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cularly abundant, owing, it was presumed, to the prey being easily captured in its shallow water: in the course of the forenoon he had seen fifteen or sixteen in that locality, where, too, the thickly wooded banks afforded them suitable resting-places. Mr. Evatt, of Mount Louise, Monaghan, has informed me, that during a sporting tour in Canada, he was made aware, as night approached, of the abundance of basse, at the mouth of the Grand River, by ospreys dashing down, and bearing them off to the woods. This was the signal for the commencement of his fishing.
The Prince of Canino considers the American osprey distinct from the European, but the general opinion of ornithologists seems rather opposed to that view.
THE GYE FALCON.
Jer Falcon. Iceland Falcon.
Hancock, Ann. Nat. Hist. vol. v. p. 2, 247.
Must be included in the Irish catalogue with doubt.
All we know of it, is what Mr. Templeton has stated under "Jer Falcon ;"—that in 1803 he received the skin of a bird of this species, which had been shot near Eandalstown, county of Antrim. But as the term Jer Falcon, according to Mr. Hancock's views, has been applied indiscriminately to two species, we cannot, in the absence of a description, tell to which of them Mr. Templeton's bird belonged.
THE GREENLAND FALCON.
Falco candicans, Gmel. Linn.
Groenlandicus, Turt. Linn.
Hancock, Ann. Nat. Hist. vol. v. p. 2, 249.
Is of extremely rare occurrence.
In a letter from John Vandeleur Stewart, Esq., of Eockhill, Letterkenny, dated Feb. 3, 1837, I was favoured with a minute description of a bird in his collection, believed to be an Iceland Falcon, which. had been killed when on wing above a rabbit-warren, close to Dunfanaghy, county of Donegal. At a meeting of the British Association held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1838, Mr. John Hancock, of that town, read a paper (admirably illustrated by specimens in various states of plumage) with a view to prove that the Iceland and Greenland Falcons are distinct species. This was subsequently published in the "Annals of Natural History," as above quoted. On referring to the description of Mr. Stewart's bird, I felt certain, that according to the views of Mr. Hancock, it must be F. Groenlandicus, and having submitted the description to him, I had the satisfaction of receiving his testimony to that effect. The specimen is an adult male. Subsequently (in 1842?), Mr. Stewart obtained what he considered to be a young bird of this species, which was shot at Drumboe Castle, in the above named county.
Mr. Hancock kindly replied as follows, on the 1st of March,
1846, to some queries respecting these species:—
"I have had specimens of the Greenland Falcon from both Davis' Straits and Iceland; those from the latter locality were killed in the winter season, therefore I conclude it is only a winter visitant of that country, while those from Davis' Straits were all taken in the summer. I was informed by a captain of a whale-vessel of this port, that he once found the nest of Falco Cfroenlandicu s with young, at Cape Imilic, Baffin's Bay.
"The Iceland bird appears to be very common in Iceland, from which country I have had a number of specimens, both young and old, and I have an egg from the same place. I have a specimen of F. Islandicus' in its first plumage, which was killed in Yorkshire, March,
1847. There was another young bird shot on the North Tyne in January, 1845, which I saw in the flesh: it is now in the possession of Mr. C. Adamson of this place.
"I only know of one instance of the capture of F. Groenlandicus in this country; it was a mature bird, and was in the collection of Mr. Ellis of York, up to the time of his collection being sold: it was obtained in Yorkshire, and, to the best of my recollection, was shot about the year 1836. I have no authentic account of either species being taken in Scotland.
"You will sec further particulars on this subject in the paper published in the Annals of Nat. History, No. 10, Dec, 1838."
THE PEREGEINE FALCON.
Inhabits suitable localities throughout the island, breeding in marine and inland cliffs.
Eyries and Distribution.—In the cliffs of the four maritime counties of Ulster, it has many eyries, and in Antrim, where the basaltic precipices are peculiarly favourable for this purpose, nine at least may be enumerated. Three of these,—Glenariff, Salagh Braes, and the Cave-hill,*—are inland. A nest was pointed out in 1834 to Dr. J. D. Marshall, in a range of basaltic cliffs on the north side of the island of Rathlin, to which a man descended, and brought up two young birds. In connection with two of the grandest features of this coast, Fairhead and Dunluce Castle, the peregrine falcon has especially attracted my attention. The eyrie at the latter, however, is not on the same headland with the Castle, but at a more lofty one on its eastern-side.
A range of precipitous basaltic cliff, called the Gobbins, rising from the sea outside the northern entrance to Belfast bay, has been regularly frequented to the present time (1847) by a pair, and in one year, there were two nests within an extent of rock considerably less than a mile, which is the only instance known to me of so close an approximation of their eyries. Even at "the Horn" in Donegal, where the extent of lofty precipices is very great and continuous, we met with but a pair of these birds during a week spent there, when we endeavour ed, though unsuccessfully, to procure their young.* We were informed that there is but one other eyrie.
* A pair bred in M'Art's Fort on this hill, in 1822, and the young were taken by a person lowered over the precipice with a rope around his body. This locality, about three miles from Belfast, is now too much frequented to be occupied by the peregrine falcon. In the spring of 1832, a pair remained there for some time, but did not venture to build. M'Skimmin, in his History of Carrickfergus, mentions its building in another inland locality, at the rocks of the Knockagh Hill, near that town.
VOL. I. D
Tory island (off Donegal); the mountains of Mourne (Down); Bray Head (Wicklow); cliffs above the Killeries (Galway); Bay Lough, near Clogheen (Tipperary); the Saltee and Blasquet islands, off the coasts of Wexford and Kerry; Ardmore, &c, in Waterford; the marine cliffs of Cork; are a few of the localities known either to my correspondents or myself as breeding haunts of this species. A part of the coast, near the city of Waterford, was formerly noted for producing a valuable breed of hawks, and is still said to be held under lease, the renewal fine of which is one or more "casts of falcons" bred there. A country lad attempting, in 1831, to rob a nest near Dunmore, in that county, by being lowered over the rock, was struck at so violently by both the old birds as to be obliged to desist, and was glad to make his escape without personal injury.t
I shall first give some notes on this species in a wild state, and afterwards, when trained.
"Flights" of wild Peregrine Falcons.—Mr. Sinclaire, many years ago, when exercising his dogs on the Belfast mountains towards the end of July, preparatory to grouse-shooting, saw them point, and coming up, startled a male peregrine falcon off a grouse [Tetrao Scoticns), just killed by him, and very near the same place came upon the female bird, also on a grouse. Although my friend lifted both the dead birds, the hawks continued flying about, and on the remainder of the pack, which lay near, being sprung, either three or four more grouse were struck down by them. Thus two and a half or three brace were obtained by means of these wild birds, being more than had ever been procured out of a pack of grouse by my friend's trained falcons.J The same gentleman has frequently, when out shooting, obtained a single grouse, which had been killed by wild peregrine falcons, but except in the above instance, never more than one.
* Our object, however, was very different from that of a gentleman living so near Horn Head as to enjoy ample opportunity of studying its birds, at whose earnest request, the keeper procured peregrine falcons for the purpose of being turned out in the garden to destroy the worms and snails! As may be supposed, the poor birds did not long survive.
t Dr. Burkitt.
% A still stronger instance of the courage of falcons, in which they followed the same packs of grouse (Tetrao saliceii) as the sportsman, notwithstanding the shots fired at the latter, will be found noticed under Sea Eagle, at p. 21.
Another friend, walking on Devis mountain, near Belfast, on the 1st of September, 1832, saw one of these birds pursue a couple of grouse for some distance without success,. and subsequently kill a snipe high in the air, after a good chase. A sportsman states, that woodcocks shot by him in the south of Ireland, have more than once been pounced upon and carried off by wild peregrine falcons before they reached the ground.
On the two following occasions I had opportunities of remarking this falcon in haunts similar to those, which, according to Wilson, it frequents in America.* On the 8th of May, 1832, as the banks of Belfast Bay,t at about a mile from the town on the northern shore, were becoming bare from the ebbing of the tide, they were literary covered with dunlins (Tringa variabilis) and some ringed plovers (Charadrius hiaticula) intermixed, all busily feeding on the rejectamenta of the waves. This flock, consisting of many hundreds, to my surprise, suddenly, and without any apparent cause of alarm, took wing, but immediately afterwards, I observed a peregrine falcon bearing down upon them. As they flew out to sea, he followed them only a short way above the water, and returning without any prey, after a few bold and graceful sweeps, alighted on the beach they had left, when, with
* Mr. Rd. Langtry having heard that the gyr falcon bred on the coast of Labrador, gave a commission in 1836 to a person proceeding thither, to obtain for him young birds from the nest. Four falcons were accordingly in that year procured from an eyrie in the cliffs impending the sea, near the Moravian Settlement, Labrador, but two only reached my friend alive, the others having died on the passage. Instead, however, of the Gyr, they proved to be the Peregrine falcon. I saw them frequently during the year after they were received, and considered them the same as our native species. They were large birds, and of a darker shade of colour than usual. The Prince of Canino considers the American bird distinct from the European, which he does not admit into the fauna of North America. In his "Comparative List of the Birds of Europe and North America," p. 4, the bird described as F. Peregrinus by Wilson, is named Falco anatum.
t Several species of the Raptores being mentioned as occurring in Belfast Bay, it should be stated that the tide recedes here to a very great distance, leaving a vast exteut of banks uncovered, on many parts of which the grass-wrack (Zostera marina) grows so profusely as to impart a greenish tinge, the whole at low water presenting somewhat the appearance of a marsh.