Archive for magpies

A Witness to a Murder

Posted in HOME, OUT AND ABOUT MANCHESTER with tags , , on May 18, 2010 by echostains

A puzzle for Sherlock Holmes

This post is not about art.   It is about a very odd experience I had the other week.  I think I was a witness to a murder.  Where I work has extensive private grounds.   At the back of the building is a huge lawn.  The time was between 9 and 10 PM and I was attending to some paperwork when I got up to have a bit of a stretch, and happened to glance out of the window.

Outside I saw the most amazing spectacle – the entire lawn was covered in Magpies!  I have never seen so many Magpies in one place at the same time.  At first I thought that they could have been mating, but when I looked more closely they seemed to be in little groups: scuffles were breaking out here and there.

Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' film 1963

They would run together in packs quickly away from their agressors or take  flight.  It was obvious they were in small teams the way they kept togeher when they ran or flew in formation.  I watched this for some time.  They mostly walked, talked chased and one would peck at another.  After a while, I got back to what I was doing.  But when I looked again about half an hour later, the lawn was bare!  I could have kicked myself afterwards – why didn’t I get a picture on my phone?  I don’t know –  it just didn’t occur to me.  I suppose I was just too puzzled and stunned by the spectacle and by the time that it did – they had all disappeared.  Another strange thing was that there were no dead bodies behind, not a scrap of evidence!

I have combed the internet trying to throw some light on this and the nearest I can come up with is that this meeting was territorial – a kind of ‘turf’ war:).  If so, I don’t know who won.  The only thing I know is that it is one of the oddest things I have ever seen, and I do know that among other collective nouns, ‘A murder’ of  Magpies is what I witnessed!

Magpie pic from here, fablulous Sherlock Holmes image here, The Birds here