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Monday, 3 April 2017

Setting Off the Dawn Chorus

Among today's hazards is that people can film you almost anywhere and anywhen.   This was one such example from Network Rail as we were heading south on the 0550 from Carlisle last Friday - the very definite first service train across the S&C for 15 months.

Sound on:

In and among a lot of serious but boring stuff I threw in that little cameo.   Blow me, they Tweeted it.

What's done is done but I did know what I was talking about.   I am well used to the sleepy sounds of birds waking up en-masse from my very early police days in the middle of Bradford.   It was a city centre plagued by starlings which roosted on the ornate ledges and architectural frills bequeathed by the Victorians on its grand buildings.   The birds made a dreadful mess of things.

The city fathers tried all sorts * to deter them from roosting in Bradford, most spectacularly with a searchlight on an old fire engine which trundled round at night in a futile attempt to disturb the birds' sleep.   The birds simply slept through it until it was time to wake up, when they would start up a lazy dawn chorus which rose in volume as more joined in.

When the fire engine and its search light had given up it soon became sport on boring nights for patrolling policemen like me to shine our torches at the birds just before dawn in an effort to wake them.   When it worked it was a humbling thing to see, hear and experience.   'Your' target ledge stirred and broke into grudging song which soon spread to the entire city centre.  One result is that you got to sense the subtle difference between the song of a sleepy bird waking up compared with the fully awake chorus.

I had not heard that since those days in 1960s Bradford city centre - until I opened a train door at Lazonby and Kirkoswald station.

*  nothing worked, of course.   The real or imagined problem was far too big.   Regrettably, the nuclear option was invoked - knock down the old buildings and build new ones without ledges and ornamentation.   Some of the old buildings survived to see the demolition of those 1960s abominations.

Starlings having the last laugh

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