[History of Rutherglen Contents]
AMONGST the Quadrupeds may be mentioned the Fox. He finds convenient coverts in the shady, and rugged banks of Calder, between Torrance and Crossbasket. In these haunts also the Badger and Polecat find a safe retreat. A Mole of a beautiful white colour was lately catched at Rawhead. That the Bison, now a native of India and South America, was once in this place, appears probable, from one of their horns that was lately found in a peat-moss in the neighbourhood of Torrance, where it is preserved. This curious production of nature is not entire. Considerable pieces have been broken off from both ends. The circumference of the larger end is 18 inches: of the smaller, 6½. The length, in a straight line, is 3 feet; but when measured alongst the inside of the curvature it is 4¼. Probably more than a foot has been broken off. It is composed of five or six lamelle, which may be separated from one another.
THIS part of the country does not abound with a great variety of Fowls. Of the Hawk are several species, but none of them uncommon. The Owls frequenting this place are the Otus, Ulula, and Flammea. The first of these is not nearly so numerous as the two last. In one that was lately shot, in the banks at Calderwood, were seven feathers in each ear. A hen of the Ulula kind, with some of her young, was, in 1789, killed near Torrance. She had the following peculiarity, that the extremities of her talons were broken off, and the ends much rounded: a precaution dictated by instinct for the safety of her eggs, during incubation. The Wood-Lark sometimes, although not frequently, visits both Rutherglen and Kilbride. The Pheasant, a few years ago introduced into Hamilton wood, is no stranger in the banks of Clyde, at Rosebank, and Farme. Several places in both parishes are frequented by the Bull-finch, and most other kinds of singing birds in Scotland. At Castlemilk is a tame Thrush, or Mavis, of a snowy whiteness. It was hatched in the wood adjoining to the castle, and has never changed its colour.1 Fieldfares, Snowflights, and Woodcocks are amongst the number of migratory birds that visit this country. The moors in Kilbride abound with moor-fowl of different kinds. But, since the late game acts, their number here, as well as in most other places of the country, is greatly decreased. The commonalty being, by these laws, forbid shooting, even on their own lands, are at no pains to preserve the nests, either of moor-fowl or partridges. Do not mankind frequently, by being too severe, totally subvert the scheme they intended to promote?
THE Clyde abounds with a considerable variety of Fishes; as the Salmon, Pike, Trout, Flounder, Perch, Braze, (Roach Anglis) and Eel. The Cart and Calder contain Trout; but in no great plenty.
AMONGST the testaceous order of Vermes are the Turbo perversus, T. bidens, and T. muscorum. They are found in the banks adjoining to Calderwood. The Mytilus exiguus of Lister, is a native of several places in Kilbride: and the Patella fluviatalis (Lacustris Lin.) is very common in almost all the rivulets, in both parishes. In Clyde are considerable quantities of the Anatinus of Lin. or horse muscle, as it is here called. Small pearls have sometimes been obtained from them.
THE moths in this country are not very numerous, or uncommon. The Phalaena prismicornis, spirilinquis, &c. of Hill, is sometimes found in Rutherglen. The Phalaena pavonis, or peacock-eyed moth, is a native of the moors in Kilbride. It’s caterpillar, which is extremely beautiful, feeds on heath, among the branches of which it takes up its abode, during its chrysalis state.
OF uncommon Insects, in these parishes, may be mentioned the Polype. It is a fresh-water insect, of the genus of Hydra, in the class of Vermes, and order of Zoophyta. When cut in any direction, or number of pieces, each of the separated parts very soon becomes a perfect animal. Leeuwenhoek was among the first who discovered these curious animalculi. Their œconomy and properties were afterwards accurately described by M. Trembley.
THE species that prevails here is the Hydra viridis, tentaculis subdenis brevioribus. (Linn. Syst. Nat. gen. 349.) The green polype, with short arms, sometimes to the number of ten. They are of a fine green colour, and, when in a state of contraction, especially out of water, apparently of a gelatinous, unorganized substance, of about the bigness of a pin-head. They catch their prey with their arms, which they extend, or contract, and move in different directions, at pleasure. They are found adhering to grass, &c. in small ponds and ditches, particularly at Shawfield-bank, and Lime-kilns. I have found them in almost all the parishes in the vicinity of Glasgow.
THIS was the species that M. Trembley first discovered, and of which he could obtain too few specimens to enable him to ascertain what was their food, or how they caught it. He soon, however, found the Hydra grisea, tentaculis subseptenis longioribus. This species, of which M. Trembley found two varieties, is rare in this neighbourhood. It has, however, been discovered in some few places in this part of the country, especially in a piece of water, near Dugaldstoun, in the parish of New Kilpatrick. None of these with the very long arms, extending to 6 or 8 inches, which M. Trembley describes, are found in Britain, so far as I know.
OF the Leech (Hirudo) there are, in this place, some species that are exceedingly rare. Amongst these the Hirudo complanata, of Linn. seems to be one. The colour is generally a dusky brown, and the viscera beautifully pinnated. The back is ornamented with four rows of papillae, or small protuberances, of a white colour. These on the two middle rows are larger than the rest; and lie in two black lines, that extend from the head to the tail of the animal. The papillae are placed on every third ring, or annular division, of which there are about 60 in whole. These curious insects are found adhering to the bottom of stones, in a pond at Castelmilk, and in the rivulet that runs alongst the west boundary of Rutherglen.
ALONG with them is found another species, which is not, as far as I know, described by any author. It is subcomplanata. of a whitish colour, and, when stretched out, is above an inch in length. It is bioculata, and has a large blackish spot a little above the eyes. Its body consists of about 70 rings. Soon after it is taken out of the water it projects from its mouth a tube, or proboscis, of about ⅙ of an inch in length, but retracts it when put again into water.
THE manner in which the animal produces its young is very singular. About the mouth of June, a number of whitish eggs, commonly about a dozen, are discovered, seemingly in a gelatinous substance, that adheres to the belly of the mother. In a few days they elongate, and become smaller at the one end than at the other. Soon after that, they are seen to move at the small end; whilst they adhere firmly, by the broad end, to the belly of the parent, till they are of sufficient strength to provide for themselves, when they quit their hold, and fix on any substance that may be near them. But they do not all arrive at perfection at the same time. A day or two commonly intervenes between each. The gelatinous-like substance, in which the ova are included, is quite limpid, like the white of an egg, and adheres pretty closely to the animal. I examined several of the Leeches, but could not discern any perforation through which the ova might come.
THE parent takes great care of her young, when come to life. She expands the sides of her belly over them, when she transports herself from one place to another, which she does very slowly. When at rest she fixes herself both at head and tail, making a small curve with her body. In this position she moves herself, at the same instant, both by a lateral and longitudinal motion, and thus gently agitates her appending burden. To see this little animal in motion, whilst a dozen, or more, of her offspring are sprawling on her belly, naturally leads the contemplative mind, to adore the great Author of nature, whose wisdom, goodness and power are conspicuous in every part of his works.
THIS species of the Hirudo adheres to the bottom of stones, in ditches, ponds, and rivulets. It would appear that they delighted in very cold water. The only food I ever observed them take was the Patella fluviatalis. They lie in wait, close to their prey, till an opportunity offers, when they push their head below the shell, and instantly kill the animal, which they afterwards totally devour.
ALONG with the above-mentioned is found another species of the Leech, and which, I believe, is likewise a nondescript. The colour is a deep brown, inclining to red. When at full stretch it is about two inches in length, and ⅙ in thickness. The skin is very sleek. It has four eyes, and does not seem to be furnished with a proboscis. Although it generally moves by means of contracting itself into a circle, yet it sometimes swims freely in the water, like the medicinal leech, but is extremely quick in all its motions. If another leech chances to fix upon its body, it twists itself with the greatest agility, into knots, or small circumgirations, through which it forces its way, and obliges the other to quit its hold. the rings of which the skin is composed are very fine. It appears to have no spots, when viewed externally; but when seen through, between the eye and the light, two rows of whitish spots, of a round form, lying in two transparent lines near the edge, make their appearance. Each line contains about 20 spots. Of this species I could find no more than one specimen.
MANY places in this country, especially the ditches in the Green of Rutherglen, abound with what seems, by its motion, to belong to the genus of Limax: but whether it is named, and described by Linnæus, I am not certain. It is nearly half an inch in length, and one-eighth in breadth. The head is ornamented with two short protuberances, resembling ears, and which probably serve in place of feelers. It moves in the water with a slow, but uniform motion. The colour is generally black; but in some varieties it is gray, or white. It is found commonly adhering to grass, &c. in muddy water. The parts of this creature, when cut, regenerate themselves like the Polype. One, on which a Gentleman in the University of Glasgow lately made an experiment, exhibited a singular phenomenon. A section was made in the middle of the creature, in a direction from the head to the tail; but a small piece at the tail was left uncut. Each part soon became an entire animal, only they were joined together near the tail. Sometimes they would move peaceably in the same direction; at other times they attempted to go in a different direction, as if they were influenced by contrary volitions. The struggle, however, was neither long nor violent; for the one, generally without much reluctance, yielded to the other. My knowledge of the œconomy of this curious creature is not, as yet, so extensive as enables me to describe its food, &c. &c.
THE narrow limits within which I confine myself, in the commencement of this publication, will not allow me to give draughts of these insects, and of some other things, that require to be illustrated by plates.