Feasting and Flocking

It’s the time of year when starlings return to our consciousness. For most of the year these medium sized black birds escape our notice but Autumn is when starlings come into their own.

For the last week there have been guzzling hoards of these Viking marauders in the pear tree across the road from where I live. Going sucrose happy on the fermenting fruit, cackling like crazy at the sudden alcohol induced hilarity of each other. “ha, ha ,ha,” they seems to yell. “look at the spots on your feathers.”

Up among the hairy forest of TV aerials a coded language of clicks and whistles is sung. A language that, as a child, I tried to copy, thinking I could woo the singers to me.

Swirling gangs spiralling over the motorway distract me, making me momentarily forget I’m doing 70 down the slip road, making me want to turn round and head south down to Brighton where their murmurations over the sea are legendary.

But it is a serious business, this flocking and feasting. It is the business of approaching winter. The instinct to band together and fuel. Forget the joys of sex and eggs and become health consciousness, take your vitamins, think of the lean times ahead and the coming of the killer cold.

Sensible, serious advice, which I too should follow. But, ah, to hell with it, while there is light in the sky I will enjoy the season for what it is and revel in the drunken squabbles in the pear tree and the soul uplifting flight of the gangs above the road.


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