I may fairly include the Great Shearwater in my list as an occasional wanderer to the Islands, as, although I have not a Channel Island specimen, nor have I seen it near the shore or in any of the bays, I did see a small flock of four or five of these birds in July, 1866, when crossing from Guernsey to Torquay. We were certainly more than the Admiralty three miles from the land; but had scarcely lost sight of Guernsey, and were well within sight of the Caskets, when we fell in with the Shearwaters. They accompanied the steamer for some little way, at times flying close up, and I had an excellent opportunity of watching them both with and without my glass, and have therefore no doubt of the species. There was a heavyish sea at the time, and the Shearwaters were generally flying under the lee of the waves, just rising sufficiently to avoid the crest of the wave when it broke. They flew with the greatest possible ease, and seemed as if no sea or gale of wind would hurt them; they never got touched by the breaking sea, but just as it appeared curling over them they rose out of danger and skimmed over the crest; they never whilst I was watching them actually settled on the water, though now and then they dropped their legs just touching the water with their feet.

The Great Shearwater is not mentioned in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen in the Museum.

174. MANX SHEARWATER. Puffinus anglorum, Temminck. French, "Petrel Manks."—The Manx Shearwater can only be considered as an occasional wanderer to the Channel Islands, and never by any means so common as it is sometimes on the opposite side of the Channel about Torbay, especially in the early autumn. I have one Guernsey specimen, however, killed near St. Samson's on the 28th September, 1876.[39] As far as I can make out the Manx Shearwater does not breed in any part of the Channel Islands, but being rather of nocturnal habits at its breeding-stations, and remaining in the holes and under the rocks where its eggs are during the day, it may not have been seen during the breeding-season; but did it breed anywhere in the Islands more birds, both old and young, would be seen about in the early autumn when the young first begin to leave their nests; and the Barbelotters would occasionally come across eggs and young birds when digging for Puffins' eggs.

The Manx Shearwater is not included in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen in the Museum.

175. FULMAR PETREL. Fulmarus glacialis, Linnaeus. French, "Petrel fulmar."—The Fulmar Petrel, wandering bird as it is, especially during the autumn, at which time of year it has occurred in all the western counties of England, very seldom finds its way to the Channel Islands, as the only occurrence of which I am aware is one which I picked up dead on the shore in Cobo Bay on the 14th of November, 1875, after a very heavy gale. In very bad weather, and after long-continued gales, this bird seems to be occasionally driven ashore, either owing to starvation or from getting caught in the crest of a wave when trying to hover close over it, after the manner of a Shearwater, as this is the second I have picked up under nearly the same circumstances, the first being in November, 1866, when I found one not quite dead on the shore near Dawlish, in South Devon. It must be very seldom, however, that the Fulmar visits the Channel Islands, as neither Mr. Couch nor Mrs. Jago had ever had one through their hands, and Mr. MacCulloch has never heard of a Channel Island specimen occurring.

It is not included in Professor Ansted's list, and there is no specimen in the Museum.

176. STORM PETREL. Thalassidroma pelagica Linnaeus. French, "Thalassidrome tempete."—Mr. Gallienne, in his remarks published with Professor Ansted's list, says, "The Storm Petrel breeds in large numbers in Burhou, a few on the other rocks near Alderney, and occasionally on the rocks near Herm; these are the only places where they breed, although seen and occasionally killed in all the Islands." I can add to these places mentioned by Mr. Gallienne the little island, frequently mentioned before, near Sark, Le Tas, where Mr. Howard Saunders found several breeding on the 24th June, 1878. I could not accompany him on this expedition, so he alone has the honour of adding Le Tas to the breeding-places of the Storm Petrel in the Channel Islands, and he very kindly gave me the two eggs which he took on that occasion. When I visited Burhou in June, 1876, I was unsuccessful in finding more than part of a broken egg and a wing of a dead bird. But Colonel L'Estrange, who had been there about a fortnight before, found two addled eggs, but saw no birds. I thought at the time that I had been too late and the birds had departed, but this does not seem to have been the case, as Captain Hubback wrote to me in July of this year (1878), and said, "Do you not think that perhaps you were early on the 14th of June? Of the six eggs I took on the 2nd of July this year, two were quite fresh, three hard-sat, and one deserted." I have no doubt he was right, as the wing of the dead bird I found was, no doubt, that of one that had come to grief the year before, and the egg was one which had been sat on and hatched, and might therefore have been one of the previous year; and the same, possibly, might have been the case with Col. L'Estrange's two addled eggs. It appears, however, to be rather irregular in its breeding habits, nesting from the end of May to July or August. In Burhou the Storm Petrel bred mostly in holes in the soft black mould, which was also partly occupied by Puffins and Babbits, but occasionally under large stones and rocks. We did not find any breeding on the islands to the north of Herm, but they may do so occasionally, in which case their eggs would probably be mostly placed under large rocks and stones, where the Puffins find safety from the attacks of the various egg-stealers. At other times of year than the breeding-season, the Storm Petrel can only be considered an occasional storm-driven visitant to the Islands.

It is included in Professor Ansted's list, and marked as occurring in Alderney, Sark, Jethou, and Herm.

With this bird ends my list of the Birds of Guernsey and the neighbouring Islands. It contains notices of only 176 birds, 21 less than Professor Ansted's list, which contains 197; but it seems to me very doubtful whether many of these 21 species have occurred in the Islands. I can find no other evidence of their having done so than the mere mention of the names in that list, as, except the few mentioned in Mr. Gallienne's notes, no evidence whatever is given of the when and where of their occurrence; and we are not even told who was responsible for the identification of any of the birds mentioned. I have no doubt, however, that any one resident in the Islands for some years, and taking an interest in the ornithology of the district, would be able to add considerably to my list, as Miss C.B. Carey, had she lived, would no doubt have enabled me to do. I think it very probable, mine having been only flying visits, though extending over several years and at various times of year, I may have omitted some birds, especially amongst the smaller Warblers and the Pipits, and perhaps amongst the occasional Waders. There is one small family—the Skuas—entirely unrepresented in my list; I am rather surprised at this as some of them, especially the Pomatorhine—or, as it is perhaps better known, the Pomerine—Skua, Stercorarius pomatorhinus, and Richardson's Skua, Stercorarius crepidatus, are by no means uncommon on the other side of the Channel, about Torbay, during the autumnal migration; but I have never seen either species in the Island, nor have I seen a Channel Island skin, nor can I find that either the bird-stuffers or the fishermen and the various shooters know anything about them. I have therefore, though I think it by no means; unlikely that both birds occasionally occur, thought it better to omit their names from my list.

Professor Ansted has only mentioned one of the family—the Great Skua, Stercorarius catarrhactes,—in his list, which also may occasionally occur, as may Buffon's Skua, Stercorarius parasiticus; but neither of these seem to me so likely to occur as the two first-mentioned, not being by any means so common on the English side of the Channel.

In bringing my labours to a conclusion I must again thank Mr. MacCulloch and others, who have assisted me in my work either by notes or by helping in out-door work.



[1] a Alderney. e Guernsey. i Jersey. o Sark. u Jethou and Herm.]

[2] This was nearly the whole of the Vale, including L'Ancresse Common.

[3] Fourteen "livres tournois" are about equal to L1.

[4] This Act is passed annually at the Chief Pleas after Easter.

[5] Falco aesalon, Tunstall, H.S. 1771. Falco aesalon, Gmelin, Y., 1788.

[6] See Temminok.

[7] See 'Birds of Spain,' by Howard Saunders, Esq., published in the works of the Societe Zoologique de France, where he says:—"C. ceruginosus et C. cyaneus ont les lisieres exterieures des remiges emarginees, jusqu'a et y comprise la cinquieme, et cette forme se trouve en presque toutes les Circus exotiques. En C. swainsonii (the Pallid Harrier) et C. cineraceus cette emargination successive se borne a la quatrieme." We have little to do with this distinction, except as between C. cyaneus and C. cineraceus, C. aeruginosus being otherwise sufficiently distinct, and C. swainsonii not coming within our limits.

[8] "Tereus," I soon found, as I expected, was Mr. MacCulloch.

[9] These reeds are the common reed Spires, Spire-reed, or Pool-reed. Arundo phragmites. See 'Popular Names of British Plants,' by Dr. Prior, p. 219.

[10] This name of Temminck is no doubt applied to the Continental form, Acredula caudata, of Linnaeus, not to the British form now elevated into a species under the name Acredula rosea, of Blyth. Owing to want of specimens I have not been able to say to which form the Channel Island Long-tailed Tit belongs, probably supposing them to be really distinct from A. rosea. A. caudata may, however, also occur, as both forms do occasionally, in the British Islands.

[11] See Temminck's 'Man. d'Ornith.'

[12] Dresser's 'Birds of Europe,' fide Degland's Grebe.

[13] Where both forms are common this constantly happens—indeed, so constantly that Professor Newton, in his new edition of 'Yarrell,' has made but one species of the Black Crow and the Grey or Hooded Crow, Corvus corone and Corvus cornix, on the several grounds that there is no structural difference between the two; that their habits, food, cries, and mode of nidification are the same (in considering this, of course both forms must be traced throughout the whole of their geographical range, and not merely through the British Islands); that their geographical distribution is sufficiently similar not to present any difficulty; that they breed freely together; and that their offsprings are fertile, a very important consideration in judging whether two forms should be separated or joined as one species. This last seems to me to present the greatest difficulty, and the evidence at present appears scarcely conclusive. Of course in the limits of a note to a work like the present it is impossible to discuss so large a question. I can only refer my readers to Professor Newton's work, where they will find nearly all that can be said on the subject, and the reasons which have induced him to come to the conclusion he has.

[14] Rim. Gu., p. 35.

[15] Query, was this done by a migratory flock, as peas would be ripe about June or July, when migratory flocks of Wood Pigeons would not be likely to occur; or was the damage to newly sown peas in the spring?

[16] For one instance see notice of the Quail; and the bird-stuffer had several other eggs besides those in the same nest as the Quails.

[17] Fide Mr. MacCulloch.

[18] See 'Dresser's Birds of Europe.'

[19] For the last, see Temminck's 'Man, d'Ornithologie.'

[20] See 'Zoologist' for 1867, p. 829.

[21] Temminck, 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[22] See Temminck, 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[23] The one above mentioned.

[24] See 'Zoologist' for 1870, p. 2244.

[25] "Hucard" in Guernsey French (see 'Metevier's Dictionary,') who also says "Notre Hucard est le Whistling Swan ou Hooper des Anglais."

[26] See Temminck's 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[27] See also Metivier's Dictionary.

[28] See note in 'Zoologist' for 1866.

[29] 'De la Mue du Bec et des Ornements Palpebraux du Macareux Arctique apres la Saison des Amours.' Par le Docteur Louis Bureau; 'Bulletin de la Societe Zoologique de France.'

[30] 'Zoologist' for 1869.

[31] See Temininck, 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[32] Temminck, 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[33] Le Tas is often written L'Etat, but, as Professor Ansted says, "There can be no doubt it alludes to the form of the rock, viz., 'Tas,' a heap such as is made with hay or corn."

[34] See Temminck's 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[35] Buffon.

[36] See Temminck's 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[37] See 'Zoologist' for 1869, p. 1560.

[38] See Temminck, 'Man. d'Ornithologie.'

[39] This is since my note to Mr. Dresser, published in his 'Birds of Europe,' when I said I had never seen it in the Channel Islands, although it probably occasionally occurred there.


Auk, Little, 178

Bittern, 152 Bittern, American, 153 Bittern, Little, 154 Blackbird, 34 Blackcap, 52 Brambling, 72 Bullfinch, 79 Bunting, 70 Bunting, Snow, 70 Bunting, Yellow, 71 Bustard, Little, 117 Buzzard, Common, 14 Buzzard, Rough-legged, 14

Chaffinch, 72 Chiffchaff, 53 Chough, 84 Coot, Common, 116 Cormorant, 184 Crake, Spotted, 114 Creeper, 59 Crossbill, Common, 80 Crow, 88 Crow, Hooded, 89 Cuckoo, 97 Curlew, 132

Dipper, 30 Diver, Black-throated, 174 Diver, Great Northern, 173 Diver, Red-throated, 175 Dotterel, 122 Dotterel, Ring, 123 Dove, Rock, 110 Dove, Turtle, 111 Duck, Eider, 165 Duck, Wild, 162 Dunlin, 145

Eagle, White-tailed, 1

Falcon, Greenland, 5 Falcon, Iceland, 6 Falcon, Peregrine, 8 Fieldfare, 34 Flycatcher, Spotted, 24

Gannet, 188 Godwit, Bar-tailed, 137 Goldfinch, 76 Goosander, 167 Goose, Brent, 157 Goose, White-fronted, 157 Grebe, Eared, 170 Grebe, Great Crested, 173 Grebe, Little, 169 Grebe, Red-necked, 172 Grebe, Sclavonian, 170 Greenfinch, 76 Greenshank, 139 Guillemot, 176 Gull, Brown-headed, 210 Gull, Common, 207 Gull, Great Black-backed, 209 Gull, Herring, 195 Gull, Lesser Black-backed, 203 Gull, Little, 213

Harrier, Hen, 17 Harrier, Marsh, 16 Harrier, Montagu's, 18 Hawfinch, 75 Hawk, Sparrow, 13 Hedgesparrow, 87 Heron, 148 Heron, Purple, 150 Heron, Squacco, 151 Hobby, 10 Hooper, 160 Hoopoe, 95

Jackdaw, 86

Kestrel, 12 Kingfisher, 101 Kittiwake, 194 Knot, 144

Landrail, 115 Lark, Sky, 68 Linnet, 78

Magpie, 91 Martin, 106 Martin, Sand, 107 Merganser, Red-breasted, 168 Merlin, 10 Moorhen, 115

Nightjar, 102

Oriole, Golden, 25 Osprey, 3 Ouzel, Ring, 36 Ouzel, Water, 30 Owl, Barn, 22 Owl, Long-eared, 20 Owl, Short-eared, 21 Oystercatcher, 130

Peewit, 120 Petrel, Fulmar, 216 Petrel, Storm, 216 Phalarope, Grey, 147 Pigeon, Wood, 108 Pintail, 163 Pipit, Meadow, 67 Pipit, Rock, 67 Pipit, Tree, 66 Plover, Golden, 122 Plover, Grey, 121

Plover, Kentish, 125 Puffin, 179 Purre, 145

Quail, 112

Rail, Water, 113 Raven, 87 Razorbill, 183 Redshank, 134 Redstart, 38 Redstart, Black, 39

Redwing, 33 Robin, 38 Rook, 90 Ruff, 139

Sanderling, 147 Sandpiper, Common, 136 Sandpiper, Curlew, 145 Sandpiper, Green, 135 Scoter, Common, 165 Shag, 185 Shearwater, Great, 213 Shearwater, Manx, 215 Shrike, Red-backed, 23 Siskin, 77 Smew, 169 Snipe, 142 Snipe, Jack, 144 Snipe, Solitary, 141 Sparrowhawk, 13 Sparrow, House, 74 Sparrow, Tree, 73 Spoonbill, 155 Starling, Common, 82 Stint, Little, 146 Stonechat, 41 Swallow, 106 Swan, Bewick's, 161 Swan, Mute, 158 Swan, Wild, 160 Swift, 104

Teal, 164 Tern, Arctic, 192 Tern, Black, 193 Tern, Common, 190 Tit, Blue, 60 Tit, Great, 59 Tit, Long-tailed, 61 Thick-knee, 18 Thrush, Song, 33 Thrush, Mistletoe, 31 Turnstone, 127

Warbler, Dartford, 49 Warbler, Reed, 44 Warbler, Sedge, 48 Wagtail, Grey, 64 Wagtail, Pied, 62 Wagtail, White, 63 Wagtail, Yellow, 65 Waxwing, 62

Wheatear, 43 Whimbrel, 133 Whinchat, 43 Whitethroat, 50 Whitethroat, Lesser, 52 Woodcock, 140

Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted, 91 Wren, 58 Wren, Fire-crested, 55 Wren, Golden-crested, 54 Wren, Willow, 53 Wryneck, 94

Yellowhammer, 71


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