The Zoologist/4th series, vol 3 (1899)/Issue 700/Notes and Queries
NOTES AND QUERIES.
Death of a Whiskered Bat by Misadventure.—In spite of the adroitness with which Bats avoid obstacles encountered in their rapid flight, and the precision with which they thread their way among the branches and foliage of trees, they are not exempt from occasional accidents. At the end of last April, when walking along the margin of the mere at Siddington, I saw a Whiskered Bat (Myotis mystacinus), as I thought, asleep and hanging by its feet to a brier overhanging the water. A closer examination showed that the wings were half open, and not folded closely to its sides as in sleep, and that the Bat was not supported by its feet, but by a thorn which had pierced the interfemoral membrane on the right side close to the extremity of the tail. In its struggles to free itself, the Bat had lapped its tail tirmly round the twig from which the thorn projected, and was thus held a fast prisoner. When found it was alive but moribund, and a large portion of the wing-membrane was already dry and shrivelled. It made a feeble but unsuccessful attempt to drink some milk which I offered it, but died within two hours of its release.—Chas. Oldham (Alderley Edge).
Is the Whinchat a Mimic?—In confirmation of Mr. Robert Godfrey's affirmative answer to this question respecting Pratincola rubetra in 'The Zoologist' (ante, p. 267), I venture to quote the following from St. John's 'Natural History and Sport in Moray' (p. 147):—"May 28th (1850). The loch (Spynie) is full of Sedge Warblers now. I heard a most extraordinary singing in some alders to-day; at one time it was like a person whistling, at another like a very sweet and full-toned Blackbird, but always ending in a song like a Sedge Warbler. After watching it for some time, we shot the bird, which turned out to be a Whinchat. I cannot understand its note, quite unlike any bird that I ever heard."—F. Finn (Indian Museum, Calcutta).
Icterine Warbler and Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Norfolk.—It may interest readers to know that on September 5th I secured an Icterine Warbler (Hypolais icterina) in some scrub between Wells and Cromer. The light margins of the tertiaries were very conspicuous as it flew, giving it somewhat the appearance of an immature Pied Flycatcher. There was nothing in the stomach. It arrived when the wind was south-west. On Sept. 7th I shot an immature Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites rufescens) near the same spot. It appeared a dull sandy colour as it rose, and the flight was slow. It was a fine day, with north-west wind following forty-eight hours of a wet south-easter. It proved to be a male, and there were some green-coated beetles in the stomach. Both birds were afterwards examined by Mr. J.H. Gurney at Norwich. I believe this Sandpiper has not occurred in Norfolk for fifty-six years. Curiously enough, I was not far off when the last Icterine was killed by Mr. R. Gurney in 1896, and I saw his bird in the flesh. We compared the two in Norwich Museum, and they were very similar, but some skins then produced were of a decidedly yellower colour.—E.C. Arnold (The Close, Winchester).
Swallows and Hobbies.—Last year, on Sept. 8th, while watching the vast gatherings of Swallows and Martins which at this time assemble to roost in a large withy-bed near here, I observed a small long-winged Hawk darting about among them, but was unable to determine the species owing to the growing darkness. During the last few days, however, I have repeatedly seen one or more Hobbies (Falco subbuteo) performing wonderful evolutions among the dense clouds of Swallows at sunset, and looking themselves very much like Swallows magnified two or three times. Last night (Sept. 11th) a Hobby arrived rather too soon, and made off again when he found no Swallows in the usual place. I have not as yet been able to see these beautiful little Falcons secure a victim, nor did the Swallows appear to be much disconcerted by their presence. Except at this time of year, I have never seen a Hobby here, and I suppose it is possible that these birds are following the Swallows on their autumnal migration. I find that in his 'Birds of Wilts,' p. 73, the Rev. A.C. Smith noted a similar occurrence in that county, when several Hobbies waited upon vast flocks of Sand Martins which assembled nightly to roost in withy-beds.—W. Warde Fowler (Kingham, Chipping Norton).
Breeding of the Tufted Duck in South-west Derbyshire.—As the records of the breeding of this Duck (Fuligula cristata) in Derbyshire are somewhat scanty, and in the new edition of Howard Saunders's 'Manual' it is not mentioned in the list of counties in which this bird is known to breed, the following notes with regard to the Ashbourne district are worth recording:—F.B. Whitlock ('Birds of Derbyshire,' p. 172) mentions, on the authority of Mr. F.B. Wright, that "a pair bred at Osmaston Manor Lake in 1854." No doubt they bred occasionally after that date, but it was not until about 1886 that they began regularly to resort to the ponds for breeding purposes. Since then a brood or two has been reared almost every year, and during the present summer (1899) at least two broods have been successfully hatched off. From Osmaston they seem to have spread to neighbouring ponds, and at a private sheet of water not far off they were first noticed about 1889, and have now bred regularly for some years past. Two nests were found only a few yards apart on May 28th and June 1st of the present year, with fifteen and nine eggs respectively. Both these nests were taken, but they began to lay again very soon afterwards, and fresh nests were found on June 6th (eight eggs) and June 16th (eleven eggs). Unfortunately both these nests were destroyed, and it is doubtful whether any birds were reared here this year. Attempts have been made to colonize other likely spots in the district, for they were observed on the Ashbourne Hall pond in the spring of 1892, and one couple certainly bred at Sturston Mill in 1895, and probably also in the following year.—Francis C.R. Jourdain (Clifton Vicarage, Ashbourne).
Grey Phalarope in Co. Armagh, Ireland.—On Sept. 30th I received, from Mr. W. Keatley, a male Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius), young of the year, shot by him on Sept. 28th on the Logan, near Lurgau. It was too damaged to set up, but the back, wings, head, and tail are preserved as a flat skin.—H.W. Marsden (Clifton, Bristol).
The Colour of the Iris in the Jay.—In all books that I have consulted which deal with British Birds, the iris of the adult Jay is said to be pale blue; and Howard Saunders, in his 'Manual of British Birds,' states that the young bird differs in having brown eyes. Towards the end of May, 1898, I had a young Jay given to me; it had been taken from the nest about a fortnight previously (with three others). When it came into my possession its irides were silver-grey, and this colour they retained until the second moult (in August of the present year), when they gradually changed to vinous brown. The bird is an exceptionally handsome and vigorous male, in every respect so well developed that when its crest is depressed the corners form distinctly perceptible ear-like terminations on each side at the back of the head. Is the colouring of the irides abnormal in my specimen, or has the colouring in young and adult birds been inadvertently reversed by describers?—A.G. Butler (Beckenham, Kent).