"Ponderynge together yestardayes promise, and two-dayes doyng"
(Hall's Chronicle - 1548)


"Goronigl gwyr yr Ynys" (Lewis Glyn Cothi - 1450)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Of Jackdaws, Martins and Ring Ousels


Ring Ousel
from Natural History of Selborne


From a letter to Thomas Pennant from Gilbert White, November 28 1768
Another very unlikely spot is made use of by daws as a place to
breed in, and that is Stonehenge. These birds deposit their nests in
the interstices between the upright and the impost stones of that
amazing work of antiquity: which circumstance alone speaks the
prodigious height of the upright stones, that they should be tall
enough to secure those nests from the annoyance of shepherd-boys,
who are always idling round that place.

One of my neighbours last Saturday, November the 26th, saw a
martin in a sheltered bottom: the sun shone warm, and the bird was
hawking briskly after flies. I am now perfectly satisfied that they
do not all leave this island in the winter.

You judge very right, I think, in speaking with reserve and caution
concerning the cures done by toads: for, let people advance what
they will on such subjects, yet there is such a propensity in
mankind towards deceiving and being deceived, that one cannot
safely relate any thing from common report, especially in print,
without expressing some degree of doubt and suspicion.

Your approbation, with regard to my new discovery of the
migration of the ring-ousel, gives me satisfaction; and I find you
concur with me in suspecting that they are foreign birds which visit
us. You will be sure, I hope, not to omit to make inquiry whether
your ring-ousels leave your rocks in the autumn. What puzzles me
most, is the very short stay they make with us; for in about three
weeks they are all gone. I shall be very curious to remark whether
they will call on us at their return in the spring, as they did last
year.

I want to be better informed with regard to ichthyology. If fortune
had settled me near the sea-side, or near some great river, my
natural propensity would soon have urged me to have made myself
acquainted with their productions: but as I have lived mostly in
inland parts, and in an upland district, my knowledge of fishes
extends little farther than to those common sorts which our brooks
and lakes produce.

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