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MAY MUSHROOMS (Agaricus prunulus).

200LOGY. TEW who walk abroad in the fields in May, but GRACULA RELIGIOSA. — Thinking that the orni. must bave noticed some rings of grass much

thological readers of SCIENCE Gossip would be taller and of a darker colour than that of the rest of

interested by a short description of two rather rare the field: these are generally known as “Fairy

birds, located at the present time in our town, I Rings,” and legendary lore tells us that they are

will give the result of my interview with the formed by the circular dances of which the “good

"Talking Minos” (Gracula religiosa). They are folk” were supposed to be so fond.

in size between a blackbird and jackdaw; about These rings, however caused, are known to the

12 inches from beak to tip of tail; of a beautiful Botanist as the locale for the Agaricus prunulus, a

black colour, with yellow ears and eyelids, which, most delicious mushroom, probably the identical

coupled with the peculiar heavy hops and jumps, species from which the French term mousseron, and

gives them a very knowing and intelligent appear. hence our mushroom, has been derived.

ance. Both birds are very loquacious, and readily As this species is abundant in the district around

learn anything in the way of short sentences. The Cirencester, I introduced it to the notice of my

tone of voice is very deep, but clear and distinct, numerous pupils as well as that of my brother Pro

both birds keeping up a continual chatter, using fessor at the College, and I have known seventy

such expressions as the following: “Half-past six persons to make a hearty supper of them at one

-time to go to tea!” “Call the watch !” “ Pretty ineal, without a single case of inconvenience, and,

boy! oh, you are a pretty boy!” “ Call the dogin fact, we always looked forward to the month of

Toby! Toby! Toby!” (following which comes a long May for gathering our usual treat.

whistle); cough three or four times; and other Some years since I took a small basket of them to

things too numerous to mention. They appear in a May meet of the Cotteswold Club, which was

perfect health, very docile, not objecting to be appointed at Swindon Station ; these were sent to

handled, and have been some time in England. the kitchen to be cooked for our breakfast, and J.J. Owles. when placed on the table, the perfume the dish ex Cuck00.-The cuckoo has appeared unusually haled, like that of Lamb's burnt pig, caused each early this year. I saw the bird on the 27th of member to forget his scruples, and, for the first time, March, and one of my family distinctly heard its to taste “toadstools." After breakfast the landlord

note some hours previous to my seeing it. The made his appearance and asked for some informa

cuckoo here almost invariably lays its egg in the tion about the mushroom, as an Italian cook, im nest of the wagtail; but about three years since, I mediately upon seeing it, struck an attitude, and com | noticed a young cuckoo being fed and cared for by menced heroics on “Verdant Italy.” The truth is, the redstart.-G. this is a favourite species in Italy, where it fetches a good price, and where, as stated by Dr. Badham,

SlowworX CLIMBING.—Is the slowworm known early examples are sent as “bribes to lawyers, and

| to have any climbing propensities? I have in my fees to medical men.” The dried fungus is sold in

possession a smallish specimen, being rather under England at the Italian warehouses under the name

twelve inches in length, and in the case which he of " funghi.” I never had them cooked so well as

inhabits is a diminutive dead tree, that grows nearly at Swindon, though I have always found them good

upright for about six inches, and then slants for fried with a little bacon, having been previously

eight inches more at an angle of 45° or less with the sprinkled with pepper and salt. A lady friend of

ground. Up this he frequently climbs as far as the ours once stewed them, but the result was a most

branch extends, when he stretches about in various unsavoury fluid, in which was roused something like

directions, showing great muscular power, until he bits of soaked buckskin.

usually overbalances, and descends quicker than he Still, cooked well this is an agreeable, wholesome,

went up. Though I have had this reptile two or nutritious plant, and is so abundant in some of the

three months I have not seen him take food; he pastures in the first two or three weeks of May,

goes up to either worm or slug, as if to take it, but that even tons of a good kind of food may be ob

after examination turns away with an air of indiffetained from them; and here there can be no mistake,

rence.-George Guyor. for in as far as I know, no other fungus grows in THE NIGHTINGALE.--On the 12th of this month “Fairy Rings ” in May, though I have seen the same (March), I distinctly heard the notes of a nightinrings occupied by the A. orendes, also a good species, gale in some woods between Claygate and Leatherand the A. personatus--the “blewit”-later in the head. Two were heard near Monmouth on the 7th season.*

J. BUCKMAN. (vide the Field, March 13th). These dates are, I THE BAILLIE'S SALMON-ROB.- I was lying list. peculiar in shape and size, armed with large strong lessly one day in summer thirty feet beneath the teeth. The extreme end of the lower jaw turned surface, beyond the influence of the rapid stream up more than an inch, with a blunt point, nearly at above, in the fathomless pool called The Pot, some right angles, fitted with a corresponding hollow in half-mile below Merton Bridge, a boat, kept in its the upper jaw. The colour, a pale orange, with place by two ligbt oars, floating above me, when the spots, not very bright; flesh very inferior.-E. 4., fragments of a conversation reached my ears, which Norwich. by degrees absorbed my attention. A river-keeper was detailing to his employer the circumstances

| believe, very early, but one could scarcely mistake Fungi," by M. C. Cooke, a book which no one living in the

the beautiful notes of the nightingale. There are a country should be without. It is published by R. Hardwicke.

• For information on this useful tribe of plants, see " British

YANKEE RECEIPT FOR COCKROACHES.-Close in connected with the capturing of a poacher. “Ay,

an envelope several of these insects, and drop it sir,” he said, “but that saumon-roe is a sair temp

into the street anseen, and the remaining cockroaches

will all go to the finder of the parcel. tation; mony a guid mon has been beguiled by it.

It is also

said that if a looking-glass be held before cock. A’ ken ane, a baillie; a' took him mysel'.” “How came that? Tell us all about it,” was the reply.

roaches, they will be so frightened as to leave the “A’ was watching, mebbe six months syne, up in

premises.—Cowan's Curious Facts. the Pavilion Water; the fish were thranging sair WINTRY FLEas. During the winter of 1762, at upon the spawning-beds, and weel a' kent they were | Norwich, after a chilling storm of snow and wind thrang on the bank abune the Whirlies. A’ was that had destroyed many lives, myriads of fleas were hidden in the wee brae just abune the brig, and a found skipping about on the snow. - Gent. Mag., hadna' been there mebbe twa hour, when a' see a

xxxi., 208. mon come daintily alang. Looking carefully this way an' that, an' seeing naebody, he just out withe

SMALL BIRDS FOR THE ANTIPODES. — The gaff, an' screwing it on to the end of his walking.

caterpillar, we (New Zealand Herald) hear, is stick, stepped lightly into the water. It wouldna'

making great havoc with the grain crops south of be mickle abune his knee, an' the back fin o'mair

Auckland, about Otahuhu, Mangarei, Wairoa, and than ae great fish was plain to be seen on the bank

other places. Oats, wheat, and barley have had to before him. 'Deed, but he wasted little time in

be cut green for hay, and some farmers have lost selection, an’ varra little ceremony he treated 'em

hundreds of pounds by this pest. Again and again with. In a second the gaff was in a puir half-spawned we have urged upon the local legislature the neces. beastie, an’lugging her ashore, he started aff het

sity of encouraging the importation of small birds, foot towards Melrose. A' up an' after him, an' for

and the neglect of doing so is painfully manisest in a weighty mon he made mickle running. When he

the ravages which have taken place in the farmers' saw me he dropped the fish, but no' stopping to

fields this year. It is neither the climate, nor the pick it up, a' just kept on under the railway brig,

fact that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, down the meadows, by Ailwand Foot, under Melrose as some imagine, that is the cause of the presence Brig, an' there, as he was creeping up the steep

of these armies of caterpillars. The same thing bank, a' grippit hold of him ahint; a' grippit hard,

would occur in England were there no small birds an' he turned and said, 'Sandy, lad! dinna grip sae

to destroy the insects and their larvæ. In districts hard; ye'll rive ma breeks.' 'Ay, Baillie, said I,

at home where a ruthless destruction of small birds ‘is that you? How cam' ye to do it?' And he has been permitted, the same results have occurred said quite solemn-like, 'Sandy!' he said, “it was as here. It would seem as if our local legislatures, neether the need nor the greed, but joost the | puffed up with the idea that they are full blown saumon-roe!''Ech, Baillie,' a' said, 'a' wadna'

statesmen, thought the matter of encouraging the have believed it of ye, but it will be dear saumon

importation of small birds beneath their notice. A roe to ye.' And sae it proved, for he was fined five

few sparrows and finches may in themselves be very pund, and ither harm cam' of it.”Autobiography

insignificant things, but the destruction of the grain of a Salmon.

on a whole country's side for the want of them, con

siderably alters the question.-N. 2. Advertiser. Sea Fish in Fresh WATER.—Last month a fish was captured in the river Blyth, near Halesworth, supposed to be a large specimen of the common A HINT.-Those that know the most, are most trout, but on examination of the head and shoulders sensible how little they know in comparison of what which were sent to me, I am confident it was a sea is yet unknown, and therefore consider things with or bull trout (Salmo eriox). As I believe the occur modesty and candour; but Ignorance cries out at rence of this fish to be uncommon on the Norfolk once it “cannot be," inconsiderately measuring the and Suffolk coasts, I thought the following descrip. | powers of Nature by the scanty compass of its own tion might interest some of your readers :-Length, experience, and more ready to reject the truth than 3 feet 4 inches, from the tip of his snout to the end take the pains to find it out.-Baker, On the of his tail; girth, 21 inches ; weight, 15 lbs.; head, | Polype.,


EXOGENS.—When the axe is laid to the roots of

the monarch of the woods, and other forest trees, a DISTRIBUTION OF PLANTS.-In connection with

host of adventitious buds are thrown out from the

host of adventitious buds are thrown or this subject, it is, I think, quite as interesting and

more or less remaining stump, which progress, and inportant to notice what species are absent from a l in some cases bid fair to rival their progenitors. I district, as it is to record those which occur in it. I believe the rule holds good in both deciduous and As an instance of this, I may name the Red Campion (Lychnis diurna), which is at present unknown with

genera, from Quercus (the oak) down to the humblest in five miles of High Wycombe; it is, I believe, shrub. The Coniferæ seem the only kinds, whether scarcely known throughout Cambridgeshire, in young or of more advanced growth, that lack the which county the Barren Strawberry (Potentilla vegetative power in the stump. I have observed the

denuded trunk of larch to send forth shoots when In our Wycombe district, well wooded as it is, the laid on the ground, but not one from the former, Yellow Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense) is found | although I have watched closely for a series of years, in but a very small portion ; and this is also the Have any of your readers observed the same, and can case with the Wood Sage (Teucrium Scorodonia). But they suggest a cause? I am aware that if a plant when we descend to smaller districts, and to even be severed at the junction of radicle, and plumule more common plants, we still find the same curious (termed the neck), it is certain death. Can this be irregularity. In one part of Essex, the Wake- said to apply to trees, such as the larch and pine? Robin (Arum maculatum) is almost unknown; while J. Maughan. a few miles off, every hedge-bottom is filled with it.

THE MEZEREON (Daphne Mezereon). – This All who have really, attempted to investigate the

rare plant is, I am glad to say, not yet extinct in botany of any one district in particular, will agree

Bucks. I have found it this year in one of its old with me tbat the distribution of plants is in itself

localities near High Wycombe; and it has been a subject of deep interest, and one which deserves

observed also in another wood not far hence.-B. far more attention than it has yet obtained.-B.

THE PRIMROSE (Primula vulgaris). — The form A DEODARA (Cedrus deodara), in the garden of

of this plant, which is generally known by the name the Vicarage, Bredwardine, produced two fertile

of Oxlip-although the true oxlip (P. elatior, Jacq.) cones last year. On comparing them with cones

is a widely differing species-is one of the most taken at the same time from a Cedar of Lebanon in

beautiful and interesting of our spring flowers. A the same garden, the only differences I noticed were, that the cone of the Deodara was smaller and more

very fine specimen which was brought me the other

day had on the same root the umbels elevated on a obtusely pointed than the Cedar of Lebanon, and

footstalk, which characterise the oxlip, and the was of a looser structure. I have been told that it

apparently solitary flowers of the primrose. I am is by no means uncommon for Deodaras to produce

inclined to believe that this oxlip is not,'as has been cones in England, but that the trees which do so

asserted, a hybrid between the cowslip and primrose, are generally stunted. This is by no means the case

but rather a development of the latter species. I with this one. It is a remarkably well-grown and

have found oxlips among primroses frequently, but graceful tree. Its age, as nearly as I can discover,

never among cowslips; and although they seem to is from 35 to 40 years.-R. B.

assume a middle position between the two, I fancy SENSITIVE PLANTS. — Your correspondent the primrose characteristics are always the more “J. L. B.” will find that the stamens of the Rock defined. Perhaps, after all, Linnæus was in the Rose (Helianthemum vulgare) are similarly sensitive right when he united all these forms under one to those of the Barberry. The only British species species, which he named P. veris. I have been with which I am acquainted which really deserves | much struck this spring with the curious metamorthe name of sensitive plant is the Wood-sorrel phoses which occur in the calyx of the garden (Oxalis acetosella). If its leaves be roughly han- | polyanthus. In some, this is transformed into a dled, they will gradually fold up-not in the same second corolla, under the first; this I have observed wonderfully instantaneous manner as those of the in two or three instances, and in widely differing Mimosa, but quite perceptibly, though slowly; forms. A more curious variation still is that in but, curiously enough, this property is more evident which the calyx is replaced by leaves, which spread in some specimens than in others. I first noticed it out and far exceed the corolla in size. In some in some plants of wood-sorrel which I had in culti- cases these are green, in others green streaked with vation. The remarkable manner in which the seed red, and in texture a curious compound of leaf and is dispersed was also then first brought under my petal. This form is very common in our cottage observation. Many plants are sensitive of the gardens. Perhaps Mr. Holland, who is so well up approach of rain, but the Oxalis leaves are the only in monstrosities, may be able to give some adones I know which close at the touch.-B.

ditional examples.-B.


cockles were brought from Holy Island, the mussels

from Yarmouth, and the oysters from the west CUTICLE OF LEAVES.-At the last meeting of the coast of Scotland. ---H. W. Quekett Microscopical Club, an interesting dis

RACK OF BINOCULARS.-Allow me to call the cussion took place on the relative advantages of

attention of the various makers to an error in the removing the cuticle from the leaves of plants by

construction of, I believe, all binocular microscopes the slow process of maceration in pure water, or the

-but one that is as easily avoided as committed. quicker one of boiling in nitric acid. Since then I

The spindle of the pinions, which work the racks of have made a first and successful attempt by the

the draw-tubes, is, in every instrument which I have latter method, and hoping it may induce others to

seen, placed at a right-angle to the axis of the try experiments who hitherto have been deterred by

principal tube. The result is (the teeth being the fancied difficulties, I now give the result. A leaf of

same in both), that the left tube travels further for a rhododendron which had been dry for some

each revolution of the pinion than the right-and months, and a freshly gathered leaf of an azalea,

hence a difference of focus in the two eye-pieces. were put into a test tube, and covered with un

Some may consider this of small importance, but I diluted nitric acid of commerce-I believe about

maintain that a first-class instrument should be free 1320 specific gravity : the tube was held over a

from all avoidable defects, however minute. In my spirit lamp until the acid just boiled, and the

case, it is of considerable importance as I am uncontents were then thrown into a basin of cold

usually wide between the eyes ; and I find that water. The cuticle of the rhododendron leaf par.

when the tubes of my microscope are sufficiently tially separated spontaneously; that of the azalea

drawn to suit my eyes, the difference in the distance came off without the least difficulty The whole

travelled by the two amounts nearly to to of an operation did not occupy more than five minutes.

inch. The obvious way of overcoming this, is to Undoubtedly many leaves, according to their texture,

place the spindle at a right-angle to a line drawn will require different strengths of acid, and longer

from the edge of the prism to a point midway or shorter periods of boiling; therefore, if members

between the two eye-pieces. It would thus be at of the club will try experiments, noting the specific

an equal angle to both racks, and their movement gravity of acid used, and, if diluted, the proportion

would be alike. --James Vogan. of water added, and communicate the results to each other, much useful information may be obtained.

ERECTOR FOR BINOCULARS. — At the March W. J. D. Arnold, Fulham.

meeting of the Quekett Club, a member exhibited

an application of the erector to Richards' Universal DIATOMS IN SHELL Fisu.-Dwellers in towns

Investigation tube, for the purpose of dissection, &c. need not go far to obtain certain diatoms for their By this means an erect and binocular view of the microscopes, as a large variety is at once procurable object is obtained, with little loss of light, and good from the nearest fishmonger. This the following definition. This combination, which seems to offer experiments may serve to prove. During the past some advantages over the erector as usually conmonth I purchased and brought home a quart of

structed, is to be had of Mr. C. Baker, High Holborn, cockles. These I opened one by one, and placed

| at a less cost (including the tube) than that usually what I supposed were the intestines (brown-looking

charged for the erector alone. little threads, plainly visible when the animal is

SPERMACETI.-— My attention was drawn to this split open with a penknife) by themselves in a wine-glass. After treating these with hot acids, and

substance by observing the crystalline appearance cleaning and washing as usual, I obtained slides

it gave to pomade; and the idea suggested itself containing specimens of the following genera :

that it would make a good polarizing object. I took Coscinodiscus, Hyalodiscus, Actinoptychus, Navi

| a small quantity, and proceeded with it in the same cula, Surirella. I then tried mussels, and got valves

manner as for fusible crystals, only that when melted of Cymatopleura, Dictyocha, Campylodiscus, Cocco

on the slide it should have a thin cover dropped

on it, otherwise the substance is too dense to allow neis, Triceratium; and, lastly, by cleaning the

sufficient light to pass through. I think this is washings of a few oyster-shells, obtained specimens of Biddulphia, Amphitetras, Nitzschia, Pleurosigma,

something entirely new; to watch the manner of

concretion is worthy of remark.-E. Histed. Stauroneis, Zygoceros, &c. After a few trials, I found that the most satisfactory way of getting | TURNTABLE.-I recently felt the want of some slides of the above genera was by patiently picking shallow cells for mounting minute crystals in prethe valves out under an erector, mounting them as servative solutions, and not having a turntable at selected diatoms, and restricting the number to four hand I set to work to make one. I failed on my or five on a slide. This will perhaps be found a first attempt, but was easily able to remedy its tedious process, but I know of no royal road to the faults in the second; as it is a very simple contriv. preparation of good slides. I was told that the ance, and one) requiring but a small amount of

mechanical skill, I thought some of your readers

GEOLOGY. might perhaps prefer one of their own construction to investing from 5s. to 15s, on what would not

I PLESIOSAURUS.-A new species of Plesiosaurus answer the purpose one whit the better, and so I

has been purchased by the British Museum. The send you an account of my proceedings. The first

specimen is from the Lower Lias, near Charmouth, I made of soft deal; it consisted of two wheels of

and has been named by Professor Owen Plesiosaurus three and four inches diameter grooved on the cir.

caticeps. It measures nearly fourteen feet long, cunference, the smaller one to hold the slide was

and with the exception of the displacement of a made to revolve by an endless band passing from it

| few caudal vertebræ, the vertebral column is in to the larger one, which was turned by the hand. It a complete and natural state. was not the thing, however, there was too much

COLLIERY EXPLOSIONS AND THE BAROMETER. — friction between the lower surface of the wheels and

Mr. J. Rofe writes to the Geological Magazine, and the board on which they were screwed, and as they

shows that colliery proprietors have only to watch worked rather loosely around the screws their

the barometer, and provide in accordance with its centres were not constant; and thus, though I

indications for the supply of air to the mines. managed with it to point several cells, they did not

Alluding to the well-known “Blowing-well” of come up to my idea of circles. I found that the

Preston, in Lancashire, he states that some time two essentials of the machine are perfect centreing,

since, in a well recently constructed by him as a and the reduction of friction to a minimum, and

cesspool to some chemical works, he observed the after turning it over in my mind for a short time,

phenomena characterising the “ Blowing-well.” I hit upon an expedient for accomplishing this ad

When the atmospheric pressure diminished, the air mirably. I took a piece of heavy Spanish maho

came from the well loaded to a disagreeable extent gany, and cut a circle a little more than three inches

with the offensive vapour from the cesspool. On in diameter and half an inch thick (a), and drilled a

continuing his observations with a barometer, he hole through the centre; I then got a small key, filed

found similar results. He concludes from these off the wards, cut it in half, and drove it into the

facts that a coal mine must be regarded as a gigantic well from which, when the atmospheric pressure diminishes, the air expands, and rushes out with great violence. This circumstance is not of itself dangerous, but if there be an excess of gas in the mine, and at the same time, from accident or carelessness, a means of ignition, then, indeed, the consequences are very likely to be serious. Hence the barometer becomes the miner's safest guide.

ORIGIN OF PETROLEUM.-Although nearly all

geologists are agreed as to the organic origin of Fig. 89. Section of Turntable.

petroleum, a great many are of opinion that the hole. For a pivot I took a brass-headed nail, rock-oil is the result of a natural distillation of coal. knocked off its head, and filed it till it accurately | Professor Hitchcock, however, no mean authority, fitted the key, finishing it off with a point (6); I then comes to a different conclusion. Admitting with all drove the other end into a bit of deal (c), and drop who have carefully studied the matter that peping a little oil into the barrel of the key, inverted troleum is of organic origin, he says that in his it on the pivot; on giving it a sharp spin it revolved opinion it comes from plants, and that it is not, as exactly half a minute. To hold the slide in place, some have suggested, a fish-oil, or a substance altered fasten a slip of wood, the thickness of slide, half an to adipocere. It does not appear to be the result of inch from centre of circle, and upon this, and at a natural distillation of coal, since its chemical comright angles to it, about an inch and a half apart, position is different from the oil manufactured screw two narrow strips of thin brass or sheet-tin, artificially from the cannels, containing neither nitrowhich may be readily cut with a strong pair of scissors. benzole nor aniline. Moreover, petroleum occupied Before securing them in their places, they should be fissures in the Silurian and Devonian strata long bent a little downwards, so as to act as a clip. I before the trees of the coal period were growing do not imagine this turntable is superior in principle in their native forests. The nearly universal to those of the instrument-makers, though I never association of brine with petroleum, and the fact of had the opportunity of examining one; if there is the slight solubility of hydro-carbons in fresh, but any merit, it is in utilizing two articles within every insolubility in salt water, excite the inquiry whether body's reach for the pivot and pivot socket; hoping, the salt water of primæval lagoons may not have if anyone makes the experiment, he will succeed as prevented the escape of the vegetable gases bencath, well as I have done.- Frederic H. Ward.

and condensed them into liquids.

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