PLOVER, The Long-legged
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PLOVER, The Long-legged

PLOVER, The Long-legged




      

PLOVER, The Long-legged


PLOVER, The Long-legged, (Ckaradriushimantopus.) This very singular bird is mentioned by very few of our ornithologists: indeed, Mr. Gi1bert White is the only writer who has advanced any thing satisfactory respecting it. In his " Natural History of Se1borne," he thus describes it. " In the last week of April five of those most rare birds, too uncommon to have obtained an English name, but known to naturalists by the terms himantopus and loripes, were shot upon the verge of Frinsham pond, a large lake belonging to the Bishop of Winchester, lying between Woolmer forest and Farnham. The pond-keeper says, there were three brace in the flock ; one of these specimens I procured, and found the length of the legs to be so extraordinary, that, at first sight, one might have supposed the shanks had been fastened on to impose on the credulity of the beholders : they were legs in caricature, and had we seen such proportions on a Chinese or Japanese screen, we should have made large allowances for the fancy of the draughtsman. These birds are of the plover family, and might with propriety be called the stilt-plover. My specimen, when drawn and stuffed with pepper, weighed only four ounces and a quarter, though the naked part of the thigh measured three inches and a half, and the legs four inches and a half. Hence we may safely assert, that these birds exhibit, weight for inches, incomparably the greatest length of legs of any known bird. The flamingo, for instance, is one of the longest legged birds, yet it bears no proportion to the himantopus: for were the latter as large in body, it would have legs ten feet in length—such a monstrous proportion as the world never witnessed. To observe the himantopus wield such a length of lever with such feeble muscles as its thighs are furnished with, would be vastly interesting: at best, one would expect it to be but a bad walker; but what adds to the wonder is, that it has no back toe, without which prop to support its steps, it must be liable, one would think, to perpetual vacillations, and unable to preserve the true centre of gravity. Neither Willoughby nor Ray, in their curious researches, ever met with this bird : Hasselquist states, that it migrates to Egypt in the autumn ; and a most accurate observer of nature has assured me, that he found it on the banks of the streams in Andalusia. It plainly appears to me, that they are natives of southern Europe, and only visit our island when impelled by accidental causes to leave their accustomed haunts."

Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835

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