One of the keepers of Wolmer-forest sent me a peregrine falcon which he shot this day on the verge of the forest, as it was devouring wood-pigeon it had just taken. The Falco Peregrinus, or Haggard Falcon, mentioned in the last page but one, is a noble species of Hawk, seldom seen in the southern counties. In winter 1766 one was killed in the neighbouring parish of Faringdon, & sent by me to Mr Pennant in N. Wales. Since that time I have met with none till now. The specimen before me is in fine preservation, not being at all injured in the shooting. It measures 42 inches & upwards from wing to wing, & 21 from bill to tail, & weighs 2 pounds & an half standing weight. This species is very robust, & wonderfully formed for rapine: it’s breast is plump, & muscular: its thighs long, & thick, & brawny; it’s legs remarkably short, & well-set: the feet are armed with most formidable sharp talons. The eye-lids, & Cere of the bill are yellow, but the Irides of the eyes are dusky the bill is thick, & hooked, & of a dark colour, & has a jagged process near the end of the upper mandible on each side. It’s tail is short in proportion to it’s bulk but the wings tho’ long, when closed, fall short of the train. From it’s large & fair proportions it may be supposed to be a female. Probably it was driven from the mountains of N. Wales, or Scotland, where it is known to breed, by the late deep snows, & rigorous weather. The plumage answers well to Brit. zoology 4: vol: 1: p: 156. For a bird of prey, this was in high case; it’s intestines very fat. In it’s craw were many barley-corns, which probably came from the crop of the wood-pigeon on which it was feeding when shot. Voracious birds, when devouring their quarry, swallow feathers, & bones, & all parts indiscriminately.
Two of my brother Henry’s gold-fish have been sick, & cannot live with the rest in the glass-bowl but in a tin-bucket by themselves they soon become lively, & vigorous. They were perhaps too much crouded in the bowl. When a fish sickens it’s head gets lowest; so that by degrees it stands as it were ont it’s head; ’till getting weaker & losing all poise, the tail turns over; & at last it floats on the water with it’s belly uppermost. Gold & silver-fishes seem to want no aliment, but what they can collect from pure water frequently changed. They will eat crumbs, but do better without; because the water is soon corrupted by the pieced of bread, & turns sour. Tho’ they seem to take nothing, yet the consequences of eating frequently drop from them: so that they must find many animalcula, & other nourishment. With their pinnae pectorales they gently protrude themselves forward or backward: but it is with their strong muscular tails only that Fishes move with such inconceivable rapidity.
It has been said that the eyes of fishes are immoveable: but these apparently turn them forward or backward in their sockets as their occasions require. They take little notice of a lighted candle, though applied close to their heads, but flounce and seem much frightened by a sudden stroke of the hand against the support whereon the bowl is hung; especially when they have been motionless, and are perhaps asleep. As fishes have no eyelids, it is not easy to discern when they are sleeping or not, because their eyes are always open.
Nothing can be more amusing than a glass bowl containing such
fishes: the double refractions of the glass and water represent them, when moving, in a shifting and changeable variety of dimensions, shades, and colours; while the two mediums, assisted by the concavo-convex shape of the vessel, magnify and distort them vastly; not to mention that the introduction of another element and its inhabitants into our parlours engages the fancy in a very agreeable manner.
After ewes & lambs are shorn there is great confusion & bleating, neither the dams nor the young being able to distinguish one another as before. This embarrassment seems not so much to arise from the loss of fleece, which may occasion an alteration in their appearance, as from the defect of that notus odor, discriminating each individual personally: which also is confounded by the strong scent of the pitch & tar wherewith they are newly marked; for the brute creation recognize each other more from the smell that the sight; & in matters of Identity & Diversity appeal much more to their noses than to their eyes.