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to do about Clonmel.* Some authors state, that in England it breeds only in the north.t
Mr. Selby, who treats most pleasingly of this species,—as he always does when not confining himself to a brief description,— mentions it as resorting to breed in localities of a wild character. In addition to such, in the neighbourhood of Belfast, the most cultivated and improved districts are frequented for that purpose. In the year 1845, it has built in large Portugal laurels in the Botanic Garden, and in common laurels near to a dwellinghouse in the outskirts of the town. A nest in the former place, was composed of moss, grass, and a cotton-like substance, and contained five eggs on the 6th of May. In the.latter, the pair commenced building on the 4th of May; the nest was made of moss and cotton, J strengthened with stems of withered grass, and lined with hair; it was completed on the 8th; next day one egg was laid; on the 12th, four had been deposited; on the 23rd, the young made their appearance; on the 4th of June they left the nest, being then able to fly well, and almost as large as their parents. § It likewise builds about gardens, and an humble goose-berry bush was once the chosen receptacle of the nest, which was said to have been lined with feathers. Hawthorn trees are also chosen; from which circumstance, it is called by bird-fanciers in the north of Ireland thorn-grey, in contradiction to the common linnet, named whin-grey, on account of selecting the whin for its nest. In the picturesque and wooded glens, this bird has chiefly come under my own notice, and built in the Conifera, the larch-fir appearing to be the favourite species for the purpose. "It breeds in the counties of Armagh and Tyrone. In the summer of 1844, two nests were found in the garden of Tallaniskin glebe; one in a currant bush, the other among the branches of a honeysuckle not more than four feet from the ground: they go farther south in winter." *
+ Mr. Hewitson, however, in the later edition of his beautiful work on the Eggs of British Birds, remarks:—" Mr. Wolley, who lives at Beeston, near Nottingham, informs me that it hreeds in his neighbourhood, and that his brother has found its nest near Kugby, in Warwickshire. Mr. Briggs also meets with it near Melbourne, in Derbyshire." p. 166.
% A cotton-mill is in the vicinity. Sir Win. Jardine remarks, that the down of willow-catkins seems to be an indispensable material. Brit. Birds, vol. ii. p. 289.
§ These particulars were noted by an accurate observer, Mr. Darragh, curator of the Belfast Museum.
During the season, the lesser redpole is dispersed very generally, often in small flocks, consisting of about twenty birds, over plantations from the highest on the mountain-side, to those which are but little elevated above high-water mark. The late John Montgomery, Esq., of Locust Lodge, near Belfast, at that season has remarked it occupied in feeding upon the seeds of the tree-primrose ((Enothera) and crown-imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) in his garden. A friend once noted his having on the 1st of February, observed ten of these birds so busily engaged consuming the seeds of the alder, that they were not disturbed by some horses and carts passing close beneath them: they gave no attention to his own presence, thus enabling him to perceive that two or three of them had the pretty pinkish breasts and red foreheads gS. spring, though all the others were deficient in that plumage. It were idle to dwell longer on this interesting bird :—its partiality to the seed of the alder; the varied and graceful attitudes so full of animation and life assumed by a group when feeding; and the indifference shown to the close proximity of man at such times; all these traits having been fully expatiated on by Mr. Selby.
THE MOUNTAIN LINNET.
Linaria flavi/rostris, Linn, (sp.)
Is found from north to south of Ireland, and is resident.
It is one of the least known of our indigenous FringiUida, and was considered by Mr. Templetonas a "winter visitant" only. In the heath-clad mountains of the more northern parts of the island this species annually breeds, and from its occurrence there at mid-winter, I am disposed to believe that severity of weather only, drives it to the lower grounds. In the north of Ireland it is distinguished from the other linnets (Lmaria) by the name of "Heather-grey." These birds may be seen every winter in large flocks about Clough, in the county of Antrim, where they chiefly frequent the stubble-fields in the neighbourhood of the mountains.* They are said to be common about Armagh in winter; I have had specimens from the county of Fermanagh; they have been obtained in Kerry ;t and have been shot in the middle of February in company with the grey linnet on an island in Wexford harbour, where "they seemed partial to the vicinity of highwater mark, and had taken up their quarters among the grassy banks."J In the north they frequently resort to the sea-side in winter, and associate with the grey linnet.
* Rev. George Robinson.
A person to whom the species is well known, has often had its nests on the heathery top of the Knockagh mountain near Carrickfergus. They were generally placed in the heath, but in some instances were built near to the ground in dwarfed whins, which grew among the heath.
A venerable sporting friend has always observed these birds about their nests (placed in "tufts of heather "), when breaking his dogs on the Belfast mountains preparatory to grouse-shooting. The Eev. G. Robinson has met with them breeding in bogs about Stewartstown, county of Tyrone; in the parish of Tullaniskin; and around Churchill, county of Armagh;—also, at the base of the Dublin mountains. It is common and breeds in the counties of Cork § and Tipperary.||
The Mealy Bedpole (Linota canescens, Gould, sp.) has not come under my notice in Ireland, but probably, visits, this island. Little attention has yet been directed to it as a species distinct from the lesser redpole. The localities named by Mr. Yarrell, in which it has been obtained in England, are towards the south-east. Near Edinburgh and Bathgate,—where single individuals were obtained,—are the only Scottish localities mentioned by Sir Wm. Jardine and Mr. Macgillivray.
* Mr. J. R. Garrett. t Mr. Wm. Andrews. % Mr. Poole.
§ Mr. Robert Warren, junr. This gentleman found a nest containing eggs in a furze-bush, within a few feet of a much frequented public road at Carrigalina. He placed one of the eggs under a canary, that brought it out, at the same time with her own brood. She took the greatest care of the young linnet, which acquired the note of its foster-parent. || Mr. Davis.
VOL. I. T
PyrrAula vulgaris, Temm.
Is one of those birds met with in the four quarters of the island, and probably in every county; but at the same time is rather scarce.
Mr. Selbt remarks, that it is "common in all the wooded districts of these islands." This will not however apply to Ireland. In many of the artificially wooded districts, the bullfinch is either not to be found at all, or only known as an occasional visitant; but where an extent of natural wood remains, and there is sufficient growth of the more shrubby trees, it may be looked for, but cannot be reckoned on with certainty. In some picturesque and extensive glens in the county of Antrim, near Belfast, this bird was common so long as the hazel and holly of natural growth maintained their ground, but as these were swept away, the bullfinch deserted such localities) as abodes, and "few and far between" are now even its temporary visits. In the neighbouring county of Down, it finds a home in sequestered situations where the hazel predominates—as at Tollymore Park, the Wood House, near Eosstrevor, &c,—and in this shrubby tree, commonly builds. In "nature's wild domain," the bullfinch looks eminently beautiful, and can be admired without the alloy associated with its appearance in the garden or the orchard, where it proves so destructive by eating the buds of the fruit trees.* Its call-note and song have generally met with little admiration from the historians of the species, but being sweetly plaintive, they are to me extremely pleasing. These birds came in small numbers t in two successive winters of late years to an unusual locality;—a little garden apart from plantations or shelter of any kind at the edge of Belfast bay, a short distance from the town. The attraction was seeds, of which those of the tree-primrose ((Enothera) seemed to be preferred. The birds were very tame in all kinds of weather, but, as may be supposed, more particularly so during frost. Mr. Poole mentions the food of the buUfinch as consisting, in winter, of a variety of buds, of which those of the larch are much eaten,—in autumn, of the seeds of ragweeds (Senecio Jacobaa), &c Small seeds were the only food in the stomachs of a few bullfinches which came under my observation in winter—they contained fragments of stone.
* It has been remarked, both in the north and south of the island, to be very partial to feeding on the buds of the sloe or black-thorn (Prnnus spinosa).
11 have rarely heard of more than from 20 to 30 birds being seen in a flock during winter.
Mr. Selby* and Mr. Knapp give very interesting accounts of the bullfinch from personal observation, and particularly with reference to the plants which it attacks.
Different species of birds have, in the course of these pages, been mentioned, as occasionally becoming black. The bullfinch, when caged and fed much on hemp-seed, is particularly liable to become so. Many years ago at Edenderry, near Belfast, where a pair of bullfinches had been for some time kept, the male died, and the female, whose grief for his loss was very evident, soon afterwards moulted and assumed a full garb of black. Such being considered equivalent to the widow's "weeds," was looked upon as almost supernatural: and more particularly so, when after a year of mourning she, at moulting time, threw them partially off, and exhibited some white feathers in her wings. I have known a piping bullfinch to be kept about twenty years, and at the expiration of that time to be in as good health as ever. Its age when purchased was not remembered.
THE PINE BULLFINCH.
PyrrAida enuckator, Linn, (sp.)
Loxia „ „
Has, according to the following brief testimony, been once
In the manuscript journal of that eminent naturalist, John Tem
* In Illustrations of British Ornithology, and The Naturalist.