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the ship, and began to build their nests on the sails under the


The Sand-Martin arrived on the Arctic circle on the 9th
of June. Both on the banks of the Ob and the Yen-e-say'
large colonies of these birds were frequent. I did not see

SER. iv. VOL. in. c

18 Mr. H. Seebohm on Messrs. Blakiston and Fryer's

any further north than lat. 67. Siberian birds, like those
of North Europe, are somewhat darker brown above and
purer white below than our Sand-Martin.

[To be continued.]

II. Remarks on Messrs. Blakislon and Fryer's Catalogue of
the Birds of Japan. By HENRY SEEBOHM.

(Plate I.)

THROUGH the kindness of the Editors of ' The Ibis ' two small
collections of birds from Japan have been placed in my hands
for examination. The first collection contains 38 skins, sent
by Mr. Blakiston from Hakodate for identification, to which
Mr. Pryer has added 12 skins at Yokohama.

The second collection contains 64 skins, and is the result
of a visit paid by Mr. Hey wood Jones to the village of Shim-
bashiri, about 2000 feet above the level of the sea, on the
volcanic mountain of Fusiyama, near Yokohama.

The numbers and the names in the subjoined remarks are
those used in the ' Catalogue of the Birds of Japan,' by Messrs.
Blakiston and Pryer, published in 'The Ibis' of last year
(pp. 209-250).

The birds of Japan possess a special interest to the British
ornithologist. These islands occupy a somewhat analogous
position on the east of the mainland of the Palsearctic region
to our own islands on the west of the same great zoological
district. Similar facts of geographical situation appear to
have produced similar results in the two groups of islands,
namely the presence of insular forms differing too slightly
from the continental types to admit them to specific distinc-
tion. In order that these interesting facts should not be
lost sight of, I have been obliged to admit the use of sub-
specific names. It is the boast of British ornithologists that
their system of nomenclature is binomial. When Linnaeus
substituted a word instead of a sentence to designate a spe-
cies, he made an immense stride towards simplicity of nomen-
clature. The practice of Brisson and the earlier ornitholo-

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 147

quadricolor, Carpophaga pulchella, and Criniger aureus proved
to be new to science, as well as many more species from
Celebes itself, a list of which I have given in the ' Journal fur
Ornithologie ' (1873, p. 404), as well as a list of birds not
known from Celebes before my sojourn there.

XI. Contributions to the Ornithology of Siberia.

[Continued from p. 18.]


The Capercailzie was not nearly so common as the Black
Grouse ; but I succeeded in obtaining two males and two
females. I shot the first female on the 29th of April. In
this bird the feathers on the feet extended halfway down the
last joint of the toes, within a quarter of an inch of the claws.
The second example was shot on the 10th of June ; and the
feathers on the feet extended only halfway down the first
joint of the toes, nearly an inch and a half from the claws.
The crops of these birds were full of the spine-like leaves of
the cedar and Scotch fir. I saw no trace of T. urogalloides.


Black Grouse were common during our stay at Koo-ray'-
i-ka. They appeared to find abundance of food in the buds
of the birch and hazel in 'the severest weather. It was not
an uncommon thing to see half a dozen of them in one tree
together. We saw no more of them after passing the limit
of forest-growth.


I shot the first pair of Hazel- Grouse on the 3rd of May,
and occasionally picked up a pair afterwards. On the 25th
of June I took a nest with eight eggs. These birds were very
easy to shoot. When disturbed from the ground they took
refuge in a tree, where they allowed themselves to be easily
stalked, not appearing to be alarmed at the rattling of my
snow-shoes on the hard crust of the snow. The sailors told
me they had been common in the autumn, but had disappeared

148 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

in the severest part of the winter. Their crops were full of
the buds of birch and hazel.


The Willow-Grouse is a migratory bird in Siberia. It
breeds on the tundra, and winters in the forests. As we
sledged down the Yen-e-say' in April we once or twice saw
flocks of these birds flying northwards, apparently on migra-
tion. The sailors told me that Willow-Grouse were common
at the Koo-ray'-i-ka in autumn, but disappeared in midwinter.
The first I shot was on the 15th of May. It was in full winter
plumage, except a band of chestnut feathers round the neck ;
but on raising the white feathers on the crown the new crop
of chestnut feathers was visible.

I very seldom saw a bird until the ice on the river began
to break up, when they were more plentiful for a week or
two, after which they disappeared from the forests. A bird
I shot on the 6th of June was in full winter plumage, except
a chestnut ring round the neck, a sprinkling of chestnut fea-
thers on the crown, and two or three chestnut feathers on
the shoulders and scapulars. On the 4th of July, in lat. 67,
where patches of tundra were found between the forest and
the river, I found them breeding in full summer plumage.
On the 22nd of July, in lat. 71 J, they had young.


Professor Newton was the first to point out to me the fact
that my Yen-e-say' skins labelled L. mutus were not that
bird, but most probably L. rupestris. I brought home two
males and a female, all shot on the 22nd of July, in lat. 71J,
four or five hundred feet above the level of the sea. I also
brought home a skin in winter plumage in which the space
between the eye and the bill is black ; but as I bought it in a
frozen state on the Arctic circle, it may have been brought
down from a locality much further north.

The female differs from a female of L. albus, shot on the
same day in the valley, in having a slenderer bill, and in
having the feathers of the back mostly tipped with white, and
rarely with ochraceous, whereas in the Willow- Grouse they

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 149

are mostly tipped with ochraceous, rarely with white. The
males difter from the female in having the ochraceous bars
narrower, more numerous, and interrupted, making the general
effect of the plumage of the upper parts darker and richer.
The throat and breast are rather paler than the back. The
belly and under tail-coverts of one are white, and in the
other the feathers on the flanks are half white and half mot-
tled black and ochraceous, on the under tail-coverts all mot-
tled, and on the belly half white and half mottled ash-grey
and ochraceous.

So far as I know, this is the first record of this species on
the mainland of the Palsearctic region. In size my skins of
this bird are smaller than those of the Willow-Grouse,
measuring in length of wing 7-J to 7f inches against 7 j to 8
inches (measured with a tape across the upper surface of the


I brought home the skin of a Bittern which I found hang-
ing up in a peasant's house in a little village on the banks of
the Yen-e-say', in lat. 64. The peasant told me that he had
shot it in the neighbourhood some time during the previous


I first observed the Crane about lat. 60 on my return
journey up the Yen-e-say' on the 12th of August, when small
parties were migrating southwards. I frequently saw these
birds at Yen-e-saisk' during the few days I remained at that
town ; and afterwards they were not uncommon on the Ob
and the Too'-ra.


A small flock of four or five of these handsome birds flew
leisurely over our steamer as we were threading the labyrinths
of the Too'-ra. During flight they appeared to be pure white
all over, except the outside half of each wing, which looked


As soon as the snow had melted on the baiiks of the river,

150 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

so that patches of bare grass were visible in favourable places,
these oases were visited by small parties of Temminck's Stints.
I shot the first on the 6th of June. Most of these birds mi-
grated further north ; but a few remained to breed, and on
the 24th I found a nest containing two eggs on the south
bank of the Koo-ray'-i-ka.

Further north, wherever we landed on the shores of the
river or on the islands of the delta, Temminck's Stint was by
far the commonest Sandpiper. I brought home several sit-
tings of its eggs, both from the Brek'-off-sky islands in lat.
70^, and from Gol-cheek'-a, in lat. 71^. On my return
journey I found it plentiful on the banks of the Yen-e-say' in
in lat. 58 in the middle of August. These birds had pro-
bably not bred so far south, but were most likely slowly mi-
grating southwards towards their winter quarters.


I did not see any trace of the Little Stint until I reached
Gol-cheek'-a, in lat. 71$, on the 19th of July. It was then
too late for eggs. I had, however, been fortunate enough to
charter a Samoyade, who brought me a couple of baskets full
of unblown eggs. In this collection were nine eggs so exactly
like those of the Little Stint which Harvie Brown and I ob-
tained near the banks of the lagoon of the Petchora, that I
only required to see the birds in the neighbourhood to feel
sure of their identity. I spent the following day on the tundra,
and secured two female Little Stints; and on the 22nd I secured
a male of this species.


On the 15th of June I obtained a fine Curlew Sandpiper
in full breeding-plumage at the village of Koo-ray'-i-ka, on
the Arctic circle. It was doubtless en route for its breeding-
grounds, nearer the sea than I was able to get, as I saw nothing
more of this interesting species.

The eggs of this bird and those of the Knot are now the
two great prizes left for British oologists to try and secure.
Drs. Finsch and Brehm found the Curlew Sandpiper breeding-
in great numbers about the 1st of August on the isthmus of

Mr. H. Seebohm oti the Ornithology of Siberia. 151

the Yalmal peninsula, near the margins of the lakes on the
tundra, about lat. 67|. They were too late for eggs, but
had young in down in their hands. The mosquitoes, how-
ever, were so overwhelming that these adventurous ornitho-
logists failed to bring home any specimens of this still un-
known state of plumage. Capt. Feilden was more fortunate
with the Knot. He brought home young in down ob-
tained during the late Arctic Expedition. This bird was
breeding in lat. 82 i, on the shores of the Polar basin, a little
to the north of Cape Union ; and the young in down were
obtained on the 30th of July. It was also breeding on both
shores of the channel at Thank- God Harbour and Discovery
Bay, in lat. 81}.


I saw nothing of the Dunlin until the 14th of July, when
I shot a couple of males in lat. 69; and four days later I shot
a male and female in lat. 71 4. With these birds were young
in down. I am indebted to my friend Mr. Charles Murray
Adamson, of Newcastle, who has paid great attention for
many years to the changes in the plumage of the Waders, for
pointing out to me the interesting fact that these birds are
all moulting nearly the whole of their primaries at once, to
such an extent as to incapacitate them for extended flight,
and at a much earlier period than is the case in this country.
Mr. Adamson suggests that in the high latitudes, where the
summer is so short, the parent birds probably migrate with
their young, instead of a fortnight later, as is usually observed
in this country, Heligoland, &c. To enable them to do so
the autumn moult must take place at an earlier date.


The Ruff was a common bird in the valley of the Yen-e-say'.
I shot the first on migration on the 9th of June on the
Arctic circle ; and afterwards I met with them wherever there
was long grass in the swamps of the tundra as far north as
I travelled.


I shot the first Common Sandpiper on the 12th of June,

152 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

and found it frequent on the banks of the river wherever I


The Terek Sandpiper arrived at our quarters on the 8th of
June, and was common on the banks of the river and islands
as far north as lat. 70.


The only trace of the Bar-tailed Godwit which came under
my notice was a single bird which Schwanenberg's mate
shot for me on the Brek'-koff-sky islands during the spring


Next to Temminck's Stint the Wood-Sandpiper was by
far the commonest Wader in the valley of the Yen-e-say'. I
shot the first on the 6th of June at the Koo-ray'-i-ka, but did
not meet with it north of lat. 69.


I shot my first Green Sandpiper on the 15th of June, on
the Arctic circle. It was by no means a common bird. On
the 6th of July, at Egarka, in lat. 67, I found a nest of this
bird in a willow tree, about six feet from the ground, con-
taining one egg. I did not meet with it further north ; but
on my return journey, early in August, I found it common
on the banks of the river near Yen-e-saisk'.


I did not meet with the Lapwing until we had nearly
reached Tyu-mane' on the return journey.


I shot the first Golden Plover on the banks of the Koo-
ray'-i-ka on the 7th of June, and found it common on the
tundra as far north as we went. On the return journey I
spent some hours near Vare'-shin-sky, in lat. 69, on the
29th of July, and saw several pairs of Golden Plovers. They
were very anxious to lead me away from their young. Occa-
sionally they uttered their plaintive cry from the ground, but

Mr. H. Seebohin on the Ornithology of Siberia. 153

more often from the summit of a larch tree. I shot oue from
the top of a larch at least fourteen feet from the ground.


On the 5th of June I had the pleasure of shooting my first
Asiatic Golden Plover. This bird is at once distinguishable
from the last-mentioned species by its smaller size, and grey
instead of white axillaries. A third distinction may also be
found in the comparatively longer tarsus of the eastern bird.
In its voice it exactly resembles the Grey Plover. I noticed
all the three variations with which I am so familiar in the note
of the latter bird, but remarked that the third variation, which
I take to be a combination of the two others more rapidly
uttered (see Dresser's ' Birds of Europe/ Appendix to the
article on Squatarola helvetica), is much more frequently
uttered by the Asiatic Golden Plover than by the Grey
Plover. I secured many specimens of this interesting bird
as it passed the Koo-ray'-i-ka on migration. I did not observe
it again until we reached lat. 69J, on the open tundra just
beyond the limit of forest-growth. Not a trace of a pine
tree was to be seen ; and the birches had dwindled down to
stunted bushes scarcely a foot high. I took a nest of Turdus
fuscatus with young birds as I climbed up the steep bank
where alders and willows still flourished luxuriantly, and had
scarcely reached the top before I heard the cry of a Plover.
The tundra was hilly, with lakes and swamps and bogs in the
wide valleys and plains. I found myself upon an excellent
piece of Plover-ground, covered more with moss and lichen
than with grass, sprinkled with patches of bare pebbly ground,
and interspersed with hummocky plains, where ground-fruits
and gay flowers were growing. I soon caught sight of both
male and female, and sat down with the intention of watching
the latter onto the nest. After wasting half an hour, during
which the bird wandered uneasily round and round me with-
out showing any partiality for a special locality, I came to
the conclusion, either that the eggs were hatched, in which
case my watching was in vain, or that I was so near the nest
that the female dare not come on. The male had a splendid

154 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

black belly ; and I decided to take my first good chance of a
shot at him, and then to devote another half hour to a search
for the nest. He proved to be, as I suspected, the Asiatic
Golden Plover, with grey axillaries. My search for the nest
was a very short one. I found it in less than five minutes,
within a dozen yards of my position. It was a mere hollow
in the ground upon a piece of turfy land, overgrown with
moss and lichen ; and it was lined with broken stalks of rein-
deer moss. The eggs, four in number, were a size smaller
than those of the Golden Plover, averaging If x 1^. (Eggs
of the Golden Plover from the same locality average 2^ x
1J.) These eggs were taken on the 13th of July, and were
very much incubated.

Among the eggs which had been collected for me at Gol-
checka was a second sitting of Asiatic Golden Plover's. Here
the bird was extraordinarily common. I tried to watch
several birds onto the nest, but in every case without success.
They behaved exactly as if they had young. I succeeded in
catching one young bird in down, and reluctantly came to
the conclusion that I was too late (on the 20th of July) for
eggs. The young in down is quite as yellow as that of the
Golden Plover.

In ' The Ibis' for 1863, p. 404, Swinhoe represents this bird
as breeding plentifully on Formosa. The eggs are described
as measuring If g x 1^ . These eggs are still in the Swinhoe
collection, and average l^J x 1^. They exactly resemble my
eggs in colour, but are much smaller and rounder at the small
end. Two other eggs in the same collection, of exactly the
same colour and shape, and from the same locality, are marked
jEgialitis geoffroii. These two eggs are a shade smaller,
measuring 1J^ x 1 ; but I am induced to think that Swinhoe
has been led astray by his collectors, and that all these Formosa
eggs belong to M. geoffroii. Swinhoe further states that C.
fulvus is common on Formosa " all the year round/' Unfor-
tunately the skins of this bird from Formosa in the Swinhoe
collection are not dated. I have no doubt that great numbers of
this bird pass through Formosa in breeding-plumage in spring,
and again in winter plumage in autumn. Some may very

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 155

probably winter in so southern a station as Formosa; and
after what Capt. Legge tells me of similar occurrences in
Ceylon, I can imagine that barren birds in imperfect breeding-
plumage may not unfrequently be found during summer in
their winter quarters ; but I scarcely think it possible that C.
fulvus breeds south of the Arctic circle, at least three thousand
miles further north than Formosa. If any of these Formosan
eggs are those of JE.geoffroii, it is evidence, as far as it goes,
that this bird is a Eudromias, and not an JEgialitis ; for they
are almost miniatures of the eggs of the Dotterel, E.morinellus.


Small parties of Dotterel appeared from the 9th of June
for about a week at the Koo-ray'-i-ka. I did not meet with
this species again until the 25th of July, on my return
journey, when, in lat. 71, I shot a male and picked up a
young bird in half down and half feathers.


The Ringed Plover arrived on the 8th of June at our
winter quarters, and was common as far north as I went
(lat. 7H).


The Red-necked Phalarope arrived at the Koo-ray'-i-ka on
the 15th of June, and was abundant as far north as I went.


The first Wader which arrived at our winter quarters on
the Arctic circle was the Pin-tailed Snipe. We shot a couple
on the fifth of June, three days after the ice began to break
up on the great river. Three days later they were exceed-
ingly common on the oases of bare grass which the sun had
been able to make in a few favourable situations in the midst
of the otherwise universal desert of melting snow. I could
easily have shot a score a day if I had had cartridges to spare.
They used to come wheeling round, uttering a loud and rather
shrill cry (some idea of which may be gathered by the sound
of the word peezh, long drawn out) ; then they used to drop
down with a great whirr of wings, and with tail outspread

156 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

an operation which seemed so engrossing that they appeared
seldom to discover until they were on the ground that they
had chosen a spot to alight within twenty yards of a man
with a gun. It was amusing to see them find out their mis-
take. Sometimes as soon as they caught my eye they would
take wing and fly quietly away ; but more often they would
hurry off as fast as their legs would carry them, and hide
behind a tuft of grass or a bush. I never heard the Pin-tailed
Snipe " drum," as the Common Snipe often does, when wheel-
ing round and round at a considerable height in the air ; nor
did I ever hear the tyik-tyuk so characteristic of the Common
Snipe. I think the Pin-tailed Snipe is much easier to shoot
than our bird. The flight seems to me slower and less zigzag.


The Common Snipe was either much rarer or much more
wary than the Pin-tailed Snipe ; for out of twenty skins which
I brought home with me four proved to be those of G. sco-
lopacina, and sixteen those of G. stenura. They probably
arrive on the Arctic circle at the same time, as my first Pin-
tailed Snipe was shot on the 5th of June and my first Com-
mon Snipe on the 9th. I found a nest of the Common Snipe
in a marsh on the outskirts of the forest in lat. 67 on the
6th of July. The eggs were considerably incubated. I can
find no differences in size or general coloration in these two
Snipes ; but a minute examination discloses the following cha-
racters : My skins of G. scolopacina vary in length of culmen
from 2'87 to 3 inches, whilst those of G. stenura only mea-
sure from 2*33 to 2*73. G. stenura may be always at once
recognized by the very narrow and stiff feathers on each side
of the tail. The tail of this bird is also shorter, in my skins
varying from 1*65 to 1*9. In my skins of G. scolopacina the
length of the tail varies from 2*4 to 2*6. In G. stenura the
under wing-coverts are all distinctly barred with black, whilst
in G. scolopacina many of them are pure white. These two
species of Snipe probably breed north of the Arctic circle,
as I saw nothing more of them at the Koo-ray'-i-ka after the
middle of June.

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 157


Six days after the arrival of the Pin-tailed Snipe the Double
Snipe appeared in considerable numbers, and soon became by
far the commonest species. In the evenings I used some-
times to watch these birds through my binocular. With a
little caution I found it easy to get very near them ; and fre-
quently I have sat partially concealed between a couple of
willow bushes attentively turning my glass on two or three
pairs of these birds, all within fifteen or twenty yards of me.
They used to stretch out their necks, throw back the head
almost onto the back, and open and shut their beaks rapidly,
uttering a curious noise, like running one's finger along the
edge of a comb. This was sometimes accompanied by a short
flight or by the spreading of the wings and tail. The Double
Snipe is by no means shy, and allows of a near approach.
When it gets up from the ground it rises with a whirr of the
wings like that of a Grouse, but not so loud. The Double
Snipe probably breeds on the Arctic circle, as it still frequented
the marshy ground near the Koo-ray'-i-ka when we weighed
anchor in the ill-starred ' Thames ' on the 29th of June, and
I found it still frequenting the same locality when I returned
in the ' Yen-e-say ' on the 2nd of August.


I did not succeed in identifying the common Wild Swan
in the valley of the Yen-e-say 7 . Every skin which I had an
opportunity of examining proved to be that of Bewick's Swan ;
every footprint in the sand which I measured was that of
Bewick's Swan ; and all the eggs I obtained agreed in size
with those of Bewick's Swan which Harvie Brown and I
obtained in the Petchora, and were too small for those of the
larger species. Nevertheless there cannot be any doubt that
Cygnus musicus is found in the valley of the Yen-e-say', since

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