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Hengistbury Starlings

Author: joe

Wednesday, 24 September, 2008 - 20:21

The starlings - two or three hundred, I'd guess - gathered on a patch of bare scrub and bush, by a fence on which some gather in a line, others adorn the tips of the bare brush branch, and some disappear against the indistinct green of the gorse and bracken. They catch song from each other and the sound spreads and scatters in quick waves through the throng. In amongst the sounds are odd fragments that seem not to belong, but the whole seems to liquify into a seamless wave of unison.

First gargling and burbling like a bubbling up - a stream of warbles, weaving among the mass. Or sometimes a jagged hack which blisters and catches across the swarm, gunpowdered and contagious. Then the swooping whistle, low and dipping, and rising to a piercing sweep at the highest point, veering round the flock in waves, domino-ing through the bird bodies, the whole a shimmering pool of speckled heartbeats, merging into one, scattered on the bush, shrub and brush.

And then a dog - or me, or some whistling walker - shocks the air and they fall quiet, the silence catching like fear, or the chill that spreads down the down of the neck. Some reckless one or two ignore the soundless instinct of the crowd and sing on regardless, and quickly the majority fail to resist the temptation, assent to the invitation, and the song glistens around the congregation again. So on they bicker and loop, until sudden and arbitrary, they explode into the air and go, reckless and random, elsewhere.

Categories: bird, song, sound, starling, hengistbury, head, wave, nature,
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