Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/213

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

JULY

147

flying Guillemots and Razorbills whizz past overhead. Single birds, select parties, whole fleets of them—always in company with Puffins—paddle at ease, dive, bob up again like corks, splash along the surface of the water or rise clumsily, adjusting their steering gear by spreading feet and tail. Puffins swim up close to the boat; one of them will retain its hold upon the first-caught slippery fry, diving for more, until a whole string of them depends from its beak. A few weeks later there will be many young guillemots, which could never have made their way down from the ledges without parental assistance, each one swimming in the wake of the old bird.

Now to change one's standpoint to the verge of the cliff, or reach, by the aid of a friendly gulley, some point midway between its top storey and the basement. All the grassy ledges are peopled by Herring Gulls, whose mottled young have mostly reached the sea, though some remain at the nests. Every suitable spot on the cliff face, where the rough grass covers earth of a sufficient depth to be burrowed into, is a warren of Puffins; their orange feet show up as spots of colour against the dark background. On the barer ledges stand the Guillemots, shoulder to shoulder, nodding their heads as if bowing to one another. We can see their bright green eggs on narrow exposed ledges where, if they rolled a couple of inches, they would go over the edge. No eggs are more wonderful in their beauty