Sir James Hector exhibited a number of additions to the Museum, and made the following remarks on some of the specimens—
The Olive.—The cultivation of the olive had not been attempted to any extent in this colony, but there appeared to be some inducement to undertake it. A specimen of the New Zealand olive, sent by the school-master at the Upper Hutt, was produced, and evoked a short dissertation on olive-growing from Sir James Hector. If the olive proper was grafted on to the New Zealand olive, Sir James said, the trees would bear fruit in twelve months, or at the most two years, whereas the imported trees brought into the colony by Sir George Grey had taken from thirteen to seventeen years before they bore. Mr. Travers agreed with Sir James Hector, and thought the idea of grafting on to the local species a very good one.
Birds.—Among the birds exhibited were two cuckoos recently captured—one of them, in fact, was caught at Vogeltown. A peculiar feature about these specimens, Sir James Hector remarked, was the fact that both of them were gorged with young birds. It was well known, he said, that the cuckoo made use of the nests of other birds to deposit its eggs, but he did not think he had met a case before where the cuckoo had eaten the young occupants before making use of the nest.
The Slug.—Amateur gardeners who at this time of the year particularly bewailed the ravages of slugs would be surprised to learn that there was at least one species of slug which was a particular friend of the gardener. A specimen was exhibited which, to use the semi-jocular remark of Mr. Travers, was a “very useful beast indeed.” It was a carnivorous slug, and fed on the blights which frequented tender plants, and which were very difficult to get rid of by other means without injuring the plants. Slugs of this sort would be a blessing to many sufferers from blight-pests.
Sir Walter Buller said he had listened with interest to Sir James Sector's account of the two specimens of kohoperoa on the table. Sir James Hector was wrong, however, in supposing that the predatory character of Eudynamys taitensis was a new discovery. Thirty years ago he had himself found in the stomach of one of these birds a small fledgling that had evidently been robbed from a nest. On another occasion he had surprised one of these cuckoos carrying off in its beak a tui's egg. He understood Sir James Hector to say that the bodies found in the stomachs of the two birds now on the table were those of the grey warbler—Gerygone flaviventris—nestlings with wing-feathers just sprouting. If so, this was very curious, because, as was well known, this little bird performed the duty of foster parent to both the koheperoa and the shining cuckoo, two species belonging to very different genera. The warbler built a pretty pensile nest, with the entrance near the top, protected by a kind of porch. It would seem in this case that the predatory cuckoo had devoured the rightful occupants before appropriating the nest and depositing its egg. His impression was that the nestling which the stomach of his bird contained was a very young tui At any rate, he was sure it was the young of a native bird, for at that time the country had not become overrun as now with the introduced species for which we had to thank the mistaken zeal of our acclimatisation societies.
Annual Meeting: 14th March, 1899.
Sir W. L. Buller, Vice-president, in the chair.