Monday, 28 November 2011

Yesterday, we took the kids out to Strumpshaw Fen, an RSPB reserve just outside Norwich. It was a perfect bright and chilly autumn afternoon, and we took the wellies so that we could walk the nature trails. It was great to be in such a beautiful part of Norfolk, and the girls borrowed binoculars so that they could spot some of the birds – though the one bird we identified, high in a tree, turned out to be a fieldfare rather than a robin. Luckily the other birdwatchers were very kind to a bunch of novices like ourselves.

The best bit though was just as we were heading back to the car – the sight of hundreds and hundreds of starlings flocking to the reedbeds; wave after wave, swooping and diving like shoals of aerial fish over the flat, watercolour landscape, before disappearing into the nodding reeds. As the numbers grew, so did the noise, until you could hear the tweeting and twittering loud in the gathering dusk. It was an incredible moment.

Starlings don’t add to our GDP, they don’t contribute to “growth”, they aren’t subject to austerity measures; we can’t use them for anything. By the common, flawed, measures that society places on such things, they had no value.

But yesterday afternoon, standing in the cold, with a wriggling child sitting on my shoulders, watching the drifts of birds in the open sky, I was reminded just how important these wild places are, how important it is to save these places, the landscapes and the creatures that live in them. It’s a measure of how civilised a society is that there should be things that we don’t use, we can’t use, and should never use in any sense of the word.

Starlings enrich all of us.


1 comment:

  1. I saw a flock of starlings near the Hen Reedbeds on the road to Southwold a few weeks ago, Jon, doing just what you write about here. There was a whole crowd of people gazing transfixed into the sky at them.

    And I love the way in towns they chatter away on the tv aerials and come right up to you for crumbs of bread by the seaside.

    That's when you can see the flashes of emerald in their feathers. Amazing birds.

    Really nice post btw.