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"''U'''1;$nJil8' REAL HELP




WILD BIRDS OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD. BY MR. G. A. HUTCHINSON, LITTLE ORME. CHOUGH, or as it is locally called the red-legged crow or jackdaw. At, one time a very numerous species about the rocks of Llan- dudno is now comparatively rare through- out the district, possibly owing tot the greed of egg collectors, who often pay enormous prices for a British taken set of eggs of this bird, or in some measure owing to the peregrines, who are some- what partial to this species as food but whatever the cause the fact remains that it is now becoming a very rare species. The only breeding place I know of at the present day in this district, is on the rocky headlands between Clonway and P'enmaen- mawr. Formerly it used to be plentiful on both Ormes, Heads, and within the last 25 years on the Vadre rocks at Deganwy, where the schoolboys were in the habit of collecting the eggs in large numbers. Next I will take the Sea, Birds, com- mencing with the gulls. Now the majority of people when they see a, flock of these birds on the shore simply put them down as sea-gulls, and seem to have no idea that they are looking upon probably several species, and those in various stages of plumage, so I have, been asked by one or two club members to give a description of each; this I will endeavour to do, commencing with the herring gull, the most abundant of our resident gulls, and breeds in very large numbers on both Ormes Heads; it is also one of the largest, • • and often measures from tip to tip of wings, when expanded, 4ft. 6in. or more. I The colour of the adult is head, tail and underparts white, back and wings French grey, with the exception of the large flight feajthers of the wing, which are black, tipped with white, bill yellow with a blotch of red near the tip, legs and feet flesh colour. The young are mottled all over with brown, and have a black bill, and do not attain mature plumage until after the third year. The lesser black-backed gull is also another resident but not numerous, only a few pairs breeding on the Little Orme in this distract. Colour of adult in sum- mer, back and wings black with the ex- ception of large wing feathers, which are tipped with white, head and underparts white, legs and feet yellow, bill yellow with red blotch near tip. The young: birds are similar in appearance to the immature herring gull, but the upper parts are somewhat darker. Again we have the greater black-backed gull, the largest, resident British gulls. This is not a resident in our district, although it breeds not far from us, on the coast of Anglesea, and frequently visits Llandudno Bay during- the winter months. This fine bird may be distinguished from the L.B.B. which in general colour it re- sembles, by its larger size and legs and feet, which are flesh colour, not yellow as is the case with the L.B.B. To give you some idea of the size of this bird I may say I have skinned several specimens in my time, which measured nearly 6ft. from tip to tip of wings when expanded. KITTIWAKE. This gull is very plentiful, and resident,; it breeds in great numbers on the lower rocks of the Little Orme, and may be easily recognised. Head, neck, tail and under parts white, bill greenish yellow, back and wings slate grey, except outer wing feathers, which are black, legs and feet, almost black. The young resembles the adult to. a great, extent, but the bill is black and the shoulders thickly spotted wih brownish black. BLACK HEADED GULL may be seen in large numbrs all the year round, but it does not breed in our dis- trict. This bird and the kitïtiwake are almost of a size, measuring about, 16in. in length. The young of both these species are very similar in appearance, but are easily identified if you bear in mind that the black headed gull has a hind toe, which is obsolete in the kittiwake, this of course applies to adults as well. The adult, black-headed in summer, plumage, has a dark brown hood which is lost in winter, back and wing French grey, ex- cept outer wing feathers, which are dark, tail and underparts white, bill and legs deep red less bright, in winter. COMMON GULL. Why termed common is somewhat of a puzzle to all Naturalists, for although it is fairly plentiful on the coasts from autumn to spring and is frequently seen inland, yet in April the adults pass northward for breeding, and there is no known breeding, place south of the Scotch border, and the term common being applied has led to great confusion, especially among early writers, as at, no, time of the year is it as numerous as the herring gull. The com- mon gull is slightly larger than the kitti- wake, and black-headed gull, and has greenish feet and legs, winter plumage, head and neck white streaked with brown, under parts white, back and wings grey, except outer wing feathers, which are black, tipped with white, bill green a tthe base, rich yellow towards the points. The glaucous gull is only a winter visi- tor here from the far north, and is equal in size to the great black-backed gull. It is of very light colour, the back and wings being, pearl grey, head and neck white streaked with ash grey, bill yellow, legs and feet bright pink. There are several other species of gulls on the Britsh list, but they are such rare visitors that I don't think I need say any- thing about tihem, so far none have been found in this district. Of other sea birds we have several species of divers. First, of all I will take the cor- morant, which breeds in great numbers on both Ormes Heads. I have no doubt many of you have noticed patches of white on the rocks of the Little Orme, almost, as though a lot of whitewash had been run down the face, well these are the breeding places of the cormorant, and if you goi I — near one of these rookeries the stench is something to remember; it is simply dis- gusting, and it. is a well-known fact that this white excrement is fatal to all vege- table matter coming in contact. with it, and I don't wonder. I should say the smell is quite sufficient to kill any mortal thing. One curious matter I should like to mention in connectnon with this bird is the manner in which the young are fed and cared for. As soon as the young are hatched the female covers and protects them, whilst the male fetches food for his mate and young, each of whom in turn thrusts its head right down into its gullet and seizes the half-digested food which he disgorges to them. Then we have the shag or green cor- morant, which may be distinguished from the preceding species by its smaller size, and when adult by its prevailing green olourMld a crest which it assumes in the breeding season. This bird still breeds on the Great Otrme in fair numbers, and until a few years ago there was a very large colony on the lower rocks of the Little Orme, which the majority suddenly deserted in 1902, a few pairs bred in 1903, but since that year I have not, seen a single bird. THE GUILLEMOT; is plentiful during the breeding season on the Little Orme, and fairly numerous on the Great Orrme. This bard only lays one egg, which is very large in proportion to, the size of the bird, and is very variable in colour. THE; RAZORBILL is another member of both Ormes Heads during the breeding season, and resembles the guillemot in appearance and habits. The puffin, or as it is sometimes called the sea parrot, is not numerous in our dis- trict, although it breeds in very great numbers in Puffin Island. Still a few pairs make their breeding quarters on the Little Orme. Like the two preceding species they lay but a single egg, which is usually white, sometimes fepotted with pale grey. The lesser tern is a summer visitor, and a large colony is to be seen every year on the beach at Cbnway Marsh. They usually arrive about the beginning of May, and eggs may be found a month later; these, usually two, often three in number, are laid in a slight hollow in the shingle or sand, with little or no attempt at making a nest. Eggs and young of this species ar somewhat difficult. to detect, as the colour of both so closely resemble their surroundings. The young at, the slightest sign of alarm lie prone amongst the shingle. There is another bird: I should like to say a few words about,, and that is our old friend the cuckoo. Now many years ago the fact that its eggs were found in nests which it was impossible for it to enter gave rise to endless discussions amongst Naturalists, and long before the fact, was proved by actual observation, it was thought the cuckoo deposited its eggs on the ground and carried them in its mouth to the selected nest; this fact was estab- lished by a, well-known Naturalist, Mir Bidwell, and this also explains the popu- lar idea, especially amongst, country peo- ple, that the cuckoo robs the nests and eat the eggs of other birds, which pro- bably owes is origin to the fact that the parent bird has been shot in the act of carrying its egg to a neat. The food of the cuckoo, I may say, consists entirely of insects, larvoe and hairy caterpillars, those of the buff tipi moth being its favourite. I believe within the last few years photos have been taken of the cuckoo carrying its egg and depositing it in the nest. To give you a better idea of bird life in our district we will imagine, what may be considered an ordinary morning's walk, say early in June, starting from here, over the Liittlei Orme to Lower Penrhyn, and return by Penrhyn Farm and Gloddaeui Woods; this, I think, will be between five and six miles. I expect many of you will be surprised to learn what, a large numher of species it is possible to see or hear with anything like careful observation. F:iirst of all we go along the road towards C'raigside, in Bodafon Fields, you will find the common bunting breeding and num- bers of skylarks. I do not intend men- tioning the common species such as sparrow, blackbird, thrushl, etc., but will include these in the total. Past C'raigside on the cliff at the left hand side of the road we find a large colonyof jackdaws, and sometimes the kestrel breeds here. On ascending the footpath towards the sum- mit of the Little Orme several pairs of that lively and preilty little bard, the stonechat, are, always to be seen; you can- not fail to recognise this bird, its call note is like the sound made by striking two j stones sharply together; here also may be seen meadow pipits in abundance. Now we go on to the face of the Little Orme; here are to be seen the peregrine falcon; car- rion crow, puffin, razorbill, guillemot, cormorant, black gull, kittiwake and her- ring gull, and I may add that only a few years ago the rock dove was to be seen here. On the slope going down towards the quarries may be found partridge, whin- chat, wheatear, whitethroat, rock pipit, greenfinch, linnet, cuckoo and occasionally the red-backed shrike. Now with regard to the little Orme Stone Quarries, it is very curious to note the number of species which actually breed in the workings year after year, although blasting takes plave every hour during the day, and on an average eight to ten shots are, fired each time. Still in spite of this the following species make it their breeding place. Starlings and sparrows numerous, numbers of wheatears, jackdaws, swifts and pied wagtails^ and at the top of the Quarry, within a few yards of the face,, skylarks and meadow pipits make their nests. A few years ago a paJir of tawny owls roosted in the ivy a few yards from the workings, this was in the early part. of the year, and I quite looked forward to them breeding here. Howexer, I fancy with the stones flying about from the blasts the position got too warm for them, and they only re- mained for three or four weeks. Leaving j tihe Quarry and taking the footpath through the fields to, Lower Penrhyn, you cannot help but notice the ringed plover which nests among shingle on the sea shore. In the fields about here may also be seen the sedge, warbler and lapwing; the grasshopper breeds here, but this bird you are net. likely to see, as it is skulking in its habits and more in evidence to the ear than the eye, the song from which it derives its name resembles the chirping noise made by the grasshopper or cricket. On returning home we pass Penrhyn Farm, where numbers of swallows and a few martins nest; here also may usually be seen the spotted flycatcher; then in Gloddaeth Isa Woods you are certain of hearing or seeing the chiffchafT, willow warbler, whitethroalt, and green wood- pecker. Then we walk along to Gloddaeih Woods; these I may say are a perfect. i paradise for birds, and the folilowing species are generally ta, be seen or heard. Bullfinch, jay, magpie, ring dove, turtle dove, free sparrow, coal tit, great tit, gold crest, blackcap, chiffchaff, mistle thrush, tree creeper, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, willow warbler, wood warbler and pheasant. Add to these the common species, which may be seen on almost any portion of this walk, such as blackbird, hedge sparrow, song tihrush, robin, wren, chaffinch, yellow bunting, starling rook, and you will find I have mentioned about 60 species. The following is a complete list of the birds resident in or migrating to the dis- trict — RESIDENT. Mistle Thrush. Rbok. Song Thrush. Skylark. Blackbird. Great Spot Wood Stonechat. pecker. [Redbreast. Green Woodpecke Goldbreast. Kingfisher. Hedge Sparrow. Barn Owl. Dipper. Long-Eared Owl. Long-tailed Tit. T'awny Owl. Coal Tit. Sparrow Hawk. Great Tit. Peregrine falcon. Marsh Tit. Kestrel. Blue Tfjt. Cormorant. Wren. Shag. Tree Creeper. Shell Duck. Pied Wagtail. Mallard. Grey Wagtail. Wood Pigeon. Meadow Pipit. Stock Dove. Rio ok Pipit. Black Grouse. Greenfinch. Red Grouse. Hawfinch. Pheasant. Goldfinch. Partridge. House Sparrow. Water Rail Tree Sparrow. Moorhen. Chaffinch. Ooot Linnet. Riing Plover. Lesser Redpoll. Lapwing. Bullfinch. Oyster Catcher. Cory Bunting- Common Snipe. yellow Bunting. Redshank. Oirl Bunting. Curlew. Reed Bunting. Black-headed Gul Starling. Lesser Black-Baa, Chough. llirttiÎwake. 1 Jay. Herring. Gull. Magpie. Razorbill. Jackdaw. Guillemot. Raven. Puffin. Carrion Crow. Little Grebe. SUMMER; VISITORS. Ring Ourel. Wheater. Tree Pipit. Whinchat. Red Black Shrike. Redstart. Spotted Flycatche Wlbitetihroat. Plied Flycatcher. Lesser Whitethrog Swallow. Blackcap House Martin. Garden Warbler. Sand Martin. Ohiffchaff. Swift. Willow Wren. Nightjar. Wood Wren. Cuckoo. Reed Warbler. Turtle Dove. Sedge Warbler. Corncrake. Grasshopper Warb Corn Jandpiper. Yellow Wagtail. WINTER VISITORS. Redwing. Goldeneye. Fieldfare. Common Scoter. iskin. Golden Plover. Brambling. Grey Plover. Twite. Turnstone. Crossbill. Woodcock. Snow Bunting. Jack Snipe. Hooded Crow. Dunbin. Short-Eared Owl. Purple Sandpiper. Gannet. Knot. Bittern. Whimbled. Grey Lag Goose. Red Breast White fronted Mferganser. Goose. Clommon Gull. Brent Goose. Grt. Black-Backao Bernaale Goose. Gull. Bewicks Swan. Glaucous. Whooper Swan. Little Auk. Shoveller. Great N. Diver. Pintail. Red Throat Diver Teal. Great Crested Grebe W5(geon. Storm Petrol. Clommon Pochard Leechs Petrol. iScaup. Heron. RARE ON MIGRATION IN SPRING, SUMMER; AND WINTER. White Wagtail. Long Tail Dueck. Common Tern. Velvet Scoter. Artie Tern. Goosander. Roller. Little Stlsmrb. Hobby. OapsiÍan Tern. Ruddy Shell duck. Manx Shearwater.