Planted 150 cabbages to stand the winter: dunged the ground. Grapes all very bad. Two swallows were seen this morning at Newton vicarage house, hovering & settling on the roofs, & outbuildings. None have been observed at Selborne since Octobr. 11. It is very remarkable, that after the hirundines have disappeared for some weeks, a few are occasionally seen again sometimes, in the first week of November, & that only for one day. Do they withdraw & slumber in some hiding-place during the interval? for we cannot suppose they had migrated to warmer climes, & so returned again for one day. Is it not more probable that they are awakened from sleep, & like the bats are come forth to collect a little food? Bats appear at all seasons through the autumn & spring months, when the Thermomr is at 50, because then phalaenae & moths are stirring. These swallows looked like young ones.
Red-wings are late this autumn. Perhaps the vintage was late this year in Germany; so that these birds were detained by the grapes, which they did not wish to exchange for our hips & haws. Red-wings do much damage in vineyards, when the grapes are ripe. My tall hedges, & the hanging woods, do not shew their usual beautiful tints & colours: the reason is because the foliage was so much torn & shattered by the rain & tempests.
A Gent: writes word from St. Mary’s, Scilly, that in the night between the 10th & 11th of this month, the wind being W. there fell such a flight of Woodcocks within the walls of the Garrison, that he himself shot & carryed home 26 couple, besides 3 couple which he wounded, but did not give himself the trouble to retrieve. On the following day, the 12th the wind continuing W. he found but few. This person further observes, that easterly & Northerly winds only have usually been remarked propitious in bringing Woodcocks to those islands, viz. Scilly. So that he is totally at a loss to account for this Western flight, unless they came from Ireland. As they took their departure in the night between the 11th & 12th, the wind still continuing West, he supposes they were gone to make a visit to the Counties of Cornwall & Devonshire. From circumstances in the letter, it appears that the ground within the lines of the Garrison abounds with furze. Some Woodcocks settled in the street of St Mary’s, & ran into the houses & out-houses.
Some flocks of starlings on the wide downs between Andover, & Winton. Several martins were playing about over the chalk-bank at the E. end of Whorwel village. Can any one suppose but that they came out of the bank that morning to enjoy the warm sunshine, & would retire into it again before night?
The house-martins have disappointed us again, as they did last year, with respect to their Novemr. visit for one day. On Nov. 5th 1779, & Nov. 4th 1777, they showed themselves all day along the hanger in considerable numbers, after they had withdrawn for some weeks: when, had they been properly watched, their place of retreat in the evening, I make no doubt, might have been easily discovered. Once in a few years they make us a visit of this sort, some time in the first week in November.
21 house-martins appeared playing about under the hanger. The air was full of insects. Others that saw the martins in an other part of the hanger say there were more than 150! This was a mistake. Note: no martins have been observed since Oct. 7th ’til this day, when more than 20 were playing about & catching their food over my fields, & along the side of the hanger. It is remarkable that tho’ this species of Hirundines usually withdraws pretty early in Oct. yet a flight has for many years been seen again for one day on or about the 4th of Novr. Father it is worthy of notice, that when the Thermr rises above 50, the bat awakens, & comes forth to feed of an evening in every winter-month. These circumstances favour the notion of a torpid state in birds; & are against the migration of swallows in this kingdom.
Four swallows were seen skimming about in a lane below Newton. This circumstance seems much in favor of hiding, since the hirundines seemed to be with drawn for some weeks. It looks as if the soft weather had called them out of their retirement. My Brother’s turkies avail themselves much of the beech-mast which they find in his grove: they also delight in acorns, & wallnuts, & hasel-nuts: no wonder therefore that they subsist wild in the woods of America, where they are supposed to be indigenous. They swallow hasel-nuts whole.