There is no finer sight at this time of the year to my mind than a murmuration of starlings, the great black cloud of birds flying in formation, swirling and diving against the backdrop of a greying sky and the skeletal leafless trees. Who needs the Red Arrows when you have nature’s own formation flyers on your doorstep?
Samuel Coleridge shared my fascination for these murmurations – “starlings on a vast flight drove along like smoke, mist, or anything misty without volition – now in a circular area inclined in an Arc – now a Globe – now from complete Orb into an Elipse and Oblong …”
Sadly, though, those under the flight path of the starlings and, more importantly, near where they roost take a different view, particularly the Romans who have decided to take action against the migrating starlings in their trees. The problem, you see, is shit – the starling droppings are so thick on the streets that they are causing an ‘Elf and Safety issue.
The beleaguered authorities are to deploy five Texan falcons to scare the starlings away but it is hard to think what they could do against so many birds. If nothing else, the Romans will see many more murmurations as the formations they adopt are a defence mechanism against predators.
An alternative approach to the problem is to play recordings of starling distress calls over a loudspeaker system. The implementation of this solution has been delayed because companies are still submitting their bids for the contract.
Mamma mia, why don’t they forsake their Prada shoes for once and enjoy nature?