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when going down the Rhone from Lyons to Avignon. About half-way between these places several of the Cyp. melba were seen flying over the river, and likewise at all suitable places, from where they first appeared, until we reached Avignon. Hirundo rustica and H. urbica were likewise seen several times between Lyons and Avignon, but were nowhere numerous. The first I saw of these species (but which of them could not be determined, from the distance) was a small flock flying northwards, evidently on migration. All, indeed, which were seen to-day were, I think, only temporarily here, and would, after having got sufficient rest and food, move northwards. A very few sand martins (Hirundo riparia) were also seen about the Rhone to-day. At Malta, on the 17th of April, we first met with the common swift (Cypselus murarius), where, together with the three species of Hirundo just mentioned, numbers were flying low and in company, wherever we walked about the island; the day was very fine and warm : all four species were about as numerous as in their most favoured haunts in the British Islands.
“On the 18th of April, when walking in the neighbourhood of Valetta (Malta), six little plovers (Charadrius minor) in a flock alighted very near us, apparently to rest, and after a short time proceeded in their course, which was in a north-west direction.”
The birds seen on this occasion seem to me very interesting for more than one reason. Persons even of education still exist who are incredulous respecting the fact that many species which in summer frequent the British Islands, winter south of the Mediterranean, and cross that sea annually on their northern migration in the spring; but surely the fact of twenty-three of them having been seen crossing the Mediterranean during several successive days in spring, and all flying northward, should be a conclusive proof; in addition to which it may be stated that migratory species only were observed.* The twenty-three species alluded to are the
Kestrelt . . . . . . . . Falco tinnunculus.
* Among them, too, were four of our smallest birds-Sylvia trochilus, S. rufa, S. cinerea, and S. curruca.
† The kestrel, though permanently resident to some extent in the British Islands, is a well-known bird of passage in the south of Europe. VOL. III.
Woodchat . . . . . . . Lanius 74.JUS.
. . . , rufa.
Ibis . . . . . . . . . lbis falcinellus. Besides the British species seen, were several others, all migratory in the south of Europe, viz. :
Emberiza melanocephala. It is interesting, also, to observe that some individuals of species, the great body of which must have passed some time before, still continued moving northward ; – the wheatear and chiff-chaff, for instance, two of the earliest migrants northward in Europe. The great flight of quails bad, likewise, passed some time before, as I had learned at Naples and Malta, when travelling southward to join the Beacon.
Illiterate people, both in England and Ireland, unable to understand the subject of migration, account for the disappearance of the cuckoo by imagining that it is “ turned into a hawk” in winter; and some of all classes, kuowing the slow and slovenly flight of the landrail (Rallus crex), cannot believe that it has sufficient power of wing to migrate far. But in the spring it proceeds from Africa as far north as Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, and in the autumn returns again, to winter on that continent. In Provence, on the Mediterranean coast of France, and in Tuscany, it is as regular a bird of passage as in the British Islands. In Provence we learn that “they appear with the quails (but are far less numerous), and frequent the same places. As they are much larger, and always appear to conduct them, they have received the name of the King of the quails.”* In Italy it bears that name also ;-Re di quaglie.f My friend, Mr. W. R. Wilde, met with the species at Algiers, in December, and was told that it wintered there. I
* Duval-Jouve, in ' Zoologist,' vol. iii. p. 1113. † Savi, ‘Ornitologia Toscana,' vol. ii. p. 375.
I A note, contributed by Charles Ensor, Esq., relates to the water-rail, a resident species in the British Islands, being taken at sea. He remarks in an accompanying letter :-“I have mentioned the course of the wind, north-east, and although that wind was off the land, it was so exceedingly light, that I do not think it could have blown the bird away from the land. It did not show any symptoms of exhaustion, but was quite lively when captured.”
The note made on the occasion is as follows :-"Lat. 47° N.; long. 15° W.-At sunset this evening (August 3rd, 1836), a water-rail, Rallus aquaticus, flew on deck. As I was anxious to ascertain how long it could be kept alive on board, I got the carpenter to make a cage for it, and brought it into the cabin. We caught a tunny, Scomber thynnus, the day previously, and it soon began to eat small pieces of the fish; it also greedily devoured any flies which came into the cage. We had had light winds from the north-east for some days prior to the 3rd of August, and also afterwards, which delayed our arrival at Liverpool until the 11th of that month. On arriving abreast the lighthouse, at the entrance of the Mersey, I brought it on deck to let it fly away; it flew towards the lighthouse for about two hundred yards, and then returned to the ship. I landed that evening, and, on returning on board the following morning, was sorry to find that it had been eaten by a cat during the night."
hedge ............. i. 156
- white-faced ......... j. 46
water ..... .. i. 116
- pine ............ 275
............ i. 241
- yellow ............ i. 243
honey ....... i. 77, iï. 435
- rough-legged ........ i. 76
... i. 298
common .......... ii. 332
green ............ iii. 250