Why does the Blackbird swing?

01. JenJen IMG_4797I ENJOY SHOOTING BIRDS; no, not that type!… well actually yes that type too. Come to think of it, and I know it’s not PC (not to mention also a bit off topic) but I’m sure this deep down desire has something to do with “birds” being the longtime legitimate slangterm in the UK for “women”

[Ahem] but that’s another topic for another day I guess. What I’m referring to here, are the large variety of feathered winged-creatures, that effortlessly take to the skies at any given moment.

When I was small, birds always used to fascinate me, and I couldn’t resist trying to catch them. A group of pigeons or something would be waddling around in the park, 02. pigeons IMG_0621doing their thang; as they do; scratching and pecking at crumbs on the ground, you know, usual pigeon stuff… and I, being me, would try to sneak up on them.

It’s an ultramagnetic attraction in most small children under 10, you understand. Try as I might, I could never catch one… as you would suspect.

There used to be a cartoon series on tv back in the 1970’s, called: “Catch The Pigeon” or something… where the aim of the show was, you guessed it, catching a carrier pigeon that carried important information in a time of National Security.  No matter what the main characters: Dick Dastardly and his side-kick-dog Muttley, attempted to do, they could never catch that blasted bird! The pigeon would fly through traps, fire, around obstacles, and, to top it off, pull sarcastic faces at them as it flew off into the sunset… 08. flock pigeons IMG_0585and as a result, I guess I developed a deep-seated empathy for poor Dastardly and crew.

I always failed in my many attempts to bag me one; Suffice to say, it never stopped me from trying again and again, and what that show taught me, was not only to expect failure, but how to deal with that failure.  Kee Kee Kee!… [colourful Muttley snigger]

What I also learned from young, is that birds of a feather really do stick together, and specific types of bird have specific characteristics.  I found I could get closer to some groups than others, e.g. Pigeons. Pigeons will eat almost anything, and I quickly realised that I stood a good chance of getting right up alongside them if I fed them.

Crows of the other hand, are shy, aloof, and untrusting. 03. Crow IMG_4927They will take-to-the-sky, on the natural high, if disturbed from as far off as one hundred paces, if they perceive you have an unhealthy interest in their movements. Not that anyone would be trying to get closer to those huge JetBlak [Ahem] crows, especially after all the years of bad press they’ve received in the wake of famous blockbuster movies like Hitcock’s: The Birds, and satanic horror flicks like Richard Donners: The Omen. [any similarities to particular groups of people, living or dead is entirely intentional… #BlackBirdsLivesMatter]

Seagulls on the other-hand had an entirely different rap; completely opposite to Crows (even though they featured in the Birds movie too).  Beautiful, white gleaming outstretched wings, soaring high above, and accompanied by carefree high-pitched calls that seem to carry on the warm breeze… 04. gulls_MG_5142Everything seems to stop when seagulls appear, and even adults would look up smiling to themselves, and point them out to children who were waaay too busy playing with marbles on the drain-hole covers or whatever… [no internet back then]

As I grew up in the 1980’s my view of gulls changed significantly and dramatically when, one day at the seaside, I realised that they had a notorious reputation for being master ice-cream cone thieves… Seaside Gulls were known to  target an unsuspecting individual, then swoop down from on high, usually from behind, and grab that cone right out of your hand: Sky-way robbery at it’s best!  05. gull scrap_MG_4335

Not only that, but Gulls seem to like rubbing salt into the open wound, by then aerial-target-crapping the hell out of their bemused victims afterwards… Somehow these crimes tended to get painted as misdemeanours by the mainstream media, so it hasn’t dented the Seagulls gleamingly likeable persona [Hmmm].

Maybe this is partly the reason why I like to shoot birds; it’s the next best thing to being able to get close to them, and ultimately catch them, and in doing so, quench an innate desire… Whenever I have a bird in my viewfinder, as I’m about to press that shutter, in the back of my mind there’s a little voice that says: This one’s for Dastardly and Muttley!… As for shooting the other type of birds, i.e. women? well… [Ahem] need I say more?


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