A Flight of Sand Larks.
To witness a large flight—or, as it is more correct to call it, a “ fling ” —of Dunlins on the wing is a sight as carious as it is interesting and beautiful. It is not when they are flying with an apparently settled purpose from one place to another, hut when they are flying about hither and thither over the banks in a “ fling” of from a few hundred up to thousands in the flock, that their wonderful lightness and activity on the wing are seen to such ad 'antage as to strike even the most casual beholder with admiration. At one moment the spectator sees at a distance a dense, dark body moving rapidly along, which a practiced eye at once sees is a large flock of sand larks. Watch them, and to your amazement, if they are some distance off, the rapidly moving dark cloud will suddenly, almost, or sometimes entirely disappear. This is caused by the whole flock simultaneously turning their sides and the edges only of their wings to the spectator. Slowly then, and looking at first like a shadow, the birds reappear, the flock comes into full view as at first, and one is wondering what the next' change may be, when, instantaneously, every bird in the whole flight, turning its white under-surface toward the spectator, almost dazzles him with a momentary flash of bright, silvery whiteness; the appearance of the flock under this aspect having been most aptly compared to a shower of new shillings. These graceful and attractive evolutions are often repeated, each change being a surprise ; for, owing to the constantly varying shape of the flock, which one moment may be in a long drawn-out line, and perhaps in the next in a round ball, no two of the movements are exactly alike. The flock, if large, often breaks up, but only shortly to reunite again.—“ The Birds, Fishes and Ceiacea of Belfast Lough" Patterson.
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