National Geographic : 1952 Oct
L~~ ~ ~ ~ ib . 566 John E. H. Nolan Fussy Mrs. Shag Prefers Her Own Company Bottle-green bird on a seaweed nest, she perches on Inner Fame's 80-foot cliff and ignores the guillemots beyond. One of the cormorants, the shag is unknown in North America. It was still short of 6 a. m. one day when I was suddenly alerted by a booming voice telling me to "Geet oop!" I was out of bed and dragging on my trousers before a second blast came from that human foghorn: "Dinna be late! Ye kinna troost th' weather!" I knew that only too well. With George Kyle, second engineer of the Holy Island lifeboat and owner of the voice, I had thrice tried to go to the Fames. Now we were to make a fourth attempt. Through the window, as I hastily dashed water over my face, I glimpsed a dry-looking sun boring like a gimlet through the blue-gray mist that lay between Holy Island and those seagirt rocks. We were due to sail at 6:15; so I quickly stuffed some films into a rub ber pouch, seized my camera, and ran downstairs. Below, George was stowing thermos flasks of tea and packets of sandwiches into his capacious pockets. There was no time to waste over breakfast. The Winner Takes a Chance Ten more voyagers were waiting out side, including four ornithologists, members of the Gull Club of Berwick upon Tweed. Their leader, elderly James R. Walker, was glancing specula tively at the sky, obviously anxious about his chance of landing on the Fames for the fiftieth time. I met his friendly greeting with "Is it yes or no?" "There's a wee scud o'er the Cheev iots, but it's nae s' bad," he observed. The Winner, a 6-ton Diesel-engined inshore fishing craft, her name a happy omen, lay off Steel End. It was too deep to wade out to her, so we were carried across by two dories. Soon we were nosing through the narrow gut between Black Law and a dangerous ridge of shingle on our port beam. Fortunately the mist had cleared and the faint breeze raised barely a ripple. Our skipper, once we were clear of the gut, passed the tiller to his mate; then, as he settled down to read the Sunday Sun, he said to me, "If we nae geet a swell, weel geet there al' reet." Still I kept my fingers crossed. We soon were joined by four Arctic terns, one of the swiftest and most graceful of sea birds. Gyrating on their swallow-shaped wings and tails, they kept dropping plummet-fashion into the sea.