Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/235

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BIRDS few favoured localities. Mr. Aplin says, 'In the north of the county [Oxfordshire] where the crow has it all his own way it is particu- larly abundant.' As might be expected it is common in the adjacent part of Warwick- shire, At the commencement of the breed- ing season the crow goes through some remarkable vocal exercises, wholly unlike the incessant and monotonous caw, caw, caw of the rook. He commences with a rather shrill repetition of a note something like the syllable ' crocht,' which is followed by some low modulated sounds, and he ends with a deep double note sounding like ' ka!6re ' repeated many times, the last and accented syllable being accompanied by an upward fling of the wings, for the wind up of the performance generally takes place on the wing. The alarm note is one which once heard, especially at nightfall when all is still, is not easily for- gotten. 79. Hooded Crow. Corvus cornix. Linn. An occasional visitor to the county, some- times frequenting the sides of streams and feeding on mussels and other molluscs at low water as well as associating with herds of cattle in pastures. Mr. Chase records the breeding of the hooded crow in Sutton Park in May, 1883, and Mr. Steele Elliott men- tions its nesting there in 1894. 80. Rook. Corvus frugi/egus, Linn. The abundance of the rook depends wholly on its protection at breeding time. 81. Sky-Lark. Alauda arvensis, Linn. A common and resident bird, whose music is heard in almost every field. 82. Wood-Lark. Alauda arborea, Linn. An uncommon and local bird in the county, and even rare in the northern part, as I am informed by Mr. Chase. Its rather peculiar song at once announces its presence. 83. Swift. Cypselus apus (Linn.) This, perhaps the most remarkable of our birds, is a common summer visitor whose numbers have suffered no diminution. It exists almost entirely on the wing except during the period of nesting. The inter- course between the sexes takes place high up in the air, where also it is now supposed to spend the night as well as the day. Its habits have led country people to say that they retire to the upper regions of the atmos- phere to roost. There is no doubt that the swift is a more or less nocturnal bird. The large and rather deeply sunken eyes seem to I 97 indicate as much, and the whole face of the bird has a very owl-like appearance. When or where the swift retires to rest is not at present within our knowledge. 84. Nightjar. Caprimulgus europaus, Linn. A summer visitor which cannot be termed rare, though it is nowhere plentiful. It is quite as common in the north as the south side of the county, and breeds where there are suitable surroundings. 85. Wryneck. lynx tore/ui/la, Linn. The wryneck is most certainly less com- mon than formerly. Its peculiar and unmis- takable song, if such it can be called, is not as often heard, and specimens are more rarely brought to the bird stuffers for preservation. It is more a local than a rare bird. 86. Green Woodpecker. Gecinus viridis (Linn.) Wherever the growth of timber suits the habits of this bird no diminution in its numbers appears to have taken place, and its well known laughing voice may be heard. 87. Great Spotted Woodpecker. Dendrocopus major (Linn.) Although much less common than the green woodpecker, this species is not rare in the county, but it is more dependent than even the last species on the presence of large and aged trees. The nest, to judge by the very few instances which have come to the knowledge of the writer, is high up in some half-decayed tree, and not in a con- spicuous place ; the beech appears to be frequently chosen. There is no longer any doubt that the loud jarring rattle which this bird makes in the spring is caused by very rapid strokes of the bill on hard wood or bark. It is reported by Mr. Steele Elliott to be not uncommon in the park at Button Cold- field, where it breeds, choosing by preference the oak and holly trees in which to excavate a nesting place. 88. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Dendrocopus minor (Linn.) A commoner bird than the last and more generally distributed. At the end of January and all through February, its presence is known by the jarring sound that it makes and which resembles that made by the greater spotted woodpecker, except that the vibrations are smaller and more rapid. Ancient orchards are favourite haunts of this little bird, but the nest is not easy to find, being generally more or less out of sight, and only to be dis-