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Instructions to Young Ornithologists, IV: Sea Birds published

June 1963

Instructions to Young Ornithologists, IV: Sea Birds

From the preface of Instructions to young ornithologists: seabirds:

Since earliest childhood I have spent my holidays by the sea and I cannot remember the time when sea-birds failed to fascinate me. I probably found them so much more exciting than the familiar brown birds of field and hedgerow because they were associated with remote and often unattainable places. They came to the shore from the wide expanse of ocean, filling the air with wild cries which to me, a Londoner, spoke of holidays and freedom. At evening, their scavenging on the beaches finished for the day, they would fly out along the reflected path of the sunset and I would long to follow in a rowing boat to their unknown roosting place.

Gulls, cheekier than most, would come to share our picnics, the freckled youngsters squealing to their parents for food even after they were old enough to fend for themselves. Snaky-necked cormorants would stand drying their wings as we poked among the rock pools and sometimes we would get quite close to a party of fishing terns by swimming quietly out from the shore.

I still remember the enormous thrill that the sight of my first puffins gave me, as I lay peering over the end of Worm’s Head at the tip of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.