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in England.” This might, however, naturally be expected, froin the comparative scarcity of lakes throughout the latter country.
Many of the other islands of Strangford Lough were, in Harris's work, called after their productions, as certain birds, fishes, plants, &c., nearly all of which are at present to be found upon them at some season of the year. A Goose island, indeed, appears, but, like those deriving their name from the Swan, it has vanished from the later maps. Doubtless the island was named from the circumstance either of the bird breeding there or frequenting it; but, as in the other case, when the bird ceased to do so, the locality lost its distinctive appellation. In winter, wild swans (as already mentioned) and wild geese still occasionally visit Strangford Lough. There is a Swan island also in Larne Lough, county Antrim.
Cygnus Bewickii, Yarr.
„ Islandicus, Brehm. Is probably a regular winter visitant ; But cannot at present be announced with certainty as more than an occasional one, to the coast and inland waters.
I published the following matter on this species, to the note of March the 17th, 1836, inclusive, in the first volume of the ‘Magazine of Zoology and Botany,' previous to which time I had recorded its occurrence in Ireland :
“In the winter of 1829–30, a specimen of Bewick's swan, shot on Lough Neagh, was brought to Belfast market. It was purchased for the Natural History Society of that town, and set up for their museum—the sternum, trachea, &c. being carefully preserved. In February 1830, a flock containing seven of these swans alighted in a flooded meadow near Belfast, where they were shot at, and two of them so disabled by the one discharge, as to be, after some difficulty, secured. They were purchased by my friend Wm. Sinclaire, Esq. ; and on their wounds being found so trivial, as merely to incapacitate them from flight, were placed in his aquatic menagerie, where, in company with many other species of wild fowl, chiefly Anatide, they have ever since remained. On March 13, 1830, another specimen of this swan appeared in our market, and was purchased by Richard Langtry, Esq., who has it preserved in his collection.*
“On a comparison of the first-mentioned individual with the description of Cygnus Bewickii by Mr. Yarrell,+ Mr. Selby, I and Sir William Jardine, I found the internal structure to agree ; but in the external characters there was one important difference, the number of tail-feathers being twenty instead of eighteen, as specified by these distinguished ornithologists. This discrepancy induced me, in February last (1836), to examine Mr. Sinclaire's birds, which I did, with the assistance of that gentleman. These individuals differed from the descriptions above referred to :-In the number of tail-feathers, which in both birds amounted to twenty ;|| and in their irides, being blackish instead of orangeyellow ; a narrow ring, however, of yellow extends round them. The feathers on the forehead and region of the eyes, though of a rust-colour when the birds were captured, are now white, which colour prevails over the entire plumage. The two preserved specimens also have this rust-colour above the head, but do not, like the immature birds described by Mr. Yarrell, exhibit the least appearance of it on the under surface of the belly,' this part of the plumage being white ; hence we may conclude that the specimens under consideration were older than those so described by that gentleman, and that the head of the C. Bewickii retains the reddish plumage for a longer period than the under parts. Mr. Yarrell has correctly remarked that the plumage of this species is 'ultimately pure white ;' but Sir Wm. Jardine
* The 2nd and 3rd quills in this specimen are half an inch longer than the 1st and 4th, which are of equal length. t 'Linnæan Transactions,' vol. xvi. p. 445 et seq.
Mlustrations of British Ornithology,' temporary letter-press, p. 119. § Jardine and Selby's 'Ilustrations of Ornithology,' part vi.
|| In the ‘Fauna Bor. Amer.' (part ii. p. 465), a specimen killed at Igloolik is described as having eighteen tail-feathers, and the irides of an orange-colour.
and Mr. Selby have assumed that the ferruginous markings on the head are permanent, as they thus describe them in the diagnostic characters of the bird :-' fronte genisque ferrugineo maculatis. In one of the living individuals there is not even, up to the present time, the slightest appearance of a tubercle or knob at the base of the upper mandible. This swan seems to be a female ; her neck, whether on land or water, is always borne in such a manner as to appear much shorter than that of her companion ; the yellow of her bill is of a pale lemon-colour, whilst that of the other bird is orange: there are also such other differences observable as indicate the sexes of swans and geese in a living state.* In conclusion, I shall only remark that these swans were similar in length and breadth, each being 3 feet 10 inches from the point of the beak to the extremity of the tail, and 6 feet 4 inches across the wings : that the tubercle on the bill of the assumed male has not, during four years, increased in size; and that the ridge of the upper mandible in the assumed female is black from base to point, a small patch of pale yellow, irregular in outline, appearing on the sides only of that mandible about 3 lines from the base ; the yellow colour is indeed differently disposed on the bills of all the four specimens.
“Every spring and autumn since Mr. Sinclaire had these swans, they have regularly, about the months of March and September, become very restless, and for the period of at least three weeks have wandered from the enclosure, within which they are contented to remain all the rest of the year. It was noted, on April the 8th, 1833, that they have been at their migratory turns for some weeks. They walk from the pond in a north-east direction, until stopped by a hedge about 250 yards distant, then wheel about and fly as well as they are able, with pinioned wings, back to the water. They continue this practice during the day, and at night they and the bernacle are heard flapping along the pond. In disposition they are timid and extremely gentle, and never attempt to molest any of the wild fowl confined in the same pond with them, though all of these are their inferiors in strength and size. Their call, chiefly uttered at the migratory periods, is a low deep-toned whistle once repeated. On the water, the carriage of the Cygnus Bewickii is intermediate in its character, between that of the mute swan and common goose. Their necks are not thrown boldly back, nor their wings raised above the body as in the Cygnus olor ; but if they do not exhibit the grace and majesty of this species on the liquid element, they appear to much more advantage on land, where by choice the greater portion of their time is spent.
* Notwithstanding appearances, this male-like bird, which was killed by a dog about the 1st October, 1837, proved on dissection to be a female. The other bird met with its death from the same cause two years afterwards. It did not come under my examination.
“The Museum of the Royal Dublin Society contains a specimen of Bewick's swan, which was shot, in November 1830, in the west of Ireland. It exhibits the rust-colour on the head, indicative of immaturity. In the collection of William Massey, Esq., of the Pigeon-house Fort, Dublin, I recognized another bird of this species in the immaculate plumage of maturity. This was, along with a second individual, killed by Mr. Massey, out of a flock of five, in Dublin Bay, on the 18th December, 1829.
“On a fine sheet of water in the demesne of the Marquis of Sligo, at Westport, county of Mayo, in June 1834, I observed a swan of this species, in mature plumage, but could not learn any particulars of its capture. On January the 4th, 1836, two
strings'-as they are called when flying in single file-of wild swans, consisting of twenty-eight birds, were seen at the bogmeadows, near Belfast; and on the following day, Mr. Wm. Sinclaire saw a string of nineteen flying with extreme slowness from the direction of Belfast Bay to the same place. From their call being, though somewhat hoarser, like that of the individuals in his possession, and from their apparent similarity in size, he was fully satisfied that they were Cygnus Bewickii. In a letter dated February 5, 1836, Mr. R. Ball mentioned having recently obtained three specimens of this swan. Two of them were shot in the county Fermanagh, the third he bought in Dublin market, where another was exposed for sale at the same time. It could not be ascertained where the two latter were killed.
“ March 17, 1836. I examined a Cygnus Bewickii which was shot at Lough Beg, adjoining Lough Neagh, on the 12th instant. Its length is 3 feet 9 in.; tail-feathers 20 ;* knob on bill very small; feathers on forehead deep rust-colour ; on sides of head tinged with pale rust-colour at their extremities; tips of feathers on breast and entire under surface of belly of a rust colour, so extremely pale as to have the appearance merely of being soiled; bill on the ridge, as far as vostrils, pale orange: this colour advancing a little farther on the sides, thence to tip black. On dissection it was found to be a female. Its stomach was filled with minute seeds and gravel. As I have heard of flocks of wild swans being frequently seen on Lough Neagh during the last two months, there is little doubt that they have been there since first observed in January, and that they will most probably remain until the period of their vernal migration. The five remaining birds of the flock, out of which Mr. Sinclaire's specimens were obtained in 1830, went off in the direction of Lough Neagh ; and a similar number, presumed to be the same individuals, were a few days afterwards seen in the flooded meadows, where they had been fired at. This is mentioned as indicative of their continuance in the same part of the country.
“Although the Cygnus Bewickii is considered to visit England less commonly than the Cygnus ferus, it is certainly of more frequent occurrence in Ireland.”
The following matter has not hitherto been published :-In the spring of 1836, I saw two of these swans at Mr. W. S. Wall's (bird-preserver), Dublin, both of which were shot in the King's county. He received them in a fresh state on the 11th February, and 3rd March, of that year.
About the month of January 1837, one was purchased in Dub. lin market.† In the middle of that month, a specimen, sent from Coleraine to Belfast to be preserved, came under my notice.
* Since attention was called in this paper to the difference in the number of tailfeathers, it has been admitted by ornithologists that the number at first assigned to the C. Bewickii is not of specific value.
† Mr. H. H. Dombrain. VOL. III.