October is traditionally the start of the season for observing starling murmurations, where the birds can be seen in their thousands performing mesmerising aerial displays in the early evening.
It’s been a while, however, since Bristol witnessed a murmuration due to habitat loss.
Over the summer, residents of all ages from Henleaze, Stoke Bishop and Westbury-on-Trym have been working with artist Zoë Cameron to create their own clay bird, and have learned more about the dramatic decline in the starling population in the process.
Zoë said: “We’ve got a wonderful array of birds – some green finches have winged their way into the flock, and there are some very exotic-looking starlings.
“Many people have never used clay before and it’s been a very therapeutic process for them. I’m delighted that so many people have been part of this stunning artwork. All birds have been numbered and will be returned to their creators at the project’s end, to rest and roost.”
The creative process has been a great way to convey information on the challenges facing starlings and has led to debate about changes in farming practices and loss of garden due to insecticides, decking and paving.
Zoë has been encouraging participants to put out mealworms and wash their bird-feeders, and has highlighted the importance of lawns for feeding.
Free public workshops were held in community spaces, parks, pub gardens, churches, old people’s homes and libraries. The response from community leaders and participants has been overwhelmingly positive.
Councillor for Stoke Bishop, Peter Abraham said: “The murmuration is unique and a first on Bristol Downs and has involved lots of local residents, young and old. The artist and organisers are to be congratulated. I urge you to make every effort to visit. Art breaking the boundaries on your doorstep – it does not get better than that.”
A Bristol Murmuration can be viewed from 17 – 25 October, from dawn till dusk. A bird-hide manned by volunteer ‘twitchers’ will provide information on the project and loan out binoculars for individual bird spotting.