Our naturalists found two new species of birds. The one is about the size of a pigeon, the plumage as white as milk. They feed along-shore, probably on shell-fish and carrion, for they have a very disagreeable smell. When we first saw these birds we thought they were the snow-peterel, but the moment they were in our possession the mistake was discovered; for they resemble them in nothing but size and colour. These are not webb-footed. The other sort is a species of curlews nearly as big as a heron. It has a variegated plumage, the principal colours whereof are light-grey, and a long crooked bill.
I had almost forgot to mention that there are sea-pies, or what we called, when in New Zealand, curlews; but we only saw a few straggling pairs. It may not be amiss to observe, that the shags are the same bird which Bougainville calls saw-bills; but he is mistaken in saying that the quebrantahuessas are their enemies; for this bird is of the peterel tribe, feeds wholly on fish, and is to be found in all the high southern latitudes.
It is amazing to see how the different animals which inhabit this little spot are mutually reconciled. They seem to have entered into a league not to disturb each other’s tranquillity. The sea-lions occupy most of the sea-coast; the sea-bears take up their abode in the isle; the shags have post in the highest cliffs; the penguins fix their quarters where there is the most easy communication to and from the sea; and the other birds choose more retired places. We have seen all these animals mix together, like domestic cattle and poultry in a farm-yard, without one attempting to molest the other. Nay, I have often observed the eagles and vultures sitting on the hillocks among the shags, without the latter, either young or old, being disturbed at their presence. It may be asked how these birds of prey live? I suppose on the carcases of seals and birds which die by various causes; and probably not few, as they are so numerous.
This very imperfect account is written more with a view to assist my own memory than to give information to others. I am neither a botanist nor a naturalist; and have not words to describe the productions of nature, either in the one branch of knowledge or the other.
Proceedings after leaving Staten Island, with an Account of the Discovery of the Isle of Georgia, and a Description of it.
Having left the land in the evening of the 3d, as before mentioned, we saw it again next morning, at three o’clock, bearing west. Wind continued to blow a steady fresh breeze till six p.m., when it shifted in a heavy squall to S.W., which came so suddenly upon us, that we had not time to take in the sails, and was the occasion of carrying away a top-gallant mast, a studding-sail boom, and a fore studding-sail. The squall ended in a heavy shower of rain, but the wind remained at S.W. Our course was S.E., with a view of discovering that extensive coast laid down by Mr Dalrymple in his chart, in which is the gulph of St Sebastian. I designed to make the western point of that gulph, in order to have all the other parts before me. Indeed I had some doubt of the existence of such a coast; and this appeared to me the best route for clearing it up, and for exploring the southern part of this ocean.