In my last post I mentioned going to see the Starlings morning murmuration on the Somerset Levels and I thought I would include a bit of the film footage I shot whilst I was there. Unfortunately it was only filmed on a small digital camera so it certainly isn't professional but I think you will get a feel of the experience.
I have spent many hours researching the murmurations since I took the film and I can honestly say that, whilst some of the starling behaviour seems to be explained, there is still no real understanding of how the starlings manage to navigate their way without crashing into each other. However, in many of the articles I have found reference to an ornithologist called Edmund Selous I have included a link here so you can find out more about him. Selous wrote a book called 'Thought Transference (or what) in Birds" in which he claimed the starlings used a type of telepathy to communicate during the murmuration. I think it helps to remember that Selous was writing in 1931 so his ideas lack real science but he also wrote a book called 'Bird life glimpses'. This book contains extremely vivid descriptions of the birds he was watching which are a joy to read and conjure the most incredible mental images.
"And still they circle; now dense like a polished roof, now disseminated like the meshes of some vast all-heaven-sweeping net, now darkening, now flashing out a million rays of light, wheeling, rending, tearing, darting, crossing, and piercing one another - a madness in the sky".
Edmund Selous (1931)
Although my blog has been quiet over the last few months I have been extremely busy researching and looking at starlings, a pastime that some of you may find questionable but last years Somerset Art Weeks made me realise that there is a huge fascination with these birds which, at the time, I didn’t quite understand but I felt I should look more closely into.
With my usual initial enthusiasum I spent most of last Christmas rising well before dawn to watch the morning murmurations, a good tip from a birdwatcher. Luckily the Starling hotline made finding the starlings much easier that trying to guess where they would land in the evenings.
I have to admit to several failed attempts and a worrying tendancy to wonder what on earth I felt I was doing, however, the morning of 4th January saw me standing in the reed beds at Westhay experiencing the full might of several thousand starlings all whirling around me, I have to admit, in the space of half an hour I was completely hooked and amazed and have spent the last few month trying to unravel the misteries of the murmuration. Here is a small sample of one of the sound recordings (sorry about the buffering on the speaker)
I have read many different articles and studied various papers about the murmuration and I can truly tell you that it remains as much a mystery to me now as it did when I stood in the reed beds but it has led me on a very interesting journey which I will share with you over the next couple of weeks before my exhibition for Somerset Art Weeks at Marcombe Studio
I have finally got over my block over how to draw the voices of the levels and am actually really happy with the results. See what you think;
Since being awarded the Emerging Artist Bursary I now find myself having to update two blogs at a time! I will try to keep the posts different but I did want to share a recent recording I made whilst doing some research. Just click on the red arrow.
I am very excited to tell you that I have been selected as one of the candidates for the Somerset Art Works Emerging Artist Bursary.
I will be developing an animation in response to the theme 'The Levels and Moors' and am
I am now starting my research so will be collecting stories and experiences from members of the public in the area and I will be posting updates on my blog and on the Levels and Moors website.
If you want to find out more or look at the other Artists taking part click here and don't forget to take a look at the link to my work by clicking here
Printing, Drawing, Animation,Teaching and being nosey.
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