Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/38

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by the exceptional cold. Thus February, 1895, brought an unprecedented visitation of Little Auks, small diving birds closely related to our razor-bill. The newspapers begin to take note of the effects of the long-continued frost upon animal life, and record how rooks and gulls are so reduced as to seek food in the streets, and how red-grouse, driven from the moors by the weather, have appeared in many lowland localities. Of special interest to Londoners are the gulls which in large numbers frequent the Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo.

The hardened powdery snow no longer shows the foot-prints of passing bird and beast as in its earlier days. So the great frost runs its course, sometimes to break up and give way before a sudden invasion of westerly airs, but often to wear out slowly, yielding almost imperceptibly before the increasing power of the sun, unaided by moisture-laden winds—a hardly-won victory, so nearly is the ground gained each day lost during the succeeding night. But at last the land lies bare once more, faded and colourless as after a long spell of east winds. A few thrushes and other birds straggle back to their usual haunts, and we are able to take stock of our losses. A memento of the past long remains in the whitened stems of trees, from which the rabbits gnawed the bark when the snow cut off other food supplies, leaving the wood bare as high up as they could reach. The willow-branches which