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but these were carried off. The birds were supposed to have remained in consequence of having been wounded, as were others, since seen and shot there in summer.
Although the brent goose is a wary species, it becomes at once tame, when wounded, and on the first day of its captivity under the cabin roof of the wild-fowl shooter, has eaten of oats or porridge. In one instance known to me, it drank water from a cup held in the hand, and nibbled over the fingers of its cup-bearer as if seeking for food. This bird preened its plumage, too, on the floor of the house, some hours after capture, and seemed in all respects as much at home as if it had been on the high seas. I have frequently known these birds, when slightly wounded, and secured from again taking flight by being pinioned, kept at country seats, where there were ponds, about Belfast. They remained there apparently quite contented at all times, except at the migratory season, when they became very uneasy, running backwards and forwards, flapping their pinioned wings in extreme anxiety to be off to far northern summer haunts. Some kept at the Falls, without being enclosed, had to be narrowly watched every year when under the influence of the vernal migratory movement. They then wandered as far northward as they could proceed with their disabled wings. One, kept at Cranmore, the residence of John Templeton, Esq., for nineteen years, acted like those just described every spring for about the first twelve years; after which period it ceased to exhibit any particular feeling at that season. These brent geese either fed on grass, like the tame geese, or took share of whatever food was supplied to poultry or other domestic birds about the place. A flock of seven-all birds obtained by being wounded—kept for the last two or three years by Mr. R. Chute, in Kerry, resort to the fields and feed wholly on grass. Brent geese are mild and gentle in disposition. At the Falls, where they were kept for many years, they were never seen either to quarrel among themselves (of which bernacle there were occasionally guilty), or with other birds, as Wilson accuses their American brethren of doing. The shooters of the north of Ireland bear testimony to the good and amiable character of the wild brent geese towards each other, and towards all kinds of ducks;—they call them “innocent birds.” Wigeon, mallards, &c., may frequently be observed mingled with them on the water, towards the extremity of the flock. On wing, they do not associate with any other of the Anatide.
THE RED-BREASTED GOOSE.
Anser ruficollis, Pall.
Cannot be recorded with certainty. When in Dublin, in March 1833, I was informed by a person to whom the species was well known, that about five years previously he had seen a specimen in the shop of Mr. Glennon; on inquiry of whom, I learned that the bird had been sent to him in a fresh state, to be preserved, but he was not aware where it had been killed. That it was procured on our coast is at least a fair inference.
Very few individuals of this species—of which little is known in any country-have been obtained in England, and none in Scotland. The bird is a native of the north of Asia.
• THE EGYPTIAN GOOSE.
Anser Ægyptiacus, Linn. (sp.) Has occasionally been shot on the coast. But from the circumstance of the species being kept on ponds, whence it sometimes wanders, I have not always committed to writing the instances in which it was obtained. Two notes only on the subject are before me. The first mentions one bird as having been shot near Moira, county Down, in the middle of January 1833. The second, my having, on the 12th of October, 1834, seen two individuals which were shot from a flock of fifteen on the river Lagan, near Belfast, on the 9th of that month. A gentleman of my acquaintance, on seeing these specimens, stated
that on the 10th or 11th (the following day or the second after the pair was killed), he saw a flock of about eighteen fly over his ship-yard at Belfast, very low, and proceed in the direction of Lough Neagh. Subsequently, but in what year I do not recollect, I saw a couple on sale in a poulterer's shop in that town.
I cannot think that the birds here noticed were truly wild, though this species may, possibly, as well as others from the southeast of Europe and north of Africa, occasionally visit this island.
A place is given to the Egyptian goose among British birds by Yarrell and Jardine, and among those of Belgium by De Selys Longchamps.
About thirty-five years ago, Egyptian geese were kept in numbers on lakes in Hillsborough Park, county Down, and the only time at which any could be captured was the moulting season. A friend, who had lost one of his, wished its place supplied, and with permission from Lord Downshire to take a bird from his stock, went thither, where, after considerable difficulty, he succeeded in rowing one down.
THE SPUR-WINGED or GAMBO GOOSE (Anser Gambensis, Briss.) has a place in the British catalogue, from the circumstance of a single individual having been obtained in Cornwall, in June 1821. The species is a native of northern and western Africa.
THE RUDDY SHELLDRAKE.
Ferruginous Duck, Bewick, edit. 1826.
Tadorna rutila, Pallas (sp.)
Has once been obtained ;
such as is resorted to by the common shelldrake (T. vulpanser) for the purpose of breeding. On the next day the specimen came into the possession of T. W. Warren, Esq., in whose collection it now is. Its plumage indicates a male nearly adult.
Three individuals only of this species have been procured in England--the first in 1776, the last in 1834—and none in Scotland. The ruddy shelldrake rarely visits any part of western Europe; its abode on that continent being in the eastern parts. It is found extensively over Asia.
Shieldrake ; Burrow Duck.
Anas tadorna, Linn.
But very few of these beautifully-marked birds now breed on the sandy coasts compared with what formerly did so. According to Harris's 'Down' (1744) :-" The shelldrake breeds in rabbit burroughs on the shores of this county, particularly about Killileagh and the south of the barony of Lecale ;”—whether or not it now frequents these localities is unknown to me; the following notes relate to other parts of this county. When visiting the islands of Strangford Lough, in June 1832, I was told that “scale-drakes” bred annually on some of them, and imagined that this species might be meant; but on cross-examination of my informants, I ascertained that the red-breasted merganser must be the bird so called. This was soon afterwards confirmed by one of these coming in sight, to which the name of scaledrake was applied. When visiting Dundrum in 1836, I was told that the shelldrake still breeds on the extensive marine sand-hills there. On the largest of the Copeland Islands they bred annually until the beginning of the present century, when it became inhabited. The chief farmer there, in 1827, imagined that they
and the rabbits were contemporaneous, telling me that so long as the rabbits were numerous the shelldrakes bred regularly ; but since the former were all destroyed, the birds ceased to visit the island for that purpose. At the Kinnegar, near Holywood, Belfast Bay, it is said that they annually bred until a late period, when the locality became too much frequented :-a pair, however, made the attempt in a rabbit-burrow here in the summer of 1832, but the nest was discovered and robbed of several eggs.
Even on the extensive sands of the wild peninsula of the Horn, in Donegal, where if these birds require the aid of rabbits to burrow for them, there are thousands of such pioneers, I was told, in the summer of 1832, that they had ceased to breed. The shelldrake still continues to resort to the rabbit-holes in the great sandy tract of Magilligan, on the coast of Londonderry. Their eggs are sought after by the neighbouring peasantry, who place them under hens, and when the young are reared, a ready market is found for them among the gentry, by whom they are kept for ornament. The nests are discovered by the old birds being observed on their way to the chosen burrows, whence the eggs are procured by being dug out. A sergeant employed on the Ordnance Survey informed me that he had killed several male birds here, chiefly in the breeding season, when it was very easy to obtain shots at them, owing to their flying after his dog in the manner of the lapwing, and not minding himself. He stated, indeed, that at all seasons, and over the land, as well as about the edge of the water, they thus flew after his dog :—the greatest depth at which he had found their nests within the burrows was six feet. Similar localities are thus resorted to on all sides of the coast. In the south, there was one near Youghal ;* and the birds still breed in the rabbit-holes at Inch and Rossbegh, on the coast of Kerry; but the numbers have much decreased of late years.t
With reference to birds that fly inland when the flowing tide covers their feeding-ground and return at the ebb, Mr. St. John
* Mr. R. Ball.
† Mr. R. Chute, 1849.