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before remarked them in spring, but not so near to the road. I have seen them within shot of the coach, and as regardless of its passing as a flock of tame geese, indeed more so, for the latter would have had the impudence to cackle, while the bernacle had the good taste to remain silent. They were never feeding when I observed them, though, doubtless, they partake of the pasture. No person having been permitted to fire a shot about Lurgan Green was the reason of their tameness. They were captured here in little pitfalls dug in the earth, without being in the least degree injured. Several were so obtained at one time to be placed on the aquatic menagerie at the Falls near Belfast, where they at once became tame, and proved to be of a mild and gentle disposition, like the brent geese ;—more than can justly be said for all our Anatida. The ground alluded to, on which the bernacle was seen from the coach-road, was embanked from the sea a few years ago, and brought under cultivation ; since which period I have not learned anything of the bird there.
On the 20th of October, 1849, and about the same period of the preceding year, flocks of about twenty bernacle were observed (by the Rev. G. M. Black) flying over the sea and points of land in a southerly direction off Annalong, at the base of the mountains of Mourne. They were supposed to be proceeding to Lurgan Green. “They flew in a line like wild geese, but differed from these birds by keeping always low-about twenty yards from the sea or ground
-and, when viewed through a telescope, were headed by an old stager, whose adult plumage was strongly defined.”
To Belfast Bay the bernacle is but a rare visitant, and chiefly early in the winter ; but, at the beginning of August, a single bird was once obtained. One which came under my inspection was shot on the 1st of November, 1826, upon a little green islet which rises above the sands at a place called Harrison's Bay. A small flock to which it belonged frequented the little green knolls rising above the sands, and the boggy fields bordering the bay, for some weeks. Persecution at last drove them away. One was killed on the Long Strand close to the town, on the 26th of March, 1927, when a flock of ten birds visited this locality and the neighbouring pasture-fields. At the end of September 1830, a bernacle was obtained at Kilroot, below Carrickfergus, and in November 1833, six were shot about the same time on the banks, at different parts of the bay, within two miles of Belfast. Early in the winter of 1846, one was seen on a bank in company with curlews. A bernacle was noted as being on sale in the market of this town on the 14th, and six on the 19th of September, 1837; but, as it is not mentioned where they were procured, the only use of the note is to show that at the time, the species was on some part of the coast;—these birds may have been brought from Lurgan Green.
On Ballydrain Lake, a beautiful sheet of fresh water near Belfast, covering about twenty acres, (and, perhaps, five English miles in a direct line from the sea,) a flock of eleven bernacle was seen by Mr. Darragh on the 2nd of April, 1849. It was stated by persons living on its borders, that these birds had frequented the locality for a considerable part of the winter. They were very wild, keeping about the middle of the lake, and, when any person approached its margin, they took wing to its opposite extremity. During the entire day they remained on the water, but were not observed by night, when, probably, they fed on the short grass upon the banks. In the following winter three bernacle made their appearance here at the latter end of November ; soon afterwards, two, and before long, four more joined them. These nine birds remained until the end of the first week in February, when, farming operations being commenced on one side of the lake, they took their departure. Four of them appeared again several times during the ensuing week, but the bustle of the season always frightened them away. This is the only instance known to me of the species resorting to fresh water in the north of Ireland. On the 15th of February, a female bernacle in fine condition, and probably one of the same birds, was shot at “the bog meadows," about three miles distant. Its stomach was filled with the shamrock trefoil—Trifolium repens (of which there were a few pieces from four to six inches in length that had been pulled up by the root), pieces of Ranunculi, and grasses.
The only regular haunt of the bernacle known to me during VOL. III.
every winter, on the Irish coast, was that of Lurgan Green. Everywhere else that the bird has come under the notice of my correspondents it is of rare occurrence; in the north-west of Donegal, on the coasts generally of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, and Clare, it is reported to be scarce. Twenty-nine birds were killed at one shot from a swivel-gun a few years ago at Malahide, on the coast of Dublin. A flock was observed in Dublin Bay on the 20th of January, 1850.* In December, 1847, three were shot in the harbour of Wexford. The first seen by Mr. R. Chute, in Kerry, was a male bird, killed from a small flock on a little lake to the west of Dingle, in the middle of November, 1848.
Montagu, in the Supplement to his ‘Ornithological Dictionary,' remarks :-“ This species has generally been said to be abundant on the coast of Ireland in the winter-season; we are, however, informed by Sir William Elford, that it is certainly a mistake; the brent being commonly called by the same name has probably occasioned the assertion, for that bird is taken in the bay of Belfast, and other northern parts of that island in great abundance, but he never could discern the Erythropus among them.”
When visiting Loch-in-daal, island of Islay, in January 1819, I observed that it possessed suitable feeding-ground for both the bernacle and brent goose; extensive tracts of sand, with abundance of low bordering greensward for the one, and spacious banks of Zostera marina for the other. A flock of about two hundred brent geese was seen standing by the edge of the retiring tide. I was gratified to learn from Mr. Murray, formerly gamekeeper at Islay House, that the loch is frequented by both species. The A. leucopsis is called there “land bernacle ;" it has been becoming scarcer of late years.
Willughby (1678) remarked of the bernacle and the brent goose, (which two species he was the first author to distinguish properly,) that:—"we have seen both alive among his Majesty's wild-fowl kept in St. James's Park," p. 360. It is pleasant to the ornithologist to think, that, although the keeping up of a stock
* Mr. J. Watters, jun.
of wild fowl here was neglected for a long period, both these species may now again, more than 170 years after the above was written, be seen in St. James's Park, and in company with species which were wholly unknown at that period.
A number of the strangely fanciful old stories respecting this and the following species being produced from the Cirripede of the same name, which adheres to the bottoms of ships, are brought together in the volume of the Library of Entertaining Knowledge,' entitled “Habits of Birds,' p. 363. The belief is still current among the Irish fishermen and those who dwell about the sea.
THE BRENT GOOSE.
Anser brenta, Flem.
„ bernicla, Linn. (sp.)
» torquatus, Belon. (sp.) Is, except in summer, a constant inhabitant of suitable
localities around the coast. This species is commonly described by British authors, as much more frequent on the eastern coast of Great Britain than on the western, on which the bernacle is said to be chiefly found. Even on the coast of the county of Sutherland, which stretches across Scotland, the distribution of the two species is stated to follow the same rule.* This cannot be owing to any laws of geographical distribution, as the brent goose is in Europet abundant still farther to the west than Great Britain ;-namely, in Ireland, where it is found on each side of the island, according to the simple rule of the suitableness of the locality—an abundance of Zostera marina, in so far as my observation extends, determining that point. Montagu, too, had remarked, in reference to this island, that brent geese “ are in greatest abundance in those rivers that empty themselves into
* St. John, ‘Tour in Sutherland,' vol. i. p. 139. + It is common on the coasts of the United States, &c., of America.
the northern part of the Irish channel.” Their chief haunts known to me are, to begin northward, Louglis Swilly, Foyle, Larne, Belfast, Strangford, Dublin Bay,* the harbours of Wexford, Waterford, Youghal, and Cork. In Kerry they are confined to Tralee Bay, being abundant there during winter ;t and are stated to be so likewise in the bays of Connaught.
The bird is thus mentioned by the following authors :
According to Boate’s ‘Natural History of Ireland,' published in 1726, “ barnacles are of the wild-goose kind, and like them migrate from foreign countries to Ireland; they commonly come into Ireland in August, and leave it about March ; their taste is very different, according to the places where they feed ; in most places they are so rank that no curious palate can dispense with such unsavoury food; but in other places they have a most delicious relish, rather better than either a wild duck, teal, or snipe. This is the case of the barnacles at Londonderry and Wexford, and I hear the same concerning those at Belfast: the difference, I understand, arises from the food ; at Londonderry, in the bay commonly called Lough Foyle, there grows a grass that sends out a stalk above a fathom long, the root of which is white and tender, and continues such for some space above the root, and it is almost as sweet as a sugar-cane : § the barnacles dive to the bottom and lay hold on it as near as they can to the root, and pull it up with them to the surface of the water, and eat the tender part of it, the rest they let drive with the wind to the shore, where it lies in great heaps,
* Very common from November to April, (Mr. R. J. Montgomery.) + Mr. R. Chute.
In works published in 1848 and 1849, opposite opinions are expressed respecting the quality of this bird as food. The Rev. E. S. Dixon, in his volume on
Ornamental and Domestic Poultry,' when expatiating on white-fronted geese, alludes to an unfounded supposition that “their flesh would be fishy, as in the scarcely eatable brent goose” (p. 94); and in another place mentions this bird as “ fishy, strong, and oily” (p. 151). Mr. Knox, on the contrary, in his ‘Ornithological Rambles in Sussex,' remarks on it :---" This is the best bird I ever tasted; the flesh is as tender and juicy as that of a teal, and there is a total absence of the fishy flavour, which renders so many of our water-fowl unfit for the table” (p. 236).
ş Hence, we may presume, set down in a work published in 1837 as Fucus saccharinus! In the description of the county of Londonderry, in Lewis's ‘Topographical Dictionary of Ireland' (vol. ii. p. 294), we learn that “Among wild-fowl, one species is very remarkable, the barnacle, which frequents Longh Foyle in great numbers, and is here much estcemed for the sweetness of its flesh, in like manner as at Wexford and Strangford, though elsewhere rank and unsavoury; this difference arises from its here feeding on the Fucus saccharinus."