27 JUNE 1896, Page 33


l're THE EDITOR Or THE " SPECTITOR:9 SIR, —I had an opportunity yesterday of observing an in- teresting and almost humorous illustration of the development of special instinct from the earliest moments of existence. I was with some friends by the side of a piece of water here, looking at a fine display of rhododendrons and azaleas in full flower on its bank, when our attention was called to a minute creature paddling towards us from the centre of the pond. It came close up to our feet and appeared to be a newly hatched little grebe, probably prematurely out of its nest, which was floating on the surface some thirty yards off. As it paddled it used both its legs and imperfect wings as oars and got along at a good pace ; when resting, legs and wings lay stretched out on the water. We stood motionless, but presently it was evident that it saw us, for it began to dive incessantly until tired, rested, and then under water again, and so on for three or four minutes, ultimately finding shelter under a protecting branch of a rhododendron. This queer little bird was not more than an inch and a half long. Once before I met with a similar instance even more 'inmorous in infant display of instinct; this was in Somerset. I was in a boat when a small thing came floating alongside which at first I took to be an unfortunate bumble-bee. I dipped it up with a large glass tumbler when there was commenced a series of diving exploits to the bottom of the glass. On returning it to the pond it used a plaintive small cry, but in neither case did I see or here any parental response. In some counties I believe this grebe is called the didapper, or little diver. My young friends certainly began early in life to justify their family name.—I am, Sir, Siz., W. CLEMENT D. ESDAILE.

Burley Manor, Ringwood, May 27th.