Зображення сторінки

country want to be well distinguished. The military roads formed by General Wade are so great and Roman-like an undertaking that they well merit attention. My old map, Moll's map, takes notice of Fort William, but could not mention the other forts that have been erected long since ; therefore a good representation of the chain of forts should not be omitted,

The celebrated zig-zag up the Coryarich must not be passed over. Moll takes notice of Hamilton and Drumlanrig, and such capital houses ; but a new survey, no doubt, should represent every seat and castle remarkable for any great event, or celebrated for its paintings, etc. Lord Breadalbane's seat and beautiful policy are too curious and extraordinary to be omitted.

The seat of the Earl of Eglingtoun, near Glasgow, is worthy of notice. The pine plantations of that nobleman are very grand and extensive indeed.


A Pair of honey-buzzards, Buteo opivorus, sive Vespivorus Raii, built them a large shallow nest, composed of twigs and lined with dead beechen leaves, upon a tall slender beech near the middle of Selborne Hanger, in the summer of 1780. In the middle of the month of June a bold boy climbed this tree, though standing on so steep and dizzy a situation, and brought down an egg, the only one in the nest, which had been sat on for some time, and contained the embryo of a young bird. The egg was smaller, and not 80 round as those of the common buzzard ; was dotted at

each end with small red spots, and surrounded in the middle with a broad bloody zone.

The hen-bird was shot, and answered exactly to Mr. Ray's description of that species ; had a black cere, short thick legs, and a long tail. When on the wing this species may be easily distinguished from the common buzzard by its hawk-like appearance, small head, wings not so blunt, and longer tail. This specimen contained in its craw some limbs of frogs and many grey snails without shells. The irides of the eyes of this bird were of a beautiful bright yellow colour.

About the 10th of July in the same summer a pair of sparrow-hawks bred in an old crow's nest on a low beech in the same hanger; and as their brood, which numerous, began to grow up, became so daring and ravenous, that they were a terror to all the dames in the village that had chickens or ducklings under their care. A boy climbed the tree, and found the young so fledged that they all escaped from him ; but discovered that a good house had been kept: the larder was well-stored with provisions; for he brought down a young blackbird, jay, and house-martin, all clean-picked, and some half devoured. The old birds had been observed to make sad havoc for some days among the new-flown swallows and martins, which, being but lately out of their nests, had not acquired those powers and command of wing that enable them, when more mature, to set such enemies at defiance.



SELBORNE, Niv. 30th, 1780. EVERY incident that occasions a renewal of our correspondence will ever be pleasing and agreeable to me.

As to the wild wood-pigeon, the cenas, or vinago, of Ray, I am much of your mind; and see no reason for making it the origin of the common house-dove: but suppose those that have advanced that opinion may have been misled by another appellation, often given to the ænas, which is that of stock-dove.

Unless the stock-dove in the winter varies greatly in manners from itself in summer, no species seems more unlikely to be domesticated, and to make a house-dove. We very rarely see the latter settle on trees at all, nor does it ever haunt the woods; but the former, as long as it stays with us, from November perhaps to February, lives the same wild life with the ring-dove, Palumbus torquatus ; frequents coppices and groves, supports itself chiefly by mast, and delights to roost in the tallest beeches. Could it be known in what manner stock-doves build, the doubt would be settled with me at once, provided they construct their nests on trees, like the ring-dove, as I much suspect they do.

You received, you say, last spring a stock-dove from Sussex; and are informed that they sometimes breed in that county. But why did not your correspondent determine the place of its nidification, whether on rocks, cliffs, or trees? If he was not an adroit ornithologist I should doubt the fact, because people with us perpetually confound the stock-dove with the ring-dove.

For my own part, I readily concur with you in supposing that house-doves are derived from the small blue rockpigeon, for many reasons. In the first place, the wild stock-dove is manifestly larger than the common housedove, against the usual rule of domestication, which generally enlarges the breed. Again, those two remarkable black spots on the remiges of each wing of the stock-dove, which are so characteristic of the species, would not, one should think, be totally lost by its being reclaimed, but would often break out among its descendants. But what is worth a hundred arguments is, the instance you give in Sir Roger Mostyn's house-doves in Cænarvonshire; which, though tempted by plenty food and gentle treatment, can never be prevailed on to inhabit their cote for any time; but, as soon as they begin to breed, betake themselves to the fastnesses of Ormshead, and deposit their young in safety amidst the inaccessible caverns and precipices of that stupendous promontory.

“ Naturam expellas furcâ . . . tamen usque recurret.' I have consulted a sportsman, now in his seventy-eighth year, who tells me that fifty or sixty years back, when the beechen woods were much more extensive than at present, the number of wood-pigeons was astonishing ; that he has often killed near twenty in a day; and that with a long wild-fowl piece he has shot seven or eight at a time on the wing as they came wheeling over his head : he moreover adds, which I was not aware of, that often there were among them little parties of small blue doves, which he calls rockiers. The food of these numberless emigrants was beech-mast and some acorns; and particularly barley, which they collected in the stubbles. But of late years, since the vast increase of turnips, that vegetable has furnished a great part of their support in hard weather; and the holes they pick in these roots greatly damage the crop. From this food their flesh has contracted a rancidness which occasions them to be rejected by nicer judges of eating, who thought them before a delicate dish. They were shot not only as they were feeding in the fields, and especially in snowy weather, but also at the close of the evening, by men who lay in ambush among the woods and groves to kill them as they came in to roost.* These are the principal circumstances relating to this wonderful internal migration, which with us takes place towards the end of November, and ceases early in the spring. Last winter we had in Selborne high wood about a hundred of these doves; but in former times the flocks were so vast, not only with us but all the district round, that on mornings and evenings they traversed the air, like rooks, in strings, reaching for a mile together. When they thus rendezvoused here by thousands, if they happened to be suddenly roused from their roost-trees on an evening,

“ Their rising all at once was like the sound

Of thunder heard remote.”. It will by no means be foreign to the present purpose to add, that I had a relation in this neighbourhood who made it a practice, for a time, whenever he could procure the eggs of a ring-dove, to place them under a pair of doves that were sitting in his own pigeon-house ; hoping thereby, if he could bring about a coalition, to enlarge his breed, and teach his own doves to beat out into the woods, and to support themselves by mast; the plan was plausible, but something always interrupted the success; for though the

“Some old sportsmen say that the main part of these flocks used to withdraw as soon as the heavy Christmas frosts were over."

« НазадПродовжити »