Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/227

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BIRDS The avifauna of the county does not show any strongly marked characteristics. As might be expected, however, many sea coast or estuarine birds follow the course of the Avon from the Bristol Channel, and appear in Warwickshire as spring or autumn visitors, and heavy gales from the south-west drive coast species into the county. The Avon is also the resort of birds which do not follow its course, as for instance the swallow, which in former times came in countless numbers to roost in the reed and osier beds. And as surely as they came so surely came the hobbies to prey upon them, and might be seen two or three at a time. Occasionally, though but rarely, a merlin would appear with the hobbies. Again, the peregrine falcon has been a not very rare winter visitor to the banks of the Avon, attracted by the various water and other birds found there at that season. Whether the spring and autumn migration of birds across England between the Bristol Channel and the Wash (in the line of which War- wickshire lies) exercises any influence on the avifauna of the county is a question which remains for future determination. Of the summer visitors, consisting largely of warblers, Warwickshire always has an abundance. The appearance in extraordinary numbers of the Arctic tern up the course of the Avon in May, i 842, must be regarded rather in the light of an irruption than a migration, but as the flight followed the stream we may assume that had there been no river there would have been no terns. Sutton Coldfield Park, in the north of the county, merits special mention from its having been the haunt of many rare birds. It possesses woodland, marsh, pools, and small streams, and was formerly frequented by black grouse, red grouse, all the species of harriers, the little bittern, the little egret, as well as the common bittern, the latter being by no means of infrequent occurrence there. I. Missel-Thrush. Turdus viscivorus, Linn. 2. Song-Thrush. Turdus musicus y Linn. Although much less abundant than formerly The numbers of the song-thrush are con- the recent mild winters have done much to- siderably augmented in the autumn. Some- wards restoring its numbers. That the missel- times before harvest the beans are almost thrush suffers very greatly in severe winters smothered by small brown beetles, which are is without doubt. In the early autumn, about consumed in immense numbers by the harvest time, this bird is very partial to fields thrushes. There is no doubt however that of standing beans, from which small parties snails constitute to a great extent the food are often flushed by harvest people, and later of the song-thrush, on by the dogs of the partridge shooters. 189