Saturday, March 1, 2008


This is a wonderful film clip, from Dylan Winter, a professional documentary maker, capturing the quite remarkable behaviour of flocking starlings. I grew up watching these birds flying around the fields and trees in southern England. It's hard to describe just how they manage to twist and turn seemingly completely synchronized with each other, but this video does a great job of capturing the grace and beauty of these birds. As day turns to night, the way they fly in co-ordinated waves, folds and ripples is like nothing else I've seen, making them seem more like some kind of computer animation that a group of individual birds exhibiting instinctual behaviour.

Watching the display again quite makes me feel almost home sick. In Brighton, starlings would swarm back into the trees around the Royal Pavilion as well as to the remains of the old West Pier. I can still almost hear their screeching calls at dusk, though thankfully I can't smell what I remember as being the results of several hundred birds all roosting in one place! Locals knew not to park their cars under those trees opposite the Theatre Royal when they were in full cry, but visitors didn't .... turns out starling guano is particularly corrosive to the paint finish on cars!

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