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164

ON OUR

CROSSBILLS.

the meagre belts of pines afford insufficient food and suitable nestage. T h e eggs are greyish-white, spotted with ruddy brown, though pure white variations often occur and these sometimes bear cinereous markings. Four is the usual number in a complete clutch, five being of rare occurrence. Genuine ornithologists and more particularly commercial oologists are great menaces to Crossbills, owing to the large prices the latter can obtain for eggs. Collectors have been known to exterminate whole colonies, one of which I kept under Observation during February last in western S u f f o l k ; it suffered so extensively from their depredations that, if our sister Society of the Norfolk Naturalists had not taken action in prosecuting two wholesale pilferers, the entire assemblage would have been eventually exstirpated. Although the previous breeding season proved thus nearly futile, the Crossbills persist in returning to their former locality, a fact amply testified by the scarred cones. T h i s is a very plucky bird during the period of incubation, and considerable effort is necessary to displace her from the nest. I well remember receiving severe pecks upon the hand, while attempting to lift one of the hens from her eggs ; and, even when eventually ousted, she remained within a yard of her domain, immediately returning to the nest as I began to move out of reach. T h e male is of striking appearance, quite distinguished in his dark crimson breast and head coverings; younger males are blotched with orange and bear a yellow rump-patch. T h e female generally is greenish-yellow, more or less striped : similar striation is noticeable on the greenish grey young birds, though the pale wing-bar becomes inconspicuous when they are roosting. But a flock of Crossbills can be extremely varied in both size and plumage.

TWO DAYS AMONG THE BUTTERFLIES IN SUFFOLK. BY

D.

T.

BUTTON.

I left London July 21, and when riding from the Station to the ' Old House at Home ' I noticed a good number of Thecla W-Album on some thistles by the road side. There I had found them for several years previously : three years ago I took thirty specimens in a few minutes. T h i s time, however, my nets were as yet all packed up, so I did not disturb them. After spending a pleasant evening with old friends I arranged my nets and boxes ready for the morrow.


TWO DAYS AMONG THE BUTTERFLIES IN SÜFFOLK.

165

Morning arrived, and 1 started at five o'clock for a wood where I expected good Sport. On my way there I beat three splendid specimens of Halias Quercana [bicolorana, FsL], and a number of other things from some young oaks. On I walked, net in hand ready for W-Album : but alas ! the destroyer was before me : a labourer was that moment engaged in trimming the hedge-row, and my hopes were like the blooming thistles—prostrated : not a Thecla was to be seen. After pelting the neighbouring elms tili my arms ached, I succeeded in dislodging a few, and at last captured half a dozen with great difficulty with my Emperor net for they would not come down, but flew hurriedly round the tops of the trees when disturbed and soon alighted again. I was sadly disappointed, as I had promised to supply a number of friends with this species. W-Album is very uncertain in its flight: I have sometimes seen the hedges swarming with them ! the next day they would be on the tops of the elms and not come down for several days. Some years ago I suddenly lost a whole colony of them : I had daily seen them round the elms, but one morning 1 missed them. Two days after I found them swarming in a field of mustard in füll bloom a short distance off: they did not then attempt to ascend to the trees, but kept flitting about like the Small Copper and Blue Butterflies. Arrived at the wood I chose a small open space to commence where the honeysuckles and brambles bloomed the low bushes. In a few minutes a f i n e female Argynnis Paphia was in my net: I pinned her to a bramble, and in a very short time captured fifteen beautiful males. Now and then Sybilla swept over the bushes out of reach, and though they once or twice deigned to wheel round my head not one would alight. This was v e r y trying, as I knew that had been a f a v o u r i t e place with them i n former seasons, but it was p i a i n they had chosen a fresh spot for their ' M e t r o p o l i s . ' However, I patiently waited ; and so quiet did I stand for an hour that a Fox trotted past within forty yards of me, and a Jay repeatedly fed her young in a tree over" my head. At last I shifted my quarters and forced my way through the wood—no easy matter, as there are no glades or paths of any description, but only a small open space here and there. O p e r a t i o n s in, p r e t t i l y around

I reached the edge of the wood, and found the extreme border had been cleared of timber: this space was about half a dozen yards wide and the entire length of the wood, without trees, but overgrown with bramble, honeysuckle, and wild flowers of every description. What a scene there was for a naturalist! I gazed in wonder and delight. The noondav sun was shining in all its glory; not a sound was to be heard but the hum of insects that were there in hundreds !—in thousands ! e lon g bright belt of insects and flowers lav before m e : the s


166

TWO DAYS AMONG THE BUTTERFLIES IN SUFFOLK.

beautiful Sybilla floated gracefully past, and fearlessly alighted on the bramble at mv feet. Paphia, ' Silver Queen '* was on every knot of bloom; Adippe, too, sported merrily round chased from fiovver to flowei by P. Sylvanus and Linea, that were there in swarms; there flitted the quiet-looking Athalia. Contemptuously snapping his wings at intruders sat the brightwinged Rhamni; Urtica and Hyperanthus too were present in hundreds, while myriads of gaily-coloured Flies and Rees, and a stränge Ichneumon-looking thing as big as a Hörnet darted rapidly past me every moment. Driving furiously along was that Jehu of moths L. Quercus. There, too, on a sandly [sie] hillock lav another old acquaintance, a fine Adder, neatly diamonded with umber and black, and coiled round like a watch-spring. In the dry ditch at mv feet lay several large Snakes [Tropidonotus natrix, L.], already disturbed by my presence, and slowly gliding awav over the dry leaves ; one, in particular, was bright with yellow and green. A pretty Lizard [Lacerta •vivipara, Wagl.] lay gasping in the sun on an old gate in front of me, the pathwav to which was overgrown with pretty yellow flowers gaily studded with numbers of C. Phlceas. After watching the various things round me for some time, I went to work with my net, and sueeeeded in taking thirty [Tut, tut!—Ed.] fine speeimens of Limenitis Sybilla, fifteen of Adippe, thirtyfive of Paphia, five Athalia, and numbers of all the others I mentioned, Alling every box and using every pin I had with me. Next morning at six o'clock 1 was on the road to another wo od, about eight miles distant, in search of Apatura Iris. I arrived there about half-past eight, but the old keeper was dead and I tried in vain to get leave from his successor to enter the wood. " There was nothing there," he said, "and it was no use trying; besides he expected some gentlemen there to look at the timber, and he would have no flv-catchers [a general term, not of contempt, yet surviving among the New Forest verderers.—Ed.] about." I was sadlv vexed, as I had set my heart on capturing Iris that day, but 'twas no use pleading. However, at last he said I was welcome to hunt in the ' Little Thicks,' a small wood half a mile further on. Thither I proeeeded, and in the course of the morning I captured about thirty Adippe, forty Paphia, thirty T. Quercus, four T. IV-Album, three polychloros. From the underwood and low boughs I beat one Chcerocampa Porcellus, six Lithosia miniata, two Cossus lingiperda, Platypteryx Lacertula and falcula, Notodonta Camelina, *A poetic term of endearment, so the quotes are erroneous. Paphia was named T h e greater sliver-stroaked Fritillary by Ray, in his posthumous Hist. Ins. of 1710 ; Great silver-streaked Orange Fritillary by Petiver in Pap. 1717 ; T h e Great Fritillary by Wilkes in 1742 ; and Moses Harris originated our modern Silver-washed Fritillary in his celebrated Aurelian of 1778, pl. xxxiv, figures k-u.—Ed.


TWO DAYS AMONG THE BUTTERFLIES IN SUFFOLK.

167

Geometra Papilionaria, Hemithea Cythisaria, Eurymene dolobraria, Encosmia undulana [S. Revayana, Sc.] and another Halias Quercana, besides a host of other things, again Alling all my boxes, and being obliged to stick several insects on one pin, though I thought I came well provided. Just as I was thinking of leaving the keeper's son came up : luckily we had met before in other woods. He recollected me, and we seated ourselves on the grass in the shady glade and discussed the merits of a large stone bottle of excellent homebrewed he fortunately had brought with him. From that we got to a trial of shooting on a small heath close by, and at last 1 was allowed to visit my favourite wood, that had been forbidden ground in the morning. T h e keeper's clock Struck five as I entered : I began to feel piain symptoms of weariness, but I walked down the glade. " What gleams through the wood in the bright sunshine ? " 'Tis Iris, by Jove ! In an instant I was as strong and fresh as when I started in the morning. M y twelve-yard bamboo [net-handle] went together in a twinkling, and I was ready. " He comes again ! he is on the oak : " one sweep—he is safelv pinned in the hat of the keeper, who runs to the house to find me another box (all mine being füll). A few minutes after I saw another Iris seated with closed wings on the outside bough of a magnificent oak. I t is mine—a fine female ! Soon after I thought I saw another hanging from the under side of a bough of an immensely tall oak. I could but just reach it, and was delighted to find a splendid pair in coitu safe in my net. I caught another beautiful male [the 5th specimen] soon after, and then left off, as it was half-past six and I had a long walk before me. As I was Walking back through the glade the large Fritillaries were retiring for the night. I several times stopped to notice them : they chose generally a spreading o a k ; they alighted on the outside boughs and proudly marched up and down the leaves, apparently fanning gently with their wings, and turning round in a most amusing manner. In a few minutes they would then quietly creep under between the leaves, and I saw no more of them. One incident I had almost forgotten to mention is that in the morning I found a fine female oak Egger (L. Quercus) in the hedge: I enclosed her in a piece of net and pinned it to my arm. 1 was soon surrounded by males that crawled and fluttered all over m e : I might have taken scores if I had wished to do so. I was pleased to find that all the specimens I had taken in these two days were beautifully perfect and fresh, with few exceptions. Among the specimens of Paphia was one spotted with white on the upper side of the front wings.—D.T.B.; December 24, 1856 [the year before the publication of Stainton's ' Manual.'


168

TWO DAYS AMONG THE BUTTERFLIES IN SUFFOLK.

A better picture of the Elysium Insectorum that Suffolk constituted eighty years ago would be hard to find. We have lifted it, to illustrate " the comparative past rarity of Animals " in Suffolk, verbatim et literatim, from 'The Substitute' 1857, p. 151, and supplied the name of the Author, a Student of British Lepidoptera and Coleoptera, who lived at Harwood Place, corner of Rye Lane, Peckham, S.E., from the Entom. Annual 1860, p. 8. Where are the three distinct localities, those of W-album, of Melitcea athalia (now extinct here), and of th Purple Emperors ?—Ed.]

THE PLANTS OF A SILTED POND. BY LORD CRANBROOK, R.A.

THE Lake at Great Glemham is an artificial piece of water, some three acres in extent, fed by a stream draining a shallow valley which is about two and a half miles long. This valley lies in the parishes of Cransford, Glemham Magna and Parva, Mariesford and Sweffling, in an agricultural district : arable land predominates, but there are some permanent pasture and a certain amount of woodland. The soil is moderately heavy clav on the sides and at the head of the valley, lighter and more mixed on its floor. The stream runs only during periods of fairly heavy rainfall, being fed entirely by surface water and land drains, though it brings with it a considerable amount of detritus when running. The Lake is nowhere very deep and has always had a tendency to silt up, so that, in the past when labour was cheap, it has been cleaned out at somewhat frequent intervals, the last occasion being some time about 1905. Since the introduction of Tyf.ha latifolia, L., in 1914, this silting-up process has been more or less confined to the upper end, so that by 1933 a piece of ground that is some quarteracre in extent has been gained from the Lake where, twenty years before, there had been eighteen inches to two feet of water ; and in that year, a list was made of the dicotyledons found upon this new ground, which list is annexed to my paper. During the dry summer of 1934-5, some stock were able to get access to the Bulrushes from the lakeside, while a protecting fence was broken down the earlier year, so that almost all the Typha plants had been destroyed by the end of 1935. Those remaining, out of reach of the cattle, were pulled out to prevent the entire Lake from silting-up. This loss of cover has had a marked effect upon the other Flora, and those plants which had disappeared by the summer of 1936 are marked in the annexed list. \


AMONG IHE BUTTERFLIES IN SUFFOLK.

Two days among the Butterflies of Suffolk  
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