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As to swallows (hirundines rustice being found in a torpid state during the winter, in the Isle of Wight, or any part of this country, I never heard any such account worth attending to. But a clergyman, of an inquisitive turn, assures me, that when he was a great boy, some workmen, in pulling down the battlements of a church tower early in the spring, found two or three swifts (hirundines apodes) among the rubbish, which were at first appearance dead; but, on being carried toward the fire, revived. He told me that, out of his great care to preserve them, he put them in a paper bag, and hung them by the kitchen fire, where they were suffocated.
Another intelligent person has informed me that, while he was a schoolboy at Brighthelmstone, in Sussex, a great fragment of the chalk cliff fell down, one stormy winter, on the beach, and that many people found swallows among the rubbish; but, on my questioning him whether he saw any of those birds himself, to my no small disappointment he answered me in the negative; but that others assured him they did.
Young broods of swallows began to appear this year on July the 11th, and young martins (hirundines urbica) were then fledged in their nests. Both species will breed again once; for I see by my Fauna of last
year, that came forth so late as September the 18th.* Åre not these
* It will be seen in perusing this work that Mr. White constantly entertained the idea that swallows occasionally hybernated in this country, although he has failed in bringing forward any conclusive proof of the fact. We cannot but regret that that he was not acquainted with the following very interesting one, communicated to the editor by a lady of the highest respectability, who not only witnessed it herself, but it was also seen by several members of her own family. I will relate it in her own words :
“A pair of swallows built their nest early in the summer, close to the ironstay of a water-spout, running in the direction from my bed-room window. I could observe their proceedings as I lay in bed, and also from various parts of my room After the first hatch had taken flight, the parent birds repaired the nest and sat again. The young ones were brought to life in September, and were able, early in October, to leave the nest for the spout or the roof of the house. They took a short flight across the court, but were too weak to depart when the rest of these birds are supposed to quit our Island. Having taken great interest in watching these little birds, I was led to wonder how the young ones would manage, or whether they would be left to starve. To my great surprise I found the old birds carrying mud one morning, and most carefully closing the aperture of the nest upin the young ones who were then
late hatchings more in favour of hiding than migratiou ? Nay, some young martins remained in their nests last year so late as September the 29th ; and yet they totally disappeared with us by the 5th of October.
How strange it is, that the swift, which seems to live exactly the same life with the swallow and house-martin, should leave us before the middle of August invariably! while the latter stay often till the middle of October; and once I saw numbers of house-martins on the 7th of Novem
The martins and red-wing fieldfares were flying in sight together; an uncommon assemblage of summer and winter birds !
A little yellow birdt (it is either a species of the alauda trivialis, or rather, perhaps, of the motacilla trochilus) still continues to make a sibilous shivering noise in the tops of tall woods. The stoparola of Ray (for which we have as yet no name in these parts) is called, in your Zoology, the flycatcher. There is one circumstance characteristic of this bird, which seems to have escaped observation; and that is, it takes its stand on the top of some stake, or post, from whence it springs forth on its prey, catching a fly in the air, and hardly ever touching the ground, but returning still to the same stand for many times together. I
I perceive there are more than one species of the motacilla
in it. It was most effectually stopped. As the spring approached I diligentlv watched the little prisoners or rather their prison. Early in April I heard a slight twittering. This continued for some days, and I then inspected the nest and found a small hole about the size of a pea. This day by day increased, and at length three swallows emerged from their winter habitation. At first they appeared weak, but in a few days they gained strength, and after a flight always returned to the same place, and rested there during the night. The nest is still preserved. A brood has been hatched again this year, and another nest built on the next stay of the spout, nearer to my window."
It is curious that Mr. White and Mr. Daines Barrington, who were sc strongly inclined in favour of the torpidity of swallows, should not have been able to bring forward one decided fact to prove their favourite idea.-Ed.
This may be accounted for by the swifts having only one brood and when they can fly, both old and young migrate. The purpose for which they came 10 this country has been fulfilled.-Ed.
of It is the grasshopper-lark.—Ed. Nothing can be more graceful or pretty than the action of this bird in taking flies.
I have seen the young seated in a row on a rail, and fed by their parents in succession, darting at flies as mentioned by Mr. White.—ED.
trochilus : Mr. Verham supposes, in Ray's Philosophical Letters, that he has discovered three. In these, there is again an instance of some very common birds that have as yet no English name.
Mr. Stillingfleet makes a question whether the black-cap (motacilla atracapilla) be a bird of passage or not. I think there is no doubt of it; for in April, in the first fine weather, they come trooping all at once in these parts, but are never seen in the winter. They are delicate songsters.
Numbers of snipes* breed every summer in some moory ground on the verge of this parish. It is very amusing to see the cock bird on wing at that time, and to hear his piping and humming notes.
I have had no opportunity yet of procuring any of those inice which I mentioned to you in town. The person that brought me the last says they are plenty in harvest, at which time I will take care to get more ; and will endeavour to put the matter out of doubt, whether it be a nondescript species or not.
I suspect much there may be two species of water-rats. Ray says, and Linnæus after him, that the water-rat is webfooted behind. Now, I have discovered a rat on the banks of our little stream that is not web-footed, and yet is an excellent swimmer and diver: it answers exactly to the mus amphibius of Linnæus (see Syst. Nat.), which, he says, “natat in fossis et urinatur,
," "swims and dives in the water.” I should be glad to procure one "plantis palmatis," "with webbed feet." Linnæus seems to be in a puzzle about his mus amphibius,
amphibious mouse," and to doubt whether it differs from his mus terrestris, “land mouse," which, if it be, as he allows, the "mus agrestis capite grandi brachyuros,"'" short-tailed, large-headed field-mouse," of Ray, is widely different from the water-rat, both in size, make, and manner of life.
* Both snipes and woodcocks breed freely in the neighbourhood of Woolmer Forest. The latter have always four eggs, which are generally deposited on a dry bank.
As soon as the eggs are hatched, the young are conveyed to wet swampy grounds. Sir Charles Taylor of Hollycombe, for many years past, has had a couple of young woodcocks on his table on the 25th of June.--Ed.
+ Many persons in the neighbourhood of the river Thames have supposed that there were two varieties of water-rats. This has arisen from the circum. stance of the common Norway rat having been seen swimming to the aits on bo nver, and attacking and destroving the water-rats.--Ed.