written and posted by members of Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Society

Saturday, 9 May 2015


Patterns - yes, okay. Let's avoid psephology, holes in the cosmos, the psychological profiling of football club chairmen and male pattern baldness.

I give you the Starling, one of my favourite birds. Not only is it beautifully patterned (look closely to notice the fantastic combination of  purples and greens overlaid with striking white spots that give it an iridescence), it's also a great mimic (car alarms and mobile phone tunes a speciality).

Most amazing of all is it's habit of murmuration at dusk, when hundreds of thousands and sometimes over a million starlings cluster together to put on the most breath-taking of formation flying displays. The patterns they create are truly astonishing. A murmuration has to be seen to be believed. The photograph below of such a display doesn't do it justice. You have to be there live and in 3D to get the full awesomeness of what these little birds serve up. Clever starlings. They are much-maligned for being noisy and dirty but I think they are wonderful. Mozart kept one as a pet. Debate over.

Blackpool Murmuration

This week's poem is freshly-written (ink still drying even now). I hope you like it.

Skyful Of Starlings
As light begins to drain at fade of day,
early arrivals for the main event
settle noisily on telephone wires,
the empty cages of a ferris wheel
and every eave that offers roosting space.
A rowdy flash crowd is gathering
for their special aerial display,
each individual an irridescent sheen
of violet and emerald green
with striking spotwork
scintillating in the slanting sun.

Hundreds become thousands upon thousands
as flocks pour in dense as locust swarms
from all points of the compass.
Finally, with no surface left on which to perch,
as if a critical mass is reached,
in chain-reaction all the resting birds peel off into the air
to join formation with the feathery throng
surely a million strong (if one could count)
already twisting in a smoke-like cloud
across the darkening sky.

This is a murmuration,
one of the wonders of the avian world,
a sodality of starlings
shoal-like in pulsating, gyroscopic dance.
They twist, they turn, they swoop as one
with consummately choreographed aplomb,
throwing fantastic shapes against the sky,
sometimes so dense they blot the sun,
at others fragmenting into skeins pulled thin
only to morph and coalesce again
in beautiful, breath-taking flypast.

They cast their spell as long as light remains,
then with one final spiral flourish
drop like unstuck pixels
out of sight.
Thanks for reading. Have a good week, S :-)


Anonymous said...

Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Where can I read more?

Anonymous said...

What a terrific piece of writing - so descriptive.

Anonymous said...

I have seen these murmurations over the sea at Blackpool. They are breath-taking and your lovely poem does them justice. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Footage on TV last night of a starling murmuration at Leighton Moss. The report said the starling population has fallen by 70% in the last few decades. That's worrying.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful poem.

Anonymous said...

Breath-taking Steve. I love this.

Anonymous said...

Skyful Of Starlings was a joy to read.

Rochelle said...

Fabulous - and the murmuring season is upon us again.

Anonymous said...

I just love this poem.

Cynthia said...


Harry Lennon said...

Steve, I'm dipping into your 'back catalogue' having only recently discovered your blogs and I was really taken with this, an excellent poem.

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant, well-written and with great photos. I love that Mozart had a pet starling.