Preface and Contents
Bird Life in a Southern County:
Being Eight Years Gleanings among the Birds of Devonshire
(with 10 illustrations by Charles Whymper and a portrait of the author)
London: Walter Scott Limited, Paternoster Square. (1899) 336 pp.
Provided by Michael Steer
Ornithologist Charles Dixon was the author a number of books on birds and bird life. These included, as examples; 'Rural Bird-Life'; 'The Game Birds and Wild-Fowl of the British Islands'; 'British Sea Birds', Curiosities of Bird-Life'; 'The Migration of Birds'; and 'The Migration of British Birds,' This copiously illustrated handbook with a focus on bird life in Devonshire has no index. An original copy of the text is held at the University of California Library and a complete electronic copy may be accessed at:
Microsoft (MSN) has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.
THE present volume, as its title suggests, is a record of some of the observations made during a residence of eight years on the south coast of Devonshire, and on many excursions into various other parts of the county. In some respects it may be regarded as a record of comparison; for I have studied the bird-life of this area coming as a stranger to the county and its ornis, and with a life-long ornithological experience gained in more northern and eastern shires.
By all British ornithologists Devonshire must ever be regarded as classic ground; for years it was the home of Montagu one of the Fathers of Field Ornithology and within its borders many of those discoveries were made which are inseparably associated with his name. Few other counties in England present us with a greater diversity of physical aspect; and certainly no other shire is blessed with a milder and more equable climate. So far as sedentary birds are concerned, the county is rich in species, and most branches of our resident avifauna are well represented. But the same can scarcely be said of migratory species, the county being very unfavourably situated for them. Indeed, next to Cornwall, I should feel inclined to class Devonshire as the poorest littoral county in England for normal migratory birds, lying, as it does, too far to the south-west. Its poorness in this respect, however, is not without compensations to the scientific student of the dispersal and migration of Birds, as I have pointed out elsewhere. So far as abnormal migrants are concerned, Devonshire can compare favourably with any other county.
Devonshire is par excellence a field naturalist's county ; an area in which outdoor work can be carried on throughout the year under the most favourable and pleasant conditions, abounding with an avifauna of exceeding diversity. Some of rarest British birds still find a sanctuary here ; one or two species are commoner here than elsewhere.
I proffer these random gleanings among the birds of Devonshire many of them culled during periods of relaxation, with gun and field-glass, from more serious scientific work as a popular contribution to the bird-lore of the county, addressed rather to the lover of birds than to the scientific student of them, and with no greater pretensions than to interest the general reader, or possibly first to attract and then to instruct the visitor with ornithological tastes to this highly favoured corner of the British Isles.
PAIGNTON, S. DEVON,
|AMONGST THE HEATHER AND GORSE.||11|
|GARDEN AND ORCHARD BIRD-LIFE.||39|
|BIRD-LIFE BY RIVER AND STREAM.||69|
|BIRD-LIFE OF LAKE, SWAMP, AND REED BED.||97|
|BIRD-LIFE IN FIELD AND HEDGEROW.||125|
|BIRD-LIFE OF THE WOODS AND GROVES.||153|
|BIRD-LIFE ALONG THE SHORE.||181|
|BIRD-LIFE UPON THE CLIFFS.||207|
|BIRD-LIFE AT SEA.||239|
|MIGRATION IN A SOUTHERN COUNTY||269|