Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/230

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE 29. Dipper. Cinclus aquaticus, Bechstein. The occurrence of the dipper in Warwick- shire can only be recorded for a few localities. Nearly thirty years ago one which had been shot in the Leam at Leamington came into the hands of the present writer ; and he has seen two or three others which were shot in the brook which runs into the Avon at Sherborne. More recently, though still but rarely, dippers have been taken in the Alne brook near Alcester. Some of these which still retained some of the nesting feathers had doubtless been bred there. Mr. Chase writ- ing in 1886 speaks of the dipper as very rare around Birmingham, but mentions the occur- rence of one at Handsworth on 12 January, 1882. From Mr. Ground of Birmingham the writer learns that a dipper was taken at Hay Mill in the Birmingham district in the winter of 1894-5. 30. Long-tailed Tit. Acredula caudata (Linn.) Formerly more abundant than at the present time, though still not rare. It is one of the birds which if not protected will certainly become scarce ; its conspicuous nest stands small chance of escaping notice and de- struction. 31. Great Tit. Parus major , Linn. There does not seem to be any fear of this bird becoming rare, for it is quite able to take care of itself. A cocoanut broken in half is a very great attraction in the winter months to the great, blue and coal-tits, and affords a good opportunity for observing their habits. It will be seen that the great tit is master and has first to be satisfied ; then conies the blue tit, and finally the coal-tit, the latter having to keep a sharp look-out to snatch even a hasty meal when opportunity serves. Both great and blue tits are very quarrelsome little birds, but the coal-tit is the reverse. The marsh-tit never comes to feed on the cocoanut. 32. Coal-Tit. Parus ater, Linn. It is rather remarkable that the nest of this bird has not been observed in the counties of Warwick and Worcester, nor in the ad- joining part of Gloucestershire, though as a species the bird is anything but rare in these counties. It is probable that there are ar- rivals in the autumn which remain through the winter and depart in the spring. 33. Marsh-Tit. Parus palustris, Linn. Although as abundant as the coal-tit it is less frequently noticed, as it rarely comes near dwelling houses but frequents coppices and brakes in small parties. It breeds, so far as the present writer has observed, in holes in trees, which it sometimes excavates for itself. It rarely if ever makes use of a hole in masonry for the nest. 34. Blue Tit. Parus caruleus, Linn. The blue tit, locally known as the torn tit, is a most courageous and impudent little fellow who will enter outhouses and help himself to anything which is to his taste. He will visit the slaughter-house of the vil- lage butcher and feed on any scraps of offal meat which may be there ; and will literally peel the inner surface of the skins of sheep or other animals which have been hung on the beams in the cart or cattle shed to dry. But he also consumes an enormous number of very small insects which he obtains by laborious search in the branches of trees and bushes. The nest is in any suitable hole either in building or tree. 35. Nuthatch. Sitta cauia, Wolf. A great frequenter of parks, orchards and other places where there are aged trees, but very rarely seen in growing woods or cop- pices. In an orchard near the dwelling of the present writer where a number of fowls are daily fed with maize, it is no uncommon thing to see a nuthatch carry off a large grain and consume it at leisure in an apple tree. Occasionally one of these birds will come quite near the windows to feed upon cocoanuts fixed up for the tits. 36. Wren. Troglodytes parvulus, Koch. This is one of the most prying of birds, often appearing in very odd places, almost always however near the ground. In the winter the hedger leaves behind him along the hedgerow faggots of wood (locally termed ' kids '), into which the wren very often creeps, and the writer has seen one fly out of a ' kid ' when it was on the fork to be thrown on the wagon and taken to the woodyard. The nest is constructed in a great variety of situations, some of them very remarkable. 37. Tree-Creeper. Certhia familiaris t Linn. This as a species is not by any means numerous ; indeed it might almost be said to be uncommon. The best places to observe its habits are in parks and orchards where there are large or old trees ; but it has a habit of passing round to the other side of a tree trunk to avoid observation. It is only seen singly, except in the breeding season. The nest is rarely seen, but is always in some crack 192