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found dead by the side of the frozen water-courses in one of the islands of the Hebrides. Many people interested in bird migration, a matter about which we still have much to learn, do not sufficiently take into account special migration due to special exigencies migration apart from the regular tides of autumn and spring. How far this severe winter, that of 1890 or 1891, affected countries to the south of us I have no means at hand whereby to ascertain, but I am under the impression that the rigours of Southern Europe were such that woodcock could scarcely find a living this side of the Mediterranean. - What would have happened had all the woodcock remained that winter in the latitudes they selected the previous autumn as suited to their residence till the time of the spring flight? Simply an enormous proportion, very nearly all, would have been done to death by starvation, such a proportion that it would take very many years before the stock could reach its original strength. Yet the few following woodcock seasons were normal, as modern seasons go, while the season of 1894-5 was the best 'cock season we have had for a long time--fifteen years at least. It was in early January, 1895, that Lord Ardilaun made the record bag of 'cock, killing, with eight guns, 508 birds in one day. Instead of starving in the long frost of
18yo or 1891, the woodcock that were in the British Islands, as well as those in countries similarly affected, pursued a southward course till they discovered land where a decent living might be gained, and most of our home-breeding birds found their way back to us in the spring. If 'cock possessed no instinct for special migration under special circumstances, the old-fashioned winters would have practically exterminated the species. The birds found dead or dying from starvation after a certain number of days' continuous severe frost represent but a small section of their race, and the deductions often drawn from the finding of them are mere guess-work. As well say that every year large numbers of woodcock stay and starve in Norway as that large numbers stay and starve in our own country when we happen to have an old-fashioned winter.
Reverting for just a moment to the change in the seasons as bearing upon the modern scarcity of woodcock. Birds—I am dealing with probabilitieswhich used to reach us from the north-east and east, and given a series of old-fashioned winters setting in on old-fashioned dates would again do so, now take a southerly line, having found that the modern winter allows them to exist comfortably on the Continent in British latitudes or but little below them. Should
severe weather set in after the autumn migration is over, these birds would then have to take a line to the north-west if they wished to visit us, a course altogether against their instincts. Instead of doing this, they work southward under the pressure of frost; though hard weather setting in after the autumn migration is practically over, say between November 21 and December 7, brings us a fair fall of 'cock, these are only some of what have been caught at the time well above Parallel 50, and represent but a modest proportion of what would have come to us in a south-westerly line had there been hard weather on the Continent at the time it was accustomed to set in during the old-fashioned winters. Briefly and dogmatically, the change in the seasons has steadily told upon the bird's instinct to take a southwesterly line from its Scandinavian breeding grounds; year after year it has more fully appreciated the nonnecessity of making a lengthy over-sea journey ; instead of making such a journey, it takes a southward line, adhering to the mainland-and the British gunner sighs in vain for the days of auld lang syne. To-day it is usually almost as much summer as winter when woodcock migration is in full swing. When once the autumn migration is over, the migratory instinct proper dies out, and when further movement
happens to be forced upon the bird by the weather, that movement is towards the south.
A popular idea that the decrease in the number of immigrant 'cock is due to their eggs being sought for and eaten by North Europeans is quite fallacious. The woodcock nests in the wildest and most unpopulated parts of Scandinavia and Northern Russia, and nests there with absolute immunity from the attentions of human egg-stealers.
THE 'COCK AS MIGRANT AND NURSE
The migration of the woodcock is too interesting both to the ornithologist and the sportsman to be dealt with briefly, and I hope I may not be deemed tedious while discussing the subject. Local migration, that is, migration within our own borders, as more immediately concerning the sporting world, will be treated in the shooting section.
As we have already seen, our migrant 'cock reach us from Northern Europe. While the majority almost undoubtedly come direct from the shores of Norway and Sweden, there can be no question that a greater or smaller proportion work southward to the Danish, German, and Dutch coasts—from Sweden, Norway, and Northern Russia—and start their journey to us in a westerly line.
The distance from the southernmost point of Norway to the Norfolk coast is roughly four hundred