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„ of tarsus . . . . . . 1 10 1 9
12 6 11 3
Weight of adult (a male) 11 oz.
ADULT. Bill bright red, except towards the tip, which is brownish-red. Legs and toes of a pale hue, partaking of orange and vermilion-red. Webs of a darker tint.
YOUNG. Bill brownish-red for about the posterior half, from nostrils forward, blackish.
Legs and toes of a very pale brownish-red, webs broccoli-brown. Mantle of a somewhat paler hue than in the adult, as are the under sides of the wings also. Its stomach was nearly empty, but contained the remains of a large coleopterous insect.
It should be stated that this difference in size between old and young is not neces. sarily consequent on age, but may rather be a sexual difference, the smaller bird being a female.—See note on young and old from Ram's Island at p. 336.
Thus in February, the bill and legs of the young bird were those of L. capistratus. The same individual in the preceding month of August (like two which I examined on the 4th of that month) would have had the bill pale flesh-colour at the base, blackish-brown at the tip, the tibia, tarsus, toes, and webs of feet pale flesh-colour, the last with a slight dusky tinge in the centre.
The preceding notes, together with a number of others of a similar tendency, made on specimens obtained about Belfast, justify me I think in considering L. capistratus as specifically identical with I. ridibundus, and this view is strengthened by the fact that the former is as yet unknown in any country except as an occasional visitant.*
* May 20th, 1845. Since the preceding was written, I have-through the kind attention of Mr. G. R. Gray-examined in the British Museum, the specimen of L. ca. pistratus that was so named by Temminck (Bullock's specimen, purchased by Dr. Leach), and found it to be in
Length total (stuffed specimen)
from carpus to end of first quill
of hind No difference in plumage except in mask instead of hood. The feet are very small. A critical comparison of this bird with my specimens of L. ridibundus proved it
cơ - - +
Having now given—perhaps much too fully—my own reasons for believing this bird and L. ridibundus to be the same, I shall not enter into the question of the various opinions on the subject, further than in reference to my friend Mr. Yarrell. On the 27th of May, 1845, I brought my views on the subject before the Zoological Society in London, and exhibited many specimens in support of them. An abstract of my remarks was published in the Proceedings of that Society, in the 'Annals of Natural History,' and in the preface to the first volume of the second edition of Mr. Yarrell's work. In its proper place, under L. capistratus, in the second edition, my original specimen—though given in the first edition-is omitted, while the Orkney one with which it was compared by that author and myself, and was proved to be identical with in species, is retained : descriptions of both, and of a specimen so named by Temminck, have been given in the present volume.
Mr. Yarrell appears still to think-he does not speak decisively -that L. capistratus is a distinct species, and instances two adult individuals only twelve inches and a half in length, having come under his examination; but such are not near the dimensions of this bird, as given by Temminck.* If there be a small blackheaded gull distinct from L. ridibundus, this is quite a different question from L. capistratus being identical with it. An adult bird shot at Lough Clay (county Down) on the 16th of July, 1845– one of a pair known to have a nest there—was smaller not only than the ordinary L. ridibundus, but than the L. capistratus also. It was, in total length, thirteen inches and three-quarters (English measure). Colour : Bill dull arterial blood-red; tarsi between that colour and the hue attributed to L. capistratus ;
to be no smaller (except in the toes and webs of feet) than some of them, and to vary in the most trivial degree from the adult female bird in full summer plumage. The difference was, in my opinion, simply individual, as distinguished from specific. * His only measurements named for L. ridibundus and L. capistratus, are-
in. lin. Length (total) . . . . 14 0
1 3 4 „ of tarsus
. 1 8 (or 9) 1 6 This is of course French measure, in which fifteen inches are equivalent to sixteen English.
head broccoli-brown above; from base of bill, downwards, in front, becoming gradually darker, or from broccoli-brown to blackish. The black is between a mask and a hood in form. In this individual, therefore, we have in the height of the breeding season the colours of the two supposed species.
So many closely-allied birds were confounded together when Temminck described the L. capistratus, that it would have been a very fair museum species for any distinguished ornithologist to notice. In addition to numbers of specimens in various states of plumage, it often requires a great amount of observation out of doors, to decide a point of this kind.
Larus tridactylus, Linn.
» rissa, Brunn. Is a regular summer visitant to the coast in great num
bers ;-some are met with during winter. The same is said of the species in Great Britain.* This gull is gregarious in the breeding season, frequenting every side of the island, and building in “mural precipices,” which are its favourite haunts. Dr. J. D. Marshall informed us in 1834, that—"This is by far the most common species of gull in Rathlin. On nearly all the precipitous headlands north of the Bull, these birds take up their summer residence, and during my visit (in June) were in such countless multitudes as to darken the air above our heads. Along the headlands of Raghery every pinnacle and ledge of rock was tenanted by the razorbill, puffin, or kittiwake gull; and numerous as the others were, the last far outstripped them in number. The nests were formed of dried grass, sea-weed, &c.; and the eggs, usually two in number, are of a grey colour, blotched and dotted with brown and purple. When I looked down from a height on these nests, it appeared wonderful how the birds found room to sit and hatch their eggs, or tend their young, for five or six nests were placed on a shelf of rock so close to each other, that the birds sat in contact, and, if not peaceably inclined, would have thrown the whole into confusion, and prevented each other from fulfilling the process of incubation. Yet they all seemed to live in harmony; and except when one unintentionally occupied a nest not its own (which very rarely happened), they never attempted to disturb one another. The young, when first excluded from the shell, are covered with a greyish down, intermixed with white. Their food consisted chiefly of fry. For two or three miles along the base of these cliffs, the rocks were covered with eggs, from which the young had been liberated-young birds which had been precipitated from the rocks, and with the excrement and feathers of the adult birds."
* Jardine, Brit. Birds,' vol. iv. p. 312.
On my visiting the Skerries off Portrush on the 12th of July, 1833, a large number of kittiwakes were assembled on a rock; my companion fired at them and killed several, all of which were in adult plumage : their legs varied much in colour, from a yellowish-olive to pale black; irides very dark brown :-they were not breeding on those islands.
In June 1832, I saw kittiwakes in immense numbers about their nesting-places in the range of magnificent cliffs westward of Horn Head. Under date of the 29th it was there noted, that from the Temple Brig, looking eastward, I saw at one view thousands sitting on their nests, which are all placed on narrow horizontal shelves, for about half-way up the rocks from the water, and in depth only sufficient to contain a single row of them. They are placed close together, and the birds on them as near to each other as they can sit. The nests are very thick (fully three inches), round in form, and composed apparently of the grass Elymus arenarius. They are perfectly circular inside, and exhibit no feathers as lining to the sides : being every one occupied, the bottom is not visible. When some of the old birds stand up in the nests, their young, about the size of newly hatched chickens, and of a brownish-grey colour, are seen. Some of the old birds exhibited the pretty and graceful gestures of the dove when
cooing, and looked consummately happy. There is quite a line of demarcation between the nesting-places of the kittiwake and herring-gull, the former occupying the lower (as has been stated), the latter the upper half of the same cliffs, but the nests of the herring-gull are not so numerous, nor are they, either here or anywhere else that I have seen them, in a continuous row like those of the kittiwake. They appear singly and irregularly dotting over the face of the cliff.
Audubon mentions kittiwakes breeding in great numbers on the Gannet Rock of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the situations chosen for the nests, &c., were such as have been described. He adds, however, that—"No other species of gull was seen about the rock," and that he has "regularly observed that each species of this genus breeds far apart, although at all other seasons it may associate with others.” On the eastern side of the Atlantic it is not so. About the locality under considerationHorn Head-five species breed, the kittiwake keeping nearest to the water, and the others occupying the higher portion of the same cliffs.
At Achil, in June 1834, we were told that numbers of this gull breed on Bills rock, off that island, and we saw many on the lofty cliffs of the Great Isle of Arran, Galway Bay. It builds in the precipitous cliffs of Kerry, and off that coast, in great numbers, on the smaller Skellig island (about 500 of them to 1 of any other species of gull) and a few on the larger island of that name ;* also at Tearaght rock, near the Blaskets, very numerouslyt (1850). They likewise nidify on Bull Island, a little southward, off the coast of Cork, and on the precipitous cliffs of that county, as well as of Waterford :-about Hel- · vick Head, they were observed in profusion in the summer of 1838. I They breed at the Saltees, off Wexford, in great numbers, where it was observed—“May 15. Some birds have arrived and made nests, but only the smaller number contain eggs; on the 24th of June they had eggs and young; and on the 15th of July
* Mr. R, Chute.
† Mr. Wm. Andrews.
Mr. R. Davis, jun,