Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/109

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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

observed, feed on blubber or any oily substance that they discover floating on the water; a piece being thrown overboard, they swarmed around it, and so intent were they on their prey, that they suffered themselves to be knocked down, rather than relinquish it; add; in flying to partake of this rich banquet, several came so near to the ship as to be struck with the boat-hook.


May 30. 
The making off not being finished, the ship remained moored, and I shot several birds, among which were three of the Larus Rissa, (Linn.,) or Kittywakes. This is the most elegant of the class of gulls, and particularly graceful in its flight; its bill is of a beautiful lemon yellow; orbits of the eye and inside of the mouth bright red; index straw colour; legs livid colour; top of the head, nape, back, and wings, of a fine ash colour tips of the wings and coverts black; add the rest of the bird white. This gull undergoes three alterations of colour: in the first stage of its life, the coverts of its wings have dark brown feathers; in the second stage, similar dark brown feathers extend over its back, and the tips of its wings are also tinged with the same colour; and in the last, it derives all the character peculiar to the Larus rissa; the vulgar name of Kittywake is doubtless derived from the cry of the bird, which sounds exactly as if it said "Kitty's awake." I should have observed, that I this day procured specimens of the three distinct gradations in the change of Colour: which I have noticed.