Friday, 2 January 2009

Message From The Skies

Starlings do many amazing things. Quite apart from their uncanny gift for mimicry- mobile phones, police car klaxons and even long forgotten sounds still residing in their genes- they also like group activities. In their superb England in Particular, Sue Clifford and Angela King of Common Ground say "This cheeky bird, with its iridescent plumage, provides us with one of the most spectacular occurrences in nature- murmurations of starlings wheeling like shape-shifting clouds in the evening sky. Twenty years ago these winter aerial displays would have comprised millions of birds, but today we are fortunate to see groups of fifty thousand...". Apparently one of the most jaw-dropping displays were their acrobatics over the old West Pier in Brighton before its final collapse in 2004. Starlings are decreasing in numbers as their food supply lessens and their roosting places disappear. So, more follies! My farmer friend David has been out recently with his camera, and with his persistence with a murmuration near The Langtons in Leicestershire he caught them arranging themselves into a perfect number two. "You must blog this" he said, and very kindly lent me this photograph. I give it to you on the number two day of January. Happy New Year!

12 comments:

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Looks a lot like Franklin Gothic Heavy...

Thud said...

In the age of photoshop its a pleasure to see a real picture.

Peter Ashley said...

And it is real. I've made fishes out of clouds and made pond weed look like somebody's initials, but I can guarantee this number is a true freak of nature.

The Grocer said...

Sadly, these birds continue to be driven from their winter roosts as local authorities and buidling owners create Starling proof environments in order to "keep our cities clean."

bikerted said...

Will it be used for BBC 2 at the beginning of their programmes I wounder.
Good photo.

Toby Savage said...

Amazing shot David/Peter. We feed the birds in the garden and the Starlings always descend like a gang of thugs to clear the lawn of every scrap while the Blackbirds stand around looking perplexed and behaving with impeccable manners.

Ron Combo said...

Starlings. The Somali warlords of your back garden. Sod 'em, I say.

Peter Ashley said...

I suppose you're right Ron. Still, better than those one and half million land crabs that have to cross a Florida motorway to get to the sea.

Jon Dudley said...

So pleased that it's a real shot...I love Photoshop and what it can do, but, you know, all those scrawny necked women (and heavily lined blokes) on magazine covers...the buggers all miraculously get skin like a baby's bum. Their pictures should all be stamped 'PS enhanced' or something, to prepare us for the shock of seeing them in real life - now take that Sophia Loren for example, I'm sure she wouldn't let anyone lay a healing brush tool on her...

Sorry must have been rambling too much over new year. Will now cease.

We get amazing Starling formations over the pier(s) in Brighton. A bit spooky if you ask me and I am inclined towards Ron's analogy. Spectacular nontheless.

Philip Wilkinson said...

I saw a huge whirling flock of starlings doing dusk formation flying over Cheltenham on Christmas Eve, one of the biggest I've seen since leaving London over ten years ago. I was pleased, for once, that a set of traffic lights seemed to be stuck for ever on red, so that I could watch them.

Diplomat said...

shooting starlings as they come into roost is the prefered method of dealing with them when the numbers get out of hand, the little buggers can wipe out a young plantation. I would advise using a loader and rotating three or four guns so as to give 'em a chance to cool off a bit.

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Diplo. I'm sure we're all reassured by that.