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OPERATIONS OF THE COLUMNS.…

THE CHESHIRE MILITIA. -I

IARCHÆOLOGAL SOCIETY.

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I DISTRICT -COUNCILS.

AIRSHIP HORROR.I

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I POLITICAL NOTES. I-♦

-i NATURAL HISTORY NOTES.…

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i NATURAL HISTORY NOTES. I (From The Field.") I a STARLING NESTING IN MAGPIE'S KEST. j I hardly think this is so rare an occurrence as your correspondent imagines. Some years ago I found a starling's nest with eggs in an old magpie's nest in the top of a tall Scotch fir. I have also found a starling's nest with young ones in an old rook's nest, and a starling's nest, with eggs, in an old squirrel's "drey" in a tall spruce fir.-E. W. H. Blagg (Cheadle, Staffordshire). NUMBER OF EGGS LAID BY A TAWNY II OWL. I shall be glad to know if any correspondent ha.s noted the average number of eggs in a clutch of the tawny owl (S. aluco). While in Somerset- shire in March last, I had an opportunity of examining five nests, in all of which the birds were sitting hard on three eggs. I had thought that four was the usual number, although Mr. Saunders, in his "Manual," says three, four, and even six. I should be obliged for replies from personal observation.—N. G. MATERIALS OF MAGPIE'S NEST. I Un April ZZ 1 tound a magpie s nest, which, in-I addition to the usual lining of fibrous roots, con- tained a goodly amount of black horsehair. This may have got there by chance, but I think not, as there was too much of it. Although I have examined many magpie's nests, I have never before seen hair of any kind employed in the lining, and it strikes me as being distinctly unusuaL—J. A. Walpole Bond (Tynllwyn, Lian- fanedd, Builth, Breckonshire). BIRDS' NES.TS IN .PRIVET HEDGES. u I I have two privet hedges, one some 70 or 80 yards in length, and the other about 20. Though nests abound in other parts of the garden, I have never seen any in these, though one would have imagined them specially suitable for many birds. I also notice that birds do not seem to frequent these hedges as they do the neighbour- ing thorn hedges. Is it possible that the smell of privet is offensive to birds? I should be glad to know if others have noticed a similar instance. —F. H. H. G. WHITE EGG OF GROUSE. I When orossing the moors near Pen-y-ghent last week I came across a grouse's nest with ten eggs in it. Of these nine were the usual brown mottle, the remaining one white. Never having seen or heard of a white one before, I wonder if any of your readers have. I have asked several old sportsmen, but not one has observed such a thing.—W. Foster. [Many birds which normally lay coloured eggs occasionally drop a white one. This is a mere accident arising from some injury to the glands which secrete the colouring pig- ment, and as a result the egg is colourless.—Ed.] EARLY ARRIVAL OF THE SWIFT. I The swift is usually one of the latest of our summer migrants to arrive, seldom appearing before May 2 and 3. This year it has been re- ported from several localities in the south of England quite a week earlier than usual. For example, in the "Field" of April 26 Mr. R. H. Cecil Baker announced that it had reached Exeter on April 21, and on the 25th five were seen by Mr. F. Penrose passing along the coast from west to east at Lynton, N. Devon. Three days later Mr. II. E. Forrest, writing from Shropshire, reported some at Bewdlay. Yet further to the West, namely at Axbridge, Somersetshire, Mr. C. L. F. Edwards saw none until May 5, which is about the normal date for their arrival in that part of the country.—Ed. WILD ANIMALS AT PLAY. I The note in your last number on fox and leveret playing reminded me of a curious inci- dent. I was watching two rabbits feeding near some gorse, when a large stoat ran out of the gorse between the two rabbits, and began frisking, about all round them, with his back arched up, like a ferret at play. The rabbits were not at all alarmed, and continued feeding, until one of them became annoyed by the stoat jumping just in front of his nose, and turned on him, and chased him for twelve or fifteen yards up the hill. The stoat was apparently delighted at having roused the rabbit from his apathy, but, on the rabbit refusing to continue the game, he rolled over five or six times, and ran back into the gorse.—R. M. WHEATEAR IMITATING SOXG OF LARK. Ull Lki-y Z I heard a wheatear (Saxicola OEnanthe) imitating in a wonderful and marked manner the song of a skylark. Many times pre- viously I had noticed a few of the notes of the skylark intermingled with the ordinary song of this species, but never listened to such a master- ful imitation as that exhibited bv the bird alluded to. I watched it ascend from a stone wall several Limes to a height of from 7 to 10 yards at a slight- arigle this performance was done in so ludicrous and clumsy a manner that one could hardly refrain from smiling at its attempts. Skylarks are very abundant in the vicinity, as also the corn bunting, and I have noticed that old ones ?f he former .occasionally give utterance to a ia rrin o* note borrowed from the corn bu?tmg. Indeed, not many years ago the lark „ dcstroye? as many as they could for this rpason.—Rosse Bu?r?f;? ?v;)? ? U__f_J\ unoacij, uiauiuiu I/C-1 TL-E"r»ITO/-vI-rS sITE FO NT OWS NEST I I  swallows, presumably the same pair, r??r. ? broods evey year in the porch of St. PanlV Church, CaU3evay H?ad, near Silloth. The tint nest attached to a chain hanging from the roof, which was once used for suspend- ,no V3' -Malp' chain is an ordinary curb rhnf-) Ub Ki!dj" The nest is attached an inch or t^ \.ci bb<e5 low the point where the chain is fastened to the roof, and in appearance, allowing for the difference of budding material, is not unlike the He.tof what, I th?nk, Vs called the "paper" wasp, such J as one sees attached to the twigs of trees. I&? net a swallows nest of this kind upset, the od story that the swallow, through inattention to t,h?t# o lessons of her teacher the magpie, only learnt to build half a nest. and so stuck it against the wall to hide the deficiency? The second nest is stucii in the usual way against the front wall of the porch, inside, where the remains of last year's nest could be seen.—(Rev.) Francis Lewis (St. Bees, Cumberland).

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