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The diaries of James Chapin

Book 3: (November 1, 1909 to February 5, 1910)

NovemberDecemberJanuary • February

Diaries List

DATE: 2/1/1910 (Tuesday)
LOCALITY: Gamangui.

Two black and white hornbills (s. no. 908) were seen flying over the village this morning. This afternoon the partridges were very noisy, so Dongo was put on their track and shot a male. The shrill cries of these birds are first heard a little before daybreak, and less often in the late afternoon. A new black and yellow barbet (no. 930) of medium size with red crown was secured today, and a pangolin, of the only species thus far collected.

Book 3: Page 22

DATE: 2/2 to 4, 1910
LOCALITY: Gamangui.

On the 2nd a beautiful blue-headed sun-bird (no. 936) (Anthreptes aurantius) with orange patches beneath its wings, and its mate, a duller colored bird with a light superciliary line, were collected in some bushes on the island in the river. They had both eaten some orange-colored fruit. It seems as tho the shorter-billed sun-birds habitually eat small fruits, while the longer-billed forms live on insects. With the possible exception of no. 52, a female, these are our first specimens. One of the large black hornbills with blue wattle on the neck was brought in by our hunters; and the porters trapped a dove (Calopelia brehmeri) not yet represented in our collection, tho one was seen from the steamer last July, flying over the Congo. Every afternoon numbers of a swallow (Hirundo rustica) alight on the leafless trees near the house where we work. On the 4th I walked out a short distance on the Bomili road. In the rice-fields behind the village were flocks of small black-backed weavers with blue-gray beaks (s. nos. 951-2). One of the little brown swallow-billed flycatchers (no. 956) was shot there too. This is a common bird, usually seen perched on a dead branch anywhere from 20ft above the ground to the tops of the highest trees, whence it darts out to secure its insect prey, generally returning to the same perch, and sitting there a while motionless save for the occasional raising and lowering of the tail. A small black and white flycatcher (Batis ituriensis) (no. 957) was shot near the edge of the plantations. A large green and black barbet (no. 950) was shot in the forest where it was clinging to the under side of a slanting dead branch in a "parasolier" and hammering away at the wood just like a woodpecker. This is our second specimen; the iris is red, and the feathers of the breast have curious long hair-like tips. A peculiar bird (no. 954) like the two Mr. Lang shot on Sept. 27, 1909, with red bill and feet was also secured in the forest, as was a plantain-eater (Corythaeola). The latter is a common and characteristic bird about Medje and Gamangui, keeping usually to the higher trees, where it hops from branch to branch or runs along the larger limbs in true monkey-fashion. Five or six are usually seen together, and in flying from one tree to the next, if not alarmed, they proceed in a very leisurely manner, leaving one at a time, with a very stately flight, from two to six flaps of the wings being followed by a short sail on outspread pinions, the separate tips of all the primaries showing distinctly. The crest is lowered in flight, but usually erect at all other times. Two common calls are a very rapidly uttered "cow-cow-cow-cow.." and a rolling "coo-o-o-o-o". Tho I have never been able to see how a live individual holds its toes, freshly killed ones always have three of them pointing forwards, as is also the case with the smaller plantain-eater here. Our porters trapped a partridge, a guinea fowl (Guttera) and some smaller birds today (Feb. 4). On the 4th Kiparanga got us another kind of pangolin, of a lighter brown on the back and blackish below. He saw it in a high tree, shot at it with a shotgun, and evidently scared it so that it lost its hold and fell to the ground. At any rate he brought it back triumphantly, without a shot-mark on its body. Gamangui is the worst place for flies we have struck yet. Up in the village one is continually being investigated by large, loud-buzzing tabanids, some black, and some brown and gray, whose bite is very painful, while down on the river both these and tsetse's swarm, and the canoe is adorned by the dead bodies of many that have been slapped by the blacks on their bare legs. Banda has brought us the skin of four legs of an okapi. Each one of these, he says, is sufficient to by a wife.

DATE: 2/5/1910 (Saturday)
LOCALITY: Gamangui.

This morning I shot a gray parrot, one of a pair that lit in a high dead tree. Tho this is but our second specimen, the gray parrot has been common all the way from Leopoldville. Ordinarily it is simply seen flying over in pairs, or in noisy flocks of as many as 15 or 20, whose unpleasant screeches are constantly interrupted by clear whistles. Less often they may be seen feeding or

Book 3: Page 23

perching in trees, but usually far from the ground, and often out of shotgun range. Nearly every post in this region has six or a dozen captive ones, mostly young and unable to speak at all, which are fed on palm nuts. The green parrot, of which we already have two from Gamangui, has similar habits, but even less pleasing cries, and is less common. Our porters brought in 4 francolins (nos. 965-8) and a number of smaller birds. Of the latter the species most commonly caught are the orange-throated warbler (Stiphrornis), a thrush-like bird, with hooked bill, and a slight crest, brown above, and grayish white below, and two larger, yellow-breasts affairs Bleda with shrike-like bills, and olive backs, one with a reddish-brown tail, the other with the tail greenish. The boys are rewarded with a little salt or some brass nails, and are busy now making more traps. They also catch interesting rats in their traps.

NovemberDecemberJanuary • February

Diaries List