Soon after leaving England numbers of landbirds were seen about the ship. In position lat. 43° 52´ S. and 11° 51´ W. long, we saw a heron passing overhead, steering in a S.S.E. direction towards the northern coast of Africa. After leaving Lisbon on the way to Madeira, numbers of robins, wrens, doves, larks and sparrows flew aboard in an exhausted condition. They were captured, measured and their colourings noted, afterwards given food and water, and allowed to go free. One dove that came near the ship was so exhausted that it fell several times into the sea, which was very choppy. We expected it to drown, but on each occasion it rose from the break of the wave and finally settled on the topsail yard, where it rested and dried itself, and finally set off with renewed vigour in the direction of land. Mother Carey’s Chickens joined us soon after our start, and we were rarely without them throughout the voyage.
At St. Vincent we collected specimens of vultures, mostly black or dark brown, but some were white with black markings. A few crows, larks and other small birds were seen. A white owl was presented to the naturalist by one of the residents. The species is not common to the island, but is reported to have been seen after high winds blowing from the mainland.
In latitude 60° 26´ N. we were surrounded by a particularly large school of porpoises, and secured one by harpooning it from the bowsprit. It was a male, 7 feet 7 inches in length, and the stomach contained the remains of 5 squids and 114 octopus beaks.
We visited St. Paul’s Rocks on November 8th, when two species 329 of birds were found to be nesting: the Noddy Tern and the Booby. The Noddy Tern (Anous stolidus) is shy, and few except those with young remained on the island. We collected some of their eggs, many of them addled. The young were almost fully fledged, but each was attended by the parent bird, which stayed to defend it. These birds varied largely in colourings, chiefly in the degrees of white and lavender grey of the forehead and back of the neck, the lighter phase being the more common. Nests were built roughly to a height of from 12 to 15 cm., and composed largely of seaweed and guano. Built-up nests predominated, but several eggs and young were found in depressions in the broken rocks. The Brown Gannet, or Booby (Sula leucogastra), is so called from its stupid expression. The nests consisted of rocks, a few feathers and guano, or merely depressions in the rock. We collected some eggs and several young ones in all stages, from one which was newly hatched, without down or feathers and eyes closed, to those which were almost fully fledged. The nests are so set in the irregular and sloping surfaces that the birds continually foul each other, the young especially becoming very filthy in this way. They live largely, if not entirely, on flying fish, and gorge themselves so heavily with them that when taking flight on our going amongst them each bird disgorged one, two or three fish in different stages of digestion.
Crabs abound on the rocks. They are very active and nimble, and at the approach of man scramble into crevices. They are able to jump, and on several occasions were seen to gather their legs under them and leap squarely forward a distance of two or three feet. Some grow to large size and develop powerful claws, but apparently they make no attempt to seize the birds, the chicks or the eggs. When the adult bird disgorged on rising, the crabs hastened to seize the flying fish, and, tearing them to pieces, crammed them voraciously into their jaws. There is a lagoon in the middle of the rocks, the floor of which is covered with marine plants of many varieties, whilst fish swim to and fro in great numbers. Sharks, varying in length from four to eight feet, swarmed in it, and we harpooned several. The stomachs of most of them were empty, and the others contained only a few squids. A full description of the fish of St. Paul’s Rocks will be found elsewhere. Numerous specimens of all species were taken from the rocks and preserved for sending to the museums.
We left Rio de Janeiro on January 18th for South Georgia. During this part of the journey we were followed by stormy petrels, Wilson petrels, wandering albatross, mollymauks, Cape pigeons, Cape hens, sooty albatross, and saw several terns. As we neared the island we observed penguins, skua gulls and giant petrels, and, as we passed along the coast, prions, diving petrels and dominican gulls. 330
The whaling stations of South Georgia are visited by many varieties of seabirds, which congregate there in hundreds of thousands for the offal which finds its way into the sea. By acting as scavengers they serve a very useful purpose. Cape pigeons thickly cover the water for hundreds of square yards and present a really extraordinary sight. They chatter and squabble incessantly. Terns flit gracefully about, never settling on the water, but making occasional short dives for morsels. Wilson petrels flit like fairies over the surface, their feet touching, but their bodies never entering the sea. Dominican gulls, skua gulls, mollymauks and giant petrels also come about in hundreds, for there is food in abundance in the harbours.
There are about twenty-four species of birds in South Georgia, including a wagtail (Anthus antarcticus), which is found on the lower slopes of the island about the beaches. The Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) is the most stately and graceful of all flying birds, yet when seen ashore or at close range has a curiously foolish expression. It nests on the grassy promontories of the main island and on some of the smaller outlying islets. The nests are pyramidal mounds composed of tussock grass, mud and a few feathers. The hen lays one egg, which the parent birds take turns in incubating. The chicks are pretty white fluffy things, which later take on a brown adult plumage. As the bird increases in size so the brown colouring gives way to a white phase, the very old ones being almost entirely white. The nesting season commences about the middle of January. Wilkins observed that inter-mating took place between birds of neighbouring nests, a male bird wandering off to visit an already mated female. This usually took place when the husband bird was out at sea in search of food, but occasionally it was observed that the apparently true mate would appear on the scene, and, discovering the intruder, would show fight, and a battle would ensue. This, however, was never a serious matter, and was mainly an exhibition of side-stepping, feints and vicious snaps of the beaks, but the combatants rarely came to real pecking or blows. The female looked on and kept up a chattering noise with the bill whilst the fight lasted. Only once was a female seen to leave nest and egg unprotected. In a moment a skua had swept down and thrust his beak into the egg. The albatross does not nest on the north-east coast of South Georgia farther south than Possession Bay.
The Sooty Albatross (Phœbetria palpebrata) rivals, or even excels the “Wanderer” in gracefulness of flight. It is not very common in South Georgia, those found being at isolated points on the north-western coast.
The Blackbrowed Albatross, or Mollymauk, is found in two varieties (Thalassogeron melanophrys and T. chrysostoma). They are found breeding at the north-western end and on the neighbouring 331 islets. Numbers of the former are common; of the latter, rare. Wilkins discovered a nest and egg, and succeeded in obtaining specimens—the first to be collected. He also cinematographed the bird on its nest. The newly hatched chick is covered with light grey down, slightly darker on the wings, and increasing in depth of colour with age. The bill is a dark horn colour, the iris light brown, and the feet light grey.
The Giant Petrel—Nellie, or Stinker—(Ossifraga gigantea) is found nesting on all the grassy bluffs, but most commonly on the islets of the Bay of Isles, amongst the “Wanderers.” They are exceedingly ugly and ungainly, have an unpleasant smell, and their feathers are infested with ticks.
Cape Hens (Majaqueus aequinoctialis) are seldom seen near land except in the evening, when they sit at the doors of their burrows chattering away in neighbourly fashion.
Wilson Petrels flock in great numbers about the whaling stations. They nest in burrows.
The Diving Petrel (Pelecanoides urinatrix) frequents the west coast of South Georgia in greatest numbers, but an occasional one may be found at any place near the shore.
Whale Birds (Prion) are very common on most of the small islands and on some places on the main island. They live in burrows. They are rarely seen by day, as they can only leave and return to the burrows under cover of darkness, for they are preyed upon relentlessly by the skua gulls. They flock out to sea in clouds just after nightfall and return in the early morning. Those which fail to get in by daybreak almost certainly fall victims to the rapacious skuas, which are responsible for the death of thousands of them yearly. They lay a single egg.
Cape Pigeons (Daption capensis) are the brightest and cheeriest of all seabirds. They frequent the whaling stations in hundreds of thousands. Their chattering and chaffering as they squabble over choice pieces of offal goes on unceasingly all day and all night. They nest in clefts high up in the cliff faces.
Snow Petrels (Pagodroma nivea) have been seen in the vicinity of the island, but are rare.
Silver-Grey Petrels (Priocella glacialoides) were seen during our second visit to the island, but are also rare in this locality.
There are two varieties of skua gull: Megalestris McCormicki and M. antarctica. They are pirates and live by acts of piracy. All the seabirds have in one way or another to protect themselves from their depredations. The smaller birds live in narrow clefts or in burrows. The larger birds, which nest in the open, have to keep a continuous watch over nest and chick. The skua is brown 332 coloured and has a strong, curved, hawk-like beak. Its habits and mode of life present a fascinating study, but space prevents a full description. Skuas make their nests on grassy slopes about the island, and resent any approach by strangers. Often when proceeding over the bluffs one is annoyed by these birds, which have a disconcerting habit of circling in the air, to descend with a swoop and a loud rush of air straight at one’s head, clearing it by only a few inches.
The Dominican Gull (Lartis dominicanus) is a fine-looking black-backed gull which nests in the tussock grass. It is found in large numbers about the whaling station.
The Tern (Sterna vittata) is a prettily-marked little bird which nests in the open, and is also found about the stations. It has a pretty, graceful flight, and hovers continually above the surface looking for scraps, in search of which it occasionally makes short dives.
The Blue-Eyed Shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps) is found in large numbers round the island. It is a most business-like bird, and goes steadily about its daily work, taking very little notice of outside interruptions. It is more prettily marked than the northern shag, having a black back and white belly. The back of the head is black, and carries a tuft of black feathers. The white of the belly is continued up over the under part of the neck and head. The eye is blue coloured. It lays two or three greenish-white eggs, and the young are covered with a dark-coloured down. Their food is fish, which they obtain by diving, and of which they consume an enormous number daily.
Paddies, or Sheathbills (Chionis alba), are not common on this island, though a few were seen about the coast by the naturalist.
South Georgian Teal (Nettion georgicum) are said to be getting very rare. A few were noticed and some specimens collected.
Falkland Island Geese—introduced by man—are also rare, and none were seen by the naturalist. The whalers say that a few are still to be found about Cumberland Bay.
There are three species of penguin: Gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), King (Aptenodytes patagonica), and Rockhopper (Eudyptes Chrysolophus). The Gentoo is a brightly marked bird with black head and neck, black back and white belly, yellow legs, and a white patch over each eye that gives it a curiously inane expression. It is the most shy of the penguins, and easily takes fright if rapidly approached. By dropping on its breast and using both feet and flippers it can travel at considerable speed and can dodge cleverly. It nests in tussock grass. The King is larger than the Gentoo, and has very bright markings about the neck and upper part of 333 the breast. It nests in tussock grass, but keeps nearer to the sea edge than the Gentoo. The Rockhopper is less common than either of the others. It is smaller than the Gentoo and resembles it somewhat in appearance except that the feet are of a more browny yellow, the patch over the eye is lacking, and it has a tuft of yellow and black feathers. Occasional Ringed and Adelie penguins were noticed, but they are stragglers and not commonly seen on the island.
Sea-elephants are common on all the beaches of South Georgia during the summer months, and are found also throughout the winter. They lie on the beaches or in wallows amongst the clumps of tussock grass. The smell from them is unpleasant and unmistakable. The bulls, except in the rutting season, usually remain apart from the cows, which collect, together with their young, into harems numbering from fifteen to fifty. The flippers, though short, are wonderfully flexible, and have curious little rudimentary fingers with which they scratch themselves in what is, at times, a ludicrously human way. They are fond of heaping sand upon themselves. When approached they make a curious windy roaring noise, and they may often be heard trumpeting from their wallows. Wilkins, in crossing the island, saw a sea-elephant track which led the whole way over. It was in soft snow and was unmistakable. Many other tracks went for a mile or so inland, but turned and came back to the beach from which they started, and only one was found to cross all the way. Weddell Seals come ashore in numbers, and also occasional sea-leopards.
The managers of the whaling stations reported that whales were plentiful during the height of the season (1921-22), though, as was to be expected, the numbers fell off with the onset of winter. The most numerous were humpback and blue whales, and a few sperm and sei-whales were caught. The return of the humpback is interesting, for in the early days of the whaling industry in 1904 and for several years afterwards this species formed the bulk of the catch (over 90 per cent.). The numbers fell off rapidly, till in 1912-13 they formed 38 per cent.; in 1915-16, 12 per cent.; and in 1917-18, only 2.5 per cent. It was generally considered and admitted by many of the whalers that the decline was due to ruthless hunting, but the explanation seems to lie in the distribution and drift of food supply. For a fuller description of South Atlantic whales and whaling, readers are referred to Appendix I of “South,” by Robert S. Clark, M.A., B.Sc.
During our second visit to South Georgia Mr. Hansen, the manager of Leith Harbour Whaling Station, showed us a porpoise which had leapt ashore. It was coloured bluey black and dirty white; total length, 53½ inches; tip of nose to blowhole, 6 inches; 334 tip of nose to dorsal fin, 17½ inches; tip of nose to flippers, 9 inches. It has been provisionally determined as Phocaena dioptrica.
Small shore-life in South Georgia comprises flies, found along the beaches and breeding in the semi-rotting seaweed cast up by the tide; several forms of spiders, beetles (Hydromedion), mites (Bdella), tiny jumping flies, and an earth worm (Acanthrodilus).
Vegetation ashore is very scarce, the only grass which grows in evident quantity being the tussock grass (Poa flabellata). The naturalist was able to collect specimens of plants referable to sixteen species, but many of them were marine algae.
Seventeen reindeer which were brought to the island in the years 1911 and 1912 have increased and multiplied to such an extent that there were about 250 when we were there, and this notwithstanding the fact that the whalers have periodically killed numbers for food. Wilkins examined the stomachs of some that were killed, and found them normal in size, not distended, as usually happens when the food is of poor quality.
The Quest left South Georgia on January 18th, 1922. A few miles out from the coast we passed thousands of whale birds (Prion) feeding on the surface of the water, probably upon crustaceæ, which were so plentiful that the sea was highly coloured. Cape pigeons, Wilson petrels, sooty albatross and a number of mollymauks came about the ship, but wandering albatross were conspicuously absent at this stage. On the second day we met snow petrels (Pagodroma nivea), which remained intermittently with us till our return to South Georgia.
On January 20th we visited Zavodovski Island. The slopes were covered with Ringed penguins, and the beaches under the glaciers were occupied by a number of King penguins. Fumes were issuing from caves on the eastern side of the island, and it was noticed that the penguins kept clear of them. Many Giant petrels flew round the ship, and a number were seen resting ashore. Cape pigeons, Wilson petrels and a blue petrel were noticed in the vicinity of the island. As we turned farther south prions became more scarce, but Wilson petrels and Cape pigeons kept up in numbers. The light-mantled sooty albatross seen in these areas was conspicuously light-phased, and became markedly so in the more southern latitudes. Silver-grey petrels (Priocella glacialoides) were first seen in lat. 57° S. and 15° E. long. They were observed throughout the voyage till we returned to South Georgia, where the naturalist obtained some specimens.
In lat. 58° S. we met the Antarctic petrel (Thalassoeca antarctica). They occurred in groups of ten or fifteen, but never in large numbers, as seen in the Ross Sea. In this latitude also an occasional Sooty petrel (Oestrelata macroptera) was seen, and a species of whale bird, classed temporarily by the naturalist as 335Prion desolatus. We saw a Cape hen in lat. 61° S., and a Giant petrel after we had crossed the circle; the latter is very rare in the Antarctic proper. One of the latter seen in 67° S. had a very white phase.
In lat. 68° S. Arctic terns were noticed. Some of them were already (on February 8th) beginning to change their plumage, the dark cap in many cases being streaked with grey. Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes Forsteri) were seen in numbers south of lat. 67° S., but, taken on the whole, were not common throughout the trip. They are the “farthest south” penguins. Numbers of cheery little Adelies were seen in greatest numbers near “Ross’s Appearance of Land.” Crab-eater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) were seen in large numbers about the pack edge, especially in those parts where the ice showed marked diatomaceous bands. Often as many as a dozen of these seals were seen on a single small floe heaving up and down on the swell. Killer whales were present in numbers at the time we were in the pack, and were frequently seen in the open leads. The Crab-eaters, on the other hand, seemed to avoid the larger leads of open water. On February 13th we had occasion to kill a number of Crab-eaters, when each female was found to be pregnant, the fœtus varying in length from one to three inches. Sea-leopards were seen, but were rare.
We visited Elephant Island on March 28th, and effected landings at Cape Lookout and on a narrow beach at the western end of the northern coast. Animal life is scarce, and plants are confined to a lichen, which grows on some of the rocks on the sides facing north, and a species of moss. The bird life consists of Gentoo, Ringed and Rockhopper penguins, the latter being very scarce; seabirds, including Cape pigeons, Skua gulls, Dominican gulls, Blue-eyed shags (all of them plentiful), and Mollymauks and Giant petrels (more rare). The Paddy, or Sheathbill (Chionis alba), is plentiful.
The Ringed penguins made their rookeries on steep rock-faces close to the sea, and spent many patient hours in climbing up and down from their positions, hopping carefully from ledge to ledge. The Gentoos selected easier slopes. Rarely a Gentoo was found in a Ringed rookery, but Ringed were found fairly frequently among the Gentoos. The Paddies haunted the rookeries, their food being obtained largely from the excreta of penguins, from which they pick small round worms or nematodes, with which the penguins are infested. The stomach and intestines of the Paddies themselves are wonderfully free from parasites. They eat readily of any offal which may be lying about. Those which remained during the winter were very thin, due to the departure of the majority of penguins. Numerous seals and sea-elephants were lying on the beaches. On the rocks are dark-shelled limpets (Patella polaris), 336 which never come above low-water mark; no doubt they would freeze to death in the colder air.
We returned to South Georgia on April 6th, and left for Tristan da Cunha on May 9th. During the voyage we saw Wandering Albatross, two Sooty Albatross (P. palpebrata and P. fusca), mollymauks, Silver-Grey petrels (Priocella glacialoides), Wilson petrels, Giant petrels, Diving petrels, several varieties of prions, Cape hens, Cape pigeons, Terns, Skua gulls and Shearwaters. As we neared Tristan da Cunha we lost Phoebetria palpebrata, and the only kind of Sooty Albatross seen was P. fusca. The islands of the Tristan da Cunha group are so close together that the animal life is similar to them all. The naturalist found eggs of the following: The yellow billed mollymauk (Thalassogeron chlororynchus), greater Shearwater (Puffinus gravis), Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) and Catharacta antarctica. The evidence of the islanders regarding the bird life of the islands is as follows (birds are recognized by general description and plates): Wandering Albatross used to breed on Tristan, but now only found rarely on Inaccessible Island. Sooty Albatross (P. fusca) nests in August. Young birds leave the nest in April (the young of P. palpebrata were hatched on January 15th at South Georgia).
- Yellow-nosed mollymauks (T. chlororynchus) nest in August. Young birds leave the nest in April (the young of T. chrysostoma were hatched on January 1st in South Georgia).
- Oestrelata macroptera moults in May, lays in July.
- Oestrelata mollis lays in November.
- Pachyptila vittata Keyteli lays in September.
- Priofinus cinereus lays in May and June.
- Sterna vittata lays in November.
- Stercorarius antarcticus lays in August.
- Anous stolidus arrives in September, lays in November, but goes away for the winter.
- Eudyptes chrysocome moults and leaves the island in March, comes again in August, and lays in September.
- A thrush (Nesocichla eremita) and a finch (Nesospiza acunhae) are found on Inaccessible Island, but seem to have left Tristan.
Wilson petrels, Cape hens, Cape pigeons and gulls are not often seen and do not nest on the island. A diving petrel is frequently seen, but no eggs have been found. With regard to sea-life, fish abound in plenty in the kelp about the island. The naturalist had little opportunity for a collection of specimens. The following is the list given by Mrs. K. M. Barrow, who spent three years on the island:
Blue-fish, Snoek (Thyrsites atun), Mackerel (Scomber colias), Five finger (Chilodactylus fasciatus Lac), Soldier-fish, Craw-fish 337 and Klip-fish. The southern blue whale is occasionally seen, as are also seals and sea-elephants. Sharks are common, and several were caught from the ship whilst lying off Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands.
We arrived at Gough Island on May 27th. At first sight it appears as a green island clothed in verdure. As we approached the western side we saw a number of birds, prions, wandering albatross, mollymauks, a diving petrel, skua gulls and terns. Both Phoebetria cornicoides and P. fusca were seen. After rounding south-west and south points few birds were seen except skua gulls and terns, and they were not common. No albatross were seen on the eastern side during the whole of our visit. Just after passing south-east point Wilkins saw what he thought was a noddy tern (Anous stolidus), which was previously reported as visiting the island. Immediately on landing on the Glen beach buntings (Nesospiza goughensis) came tamely about, but did not let themselves be caught by hand. Numbers were seen feeding on flies, which swarmed in the decaying seaweed, and also inland, where they were seen on the stems of tussock grass or clinging to the branches of the tea plant (Chenopodium tomentosum). They were found everywhere up to the level of the thicker vegetation, which ends at about 2,000 feet. There are two types: one, black-throated and mouse-coloured; the other, light and dark brown, with yellowish markings. They were feeding together, and seen to be in about equal numbers and of equal size.
On every part of the island visited the sharp “Chuck! chuck!” of water hens could be heard, and several were shot for specimens. They were shy, and at sight of man hastened in amongst the tussock grass, where it was impossible to see them. The frontal shield is bright red; bill and feet, bright yellow; plumage, black and cinnamon. All parts of the Glen which gave a sufficient depth of earth and which were not overgrown with trees were honeycombed with the burrows of different kinds of petrels. They did not come out by daylight, but their croaking frequently betrayed them, and in this way several specimens were added to the collection, These included Priofinus cinereus and broad-billed prions (Pachyptila vittata Keyteli). At night a large fire was lighted on the beach, and several specimens were shot as they flew inwards through the light. Some of them fell into the tussock grass, and in the dark could not be found. In the morning, when taken up, they were seen to have been almost entirely picked to pieces and eaten by mice, which swarmed in large numbers at the foot of the Glen. These mice are the ordinary Mus musculus, and were no doubt introduced by earlier landing parties. On several parts of the island were large penguin rookeries, deserted at this time of year except for a few straggling Rockhoppers (Eudyptes chrysocome). The thrush, common on Nightingale and Inaccessible 338 Islands, was not seen at all on Gough Island. No albatross or mollymauk nests were seen, but there might have been some on the north-west side, which is the most exposed to the winds, and thus most likely to be selected by these birds.
The collection of birds from Gough Island numbered over fifty specimens, referable to nine species:
- Garrodia Nereis Chubbi (Matthews), which was shot as it flew over the light of the camp fire.
- Priofinus cinereus, found in burrows on the hill.
- Oestrelata mollis (Gould), found in burrows near the beach. Their croakings could be heard all night.
- Pachyptila vittata Keyteli (Matthews), found as above. From the noise they were making there must have been many in the neighbourhood of the camp.
- Stercorarius antarcticus (Lesson). Skuas were not common, and only about twenty were seen during the visit.
- Sterna vittata (Reich). Many terns were seen, both in adult and juvenile plumage.
- Nesospiza Goughensis (Eagle Clarke). Birds of this type were brought back by the Scotia and described by Eagle Clarke, Orn. Report Scottish Nat. Antarctic Expedition. They have been classed as two species, but from examination of the twenty-eight specimens in the Quest collection it is thought that these birds are of one species, and the difference in plumage can be accounted for by age. (N.B. See paper by Mr. P. R. Lowe, M.B.O.U.)
- Gallinula or Porphyriornis Comeri (Allen). This water-hen is common on Gough Island, but is not seen on Tristan da Cunha. Some of the islanders say they have seen it on the western side of Inaccessible Island.
- Eudyptes chrysocome. Only two or three were seen.
Gough Island gives an impression from the sea of almost tropical greenness, and on landing at the Glen one has much the same impression, for the slopes and hillsides are thickly covered with vegetation. Trees, tree ferns and tussock grass are most abundant, whilst the rocks and cliff faces are covered with mosses and lichens. The trees are the Island Tree (Phylica nitida). An interesting discovery was made by the geologist of a grove of trees of a different sort. They were in the “little glen” on the southern side of Archway Rock, and he describes them as “growing as if planted in an orchard,” reaching a height of four to five metres and spreading to four metres or more. It has since been identified as a variety of Sophora tetraptera J. Mull, var. nov. Goughensis. About the beach there is a luxuriant growth of dock (Rumex fructescens and Rumex Obtusifolius). There was also a wild celery, which was found by comparison to differ considerably from the type species from Tristan da Cunha (Thouars Fl. Trist. p. 43 Apium Australe). This plant was also collected by the Scotia, 339 and after an examination of the specimens, as well as those from the Quest, it has been decided to name it as a new species, Apium Goughensis. In the sheltered parts of the cliffs were several varieties of maidenhair fern (Adiantum aethiopicum); mosses and lichens were everywhere. On the flat ground bordering the beach grew a thick covering of grasses, mostly dwarfed Scirpus sp., with here and there some bunches of Agrostis ramulosa. Thistles and Gnaphalium grew rankly near the edge of the penguin rookeries. The wild tea plant (Chenopodium tomentosum) flourished luxuriantly. The small Hydrocotyle (most probably leucophalica), though dwarfed by its environment, was noticed by its distinctive leaf. The thicker vegetation grew to a level of about 2,000 feet, when most of it ceased. At this level the cranberry in its southern temperate form (Empetrum nigrum var. rubrum) grows abundantly. At this season of the year (June 1st) it was loaded with bright red fruit. Lycopodium was found by the naturalist at the highest level attained by him, but in a dwarfed condition. Agrostis ramulosa and A. media seemed to thrive at higher levels. Cotula Goughensis, a new species described by Dr. Rudmose Brown of the Scotia, which grows to a height of 30 cm. near the beach, is dwarfed to 5 or 6 cm. on the higher slopes. Only closely related forms were noticed at the higher levels, but a longer period ashore and a more careful and prolonged search at these levels might produce something new. In all thirty specimens referable to nineteen species were collected. Of these, three were not in the collection made by the naturalists of the Scotia, but they collected several species not collected by us. Two of the new specimens are of plants common to the Tristan da Cunha group. Sophora tetraptera had not been previously collected, though Mr. Comer, who was amongst one of the earliest parties to visit the island, described two different types of trees. The members of the Scotia, whose visit, owing to bad weather, was very hurried, not finding the second tree, decided that the tree fern (Lomaria boryana) was meant.
We left Gough Island for Cape Town on June 1st. We saw several kinds of petrels, Wandering albatross, Cape pigeons, many shearwaters (Puffinus gravis and Priofinus cinereus), and two species of mollymauk, black-browed and yellow-nosed, in juvenile plumage with a showing of grey under the throat, were observed. Several attempts were made to catch a specimen with a grey marking on the throat, but without success. It appeared to resemble the mollymauk described by Dr. Harvey Pirie and Mr. Eagle Clarke, but identification was impossible whilst it was on the wing. Several dark-brown petrels, probably Oestrelata macroptera, were seen. A number of Sooty albatross which came about the ship had white spots on the head and shoulder. Attempts were made to hook one with a fishing line, but failed. As we 340 approached South Africa albatross of a darker phase and a number of mollymauks with dark-grey heads and throats were seen, probably the young of Thalassogeron chlororynchus. Nearer land many gannets were noticed diving into the sea.
This report cannot be regarded as an exhaustive account of the natural history work of the expedition, being merely a résumé of the naturalist’s provisional report. Much work still requires to be done before the full value of the collections can be estimated. The collection, especially of birds, is a large one, and has added considerably to the material already available in the museums. Several new species and varieties have been provisionally determined. Throughout the whole period of the expedition conditions were never favourable for natural history work, and change of plan compelled that many of the parts should be visited in mid-winter instead of in summer, with consequent disadvantages as regards weather and landing facilities. The amount of material brought home reflects great credit on Captain Wilkins as a collector and on his assistants.
Note.—At the time of going to press I learn that one of the buntings taken from Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands has been determined as a new species, and that the larger Gough Island finch is a new genus. The latter is being named —— Rowettia, after Mr. Rowett.