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the two is similar, except in merc shade; the grey of the adult being lighter and handsomer and the blackish plumage of a darker tint. It proved on dissection a male, as its plumage denoted; the stomach was empty.
The late Mr. G. Matthews, distinguishing this bird as the “smaller long-tailed skua” (and satisfying me of his correctness as to the species), remarked that he saw many in 1843 at different parts of the coast of Norway, but not farther north than the Vaagsfiord. There were numbers at the entrance of the Saltenfiord in August, but not so many during winter.
In 1849 this species was met with by Captain May along the coast of that country from the commencement of the Arctic Circle to the north of Alten—towards and about the 70th degree of latitude it was quite common, and seemed more so than any other of the genus Lestris ; it was the most accessible of them all. Several were killed: one on the top of a mountain about 2,000 feet above the sea, when the party were in pursuit of rein-deer ; it was believed to be a hawk at first sight, and was a fine adult male. About the Salten Maelstrom, where there were a great many fish and consequently great numbers of gulls, skuas were particularly frequent; it depended on the presence of gulls whether or not any skuas would be seen.
During his sporting tour of 1850, Capt. May remarked that “the long-tailed skua seems to travel very far inland, as we shot one on the mountain in Lapland fully a hundred miles from the sea.”
Although skuas frequent the coast pretty commonly, a few general notes on their occurrence may be added. They are, with the exception of the L. catarrhactes, whose dimensions mark its species, the most difficult of all our birds to be determined on wing, unless when adult, in which state unfortunately they are very rarely met with. This is owing to the three other species passing through much the same stages of plumage from youth to maturity, which, being attained, the comparative length of the two central tail-feathers is an admirable mark of distinction. On a close examination, the superior size of L. pomarinus to that of the other two always marks it at any age, but we must sometimes
pause before we can distinguish the immature L. Richardsonii from L. longicaudatus, so much do individuals of each species differ in size.
Skuas have become very scarce in parts of Belfast Bay, where in my boyhood they almost daily came under my notice in autumn, and not unfrequently two or three in a day—in winter, I had not the opportunity of observing them. I allude to the Kinnegar or Holywood rabbit-warren, where in the fine breezy days of September and October they thus appeared, and at the same time terns, which are now about equally rare. Without the presence of terns or gulls, which the skuas make their caterers, they are not to be seen, unless accidentally. Although we cannot admire their predatory character, they are very interesting birds, from the great power and rapidity of flight which they display. As they come sweeping down upon the large gulls, it is extraordinary to observe these drop their prey, which apparently within the next second of time is appropriated by the robber skuas. These birds present a singular subject for contemplation in being born robbers, endowed by nature with every faculty that will enable them to bear off and live upon booty seized from or dropped through fear by their most nearly allied species—the gulls and terns.*
I was told at Horn Head in 1832 of some species appearing on the coast regularly in autumn and remaining during that season and winter. On the 1st of August, 1850, a gentleman visiting that locality saw several of these birds in pursuit of herring-gulls as they flew out to sea. An observant shooter has seen a skua (probably from his description L. pomarinus or L. Richardsonië) in Belfast Bay in the autumn of 1842. Two were noticed there on the 31st of August, 1843, and one on the 12th of September, 1844 ;-a herring-gull was chasing it at the time. At the entrance of Dundrum Bay, county Down, on the 23rd of August, 1836, I saw three skuas in company, all of which were of a uniform blackish-brown colour. Mr. Hyndman, who went farther out to sea than I did myself, saw one apparently larger than those just mentioned, and with white on the under plumage ; our boatman said that “ two sizes” of them were known to him, the larger being white beneath. A gentleman residing at Dundrum, who shoots much about the bay, stated that “three sizes of dirt-birds," as he called them, frequent it, and that the largest is the whitest on the under parts : none of them is near the size of the L. catarrhactes. If my informant be correct respecting the “three sizes," and the largest being less than that species, they must be L. pomarinus, L. Richardsonii, and L. longicaudatus ; the white-bellied one of the greatest size will be the adult male of L. pomarinus, but this description of colour is no guide to species, as all the three pass through much the same changes of plumage, and the under parts are more or less white in the adult males of all. Mr. Montgomery noted his having seen three arctic gulls in the outer bay of Dundrum in August 1823.
* I give the following as an unusual occurrence, from the journal of the late John Templeton, Esq. :--" Aug. 3, 1812. Mr. M‘Skimmin, of Carrickfergus, mentioned to me that a black-toed gull (Larus crepidatus) had been caught on a baited hook near that place. The fishermen remarked to him that they seldom appear in the bay, and that when seen, they are very shy, and keep at a distance from their boats and lines.”
In crossing from the mainland to the island of Lambay, off the Dublin coast, on the 5th of June, 1838, we saw two skuas, which were so dark in colour as to appear entirely black ; they produced great consternation among a group of terns (Sterna hirundo and S. arctica) by giving chase to them : their light was amazingly rapid ; they literally “bore down" upon their weaker brethren. Skuas have been observed by Mr. S. Poole about the Saltee Islands, Wexford coast, in summer, and another gentleman states that they may be seen “all the year” off the eastern bar of Wexford Harbour. Specimens have been obtained on the coast of Waterford ;* Mr. R. Ball has observed young birds so early as the beginning of July about Youghal, and one species is considered common on the Galway coast. Skuaś, or “black gulls," as they were called, about the size of the common gull, but “ rather heavier in the wings, and having pointed tails," have been observed in Tralee Bay in 1846, and again in January 1850. * Dr. Burkitt.
+ Mr. W. M‘Calla.
Is extremely rare.
It was first recorded by me as Irish in the following communication, published in 1846, in the 18th volume of the 'Annals of Natural History' (p. 312).
" Among ornithological notes made by the Rev. Joseph Stopford—a gentleman well acquainted with our native birds—and communicated to Dr. Harvey of Cork (by whom I have been favoured with them)—is one of a fulmar having been shot at Inchidoney Island, on the southern coast, in 1832, by Captain Ilungerford. It was sent to the writer, by whom it was presented to Sir Charles Paget, then forming a collection of birds at Cove. In January 1846, Mr. T. W. Warren of Dublin kindly communicated to me a detailed description of a bird shot on the North Strand, Dublin Bay, on the 1st of that month, mentioning at the same time that it was a species which had never before come under his notice, nor that of Mr. Glennon, taxidermist, through whose hands so many rare birds have passed within the last thirty years. The description marked it as a fulmar in adult plumage:”-I have since seen the specimen in Mr. Warren's collection.
A third instance of the fulmar's occurrence has been made known to me:-one having been shot by the Rev. J. Stopford at Castle Freke, county Cork, in the month of October 1845.
The fulmar is very little known as a British bird, excepting at St. Kilda and the neighbouring islets of Borrera and Soa, where it breeds annually in multitudes, and is their most valuable product; the eggs and birds themselves being used as food, and the oil for various purposes. Sir William Jardine is not aware of this bird's occurrence on the shores of the mainland of Scotland (Brit. Birds,' 1843); but a few individuals have been obtained at different parts of the coast of England and Wales (Yarrell). It inhabits the arctic regions of both hemispheres.
THE GREATER SHEARWATER.
Puffinus major, Faber.
Is occasionally seen upon the coast. Our information on this species as Irish is chiefly due to Mr. Robert Davis, of Clonmel, who kindly furnished me with the particulars of two examples which he procured in different years, notices of which were published in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London in 1837, p. 54, and Annals of Natural His. tory' in 1842 (vol. ix. p. 433). When the first Irish bird was announced, one individual only had been positively recorded as British, but since that period Mr. Yarrell has brought together a good deal of information on the species, the best of which was supplied by Mr. D. W. Mitchell. This gentleman mentions the occurrence of P. major as not unfrequent on the Cornish coast, and that it is well known to the inhabitants of the Scilly Islands. The observations of my correspondent at Clonmel may still be given in full, more especially as he only, so far as known to me, has attended to the habits of the bird in captivity. Mr. Davis remarked of the first specimen :-“This was taken in August 1835 near Dungarvan, county of Waterford, and sent to me alive. It was apparently in good health, but would not eat anything, and died after having been in my possession for about ten days or a fortnight. It had an extremely rank, fishy, or oily smell at all times, but I never saw any appearance of oil being discharged from its mouth or nostrils. It seemed unable to walk, but scrambled along with its breast about an inch from the ground. Although its wings were perfect and uninjured, it made no attempt to fly, but if let fall from a height dropped heavily to the ground. It showed an inclination to climb, having several times mounted up the handle of a long spade that rested against the wall of the yard in which it was kept. It did not ramble about, nor care much for water, but when put in a large tub, very dex