Rime on the hanger. Mr Marsham, who lives near Norwich, writes me word, that a servant of his shot a bird last autumn near his house that was quite new to him. Upon examination it appeared to him, & to me to answer the description of the Certhia muraria, the Wall-creeper, a bird little know, but some times seen in England. Ray, & Willoughby never met with it, nor did I ever find it wild, or among the vast collections exhibited in London; but Scopoli had a specimen in his Museum, & says it is to be found in Carniola. It haunts towers, & castles, & ruins, some times frequents towns, running up the walls of tall houses, & searching the crannies, & chinks for spiders, & other insects. Some of the internal wing-feathers are beautifully marked on the inner web with two white, or pale yellow spots; & the middle of the outer web edged with red. Two of these quills, drawn in water-colours, by a young Lady, & charmingly executed, were sent me by Mr Marsham in a frank: the pencilling of these specimens is truly delicate, soft, & feathery. It is much to be regretted that she did not draw the whole bird. The claws of this bird are strong & large, says Linnaeus, & Mr Marsham; & especially the hind claw.
Small birds, Tanner says green finches, pull off my polyanth blossoms by handfulls. A neighbour complained to me that her house was over-run with a kind of black-beetle, or, as she expressed herself, with a kind of black-bob, which swarmed in her kitchen when they get up in a morning before day-break. Soon after this account, I observed an unusual insect in one of my dark chimney-closets; & find since that in the night they swarm also in my kitchen. On examination I soon ascertained the Species to be the Blatta orientalis of Linnaeus, & the Blatta molendinaria of Mouffet. The male is winged, the female is not; but shows somewhat like the rudiments of wings, as if in the pupa state. These insects belonged originally to the warmer parts of America, & were conveyed fro thence by shipping to the East Indies; & by means of commerce begin to prevail in the more N. parts of Europe, as Russia, Sweden, & c. How long they have abounded in England I cannot say; but have never observed them in my house ’till lately. They love warmth, & haunt chimney-closets, & the backs of ovens. Poda says that these, & house-crickets will not associate together; but he is mistaken in that assertion, as Linn. suspected that he was. They are altogether night insects, lucifugae, never coming forth till the rooms are dark, & still, & escaping away nimbly at the approach of a candle. Their antennae are remarkably long, slender, & flexile.
Fog on the hills. Spring-like, more like Feb: than Decr. Ravens in their common mode of flying have a peculiarity attending them not unworthy of notice; they turn-over in the air quite on their backs, & that not now & then, bur frequently; often every two or 300 yards. When this odd attitude betides them they fall down several fathoms, uttering a loud crow, & then right themselves again. This strange vacillation seems to be owing to their scratching when bitten by vermin– the thrusting-0ut of their leg destroys their equipoise, & throws their wings out of the true center of gravity. Ravens spend their leisure-time over some hanging wood in a sort of mock fight, dashing & diving at each other continually while their loud croakings make the woody steeps re-echo again.
Mr Hool’s man says that he caught this day in a lane near Hackwood-park, many rooks, which attempting to fly fell from the trees with their wings frozen together by the sleet, that froze as it fell. There were, he affirms, many dozens so disabled! It is certain that Mr H’s man did bring home many rooks & give them to the poor neighbours.