Sunday 30 May 2010


The latest picture. Starlings in November. Seems quite apposite, after the flurry of internetting and agitpropping yesterday.


  1. I always think of the Pam Ayers poem when I see starlings. Yours look very noisy. I love the background, very November, a cold night ahead.

  2. Bracelets of the goddess, it's a masterpice, Dru! What a smoldering red.

    This year I finally got a handle on telling starlings and grackles apart, which squawk together: those straight yellow bills (about the only "frills") on starlings.

    Now to read some more of Pam's poems (thanks, Anji)!

  3. I hadn't seen that poem, Anji. It reminds me a little of a friend's poem, which goes like this:

    I am a king-sized cigarette
    I come in packs of twenty.
    People smoke us to the end
    Until the pack is empty.

    I like to be a cigarette;
    It's fun with all the others.
    Them two there's me mum and dad,
    The rest of them's me brothers.

    (Gareth James)

    ...well, you know...

    Thank you, Larry. It's esier for us, because we don't have grackles here. Great name, though, grackle. Soundss a bit mythical...

  4. Grackle sounds like it should be flying around in Noggin the Nog.

    Well I suppose even cigarettes have rights to a family life.

  5. I was thinking - what does that remind me of - what is it? A nursery full of toddlers? A PSA meeting?... than I got it:

    I really like this picture, Dru. Hilarious and invigorating.


  6. My dictionary says that the Latin root "graculus" refers to the jackdaw, which we don't have, but we have some good mimics.
    Our New World grackles are said to be not as clear as mockingbirds but pretty good at sounding like other birds---and they at least rhyme with draculs. Perhaps because the "graculi" sounded Greek to some quizzicals among the Romans. It's not uncommon for folks to confuse the female grackle ("gracula"?) especially with starlings but the king-sized males show more obvious distinctives to the attentive observer. Being New World, they lack the attribute of a distinctive archaic collective noun, but guess that just gives a murmuration of starlings something more to murmur about, and grackles to mimic.

  7. A parliament of fowles, Federay!

    I thought Noggin, too, when Larry mentioned grackles, Anji... and rightly so, as it turns out.

    There's a bird called Graculus in Noggin the Nog, Larry; an animation that we grew up with. A bit of a classic. By the way, I see that several birds have got 'graculus' in their names, including the cormorant and the chough, whose welsh name I recently learned... bran goesgoch (red-footed crow) which sounds nice so I thought I'd throw it in.

  8. I've actually enjoyed a few episodes of Noggin a year or so ago, thanks to someone's blogging about it. Didn't remember that dark bird's name, but grokked the connection.

    Phalacrocorax? Close enough, and we have them visit the river here. We don't see choughs, or mind if Shakespeare calls them jackdaws ("Kafka" in Czech), but choughs come closer to grackles though grackles sound more like their blackbird relatives and lack the red bill and toned-down iridescence of Pyrrhocorax. Funny that the Cornish and others hung the label on the bill and the Welsh on the foot. Who foots the bill? Arthur, with another version of the Phoenix.

    I long ago heard the Alpine chough in Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux where it's called Le chocard des alpes. Bran goesgoch looks great and would be a no-brainer to a Welshman, but I can only guess how goesgoch goes. "Brown sugar"?

  9. Thank you- I've been listening to Messiaen. I hadn't hird his bird stuff. I'll mention it to Geraldine, who is v interested in bird song. Well, I am too, but you know.
    Goesgoch pronunciation is like this: goice, and goch like 'got' but with a germanic sort of 'ch' as in 'ach' at the end

  10. Thanks for the Welsh lesson! Somewhere I still have that old French box-set of Messiaen's wife Yvonne Loriod playing the complete Catalogue; now I see, browsing The Olivier Messiaen Page online, that she died this May 17, at 86.

    Other Messiaen discs were sold with most of my vinyl collection when I left NY, including Boulez conducting a concert premiering the orchestral Oiseaux exotiques. The link below also offers sample comparisons of M's birdsongs with field recordings he used.