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Tipperary. In 1838, it was first known to visit the neighbourhood of Clonmel* Mr. Poole mentions this bird as common about Ballitore, county of Kildare, but rare in Wexford, at least about his residence. Mr. Neligan had not (1837) met with it in Kerry. The species may not improbably be found in every county throughout the island possessing abundance of wood.
To meet with a family of these birds is always interesting, but they have particularly attracted my admiration when flitting over the waters of a river, and about the overhanging trees that border it. I have frequently noticed them among alders and birches, and they often appear about hawthorn hedges, in the vicinity of plantations. The first which came within my view excited attention by its peculiar note uttered when stationary, and though different from that of the other titmice, its generic similarity satisfied me that it must proceed from some species of this tribe. Its call, when in motion, is soft, thus differing from the shrill little voices of others of the same genus, with which it seems less to consort, than with the gold-crested regulus. In the middle of March, I noted a couple of them at some little distance from each other, uttering quite different calls, the one being of two or three syllables, the other of several. The beauty of this bird is much enhanced, when its breast exhibits a fine roseate hue., A nest with eggs, taken at Bally drain, near Belfast, on the 1st of August, 1843, and brought to me, resembled that figured by Mr. Yarrell: it was covered over, or closely spangled, with bits of lichen, and built in the fork of an old apple tree:—at Stranmillis, a few miles distant, one was erected in a cytisus shrub. Mr. Poole has seen the nest both in the hawthorn and the larch: that in the latter tree was affixed to the stem about twelve feet from the ground. A nest from the Phoenix Park, presented to the Natural History Society of Dublin, was described as fixed in the fork of a branch of black-thorn (Prunus spinosa), and completely screened from observation by the lichen Ramalina fastigiata, which grew profusely on the branches of the thorn. The
lichen however, was not used in the construction of the nest, this being chiefly composed of Parmelia (P. saxatilis, fyc), through which Hypna and the egg-nests of spiders were delicately interwoven: the interior was lined with a profusion of soft moss and feathers.
A note of May 13, 1832, describes, as an amusing sight, a pair of these birds, seen feeding seven young ones, that having left the nest, were clustered together on the branch of a tree, within the space of about six inches. The manner in which a family of long-tailed titmice crowd together for warmth during snow, and in the cold wintry night, has been well described; (see Habits of Birds, p. 60, and note to p. 171 of White's Selborne, ed. 1837,) but that it is the ordinary habit of the species, and not consequent on the piercing breath of winter, is indicated in the following note, dated, July the 5th, 1833. "Mr. Wm. Sinclaire remarks, that some days ago, he was much entertained by observing a family of about ten or twelve long-tailed titmice going to roost in company, when each individual endeavoured to get as near the middle of the group as possible, and that enviable situation was no sooner attained by a few, than those from the outskirts used all thenefforts to insinuate themselves towards the centre, and foiled in this, next exerted their powers to avoid being placed outside—in all respects just the winter practice/' A similar proceeding on the part of the gold-crested regulus is described by Mr. Herbert, in a note to White's Selborne (p. 180, ed. 1837). So many as twenty long-tailed titmice have been seen in company about Belfast.
The stomachs of four of these birds killed in January and March, were, (with the exception of two seeds in one of them,) entirely filled with insects, among which the remains of minute coleoptera were in every instance discernible.
M. Temminck describes the female only as having the black streak over the eyes; Mr. Jenyns considers it common to both sexes: in nine specimens of P. caudatus now before me, this marking is apparent, but in some individuals is much better defined than in others; in one only of them the sex was observed. It proved to be a male bird: we may fairly presume that others of the remaining eight individuals were of this sex.
A friend residing in Ayr-shire has frequently seen families of long-tailed titmice on the banks of the Stinchar, and in other wooded parts of that county. At the end of September, 1842, Mr. E. Ball observed about ten or twelve in company, in the wood adjacent to the canal at Fort-Augustus, Inverness-shire. Mr. Macgillivray mentions, that the species has been met with in the adjoining and more northern county of Ross-shire.
THE BEARDED TIT.
Calamophilus biarmicus, Linn, (sp.)
Is believed to have been once obtained in Ireland.
I have never seen a native individual of this bird, and can only repeat the short notice of it, as Irish, communicated by me to the Zoological Society of London in 1834. "Mr. W. S. Wall, birdpreserver, Dublin, who is very conversant with British birds, assures me, that he received a specimen of this Parus from the neighbourhood of the river Shannon a few years since." Zool. Proc, 1834, p. 30. The species was determined from Bewick's characteristic wood-cut. In March, 1833, when I first became acquainted with my informant, he told me of its occurrence four or five years before that period: the bird being only wounded, was kept alive for some time.
This species is permanently resident where it occurs in England, but, according to Yarrell, is not known north of Lincolnshire.
THE PIED WAGTAIL.
Motacilla Yarrellii, Gould.
Is common and resident throughout the island.
We find it in localities of all kinds where water ia to be met with, from the iron-bound coast of the ocean and sea-girt isles, to the pettiest streamlet and border of the "green-mantled" pool. The last haunt to be mentioned, though not the least frequented by the bird, is the vicinity of the manure-heap, which, as well as the greater places alluded to, presents its peculiar flies attracted by the oozing liquid. This bird, though said to leave the northern, to winter in the southern, parts of England, is permanently resident in the northern counties of Ireland. One disposition towards a movement may however be witnessed, which is their collecting in the autumn in flocks, commonly consisting of about thirty individuals. I have seen them thus at the end of September, at Massareene Park, on the borders of Lough Neagh, and have observed them come to roost upon the reeds (Arundo phragmitis) and the adjacent ground, on the banks of the river Lagan, until after the middle of November; but I am not aware whether the bodies of these birds so congregated ever move southwards. Mr. E. Ball has likewise observed them in flocks about Youghal, in the south of Ireland, during the month of October.
Dr. Farran of Dublin, favours me with the following evident instance of migration :—" Being in the county of Waterford on the 16th of September, 1843, I visited Portlaw, the fine power-loom factory belonging to Malcomson and Co., when Mr. Shaw, one of the partners, related the following singular circumstance, which occurred a few days previous to my arrival:—There is in the pond that supplies the water-wheel, a small island, a few yards from the bank, on which about half a dozen sallow-trees are growing, that have attained a considerable size. These trees were selected by a prodigious number of wagtails for the purpose of roosting, which they did for four or five nights consecutively. Their numbers were so great, and the noise they created so loud as to attract Mr. Shaw's attention, and that of almost all the inhabitants of Portlaw. They weighed down the branches to the surface of the water, and wheu nearly immersed would rise like a cloud and then alight again: after remaining a few nights they suddenly disappeared. They were the pied wagtail. The birds which were reared in the vicinity of the works did not join the mass, but kept aloof and retired to their usual roosting place. They appeared about the works in the morning as usual—indeed, the day I was there, I saw a few very busy 'fly-catching' on the edge of the cistern placed on the top of the building, which is six stories high." Dr. Farran, at my request, wrote for further information, and received the following from Dr. Martin, dated, Portlaw, Dec the 3rd, 1843:—"I have made close inquiries relating to the movements of the wagtails, from several of our work-people, remarkable for their sharp observation of the habits of animals, and they all concur in stating the number assembled on the island, to have been enormous, about one or two thousand. Smaller numbers still meet every night and do so during the winter. The men also say that such meetings were never remarked here before last year, but one of them remembers observing a similar assemblage at Loughcrew, in the county of Meath."
* Of British authors prior to 1837.
Sir W. Jardine* and Mr. Macgillivray,t—who give very full and good descriptions of the habits of the species,—mention its collecting together in flocks, which take their departure even from "the middle and southern parts of Scotland," though some remain throughout the winter; and that again a migratory movement northwards is made very early in spring, when they spread themselves over the whole of the country, and the Outer Hebrides. (Macg.) A few certainly may leave the north of Ireland, but throughout the winter they are numerous: after frost of some
* Brit. Birds, vol. ii. p. 194. f Vol. ii. p. 230.