Book 3: (November 1, 1909 to February 5, 1910)
DATE: 11/1/1909 (Monday)
During the past three or four days several flycatchers have been
noticed, that look in life exactly like Muscicapa grisola, one
of the birds I happened to see in Belgium. Even the flirting of
the tail is the same, and resembles the same action of the phoebe
(Sayornis). Today an officer shot one and presented it to us (no.
425). It was an immature male, with the skull almost completely
ossified, and may have just migrated from the North. Two more
of the large green bee-eaters were collected today, one being
a male, probably immature, and the other a female. The iris of
the male was brownish red, unlike those of yesterday, which were
bright red; and its two middle tail-feathers were neither narrowed
or noticeably elongated. In addition to this the whole plumage
was rather dull, and the testes very small. The female, on the
contrary had bright red eyes, and the median pair of rectrices,
which were just growing out, were narrowed like those off the
others, tho of course not so worn. The stomachs of both today's
specimens contained dragonflies. Dr. Rosati left for Makala today.
DATE: 11/2/1909 (Tuesday)
Only the very ordinary birds about our camp were noticed today,
bee-eaters being as common as usual, a small green cuckoo being
seen, as well as heard, and a coucal also showing himself plainly
on a leafless bush, contrary to their usual secretive custom.
A large heron, about the size of a great blue heron, flew down
the river, and alighted for a while on a bush some distance below
us. The long-tailed Terpsiphone continue to sing about our camp,
as well as on all sides of Avakubi in the rubber plantations.
DATE: 11/3/1909 (Wednesday)
No collecting done. Only most ordinary birds observed.
DATE: 11/4/1909 (Thursday)
When we came to Avakubi, we found the small red-rumped weaver
that was so common in Stanleyville (see nos. 180-1) to be quite
an abundant bird here. However, the first specimen collected (no.
306) (male) proved to have the abdomen and under tail-coverts
blackish, instead of white, as in all those previously secured.
The maxilla was also entirely black, lacking the red marks of
the other specimens. Wishing to see if all these birds in Avakubi
agreed in these peculiarities, we soon collected two more (no.
339, female, and no. 362, male) which had the belly white, and
a red patch on the side of the maxilla. All the others examined
thru field glasses, with the exception of one black bellied individual
seen on Oct. 15th, agreed with the two latter specimens. Today,
however, a special search was made, with the unexpected result
that black-bellied and white-bellied examples were seen in about
equal numbers. Two males (no. 430-1) were collected, the former
having the abdomen quite black, and the maxilla entirely of the
same color, while the latter had the abdomen a trifle lighter
in color, but the maxilla with the same red
Book 3: Page 2
marking found in all the white-bellied found in all the white-bellied
specimens. that the color is not dependant upon sex is shown by
the fact that an immature female was also shot, that had the maxilla
pure black, and the abdomen and under tail coverts fully as dark
as no. 431. Unfortunately it was too badly mutilated to skin.
These weavers were breeding at Stanleyville in August, but do
not appear to be nesting here now. Can it be that these birds
represent two geographical races that mix during the winter? Right
near our camp today six or seven small warblers (Phylloscopus?)
were noticed for the first time. One (no. 425, male) was collected.
Perhaps this is another bird from the North. A black and white
vulture was also seen, about noon. Late in the afternoon I walked
down to the brook a little distance below our camp. Black and
white wagtails were very numerous there, and two of the other
sort, with yellowish breasts, -in the males at least- were secured
(nos. 432-3). A small Pisobia, the same as the two killed there
on Oct. 26, was feeding in the mud, while several Actitis (hypoleucus?)
occupied the logs and stones. Another horned viper was brought
to us alive.
DATE: 11/5/1909 (Friday)
Several interesting birds were shot today near the brook behind
our camp. There were three gray flycatchers feeding close to the
water, alighting on the dead branches sticking up out of the stream;
and two, an adult male and an immature male, were taken (nos.
434, 436). The species was new to our collection. A red and black
weaver (no. 439), one of two that were feeding in some high grass
on the bank, was also slaughtered. Two pretty bee-eaters (Melittophagus
gularis?) with red throats and blue rumps, were occupying the
dead top of a tree overlooking some newly cleared land. From this
perch they sallied forth at frequent intervals in pursuit of insects.
One, a male (no. 428) was collected, its stomach containing a
dragonfly and some other unrecognizable insects. Late in the afternoon
I shot a squirrel (no. 229) of the medium-sized, faintly striped
species. This morning one of the small striped squirrels was seen
near the same spot. Two of the small red-rumped weavers (nos.
435 and 437) were secured today, the former a white-bellied male,
and the latter a black-bellied female.
DATE: 11/6/1909 (Saturday)
Three new species of birds were added to our collection today,
a black and white shrike (no. 440), a small cuckoo (no. 441) and
a rather small chestnut-bellied weaver (no. 442). The first mentioned
bird was shot on the edge of the forest, where the bushes, vines
and smaller trees had recently been cleared out. Two of them were
chasing each other around among the trees. The cuckoo and the
weaver-bird were found along a brook a little to the South West
of the post. Late in the afternoon, near the Mission, we saw and
heard a pigeon of the same species as no. 401, which was collected
in the same vicinity on October 24th. These are the only two seen
here so far. In the stomach of a small green woodpecker (no. 444)
were found the larvae, pupae, and adults of the little black ant
that builds all the brown nests on the branches of trees. To judge
from this evidence the woodpecker must have been pecking holes
in one of these ant nests.
Book 3: Page 3
DATE: 11/7/1909 (Sunday)
This morning, near the Mission, I saw a flock of six or seven
gray parrots, some fruit pigeons, two large black and white hornbills
(same as no. 238, etc), and three small kingfishers, two adult
and one young (see Nov. 8). Gray parrots are often seen flying
over, but usually only one or two at a time. Fruit pigeons are
common enough, especially out in this direction, and are easily
distinguished in flight from the ordinary pigeons by their short
tails. The small brown breasted kingfishers are not very often
seen, but the larger blue and gray Halcyon is as common as usual.
The brown-headed Halcyon, of which one specimen was collected
in Batama (no. 246), has not been seen since. Neither has the
black and white Ceryle, so common along the Congo. There is, however,
another larger kingfisher, which as I have already mentioned (Oct.
6, 1909) is occasionally heard or seen, but as yet has not given
us an opportunity to observe its color. The priests at the Mission
presented us with a large hawk (no. 445), which some of their
natives had found wounded I saw it yesterday, when it was still
alive. It was the same as one we saw sitting in a rubber tree
near our camp several days ago. Later in the day they also sent
over a small white heron, with yellowish bill and blackish feet
(no. 446). Its stomach was crammed with small grasshoppers.
DATE: 11/8/1909 (Monday)
This morning, near our camp, I at last collected one of the small
blue-backed kingfishers with the breast brownish, and a bluish
wash on the otherwise brown cheeks. In the afternoon two small
green barbets (nos. 448-9) were secured, in a large leafless tree,
where four or five of them were seen together. In the same tree
there were four brown flycatcher-like birds of which we already
had one specimen (no. 371) brought in by our black hunters. The
bill is very swallow-like, but there are rectal bristles, and
the wings are not long. The habits are those of a flycatcher,
insects being pursued and caught in the air, while the bird, when
perching, raises its tail at regular intervals like a phoebe.
One specimen (no. 450) collected. An oriole (like no. 227) and
a small barbet with white lines on the head (like no. 377) were
seen and a gray flycatcher (Muscicapa) (no. 451) shot. The latter
is the only one of its species noticed for some time, and to judge
from its plumage, is an immature bird, tho the skull was fully
DATE: 11/9/1909 (Tuesday)
For a couple of hours this morning a white heron, like the one
sent to us the day before yesterday, was to be seen sitting on
a bush on the island opposite us, in the Ituri. Two black hawks
(Lophoaetus occipitalis), with white patches on the primaries,
like those seen on Oct. 28th, were circling about over Avakubi
again today. One of our hunters told me that they have crests
of feathers, but this is certainly not visible in flight. In the
afternoon I went out shooting for a little while, one of the birds
secured being a cuckoo new to our collection, and another one
of the same grayish green sun-birds, with yellow feathers under
the wings, that was collected near Risimu on Sept. 8. Today's
example was making the same scolding noise, and had the skull
fully ossified, and the testes enlarged. This green plumage seems,
therefore, the full adult dress of the species. A large sun-bird
(male), of the same species as nos. 345-6, was also observed,
this being only the third specimen noticed in Avakubi.
Book 3: Page 4
DATE: 11/10/1909 (Wednesday)
Late in the morning an elephant was heard trumpeting loudly,
near the bank of the river close to the post. Everybody ran to
see it, but it had gone off quickly, and some of the officers
even set off after it with their rifles. Later it was said that
a black woman had seen five elephants there during the morning
but had not thought to tell the white men about them.
DATE: 11/11/1909 (Thursday)
Spent most of the morning over near the Mission, where another
pigeon of the same sort as no. 401 was heard singing its "coo-coo-cu-cu-coo-coo".
There were also several pigeons of another species of about the
same size, but dark slaty gray nearly all over except on the neck,
where there are some brownish, and also some bronzy feathers.
The doctor calls this bird (see no. 658) the "pigeon noir",
and our boys know it by a name having the same reference to its
dark color. Its song begins with two or three "coos"
that are only audible when one is close to the bird. Next follow
about five loud "coos", and then the voice is suddenly
lowered, the performance ending with three or four cooing notes
somewhat louder than those at the beginning. It may be represented
as follows: "coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-cu-cu-cu-coo".
Along the bank of the Ituri, in the forest, another sun-bird (no.
466) which I had not previously encountered, was shot while feeding
at some flowers in a bush close to the ground. In the same bush
there was also a sun-bird of the ordinary small red-breasted sort.
The small gray flycatcher (no. 468) collected today appears to
be the same as that we collected at Batama. This bird was first
met with just after we left Rissaci, and for some days was common
along the road in the forest; but the last ones seen before today
were near Batama. In a clearing on the edge of the forest, near
the Mission, a small black-headed weaver (no. 467) male, was found
building a nest. This bird is apparently related to the common
small black-headed weaver (no. 403), that ranges all the way from
Leopoldville, at least; but it differs from it in having the back
black instead of brown, in having the whole bill gray, the maxilla
of the commoner form being black, and in several minor particulars,
such as the pure white under tail-coverts. I am not positive that
I have seen this bird before, at Avakubi, but no. 427, a young
bird brought in by one of our boys, may be of the same species.
A second specimen was killed on the Mission grounds today, but
fell into a fire built to destroy a large stump, and had most
of its feathers singed off.
DATE: 11/12/1909 (Friday)
DATE: 11/13/1909 (Saturday)
A small black-headed weaver, like that collected the day before
yesterday (no. 467), was seen today, feeding with a flock of three
of the commoner species of small weavers in the high grass.
Book 3: Page 5
DATE: 11/14/1909 (Sunday)
A small shrike (Lamus) (see Nov. 24, 1909), with the back reddish
brown, and two gray parrots were noticed near the Mission this
morning. The "Pere" presented us with one of the common
gray hawks (no. 469 male, and on my way back to the post, I saw
one of the same sort in the rubber plantation. On a dead branch
of a high tree near the river bank an osprey was seen sitting.
After watching it a little while thru my glasses, I attempted
to get closer, to see, if possible, the extent of the spotting
on the breast, but it took alarm at once, and departed. The only
other osprey I have seen in the Congo was sitting on a sand bar
in Stanley Pool, July 12, 1909. Late in the afternoon a flock
of about 30 pratincoles (Glareola) was flying about over the river,
evidently catching insects in the air. They were of the same species
that we collected in Stanleyville (G. emini), slaty gray, except
for the white rump and belly, and a white mark on the side of
the head. Pratincoles have frequently been noticed flying over
Avakubi, but this was the first time that the color of any of
them could be observed. Another Manis, a male, and our 3rd specimen
from Avakubi was brought to us alive today.
DATE: 11/15/1909 (Monday)
Seven small white herons were sitting in the top of a small tree,
this morning, on the island where one was observed on Nov. 9.
After some delay in securing a canoe, I went after them, but secured
only one (no. 470, female). On the way back, a large heron (Ardea
purpurea?), that was standing in the grass on the river bank,
was also shot (no. 471, male). Its stomach was full of a soft,
fibrous, greenish mass, apparently of vegetable origin, in which
were found also two wings of a dragonfly, some small fish scales
-but no bones-, a couple of mouse (?) claws, and some small bits
of wood. A thrush (Turdus or Merula) (no. 472, male) was also
taken this morning, this being our second example from Avakubi.
While we were in Stanleyville these yellow-billed thrushes were
not infrequently heard singing behind our house. (see Aug. 24,
1909). Two bats (nos. 432-3) were caught in the house this evening.
[See drawing]. No. 432 is like the two bats shot in a mango tree
in Stanleyville, and no. 433 is like one that we caught in Mr.
Morgan's house in Leopoldville.
DATE: 11/16/1909 (Tuesday)
A small black-headed weaver of the same sort as no. 467 was seen
among a flock of other small weaver-birds feeding in the high
grass just behind the house of the Chef de Zone. This flock consisted
mainly of the common small rosy-breasted kind with brown back
and red bill, but it contained also some of the common small black-headed
form (see 403) and a few of the small red-rumped species, of which
two or three had the belly white, while one at least was very
black on this part of the body. The large green bee-eaters, like
those collected here on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1, are still to be seen
and heard, but not in any such abundance as during the first week
in November, when they were more numerous than at any other time
during our stay at Avakubi. Early this evening a bat was caught
in the house, which resembles no. 432, caught in the same room
last night, but has the ears about 8mm longer. The tip of these
bat's tail is curiously bifurcated and both the wing and tail
membranes are traversed by fine lines, in which are also numerous
small spots. [See drawing]. On the inner portion of the wings
there are two sets of these lines, which cross each other almost
at right angles, the spots here being placed at the
Book 3: Page 6
crossings. The ears likewise contain numbers of these little
dots, but their arrangement is not so regular.
DATE: 11/17/1909 (Wednesday)
Near our camp this morning I shot a small brownish dove (no.
473) which appears to be the same bird that was so common at Leopoldville.
Tho seen also on the way up the river, it was not noticed in Stanleyville,
nor on the way from there to Avakubi. Moreover, this is the first
example seen here. A small white heron (no 474) was shot on the
river, and in the evening two more bats were caught in the house.
DATE: 11/18/1909 (Thursday)
There were three more small white herons on the island this morning
but they were too shy to shoot. Further up the same island there
were two black and white vultures, one of them, which was sitting
in a small palm in the brush, allowing us to walk up to within
a few feet (without seeing him, of course). Our boys say that
these vultures eat palm-nuts as well as fish, and this corresponds
with our own observations. Another species of bee-eater, new to
our collection, was secured near the camp (no. 476). It has a
broad black line thru the eye, and a transverse bar of the same
color on the upper breast. The middle tail-feathers are slightly
elongated. Just as it was getting dark this evening I shot a pratincole
(no. 478, female) and a large bat (no. 237, female) [see drawing]
on the open square in Avakubi. The latter is the same that we
saw in a village near Batama, and have frequently seen here in
the early evening. The tail projects from the dorsal side of the
interfemoral membrane, and the wings can be curiously folded up
at the tip. Under the throat is a small gular pouch. An osprey
was seen today in the same tree as the one Nov. 14.
DATE: 11/19/1909 (Friday)
Two ring plovers (nos. 479-80) were taken on the open square
in Avakubi, where there were four of them, and where 4 or 5 were
seen late yesterday afternoon. Three bee-eaters of the same species
as no. 476 were sitting in a tree near our camp this morning.
Four white herons were here today, and Mr. Lang killed two of
them. A leopard's tracks were seen in some sand close to our tents
this morning. The small blue kingfisher with conspicuous light
bars on the crown, and without blue on the cheeks, was seen here
today, showing that both of the small species occurs here, as
in Stanleyville, and along much of the Congo.
DATE: 11/20/1909 (Saturday)
Early this afternoon one of our boys took me to a tree where
there were a lot of fruit bats. It was one of the larger trees
that stick up above the plantation of young rubber trees between
the Mission and the Post. About 50 feet from the ground, on a
more or less horizontal branch, there was a large mass of epiphytic
plants, to the under side of this was clinging a mass of bats.
Every once in a while one seemed to lose his hold in the crowd,
and had to take wing, only to return and
Book 3: Page 7
hook himself up anew. All the time they kept up a chorus of snarling
and scolding noises that could be heard for some distance, 75
or 100 yards at least, and it was by means of this that they had
been discovered. The black boy told me of a large bird that was
catching the bats, and as we approached a black and white vulture
flew out of the top of the tree, but whether he was guilty of
the deed is not at all certain. I did not attempt to count the
number of bats (estimated at 90-100), but after watching them
a little while, fired both barrels of my gun into the flock. We
were standing directly underneath them, and for a few seconds
it simply rained bats, some dead, others dying, and many only
slightly wounded. The latter immediately began to make off thru
the grass, trying their best to scratch and bite when picked up,
and often uttering a cry that reminded me somewhat of the "peent"
of the American woodcock and nighthawk, but louder. The uninjured,
with the exception of ten or twelve that returned to the same
roost, made off for a safer resting place. We secured 37 specimens,
but I have no doubt that a number of the wounded made good their
escape. The number of bats that had been in the tree could only
be roughly estimated at 90 or 100, or perhaps a few more. Thirty-three
of those secured were skinned, two, a male and a female, put in
alcohol, and two, which had their skulls badly broken were discarded.
These bats, unlike the two species of fruit bats we had previously
secured, in Leopoldville and Stanleyville, had short tails, of
very variable length. Many of them, evidently the older ones,
had patches of yellowish hair on the under side of the neck. The
skin beneath these places, was of a lighter color on the inside
that on the rest of the skin immediately surrounding it. The males
had rather conspicuous vestigial trots at the sides of the thorax.
A number of very active (Nycteribiidae) were collected on these
DATE: 11/21/1909 (Sunday)
Most of the day was occupied in preparing the bats shot yesterday.
Two of the ordinary dark gray ibises, with iridescent wing-coverts,
were seen, and a pigeon of the same sort as no. 401 was heard
this morning near the Mission, while three or four bee-eaters
like no. 476 were observed near our camp. One bat was captured
in the evening in the house (no. 275).
DATE: 11/22/1909 Monday)
One bat caught this evening in the house (no. 276).
DATE: 11/23/1909 (Tuesday)
Another dove, of the same species as no. 473 was shot today.
Two of the common dark ibises went flying down the river, advertising
their coming by their mournful cries. It is probably the same
pair that we see all the time.
Book 3: Page 8
DATE: 11/24/1909 (Wednesday)
A small brownish shrike (Lamus) (no. 485) of the same kind as
the one seen on Nov. 14 was secured. Two sandpipers, one of them
a Totanus (or Helodromus) which had not been seen here previously,
and a squirrel (no. 277, female) were also shot.
DATE: 11/25/1909 (Thursday)
Four bee-eaters (nos. 488-91) were shot from a flock of twenty
or more near our camp. They were of the same kind as no. 476 and
a few others that have been seen lately. Their call is like that
of the larger green bee-eater (no. 420, etc) but is softer and
not nearly so loud. Several of the smaller bee-eaters were seen
dipping in the water of the river, as the larger species has also
been observed to do here. The larger kind, by the way, has become
much scarcer now, tho a few are still present.
DATE: 11/26/1909 (Friday)
Today there was a flock, or perhaps a couple of flocks of lapwings
(Sarciophorus superciliosus), which flew about uttering a hoarse
reiterated cry, and alighting occasionally on the few open spots
they could find near the river bank. Six specimens (nos. 492-7),
four of them females, and two males, were shot. The largest number
seen together at once was 18 or 20.
DATE: 11/27/1909 (Saturday)
One white heron seen on an island this morning. Two bats caught
in the house this evening (nos. 280-1).
DATE: 11/28/1909 (Sunday)
A flock of bee-eaters like no. 476 was seen today, as well as
a few of the larger species (see no. 420, etc). In the afternoon
one of our boys shot a snake-bird (no. 499) that was sitting on
a small branch on the bank of the river. It was a male, apparently
young, and its stomach contained some green vegetable matter,
a piece of a small fish, and some nematode worms. Another dove
like no. 473 seen today. Two more bats were caught in the house
this evening with the butterfly net. The black weaver-birds which
were to be seen in October (see however Dec. 2, 1909) about a
row of palms near the post, seem to have disappeared, in as much
as none have been seen for weeks.
DATE: 11/29/1909 (Monday)
Mr. Lang had an attach of fever today. A flock of fruit pigeons,
some 7 or 8 in all, was seen near the "Bosigwana" (Arabise)
village. A small gray rodent (no. 284) with much the appearance
of a dormouse was sent to us from the "succursale".
Book 3: Page 9
DATE: 11/30/1909 (Tuesday)
Dr. Rosati returned from Makala today, bringing a number of skins
of small birds collected on the trip. Late in the afternoon he
shot a snipe that flew up from the grass near our camp; and kindly
presented it to us. Some lapwings of the kind we shot Nov. 26,
were heard today. A young owl that was brought to us alive yesterday
was photographed, killed and skinned today.