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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84

Birds and Animals

Birds and Animals.

As indicated above, we have not a very glowing report to make as regards our game birds. The poisoned grain and natural enemies are doing their work of extermination surely, and our native ducks are suffering severely from the same causes.

Of black game and pintail grouse we have had no reports whatever during the year, and the number of pheasants, partridges, and Californian quail, appear to be sadly reduced. The hares also appear to be succumbing to the seductions of phosphorus, considerable numbers having been found poisoned during the year.

The herds of deer, however, at Bushy Park, Horse Range, Tapanui, and Morven Hills appear to be doing well and increasing considerably in numbers. Mr. A. R. Blackwood, of Messrs. Dalgety and Co., having permission from our Chairman, secured two magnificent heads from the Morven Hills herd. Mr. Blackwood showed his appreciation of the sport he had in stalking these by forwarding his cheque for £20 towards the funds of the Society.

In December Mr. C. Bills arrived from England with a large consignment of birds, etc. Among these were eighty English robins and three hedgehogs—the latter being all that survived of about a hundred taken on board. Of these we purchased forty of the robins and the hedgehogs. The robins were liberated on the property of Mr. James Fulton at West Taieri, and as they were all strong and healthy young birds we hope soon to see these useful and interesting little strangers strongly established page 6 and quite familiar objects about our gardens. The hedgehogs were placed under the care of Mr. G. M. Thomson, who took great pains to secure their comfort by preparing a place in his garden specially for them. Notwithstanding this, the female unfortunately died soon after her arrival, and one of the males has since mysteriously disappeared.

We have again to thank Mr. John Bathgate, of Foochow, for a valuable donation to our Society. In July last he sent us by the "Tamsui " four Japanese deer and twenty-one patridges. The partridges, like the lot he previously sent, unfortunately all died on the voyage; but three of the deer—two stags and a hind—arrived safely, and, after being cared for by the Christchurch Society for some time, were liberated on the Otekaike Estate. From last accounts they appear to have taken kindly to their new home, and are likely to do well.

Some correspondence has taken place in reference to the introduction of Australian snipe; but the experiment promises to be so uncertain in its results, and withal so costly, that we have not deemed it advisable to do anything further in the matter in the meantime.

The Council have also had under consideration the desirability of endeavouring to introduce the chamois, and Dr. Von Haast has been commissioned to make enquiries from the German Government on his projected visit to the Continent as to the cost and probabilities of success of such an experiment.