A man brought me a land-rail or daker-hen, a bird so rare in this district, that we seldom see more than one or two in a season, & those only in autumn. This is deemed a bird of passage by all the writers; yet from it’s formation seems to be poorly qualifyed for migration; for its wings are short, & placed so forward, & out of the center of gravity, that it flies in a very heavy & embarrassed manner, with it’s legs hanging down; & can hardly be sprung a second time, as it runs very fast, & seems to depend more on the swiftness of it’s feet than on it’s flying. When we came to draw it, we found the entrails so soft & tender, that inappearance they might have been dressed like the ropes of an woodcock. The craw or crop was small & lank, containing a mucus; the gizzard thick & strong, & filled with many shell-snails, some whole, & many ground to pieces thro’ the attrition which is occasioned by the muscular force & motion of that intestine. We saw no gravels among the food: perhaps the shell-snails might perform the functions of gravels or pebbles, & might grind one another. Land-rails used to abound formerly, I remember, in the low, wet bean-fields of Xtian Malford in North Wilts; & in the meadows near Paradise-Gardens at Oxford, where I have often heard them cry Crex, Crex. The bird mentioned above weighed seven ounces & an half, was fat & tender, & in flavour like thesh of a woodcock. The liver was very large & delicate.
Men bag their hops; & house seed-clover. A fern-owl plays round the Plestor. As we were walking this day, Sept. 22nd: being the King’s coronation, on Nore-hill at one o’ the clock in the afternoon, we heard great guns on each side of us, viz. from the S. & from the N.E., which undoubtedly were the cannons of Portsmouth & Windsor: the former of which is at least 26 miles distant, & the latter 30. If the guns heard from the N.E. were not from Windsor, they must be those of the Tower of London.
No mushrooms in the pastures below Buarrant-hangers. Here & there a wasp. The furze-seed which Bro. Tho. sowed last may on the naked part of the hanger comes up well. Some raspberry-trees in the bushes on the common. Trees keep their verdure well.