Letters

Published on 01 November 1912 in Letters

SIRS,–Mr. Bunyard, in reply to my request for information as to the grounds upon which he bases his opinion t h a t the Hobby and Grasshopper-Warbler are sporadic in their nesting-habits, studiously avoids any attempt to substantiate his assertions by facts. In reply to the points raised b y his letter in your October issue : I did not suggest a better definition because I was discussing the term as actually applied by your correspondent to the Hobby and Grasshopper-Warbler. I did not mention Hawfinch because I agreed t h a t this species was, like the Crossbill, a sporadic breeder in England, though in a very different degree. Mr. Witherby has ample grounds — after the latest irruption of the Crossbill as a breeding species in England, in conjunction with previous authentic records–to term this species ” sporadic ” ; b u t the cases of Hobby and Grasshopper-Warbler are totally different, and, I submit, still require to be proved. In my opinion ” sporadic,” as applied to the nesting of wild birds, implies ” irregular in occurrence, as the result of nomadic tendencies or of impulse.” Thus, I should describe as sporadic the nesting of Pallas’s Sand-Grouse and Crossbill, and the appearances of the cloudedyellow butterfly in England. The dictionary assigns such meanings to the word as ” single,” ” separate,” etc., b u t such scarcely seem to apply to the context, otherwise all birds which were not gregarious would fall under this head–excluding Crossbill and

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