Monday, December 22, 2008


Yesterday's Glasgow Herald had a great extract from Janice Galloway's memoir "This is not about me". It dealt with travelling up from Ayrshire by train as a child to see Glasgow's Christmas lights and the article was teamed up with stunning black and white shots of the period from the Herald's own archive. Galloway's almost exactly my age and I too was raised, for part of my life, in the west, so her piece really spoke to me.

But the thing that caught her imagination, as a young girl of about six seeing the city for the first time, was not the gaudy lights, but the wonderful mass flight of the city's starling population, as they wheeled across the skyline to their evening roost. (Edwin Morgan has also written about this beautifully in his poem George Square.)

Sadly due to the decline in these birds and the work done to stop all feral birds roosting on city buildings this is a sight one no longer sees.

I read the piece over lunch and then we went off to Edinburgh to do some last minute shopping that I've been putting off simply because I hate doing it.

Luckily my husband was driving, for what did I see on the way home, away across the fields and towards a scrubby bit of wood and a small farm? That's right a massive cloud of starlings.I even caught the moment when they finally swooshed down as one into the trees.

It's a sight I've not seen in years and yet there it was before my very eyes on the very day I'd been reading about. And, just like wee Janice, it was the best bit of my day too.

I pulled this shot off the net, as sadly I didn't have a camera on me. But it was pretty much like this, with the final swoosh like iron filings responding to a magnet.


Blogger BarbaraS said...

Starlings are magic to see when they flock like that. I've heard extracts from J. Galloway's memoir and been very impressed with it: it got a rave review from Carlo Gebler too, can't remember where tho'

4:49 pm  
Blogger Colin Will said...

I srudied librarianship in Glasgow in 1964-65, and I remember the starlings then. They used to roost in the old Bellevue Hotel ruin in Dunbar too, before they pulled that down.

dusk – a ball of birds
wheels around the ruin
of the old hotel

11:50 pm  
Blogger PI said...

That could be your best Christmas present. At risk of repeating myself - have a great Christmas and a happy healthy 2009. Don't work too hard - get the men to share:)

10:00 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks all. I hope you all have a lovely time.

Colin that's a great haiku. The loss of the Bellevue has relly changed the town skyline.

I have my FIL coming too, who isn't too well, so I'll be surrounded by men, plus lots more outlaws on Boxing Day.

10:07 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:07 am  
Blogger Kay said...

At first I couldn't make out what the photo was of, but after reading your post could see it all clearly. Amazing!!! Lucky you.

1:44 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Yes Kay it really needs video doesn't it?

It was a lovely sight, I can never understand how birds and fish can move as one like that

2:04 pm  

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