Charming Blooming Murmurations

It was a lovely morning before the rains set in. The hillsides definitely looked like they could do with some rain. The parched Earth still looked beautiful in the early rays of the sun. We saw a hawk at such close quarters eyeing a trip of rabbits down below that I felt a surge of its power course through the hills.

We were out on a hike and the son was ebullient. The morning air had lifted his spirits, and he was happily talking of this and that and taking us up steep hillsides.

On we went, through troughs and peaks, listening for the sounds of animals, birds and inhaling the fresh air. On top of one of the peaks, we stopped to catch a breath. I mock held my hips and said “Oh have a heart and give your old mother a break!” He guffawed and pointed out the next steep hill with gusto. I smiled, and held a finger to my lips – it was as we were standing there atop a hill overlooking a bay that we heard the murmur above. A susurration of starlings flying this way and that, forming and reforming beautiful circles in the sky.

A group of starlings are aptly called a Murmuration of Starlings.

I don’t know how often we have stood close enough to hear a whole flock of birds wings flock together – if you haven’t, it is truly magical.

A few days later, we were heading to Monterey Bay Aquarium? After tucking into their mac-n-cheese, which is apparently the best, we meandered our way through the place. Marine biology, research, conversation of species and all the noble things follow a splendid Mac N Cheese. The clouds were out gamboling in the blue skies. They had reason to. They had been grey and full of themselves for the past few days, They had made terrible whooshing noises as the rains thundered through the Bay Area. Having taken their load off though, they looked lovely in the skies.

“Hey amma! Do you see that one? Just the top of it looks like a dog!”
“Whoops! Now it is changing shapes to become a shark!”

Watching a billow of clouds is always a magical experience.

Later that day in Monterey Bay Aquarium, Nature showed us beautiful species of fish that could collectively shoal and swarm forming beautiful shapes as they swam in large numbers together.

Clip from Wiki:
During the sardine run, as many as 18,000 dolphins, behaving like sheepdogs, herd the sardines into bait balls, or corral them in shallow water. Once rounded up, the dolphins and other predators take turns ploughing through the bait balls, gorging on the fish as they sweep through. Seabirds also attack them from above, flocks of gannets, cormorants, terns and gulls.

Sardines
By TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) – sardines / 鰯(いわし), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7998525

A bloom of jellyfish is enough to fill one’s heart with joy for hours – floating seemingly aimlessly, their pulsing, electrifying bursts are nothing but therapeutic.

img_5165

A Charm of Goldfinches by Matt Sewell is a marvelous book outlining why we have the collective nouns that we do. Why do a Trip of Rabbits thrill us? Why are Charms of Goldfinches so charming?

With beautiful illustrations, it is a charming book indeed.

charm_goldfinches

I remembered a game we played on a car trip some time ago. It had to do with the one big super power we could wish for. While there were things like Lightning Blasters, I think the one that took everyone’s fancy that day was Shape Shifters.

We are so corporeal in our bodies that we rarely of even think of things we can shift into. But this kind of species shifting shapes at will collectively and in a coordinated manner is not just fascinating, it is mesmerizing.

Watching clans of humans though, not so much!

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