Friday, October 26, 2012

A murmuration of starlings

Murmuration:  No one knows why they do it.

Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above England and Scotland. 

The birds gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winters frigid bite.   

Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. 

The starlings' murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence, which in different contexts is practised by schools of fish, swarms of bees and colonies of ants.  

As far as we are aware, even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ aerobatics, which rely on the tiny birds' quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock.    

Despite their tour de force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a decline in suitable nesting sites. 

The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after their evening ballet.  

Starlings are part of the British scene and like many others are often taken for granted

We do this at our peril

Without attention many aspects of British life have already disappeared

Many areas of nature have simply gone.

Now we are confronted by a disease that is attacking our ash trees

Ash trees are to be found throughout the British isles.

Millions of them.

It is said we may lose up to eighty percent of them

This disease has already devastated Denmark and now it has arrived on these shores.

Like our starlings we take so many things for granted

Time to pay more attention to the beauty around us

To appreciate it every day

Too late when they have gone

Slow down and appreciate what is truly an amazing world

Find the beauty every day around you.

Appreciate it.

Unlike so much of modern life nature gives us truly amazing sights.

Like a murmuration of starlings for example.

Have you ever seen a murmuration or were you too busy in the Mall?

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