Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/238

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE in the second volume of the Zoologist. The fifth specimen was killed at Moreton Morrel near Warwick and the sixth was shot at Radford near Leamington. In the spring of 1860 a honey-buzzard was taken by the gamekeeper in the park at Warwick Castle, and on 26 Sep- tember, 1876, one was shot near Kenilworth. The latest occurrence of this bird seems to have been in the summer of 1894, when one was caught in a jay-trap at Ragley. Mr. J. Steele Elliott records the capture of one at Little Aston on 16 June, 1891. 1 06. Peregrine Falcon. Falco peregrinus, Tunstall. A somewhat rare and irregular winter visitor to the county, feeding on partridges, lapwings, moorhens and ring-doves. It is not however so rare as to require detailed mention of appearances, which are recorded from most parts of the county. 107. Hobby. Falco subbuteo, Linn. Formerly not uncommon as a summer migrant in the valley of the Avon, but much less frequent of late years, the falling off in number apparently corresponding with the great diminution in the supply of swallows. A pair of hobbies built a nest in the old nest of a crow or magpie in Snitterfield Bushes, a large cover in the village of Snitterfield, in the summer of 1850; and in September, 1846, a young bird was taken in the park at Ragley, the seat of the Marquis of Hertford. 1 08. Merlin. Falco lesalon, Tunstall. A strictly migratory species, appearing only in the autumn, winter, or early spring. Once only has the writer met with it in summer, but the specimen though adult was in such a wretched condition that it could have been merely an accidental visitor. Larks are to some extent the food of the merlin, and the following story shows the persistency with which it follows its prey. A man thrash- ing in a barn had opened the upper half of the barn doors on each side of the building for the admission of fresh air, when just as the flail was at the top of its swing he felt it touch something over his head, and a lark, nearly smashed by a blow, fell on to the floor. In attempting to escape from a merlin it flew in at the open door and was struck by the flail, while the hawk passed through the barn unhurt. 109. Kestrel. Falco tinnuncu/us, Linn. Though still a common resident the kestrel is less abundant than formerly. It is not so often seen hanging in the air or passing leisurely over- head and perching, a conspicuous object, on the very top of some tree. Its habit of flight is very unlike that of the sparrow-hawk, which dashes past quite low down and rising up alights in the middle of the tree, never on the top of it. The food of the kestrel con- sists almost wholly of small mammals, as may be seen by the contents of the castings under a roosting-place after they have been disinte- grated by the rains of winter. no. Osprey. Pandion ba/iaftus (Linn.) Five occurrences of the osprey in Warwick- shire have come to the knowledge of the writer. One preserved in the museum at Warwick was taken in the park at the castle ; another in the same collection was shot at Umber- slade. A third was shot over the Avon at St. Nicholas's meadow, Warwick, and is in the writer's collection. The fourth was also shot on the Avon at a place known as Binton Bridges, between the counties of Warwick and Gloucester, in January, 1865, which came into the hands of the writer and proved to be a female. Mr. Peter Spicer of Leam- ington received an osprey which had been shot at Packington on 26 August, 1887, and a bird of this species was seen by Mr. Steele Elliott at Sutton Coldfield on 30 September, 1890. 111. Cormorant. Phalacrocorax carbo (Linn.). A storm-driven visitor to most parts of the county, but of infrequent occurrence and generally, perhaps always, in immature plum- age. 112. Shag or Green Cormorant. Phala- crocorax gracu/us (Linn.) Like the last species an uncertain storm- driven wanderer, and when found generally in a state of exhaustion. 113. Gannet or Solan Goose. Sula banana (Linn.) Another wanderer brought inland by stress of weather. An adult gannet was shot some years ago near Warwick and is now in the museum there. Another was found ex- hausted in the middle of a large arable field at Milcote near Stratford-on-Avon. Mr. Chase records the occurrence of one which was taken in a field of potatoes near Tarn- worth. 114. Common Heron. Ardea cinerea, Linn. There are at present but few heronries in Warwickshire. The one at Warwick Castle has either ceased to be or is greatly reduced in size. A small one yet remains at Ragley, the seat of the Marquis of Hertford. The mischief done by the heron where fish arc 2OO