Vol. XIII 1896 Allen, Gatke's 'Heligoland! 1^7 GATKE'S 'HELIGOLAND. 1 BY J. A. ALLEN. Herr Gatke's 'Heligoland' is beyond question a remarkable book. Its author and the island from which it takes its name are both unique in the annals of ornithological literature. It is not therefore surprising that the work has been received with almost unexampled interest by bird lovers and bird students the world over. ' Heligoland' was originally published in German in 1892, and has now received the compliment of being made accessible to English readers. Heligoland is a small island at the mouth of the Elbe in the North Sea, about fifteen miles distant from the mainland. It is triangular in outline, slightly over a mile in length, but much less than a square mile in area. Being treeless and almost destitute of shrubbery, it affords slight chance of concealment for the birds which visit it, often in enormous numbers. But its bird popula- tion is mainly transient, only one species of land bird, the ever- present House Sparrow, being a regular breeder in any numbers. The island is thus a resting place merely — ' Die Vogelwarte Helgoland,* to borrow the expressive German title of Herr Gatke's book- -for migrants, that make it a temporary place of refuge in their long journeys, in most cases tarrying for only a few hours. It also lies at the intersection of two prominent lines of migration, the one a north and south route, the other an east and west route. Here Herr Giitke for fifty years, aided by fowlers, taxidermists, and bird catchers of all sorts, has kept an incessant watch upon the ever-fluctuating bird population of this " bare and rugged isle," with the result of chronicling as visitants to Heligo- land not less than 39S species, including a large number of waifs and strays from distant and in some instances most unexpected quarters of the globe. As a result, as already said, Heligoland and Herr Giitke have long been famous in the annals of orni- ""■ Heligoland as an Ornithological Observatory, the Result of Fifty Years' Experience. By Heinrich Gatke. Translated by Rudolph Rosenstock. Edin- burgh: David Douglas. 1895. 8vo, pp. xii, 599.
Page:Auk Volume 13-1896.djvu/185
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.