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legs ; and such large masses as he could not grasp readily with his teeth he pushed forwards, leaning against them with his right fore-paw and his chin; he never carried any
; thing on his tail.
“He was very fond of dipping his tail in water, but did not like plunging in his whole body."
The hearth-rug was his favourite haunt : there he would lie, stretched out at his ease, always near his master. Binny's instinct for building was shown as soon as he was let out of his cage into the room where it stood, and materials were placed in his way. His strength, before he was half-grown, was great ; he would drag along a large sweeping-brush or a warming-pan.
SEA FOWLS EGGS.
That immense range of perpendicular rocks, lashed by the waves of the German Ocean, which extends from Flamborough Head to Bempton, on the coast of Yorkshire, offers a favourable retreat to myriads of sea-fowl of different species. I once spent some time in this neighbourhood for the sake of learning something of the habits of the various birds which frequent it, especially the guillemot and cormorant, about which I was particularly curious. The eggs of several kinds of sea-fowl are much sought for as an article of traffic, and though it is a matter of no small danger to procure them, people are always found to brave it, either from poverty or a love of enterprise. The eggs of the guillemot and razorbill are those in most request, though they are not superior in flavour to others, on account
of the bardness of their shells, which are less easily broken in transporting them from place to place. The usual process of seeking for the eggs is generally carried on by three men, though two will suffice in case of necessity. Having provided themselves with two ropes of sufficient length and strength, they drive an iron bar into the ground, about six inches deep, on the table land on the top of the precipice. To this bar is fastened the thicker of the two ropes, and then it is thrown down the rocks. He who is to descend, now puts his legs through a pair of hempen braces which meet round his middle, and there form a waist-band. At each end of this waist-band is a loop hole, through which they draw the smaller rope.
A man now holds the rope firmly in his hand, and gradually lowers his comrade down the precipice. While he is descending he has hold of the other rope, which was fastened to the iron bar, which steadies him, and with this assistance he passes from ledge to ledge, and from rock to rock, picking up the eggs. The guillemot lays its single egg on the bare rock, without any nest whatever; but the razorbills and puffins lay theirs in crannies and clefts, sometimes very difficult of access. The kittewake makes a nest of dried grass, in which she deposits her two spotted eggs. When the climber has filled the bags which he carries slung over his shoulder, he jerks the rope, as a signal to his companions above that he is ready to be drawn up again. On coming to the top, the eggs are put into a large basket and carried to the wholesale dealers, who purchase them from the climbers at sixpence the score. I desired to see the haunts of these birds, and to find their eggs myself. I therefore went to the cliff, accompanied by two climbers who were to let me down by the ropes, and instruct me how to act. It requires considerable address on the part of the descending climber to avoid being struck
by the fragments of rock, which are broken off by the rope coming in contact with them. One of the climbers told me that a year before, a falling stone had driven two of his front teeth down his throat, while he happeued to be looking upwards. As I was lowered down the cliff, the grandeur and sublimity of the scene was beyond description, and amply repaid me for any unpleasant sensations on the score of danger. The sea was roaring at the base of this stupendous wall of rocks; thousands and tens of thousands of wild fowl were in an instant on the wing; the kittewakes rose in a circling flight, while the guillemots, razorbills, and puffins, left the ledges of the rocks in a straight and downward line, with a peculiarly quick motion of the wings, till they plunged into the ocean. The nests of the kittewakes were close to each other on every part of the rocks that was capable of holding them, and they were so numerous as totally to defy any attempt to count them. On the bare level edges of the rocks, often not more than six inches wide, lay the eggs of the guillemots; by no glutinous matter, nor indeed any thing at all, were they fixed to the rock-a single touch was sufficient to roll them off the cliff into the sea. The rock climbers told me that the guillemot, when undisturbed, never lays more than one egg, but if that be taken away she lays another, and so on. In spite of the hundreds of eggs taken yearly from these birds, their number does not appear to decrease, therefore I imagine that the poor guillemot is allowed to hatch her last egg undisturbed. I picked up some eggs as specimens, and was struck not only with their beauty, but with their variety. One guillemot's egg is by no means exactly like another, as in most birds' eggs; some are green, streaked with black, others white marked with green, others again are blotched with green and brown. The cormorants' nests, which I
afterwards visited, were made with more care than those of most sea-birds, though they were far from equalling the delicate nests of inland birds. They were made of sticks, grass, and a little wool. The eggs were covered with a chalky substance, which I scraped away with my penknife, and a beautiful green shell appeared beneath. The smell that proceeded from these nests was so unpleasant that I did not stay very long in their neighbourhood. The cormorant is of a very dark colour, which looks like black, shot with green; it is a most voracious bird, and lives entirely upon fish. Its skill in diving is remarkable, I have often been amused by watching it plunge into the sea, and after remaining there a considerable time re-appear, invariably bringing a fish in its bill. After I had seen what I wished among the cliffs, I made the signal for being drawn up, and I confess was not sorry to stand once more on firm land.
When the climber has filled the bags which he carries slung over his shoulder, he jerks the rope as a signal to his companions above that he is ready to be drawn up again. On coming to the top, the eggs are put into a large basket and carried to the wholesale dealers, who purchase them from the climbers at sixpence the score.
THE EAGLE'S LARDER.
BESIDES warm-blooded animals and birds, most, if not all, the eagle tribe will readily feed on fish; some sorts indeed prefer them, and live in the neighbourhood of large lakes on the sea-shore. These large fish-eaters have been known to consume a bucket-full a day; and, as if aware at the same time of the uncertainty of always insuring a supply, particularly when they have, in addition to their own wants, their young to provide for, they are in the habit of collecting an overabundance on the high rocks where their nests are situated, so as to have an ample stock in hand. And so well aware are the North American Indians of these stores, that an eagle's nest is familiarly called an Indian's larder; from which the wild hunters can readily supply themselves, at least during the breeding and rearing season, from May to September, with a plentiful store of hares, ducks, and geese, besides fish.
In England, though large eagles are now very rare, naturalists have met with similar instances. Mr. Wil. loughby, an excellent authority, mentions a nest which he saw in the woodlands near the River Derwent, in the Peak of Derbyshire, about a hundred and fifty years ago; he described it as about two yards square, formed of great sticks, resting one end on the ledge of a rock, and the other on two birch trees, upon which was a layer of rushes, and over them a layer of heath, and upon the heath rushes again, upon which lay one young one, and an addle egg,
and by them a lamb and a hare, and three heath-poults.
But the most particular and curious account of one of these eagle-nest-larders is related by a gentleman who was