Starlings

Starlings – that familiar sight in our childhood gardens, always making one smile, you just have to love them for all their daring, fearless argumentative ways.  They are cheeky, gregarious, raucous and noisy but they stick together, look out for one another.  You will rarely see one alone unless he is sitting atop a chimney in full whistling, chirping display, head up, throat feathered and wings held out catching the sunlight in a myriad of purples, greens, blacks and blues.  Together they march across your lawn like a troop of cockney pearly kings and queens dressed in their best dark suits studded with pearl buttons ready for a carnival parade.  In winter they gather in huge flocks, a murmuration of  black silhouetted birds gathering together to twirl and separate and gather again flocking in their thousands, they stay close, each tagging the other, watching his neighbours back, keeping close, swirling in close formation cutting and reforming, creating clouds and shapes against the evening sky, where one goes the next one goes, closed ranks of comrades each marking the other, forever on the lookout for danger or predators, safety in numbers, before funnelling down to an unseen roost.  To see this is to see one of nature’s most spectacular creations, you catch your breath, you hold your breath, you sigh.  Whilst watching a film of such a murmeration, remembering an evening standing near a railway line on the edge of a town where we did just this, it occurred to me once again just how healing nature can be. It seems that as you watch your thoughts can fly with these birds, swirling and dipping, causing you to catch your breath, as if the very birds are collecting your thoughts, sifting out the negatives and swirling them away, sucking them away until they are tiny black dots that join together before being funnelled down to disappear into the darkness until you realise they have gone, slipped away and you have been holding your breath and you gasp and sigh and cannot help but feel uplifted, almost rejuvenated and definitely privileged at having shared the moment as one of nature’s spectacles unfold. 

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