Thursday, 30 October 2014

Murmuring about murmurations and chocolate dogs

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I was watching the news tonight and apparently there is a study going on about murmurations of Starlings? Now I know that this is a captivating sight, particularly if you haven't seen it before - but why is it that this has suddenly become a must-do wonder of the world? Starlings have been doing this for years and I can actually remember quite clearly the first time that I saw this event one winter afternoon at Chew Valley Lake in the early eighties.
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Now don't get me wrong, this is not Chaz being grumpy for the sake of it or even trying to be controversial, I am not criticising anyone who goes out the way to see this spectacle (I would rather criticise those without a sense of wonder who can't be bothered) and yes, I am probably a bit jaded about it personally but what fascinates me is why all of a sudden, this wonder of nature seems to be up there with the Northern Lights or tornadoes as something that is cool to go and look at. I know that if I had gone into raptures about it in the past I would have been treated as being even more demented than usual. Its this mechanism which suddenly makes things COOL that fascinates me (those who know me well might be surprised to know that despite my appearance I have never 'got' fashion - I combed my hair once and nobody noticed so I never bothered again).
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On a similar issue, I bumped into one of the regulars (Hi Jan) over the marsh today and we had a chat while waiting for the Chiffchaff to put in an appearance and I asked this question:
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"Am I mistaken or did I manage to go through the first fifty-odd years of my life without ever seeing a Chocolate Brown Labrador?"
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Where have all these dogs come from? Every time I turn around these days there is someone walking a Chocolate Brown Labrador - again, don't get me wrong, they are lovely (anyone who has bumped into me while walking their dogs will tell you that I regularly time-share other peoples mutts and there is a lovely Chocolate Brown Labrador living a few doors down - Hi Lady - which I am always pleased to see) but who decided that Chocolate Brown Labradors are 'In' (if being 'In' is still 'In')?
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There was once an episode of Summer Wine where Compo Simonite decides that he wants to fly a kite and says that one morning everyone would suddenly know that it was Kite Flying Season (or marbles Season). There is even a parallel in Nature, the principle of morphogenesis. There is actual scientific debate about the way that within a few years of the first Blue Tits being seen to peck through the lids of Milk bottles, it was suddenly being discovered all around Britain. How did they know? Are peoples responses to Starlings and brown Labradors the result of a similar process or am I just being 'more demented than usual' (answers on a postcard please)?
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Yes, I really have got too much time on my hands at the moment. Anyway, if anyone wishes to experience a modest murmuration and participate in the study I have been told that there is one occasionally taking place late afternoon over the Clayhanger Sewage Farm. You won't be surprised to know that I haven't seen it for myself, but if it becomes reasonably substantial I may go along and have a gawp myself (just to prove that I'm not 'THAT' jaded) - Chaz