Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/221

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



breed in its full purity at Flamborough, or indeed nearer than the wave-washed precipices of the west coast of Scotland or of Connemara, where, as in the case of the grand Meenawn Cliffs of Achil Island, it nests in caves which are filled with the mist of the sea-spray. Here, too, though gone wholly or almost so from its ancient haunts on the Cornish coast, is the red-billed Chough, most active in flight and pleasing in appearance of the crow tribe. As it flies lightly and swiftly, rising and falling in graceful curves, the eye is pleased with the contrast which the chough presents to the white-winged gulls and its shrill note makes itself heard above the roar of the surges and the whistle of ocean breeze. Yet for some reason apart from the fact that collectors are always ready to pay a good price for its eggs, the chough decreases in numbers, and has vanished from wide stretches of coast which formerly knew it well.

And what is the small bird, dark olive in colour with spotted breast, which haunts the bare rocky ledges of the gull islands, the grassy slopes of the cliffs and the boulders and seaweed on the shore? It is not a land bird which has strayed from its proper haunt, for the true home of the Rock Pipit is close to the breaking waves and salt sea spray, and its sharp note is the proper accompaniment of old ocean's wildest music. Strange is it, too, to see the House Martins plastering rows of mud-built tenements under the