Coturnix communis – An irregular summer visitor.
One or two are noted every season, and in certain years it is numerous. Mr. Tracy writes: “I receive a specimen or two almost every autumn, or during the winter.” The only occurrences which came under our own notice were all of single birds obtained in the winter months.
Captain O. T. Edwardes, of Tyrhos, shot one in December, on Tyrhos Common, close to Stone Hall. Mr. Dix writes : “An adult female was shot at Boncath, near here, on September 7th, 1867, and was sent to me a day or two afterwards; it was flushed from amongst some rushes in a wet springy meadow, where in winter we usually find snipes. This singularly agrees with the observations in the ‘Birds of Norfolk.’ Eight or nine years ago five were seen near here, of which three were shot ; and about twelve years ago three were seen near Eglwyswrw, and all were shot; they were all found in and near similar cover to the bird I have. I think I never saw a bird so loaded with fat as that sent me; although rolled up in four or five thicknesses of newspaper, the grease went through all, and the feathers were so saturated that I almost despaired of cleaning them.”
Mr. Dix was an intimate friend of Mr. H. Stevenson, the author of the ” Birds of Norfolk,” and on referring to that admirable work, we find (vol. i., p. 431) that Mr. Stevenson attributes the scarcity of the Quail in the county of Norfolk, at the present day, to the fact that the rough, swampy places that were the birds favourite grounds, have all been enclosed and ploughed up.
In the Zoologist for 1870, Mr. Dix records the abundance of Quail in Cardiganshire and North Pembrokeshire that year. There were many nests, and he himself heard of 330 having been killed by eighteen sportsmen, who supplied him with their lists, and thinks that the total number bagged may have been from four to five times that number. Nearly the whole were shot in September. Early in October several sportsmen looked after Quails, but could find none.
The first Quail was noticed in the middle of July, near a field in which two nests were subsequently found. “This was a barley field, and when it was cut, about August 14th, two nests were found; one contained eggs. Near the other nine young ones, just hatched, were seen; these remained near the same spot for some time. Another nest with eggs was found within a day or two of the above date, and not more than two hundred yards distant.” We cannot but think the date here given is rather a late one for the birds to be found nesting, and would point to the flight having reached Pembrokeshire late in the summer. The birds would certainly begin to nest immediately on their arrival.
Mr. Dix states that although there were so many Quail in the north of the county, only one or two were seen in the south ; 1870 was a great year for Quails all over the kingdom, especially in the west and south-west. In 1893, Quail were again numerous in most parts of England, and were met with commonly in North Pembrokeshire, and many were killed in the St. David’s district. The report from the Small’s Lighthouse mentions Quail appearing there on the morning of September 3rd, 1885, indicating the departure of the birds towards the south. We cannot gather whether this refers to a single bird, or to a passing flock.