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more singular than that of others of the terns of the south-east of Europe. As the first procured in Western Europe, it is looked upon with surprise; but when a few other individuals have been obtained, the circumstance will be regarded as nothing remarkable. In the same way, when I noticed the Sterna stolida for the first time as met with in the European seas, the announcement was looked upon with wonder ; but within a few years afterwards the bird was observed on the coast of France, and more recently in St. George's Channel.
Tue CASPIAN TERN (Sterna Caspia, Pallas), which has been obtained several times on the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk, is not known to have visited Ireland ;—or Scotland (Jard. Macg.); nor has the
GULL-BILLED TERN (Sterna Anglica, Montagu), though a few individuals bave been procured in different parts of England.
THE SANDWICH TERN.
„ Boysii, Lath. Is of occasional occurrence on the coast in summer and
autumn, both in immature and adult plumage.
It was first indicated as an Irish species in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London for 1833 (p. 33), from a specimen shot on the 14th of August, 1832, in Belfast Bay, that came into my possession in a recent state. At the indenture of the shore here, opposite Garnerville, called Harrison's Bay, a shooter was attracted by the call, such as he had never before heard, of two birds flying overhead, and shot one of them. It proved to be this species in its young plumage, as described and figured by Latham, under the name of Sterna striata. The perishable colours of the bill and legs (though changing little by drying in this species) were noted—tarsi, toes, and webs black; under side toes yellowish ; bill blackish horn-colour, with yellow tip. On the 28th of July, 1838, a Sandwich tern, in full plumage, with seve. ral redshanks, and about twenty dunlins, were killed at the same shot (from a swivel-gun) in Belfast Bay, opposite “The Grove.”
Its length from point of bill to extremity of tail is 15 inches (wings extend nearly an inch beyond the tail); bill above from forehead to point, 1 inch 11} lines; from rictus to point, 2 inches 9 lines ; tarsus 1 inch 1 line; middle toe and nail measured in a straight line, 1 inch ; carpus to end of longest quill (the first) 112 inches; tibia bare for } inch; outer tail-feathers 9 lines longer than second pair ; breadth of wings extended, 2 feet 7 inches. The colour was that of the summer plumage, as described by Montagu, in every particular but one, vone of the primaries being tipped with black, as in his specimen, but instead, being throughout of a uniform tint; inside of the bill yellow.
The fowler who killed this bird saw fourteen Sandwich terns (which, from their size, black bills and legs, he at once recognized to be of the same species as the former one) together in the bay, on the 3rd or 4th of September, 1839. So tame were they, that he and another person on board a dredging vessel remarked, when relating the circumstance, that from its deck they could have brought down the terns with whips, but their only offensive weapon was the sand on board, with which they pelted them! On the 23rd of September, 1844, an adult bird was seen at the quay of Belfast, where, perched on one of the mud-lifting scoops, it admitted of a very near approach. These facts respecting the tameness of the birds may seem too trivial, but they indicate that the locality from which they came has been little visited by man. One of these terns, sent from Portaferry, Strangford Lough, to Belfast, for preservation, on the 16th of August 1844, was probably shot in that neighbourhood.
The following notes relate to the occurrence of the Sandwich tern on the Dublin coast. In October (?) 1831, one was shot at Clontarf; on the 29th of July, 1834, I saw two specimens—an adult and a young one (S. striata, Lath.)—which were shot that day by T. W. Warren, Esq., at the locality just named, on the borders of the bay. On one day in the month of September 1837, this gentleman saw at least a dozen Sandwich terns near Howth. On the 11th of May, 1842, one was seen on Dollymount strand, in the same quarter.
More recent information has led to the belief that the species might breed on that coast, and more especially the fact that Mr. Warren has seen or known the bird to be about Portmarnock or Malahide every year (now summer 1850) in June and July since the time he first met with it. About the 15th of June, 1850, one was shot and two others were seen at the island of Ireland's Eye. On the 17th of July, 1850, as mentioned under the Roseate Tern, Mr. Watters visited the Rockabill, a small rocky islet well known as a breeding-haunt of some of the more common terns, and saw there three of the Sandwich species, and found one of their eggs. The only tern he saw perched on the island was one of these. On his remarking to the boatmen how scarce they were, they said that the large skirrg* fly daily inland to feed on fresh-water fishes in the small streams, and return to the rock at night! The birds alluded to as shot along the seacoast (and there only, so far as I have heard) have probably been wanderers from this rock, including some seen in Drogheda Bay on the 2nd and 3rd of August, 1850.7 Mr. Watters remarks, that “ as we often from the land observe the swallows and martins flying low, while the swift is screaming at a great height, so the roseate, common, and arctic terns showed little timidity; but the large Sandwich species kept at a great distance, screaming loudly. Its flight is exceedingly beautiful, outrivalling even that of the buoyant Roseate, by its sudden turns and rapidity.”
The preceding information respecting the breeding-baunt of the Sandwich tern, on the coast of Ireland, is all that can now be given, and from the limited number of birds seen at any period in that quarter, but few, I presume, have ever bred on the island. . The bird is of more frequent occurrence both in England and Scotland than in Ireland, where my present information respecting it, is confined to the eastern coast. Mr. Selby gives an interesting account of the bird at its breeding-islets off Northumberland, and Sir Wm. Jardine supplies much information respecting it in Scotland. In the portfolio of Dr. J. L. Drummond I have seen a drawing of a Sandwich tern made by him when in the navy, from a specimen shot at Gibraltar. The species has a very extensive geographical range, embracing the coasts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.
* Skirr simply is applied here to the species of ordinary size-the roscate, common, and arctic terns.
+ By Mr. R. J. Montgomery.
THE ROSEATE TERN.
Sterna paradisea, Brunn (1764).
„ Dougallii, Mont (1813).
Is a regular summer visitant, known to breed in a few
localities on the eastern coast.
TEMPLETON knew this species only from “one specimen shot in Belfast Lough.” Further information was obtained respecting it on a visit made to the
Mew Island, one of the three Copeland Islands outside the southern entrance, by Mr. Wm. Sinclaire and myself, on the 11th of June, 1827. One of these, a low, flat, rocky islet, but with short pasture affording food to cattle, is a chosen breeding-place of the terns, and either from these birds or gulls having formerly frequented it, bears the name of the Mew Island. Immense numbers of terns were flying around us, uttering their wild cry as we passed between the Mew and Lighthouse Islands, and as the day was delightful, it was extremely interesting to observe their evolutions. Poised beautifully in the air, with their wings merely wafting, or beating to maintain their position, they looked out keenly for their finny prey, which, soon as perceived, the wings were drawn quick as thought close to the body, and, like an arrow from a bow, they shot from such a height into the water within a few yards of us, as to be wholly immersed, or, more rarely, obtained their prey at the expense of a partial ducking.* Landing on the Mew Island, we found a number of their nests, containing generally three eggs, deposited either on the surface of the dried Zostera marina, which had been drifted on the island, or on the bare sand between the ledges of the rocks. One or both of each pair seemed to keep fishing within sight of their nest, as, although we did not see any birds sitting on the eggs, they instantly and hurriedly made their appearance overhead on our near approach to their treasures, uttering their hoarse jarring cry, and continuing to fly about with great anxiety and consternation. After firing for some time at all the birds that came within shot, and having killed thirteen, we ceased :-of these, two were roseate, three common, and eight, arctic terns. It is well remarked by Sir Wm. Jardine, that--" All the terns are very light, and the body being comparatively small, the expanse of the wings and the tail so buoys them up, that, when shot in the air, they are sustained, their wings fold above them, and they whirl gently down, like a shuttlecock. The roseate tern is remarkably buoyant, and we could almost run below and catch the specimen in our hat before it reached the ground.”+ So soon as the young are ready to fly, they and their parents commence to wing their way southward, remaining for some time about Belfast Bay, where throughout the month of September they-S. hirundo and S. arctica in particular
—are commonly seen. As none of the terns remain during winter, the inhabitants of the Copeland Islands are puzzled to know whence they come in spring. They say that they have never seen them on their progress to the Mew Island; but that every year in the month of May a heavy fog comes on, and after it has cleared away the rocks are studded with them! Although fancy is here called to aid, the remark suggests that they migrate in large bodies. I
* Terns have frequently come within a few yards of a person of my acquaintance while fishing in a boat about Green Island, near Carrickfergus-where they are called pirre-maws, -and when little fish were fung into the air towards them, were sure to be seized before reaching the water.
+ · Brit. Birds,' vol. iv. p. 275. | The Bishop of Norwich informs us, in his 'Familiar History of Birds' (vol. i.