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are thereby entitled to speak as with complete knowledge.
The marismas of Lebrija are, as a matter of fact, many
miles away on the other side of the Guadalquivir.

No doubt it is a '* startling statement " that wild camels
are roaming at large in Europe, or anywhere else — it
would hardly seem more incredible if a herd of hippo-
potami were reported in the Upper Thames. The camel has
never within historic times been known to exist in a wild
state : it has always been the servant of man, a beast of
burden and domesticity.^ More than this, a certain
physical disabiUty or cause has been alleged to exist,
which, if correct, would render their permanent continu-
ance, in a natural state, an impossibiUty. Nor could any
region be well conceived so ill-adapted — indeed repulsive —
to the known habits and requirements of an animal
always associated with arid sandy deserts, as the Spanish
marismas, which, always marshy, are subject to actual
inundation during six months out of the twelve.

The discussion had, at any rate, the merit of evoking
the following additional information" respecting the Spanish
camels, their introduction and habits. First I will quote
a letter from my co-author, dated from the Goto Dofiana,
March 1st. " Dear Chapman, — Your letter has reached me
here, where we are shooting deer for the last time this
season. I am glad I happened to be on the spot, having
an opportunity of asking the guardas and others for the
facts respecting the camels, which I hope will be sufficient
to convince the sceptics of their existence here and of the
truth of your observation, which I am surprised to hear
has been called in question.

** The camels were brought here first from the Canary
Isles by Domingo Castellanos, Administrador to the Marques

* With the possible exception of those stated to have been dis-
covered in the Knm-tagh deserts of Central Asia by Col. Prejevalsky,
the Russian explorer.

H



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98 WILD SPAIN.

de Villa Franca, in 1829, he intending to make use of
them in the Goto for transporting timber, charcoal, &c.
The descendants of this Domingo, the two brothers Bar-
rera of Almonte, now own the fifty or sixty animals which
make the marisma lying between the Goto proper and the
Guadalquivir their feeding-ground. They seldom appear
on the wooded parts, remaining winter and summer in the
marisma, moving with the greatest ease in winter through
the mud and water, from one island to another, occasion-
ally coming to the woods to pasture on the tops of the
young pines.

" You know, from your flamingo experiences, how vast
a waste is comprised between the borders of the Goto and
the river (Guadalquivir) which accounts for the camek
being seldom seen except by herdsmen and others (Mr.
Abel Ghapman, to wit) whose business may take them out
into the watery wilderness. Manuel Ruiz, conocedor of the
Villa- Vilviestre herd,* now tells me that at about three-
quarters of a league from the Gerro-Trigo he saw yesterday
three females with their young, which he judged to be
about twenty days old.

" I can send you any further particulars required, and if
the unbelievers will not swallow your camel, we must do
what Mr. Saunders did with the doubted specimen [of
the crane's egg] , and bring before them a Spanish-bom
camel, hump and all. Nothing is easier. Sport pretty
good so far — five stags, four pigs, two lynxes."

We are also kindly privileged to quote the following
statement of Lord Lilford's personal observation of the
wild camels : — ** I was not aware till I saw Saunders' note
at the end of your paper and read the subsequent cor-
respondence in The Fields that any one doubted the exist-
ence of camels in a virtually wild state in the marisma.
I once saw four or five of them together at a vast distance,
and, in 1872, came across their * spoor ' several times when
exploring the marismas of the Goto. Their existence is
perfectly well known to many people at San Lucar, and,

* Wild-bred cattle, many of them destined for the bull-rings of
Jerez or Seville.



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WILD CAMELS IN EUROPE. 99

no doubt, also at Jerez. I heard of them first in 1856. . . .
What Mr. Buck says of the habits of the camel is, as far
as I can remember, pretty much what I heard from
several of the givardas of the Goto in 1872. . . . My son
reminds me of what I had quite forgotten, viz., that he
and our doctor saw some camels in the marisma some-
where on the proper right of the western branch of the
Guadalquivir last May (1888), when I was confined to my
ship by an attack of gout in the right hand."

Lastly, we quote the following from a " Catalogue of the
Mammalia of Andalucia," by Don^ Antonio Ma6hado y
Nuiiez, published at Seville in 1869 : — " The firrt camels,
which were introduced with the object of breeding them,
came from the Canary Islands, and in a few years became
a herd of about eighty. In 1888, a few years after intro-
duction, they were used as beasts of burden and transport
in the province of Cadiz, employed in the carriage of
materials used in making the high road from Fort St.
Mary to San Lucar de Barrameda (more than thirty years
ago), and also in conveyances to Arcos, Jerez, Chichlana,
imd other towns. But some untoward accidents on the
roads through horses being frightened at the sight of such
strange animals,* and the necessity of separating them from
horses in the yards, combined with other matters easy to
remedy, caused them to fall into disuse as beasts of
burden and carriage, and thus the economy and advan-
tages obtained by their introduction were lost. They were
then used for agricultural purposes, and some lands which
Don Rafael de Barrera holds are at this time (1869) culti-
vated by the aid of camels, which are used for ploughing
and other agricultural work."

* The repugnance evinced by horses towards the camel was known
ages ago. At the battle of Sardis (b.c. 546) this eqnine weakness was
utilized by Gyros in opposing to the Lydian cavalry a vanguard of
camels (Herodotus, Clio, pp. 78, 80). A similar stratagem was pro-
posed by Amurath I. at the decisive battle of Kossova between the
Ottoman army and the Confederate hosts of Servia, Bosnia, and
Wallachia, August 27th, 1889, but was abandoned in deference to the
fiery impetuosity of Prince Bajazet and some supposed precepts of the
Koran.

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100 WILD SPAIN.

At the present time the descendants of these camels live
and flourish in the marismas in a wholly wild state, and
since the sequestration of the Messrs. Barrera are practi-
cally ownerless.

We have fallen in with them on several subsequent
occasions. On January 6th, 1888, we descried a herd of
nineteen, of various sizes, all dreamily ruminating, knee-
deep in the marisma, each form reflected in the still water
beneath. Our whole shooting-party (including seven or
eight Englishmen) enjoyed the sight, the herd remaining
in view during the half-hour we spent at lunch on the edge
of the marisma. With powerful field-glasses we brought
the camels close up, and watched them putting their heads
down as though grazing on the grasses beneath the sur-
face. Presently they moved on to a rushy islet some three
miles from the shore: hard by stood a rosy troop of
flamingoes, and the intervening waters were dotted with
numberless fleets of ducks and geese. It was a unique
spectacle, one that could hardly be matched outside this
out-of-the-world comer of Europe.

In 1890, and again several times in the spring of 1891,
we fell in with camels. On March 5th we rode within 500
yards of eight, two of which were about the size of sheep.
In appearance they are very shaggy beasts, and vary much
in colour, some being of a light tawny hue, while others
are very dark brown, but all seem grey about the neck.

On one of these occasions a curious incident occurred.
It was in December, 1890 — an intensely cold and dry
season, almost unprecedented in Spain for the severity of
the frost — when, in mid-marisma, leagues from water or
covert, and specially on the look-out for camels, a keen eye
detected in the far distance a roving fox. All dismounted,
and letting the horses graze, hid behind them and awaited
his approach. Then, with only a single podenco, or hunt-
ing-dog, Frascnelo by name, and after a straight-away
chase of five or six miles at top-speed over a sun-dried
plain, bare and level as a billiard-table, we fairly rode bold
Eeynard down, and killed him.

As evidence of the " staying powers" of the camel, our



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WILD CAMELS IN EUROPE. 101

friend Antonio Trujillo tells us that some years ago he
came on one stuck in a bog. For six days he was unable
to reach the spot, and daily watched the poor beast help-
lessly floundering. On the seventh day he found it
possible to assist the camel to escape. All around within
reach of the poor creature's mouth, he found that the very
earth was eaten away. Yet when helped to regain firm
ground, the camel walked quietly away, apparently but little
the worse, and was soon browsing heartily on the tops of
some young pine-trees.

It is, perhaps, worth adding, in reference to the antipathy
shown by horses towards camels, that when during the
night bands of the latter have occasionally strayed from the
marismas to the vicinity of our shooting-lodge of Donana,
at once a commotion has broken out in the stables, though
placed in an enclosed square. All at once the horses have
begun shrieking, kicking, and displaying every' sign of fear,
which could only be explained by their detecting the
effluvia of some passing camels.



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102 WILD SPAIN.



CHAPTER IX.
AMONG THE FLAMINGOES.

NOTES ON THEIR HAUNTS AND HABITS, iVND THE DISCOVERY
OF THEIR " INCUNABULA."

Though Flamingoes
are found in many of
the countries bordering
on the Mediterranean,
and their rosy battalions
are familiar to Eastern
travellers through Egypt
and the Suez Canal, yet
their mode of nesting,
and especially the man-
ner in which birds of so
singular a fonn could
dispose of their extreme-
ly long legs while incu-
bating, has remained an
unsettled question. Till
within the last decade,
in default of more recent
observations, sundry an-
cient fables have passed current. Dampier described the
nests of flamingoes seen by him two hundred years ago —
in September, 1683 — on one of the Cape de Verde Islands,
as being high conical mounds of mud upon which the
female sat astride (" Voyages," i., pp. 70, 71) ; and for two
centuries this cavalier position has been accepted as
history, no further observations having been made, though



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AMONG THE FLAMINGOES. 108

flamingoes have nested irregularly in various parts of
Europe — even in France (in the marshy Camargue, the
delta of the Bhone), and in Southern Spain.

In the latter country several eflforts have been made by
naturalists to obtain more precise knowledge of the breed-
ing habits of the flamingo, especially by Lord Lilford and
Mr. Howard Saunders, but, from various causes, without
definite results. " The heat on those plains in June, when
the flamingoes are said to nest," wrote the latter, **i8
something tropical, and it is no joke to wander for days
over a district as large as our ' Eastern Counties,' on the
chance of stumbling upon a colony of flamingoes some-
where or other." The element of chance, however, is a
potent factor, and it eventually feU to the writer's lot to
discover that for which other and better naturalists had
sought in vain. The following is a narrative of our ex-
plorations in the marisma in the spring of 1883 : —

The first encounter with flamingoes that year had a
somewhat ludicrous result : after riding all day across
the wastes, we had arrived towards sunset within sight
of our quarters for the night, when a herd of these
birds was observed feeding in a reed-girt creek. They
seemed unusually favourably placed for a stalk — for these
wary fowl seldom approach within shot of the slightest
covert ; but on reaching the outermost rushes, the pack
was seen to be at a hopeless range, and rose immediately
on my appearance. To my surprise, a " treble A " wire-
cartridge nevertheless dropped four — three falling direct to
the shot, and a fourth ^* towering " and falling dead a little
further out. One tall fellow was only winged, and seeing
that he was walking right away from me, and getting into
deeper water, Felipe took my horse and rode round to cut
him out. Meanwhile the short twilight was over, and
darkness overtook us some distance out in the dreary
marisma. In the gloom I mistook the bearings, and only,
after splashing about for a time that seemed eternal,
managed to reach the shore, laden with three huge birds,
wet through, hungry, and hopelessly lost. For a mile or
two I struggled on through thorn and tangled brushwood,



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104 WILD SPAIN.

till at last, coming suddenly upon a herd of sleeping beasts
— bulls, for all I could tell — I gave it up, and decided to
weather out the night in the jungle, with the sand for a
couch, and a flamingo for a pillow. Great was the relief,
about midnight, to hear a distant shot ; I responded with

a fusillade, and shortly afterwards B , with Felipe, and

Trujillo's mighty frame loomed through the darkness, and
the duress was at an end.

During the month of April we searched the marisma
systematically for the breeding-places of the flamingoes :
but though we explored a large area, riding many leagues



FLAMINGOES ON FEED.

in all directions from our base through mud and water,
varying from a few inches to three or even four feet in
depth, yet we could see, at this season, no sign of nests.
Flamingoes there were in plenty, together with ducks,
divers, waders, and many kinds of aquatic birds already
described : but the water was still too deep — the mud-flats
and new-bom islets not sufficiently dried for purposes of
nidification, and as far as we could see the only species
which had actually commenced to lay were the purple
herons, coots, Kentish plovers, peewits, and some others.
Of the flamingoes themselves we secured several more



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AMONG THE FLAMINGOES. 105

lovely specimens; during two mornings devoted to shooting
them, we bagged eight, six adults in rich rosy plumage,
and two immature. Flamingoes are always shy and
watchful birds, and their great height gives them a com-
manding view of threatening dangers: but there are
degrees in intensity of wildness, and despite the unques-
tionable difl&culty of flamingo-shooting, we would certainly
not place these long-necked birds in the first rank among
impracticable wild-fowl. Wild geese, for example, many of
the duck-tribe, and nearly all the larger raptores far exceed
them in incessant vigilance and downright astuteness.
Flamingoes, however, will not, as a rule, permit of approach
by the ordinary Spanish method of the stalking-horse, or
cabresto : while the treacherous pony is still two gunshots
away, the warning croak of the sentries is given, and at
once the whole herd start to walk away, opening out their
ranks as they move oflf. The method we found most
effective to secure them was by partially surrounding a
herd with a line of mounted men, who rode far out beyond
them and then drove them over our two guns, each con-
cealed behind his horse and crouching knee-deep in water.
Of all the dirty work that wild-fowling in its many forms
necessitates, this flamingo-driving takes the palm. It is
mud-larking pure and simple, man, horse, and gun alike
encased in a clinging argillaceous covering like the street-
Arab amphibians below London Bridge.

It is a fine sight to see a big flight of flamingoes, say
five hundred, coming well in to the gun — entrando bien d
la escopeta ! The whole sky is streaked with columns of
strange forms, and the still air resounds with the babel of
discordant croaks and cries. How wondrously they
marshal those long uniform files, bird behind bird without
break or confusion, and how precisely do those thousand
black wing-points beat in rapid regular unison ! Flamingoes
are not '' hard " birds : their feathers being loose and open^
and the extremely long necks a specially vulnerable part,
they may be brought down from a considerable height
even with small shot. One evening, while collecting
specimens of small birds on the open marsh, the writer



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106 WILD SPAIN.

killed a pretty right-and-left at flamingoes with No 6.
Happening to see them on the wing a long way off, I lay
down flat among the low samphire-scrub and presently
had them (five) right overhead. Both these birds fell
stone-dead. On another occasion, many years before, at
the Veta Lengua, our four barrels, each loaded with nine
treble-nesting slugs, brought down three fine flamingoes
from a herd rising at upwards of 180 measured paces.
But having obtained specimens, we did not further molest
these singular birds.




A RIGHT-AND-LEFT AT FLAMINGOKS.

Flamingoes were not the sole attraction: the desolate
region around abounded with wild life, furred and feathered,
and many a pleasant bye-day was put in among the
"vermin." One morning we rode out to some distant
thickets where a neighbouring herdsman — half peasant,
half poacher — complained that a family of lynxes were
working havoc among his kids. Our friend, a man of
square iron-knit frame, with the eyes and claws of an
eagle, rode before us, no less than eleven wire-haired
podencos (hunting-dogs) made fast to his saddle-bow by
cords of twisted esparto. The first thicket tried held a
lynx, which, disturbed by the podencos, bolted at speed



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AMONG THE FLAMINGOES. 107

right between us and rolled over with a dose of ** treble A "
about her lugs. From this one small manclia the dogs put
out, besides the lynx, several partridge and rabbits, a
Montagu's harrier, and a pair of mallards ! This lynx was
a female, a full-grown and handsome example of Felis
pardina, much infested (as are most of the scrub-haunting
animals) with ticks, especially about the head : but it was
not much more than half the size of an enormous male



SPANISH LYNX.



which we subsequently found. Unluckily, half our pack
were then wasting their energies on a big boar, which, after
trotting close up to where the writer stood, turned back
with a valedictory grunt and disappeared. The rest of the
pack had meanwhile driven the lynx to the outside of the
thicket, where we had already viewed him and regarded
his fate as sealed; when, with sudden fury, the big cat
turned on his foes, and scattering the podencos with some
tremendous fore-arm blows, made good his escape to the
fastnesses of the Algaida de la Fez.



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108 WILD SPAIN.

Some years afterwards the writer killed a magnificent male
lynx, one of the largest and most beautifully marked we
have ever seen, at this mancha — probably the same beast.

These scrub-clad plains abounded with tall grey foxes
{Vulpes melanogaster) and mongoose {Herpestes widdring-
toni)y with genets, badgers, and wild-cats, of all of which
we shot specimens. Three wild-cats we bagged by moon-
light, from screens placed to command an open glade where
rabbits are wont to pursue nocturnal gambols. Waiting
in ambush beneath the star-strewn heavens, in the silent
brilliance of the southern night, no sound save the churring
of nightjars, or the whistle of stone-curlew, broke the
stillness : bats and small owls flicker in uncertain flight
against the dark sky, and across the glade rabbits glide
like phantoms : presently a larger shadow announces their
deadly enemy, the Gato monUs. Two of these wild-cats were
males, large and ix)werful brutes, weighing 9J and lOJ lbs.
respectively, and tinged with warm chestnut colours
beneath. The big Ijmx we could not weigh, being beyond
the limit of the spring-balance. He probably reached
near half a hundredweight. But we must return to our
flamingoes.

During the month of April, as already mentioned, all
eflforts to discover their breeding-places proved futile. It
was clearly too early in the season, and the writer now lost
nearly a week through a smart attack of ague, brought
on by constant splashing about in comparatively cold water
with a fierce sun always beating down on one's head. In
May, however, we had better luck. Further to the east-
ward flamingoes had always been most numerous, and once
or twice we observed signs, early in May, that looked like
the first rude beginnings of architecture. We have already
described the archipelago of islets that lay far towards the
eastern shore, and on which we had found the rare gulls,
and such a variety of waders and other aquatic birds
breeding (p. 93), together with the immense numbers of
flamingoes that lined the horizon. We must now return
to those bird-islets, to the scene where we broke off at the
end of Chapter VII. on the afternoon of the 9th of May.



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AMONG THE FLAMINGOES. 109

As there stated, the immense aggregations of
flamingoes in those middle marismas, surrounded the
horizon in an almost unbroken line. But, on examining
the different herds narrowly with the binocular, there was
an obvious dissimilarity in the appearance of certain
groups. One or two in particular seemed so much denser
than the others : the narrow white line appeared at least
three times as thick, and in the centre looked as if the
birds were literally piled upon each other. Felipe
suggested that these birds must be at their pajerera, or
breeding-place, and after a long wet ride we found this was



A TOILET IN THE WILDERNESS.



so. The water was very deep, the bottom clinging mud :
at intervals, for a hundred yards or so, the laboured
plunging of the mule was exchanged for an easier, gliding
motion — he was swimming. The change was a welcome
relief to man and beast : the sensation of sitting a swim-
ming animal is not unpleasant, but it will give some idea
of the labours undergone in these aquatic rides in the
marismas in May, 1883, if we add that a fine mule, a
powerful beast worth £60, succumbed to the eflfects of
the fortnight's work.

On a neai-er approach, the cause of the peculiar



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110 WILD SPAIN.

appearance of the herd from a distance became clearly
discernible. Many of the birds were sitting down on a
low mud-island. Some were standing upon it : and
others again were standing in the water. Thus the
different elevations of their bodies formed what had
appeared a triple or quadruple line.

On reaching the spot we found a perfect mass of nests.
The low, flat, mud plateau was crowded with them as
thickly as its space permitted. These nests had little or
no height above the flat surface of mud — some were
raised an inch or two, a few might be five or six inches in
height; but the majority were merely circular bulwarks
of mud barely raised above the general level, and having
the impression of the bird's legs distinctly marked upon
them. The general aspect of the plateau was not unlike
a large table covered with plates. In the centre was a
deep hole full of muddy water, which, from the gouged
appearance of its sides, appeared to be used as a reservoir
for nest-making materials.

Scattered all round this main colony were numerous
single nests, rising out of the water and evidently built up
from the bottom. Here and there two or three of these
were joined together—" semi-detached," so to speak : these
separate nests stood six or eight inches above water-level,
and as the depth was rather over a foot, the total height of
the nests would be some two feet or thereabouts, and their
width across the hollow top some fifteen inches. None of
these nests as yet contained any eggs, and though I
returned to the pajarcra on the latest day I was in its
neighbourhood (May 11th) they still remained empty. On
both occasions many hundreds of flamingoes were sitting
on the nests, and on the 11th we had a good view of them
at close quarters. Linked arm-in-arm with Felipe, and
crouching low on the water to look as little human as
possible, we approached within some seventy yards before
their sentries showed signs of alarm : and at that distance,
with the glass, observed the sitting birds as distinctly as
one need wish. The long red legs doubled under their
bodies, the knees projecting as far as, or beyond the tail.



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