21 NOVEMBER 1908, Page 34



SIR,—In your issue of August 29th there appeared an article on the English ortolan or wheatear. The following incident may be of interest to your readers, more especially as by nature the wheatear is such a timid bird. At the end of October I was sailing in a Brixham trawler from Land's End to Ross- lure, County Wexford. When we were about sixty miles out from land a wheatear settled on the deck of the vessel. Thinking the bird was hungry, we threw it some crumbs and lettuce and put down a saucer of fresh water. However, it showed no inclination for these, but made short work of a butterfly which appeared soon afterwards. Seeing that it evidently preferred a diet of insects, I went below into the cabin and caught some flies. On seeing these, the bird flew and settled on my hand and devoured them. It did not seem to be tired, as several times it flew out of sight, but always returned, and was quite trme, making no struggle even when we caught hold of it. I took a snapshot of it (which I enclose) perched on the captain's hand. It stayed with us all day, and at night made itself snug in the forecastle. Next morning when we inquired about our visitor there was a sad tale to tell. One of the crew had unwittingly trodden on it