Travel theme: Delicate

If we are lucky, around this time of year we expect to see starlings gather and form swirling, ever-changing, delicate patterns in the evening sky.  Our local birds are joined by visitors from far away places such that the murmurations swell and swell as the days progress towards deepest winter; then suddenly they are gone.

They may form delicate patterns in the sky but they are far from delicate in their habits and taste; they know how to leave their mark below. The magnificent Birds Britannica quotes from a letter to The Times describing ‘rows of starlings at 9d each’ on the wartime shelves of one of London’s most famous stores.  And then, ‘tins of starling Pâté stacked high at Marseilles airport tempted me to sample this French product. I still recall the flavour, for which a taste must only be acquired after many years of subjecting the palate to torture’.

Why does this remind me of Monty Python…..

MurmurationMurmuration(click on the images to enlarge)


  1. harrienijland · November 5, 2013

    Great shots; from the atmosphere at first I thought it would be crows.

    • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

      Many thanks – we get a lot of those too but they (and Rooks) are permanent (and noisy) residents.

  2. Tish Farrell · November 5, 2013

    Wonderful shots. Though now I’m thinking of it, they’re also reminding me of sinister corvids. As a one-time Cheshire lad did you read Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen and the spooky Morth Brood over Alderley Edge?

    • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

      Thanks Tish and yes, I did. I actually preferred those stories to Tolkien – within cycling distance of home I knew the area around the Edge quite well so Alan Garner always seemed much more relevant.

  3. suej · November 5, 2013

    Alan Garner – takes me back! I liked Elidor, when I read it many yonks ago….then more recently, I got quite caught up in Thursbitch. And there’s an old ditty in there about a carrion crow…

    • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

      Me too Sue, but I am not going to admit how far 🙂

      • suej · November 5, 2013

        😀 😀 but I have a shrewd idea… I’ve just ordered Boneland from the library, be interesting to see what I make of it (it’s had some very mixed reviews)

  4. mark · November 5, 2013

    Great shots, very atmospheric. We don’t seem to get those displays up here, must be too cold. Another thing we don’t get is magpies and I love magpies, I miss them so much…. Any chance you could pop a couple in the post, cheers.

    • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

      Thanks Mark – none here at the moment but I think Yohan Cabaye should be available come January 🙂

  5. meticulousmick · November 5, 2013

    I just love a good murmuration and the flowing patterns they can cause. Look forward to seeing the video 😉 MM 🍀

    • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

      These were taken in 2011 – they didn’t show up in 2012 so hopefully they will be back this year – I will be sure to get some video if they do.

      • meticulousmick · November 5, 2013

        Some English tourists on Lough Derg caught a great murmuration a couple of years back that went viral…

      • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

        I remember it well – not sure I can match that 🙂

  6. LaVagabonde · November 5, 2013

    Absolutely beautiful shots, as always.

    • northumbrianlight · November 5, 2013

      Thanks for the generous comment Julie – it is ironic really – I invest in a high quality Nikon DSLR & lenses then hack the images to death with OnOne, Photoshop and added textures 🙂

  7. spinningwheels · November 5, 2013

    An amazing spectacle that I am yet to see in real life. Very atmospheric photos….almost has a hammer house of horror feel to it!!

  8. islandrain2013 · November 5, 2013

    A great shot, and the rhythms of this life whether sinister or naught always contain enough room for each soul to expand itself. Thanks.

  9. mybeautfulthings · November 5, 2013

    Fabulous! I remember a holiday we had up near Bamburgh Castle when we saw the starlings and were amazed. Have you been watching Autumn watch?

    • northumbrianlight · November 6, 2013

      Thanks, Bamburgh would have been a great setting to see such a display. I have missed Autumn Watch so far – mostly because I find Chris Packham vaguely irritating – but that’s just me doing my Victor Meldrew impression 🙂

  10. Malin H · November 6, 2013

    Wonderful images, Robin!!

  11. dianaed2013 · November 6, 2013

    Amazing capture

    • northumbrianlight · November 6, 2013

      Many thanks – I took a lot more that were much less amazing 🙂

  12. Meanderer · November 7, 2013

    Beautiful images. What a wondrous sight.

    • northumbrianlight · November 8, 2013

      Many thanks, It is a wondeful sight – there are some spectacular videos on youtube which make our local gatherings look a little sparse.

      • Meanderer · November 9, 2013

        Ah, but – there can be nothing like seeing the real thing! Also, there is definitely a heart-shape to the formation in your second image 😉

  13. sustainabilitea · November 7, 2013

    Those photo remind me of pictures of the bats flying out of some of the caverns in the west, an amazing sight.


    • northumbrianlight · November 8, 2013

      Thanks Janet – I find bats a little more spooky than starlings – I will stick with the birds 🙂

  14. Mélanie · November 9, 2013

    I love and I miss the Monty Pythons! 🙂 Thanx for dropping by my crossroad, tons of inspiration and my very best… sunny greetings from Toulouse, France! 🙂 Mélanie

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