Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/232

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE A caged goldfinch was hung on a wall in a brickyard, and the shrike was seen to strike at it, but was driven away. Shortly after- wards however the shrike was seen to be endeavouring to drag the goldfinch, which was killed, through the wires of the cage. A trap baited with the dead bird secured the assassin, which came to the writer with two broken legs. Mr. Chase records the occur- rence of this bird at two places around Bir- mingham, namely at Wylde Green on 14 November, 1871, and at Rubery Hill on 31 October, 1881. 47. Red-backed Shrike. Lanius collurio, Linn. A regular summer visitor and generally distributed, breeding freely in the county. Its habit of impaling food on thorns is well known, and mice, voles, shrews, young birds and large insects, such as beetles, humble- bees, and large moths, have been often seen secured in that manner in thorn bushes, always however inside the bush and not ob- servable unless looked for. 48. Waxwing. Ampelis garrulus, Linn. This handsome bird has appeared occasion- ally in the county. One preserved in the Warwick Museum was taken near Coventry. A very fine male, having six of the wax-like appendages on each wing, was shot at Red Hill between Stratford-on-Avon and Alcester on 1 8 January, 1850, and came at once into the hands of the present writer. Mr. Chase records the occurrence of one at Aston Hall near Birmingham about 1845, and another which was killed at Rednal on -?o January, 1882. 49. Pied Flycatcher. Linn. Muscicapa atricapilla, As an occasional summer migrant the pied flycatcher has occurred in the county, and I have seen specimens in the hands of John Spicer of Warwick which had been shot near that town. One of them, an adult male, was shot while perched on the roof of the flour mill close to the walls of Warwick Castle. Near Birmingham it is said by Mr. Chase to be rare. Mr. Steele Elliott, quot- ing Mr. Chase, states that it nested on 5 June, 1882, in the park at Sutton Cold- field, and also that a pair was seen there by Mr. Bitteridge in May, 1889. 50. Spotted Flycatcher. Muscicapa grisola, Linn. A regular summer migrant and generally distributed. The selection of its nesting place is sometimes remarkable. On two occasions 194 a nest has been placed immediately over a door through which people passed continually. 51. Swallow. Hirundo rustica, Linn. With the continuance of such a decrease in its numbers as has taken place of late years, this beautiful bird will at no distant time have to be recorded as a rare British bird. There are now only individuals where there were formerly hundreds, and a swallows' nest has become an unusual thing. The very great decrease in numbers is difficult of ex- planation. That the rarity of some birds has been due to the interference with their nest- ing places there can be no doubt, but that cannot be said of the swallow, for as a general rule its nest is inviolate. And the explana- tion is not made easier when it is remembered that a pair of swallows will ordinarily rear three broods in one summer. 52. House-Martin. Chelidon urb'ua (Linn.) This species like the swallow now appears in decreased numbers, but by no means in so great a degree. 53. Sand-Martin. Cattle riparia (Linn.) Where there is suitable accommodation for nesting, the present species does not seem to have decreased in numbers ; but it must always be somewhat local according to the presence or absence of a nesting-place. 54- Greenfinch. Ligurinus chloris (Linn.) The greenfinch at one time became a somewhat local bird, owing apparently to high cultivation having reduced the hedges suit- able for its nest. Of late years however the number has increased, and there is cer- tainly more nesting accommodation in the higher and untrimmed hedges. 55. Hawfinch. Coccothraustes vulgaris, Pallas. Though much more abundant than for- merly and generally distributed the hawfinch, owing to its shy and wary nature, is but seldom seen. It will however come quite near to dwellings and will even build its nest within sight of the windows. A nest seen by the writer was in the thick fork of an apple tree, and was only discovered by the birds being watched from a window. When completed nothing could be seen of the nest from below except the projecting ends of a few sticks, which gave it the appearance of the frag- mentary remains of a nest of the previous summer. The hawfinch has been accused of a partiality for green peas, which it is said to take from the pods. It feeds freely during the winter months on the seeds of the maple.