Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/115

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grass-grown ledges, where amongst the tufts of sea-pink they form their artless nests. This, and not, as one might suppose, the Common Gull of the bird books, is the one which breeds so generally upon the rugged parts of our coast. The Common Gull, so called, abundant through the winter, now leaves for the north, and nowhere breeds south of the Border. So easily may a trivial name lend itself to error. The gulls are in fact a puzzling family to the beginner, the speckled and spotted dress of the young birds giving place gradually to the adult plumage, which is sometimes not acquired until the third or fourth year. There is, further, the complication of a change from summer to winter plumage. But for the study of these minor differences some time of year must be chosen when the calls in other directions are less pressing than they are in these full-tide days of April.


Little more than a hundred years ago the annual disappearance of our more delicate songsters was so little understood as to be largely shrouded in mystery. Dr. Johnson boldly stated that swallows on the approach of winter, flying above a lake or pond, "conglobulate" into a ball and sink below the surface of the water, remaining quiescent in the mud