Caught by the River

The Bird Effect Diaries

Ceri Levy | 26th October 2009

The diary of the making of a film. and an on going fascination with birds and their accompanying cast of human characters. By Ceri Levy. Previous entries can be read by clicking here.

September 6th

A moment of reflection. My job as a documentary maker is to pass on messages from the people I meet.

September 10th

I have been invited to take part at a symposium at Oxford University in December entitled Birds, Culture and Conservation. A lot of adults will be going and they have asked me to talk about TBE. I phoned to check they had invited the right person and apparently they have! Who would have thought it, me a grown up.

September 15th

I am off to meet Martin Noble from British Sea Power tomorrow. We’re going to have a look round RSPB Pulborough and then on to Brighton for dusk and hopefully a view of the starlings creating shapes down on the front.

Book of the Month.


Birdscapes – Birds in Our Imagination and Experience by Jeremy Mynott.

This is one of the most enlightening and cerebral books about birds and their interaction with people, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Simply walks straight into the loved category. Jeremy Mynott studies their beauty, looks at why we respond to them, and their importance and place in art, music and life. It is a compendium of all things relating to birds and bird lore and their influence on us mentally and in the physical world.

One word of warning though, this is an intelligent and erudite book, which is one of those tomes you need to put down often, in order to let everything sink in, and then time needs to be taken to ruminate over the ideas put forward. I have never enjoyed taking such a long time over a book as much as I have over Birdscapes.

“Birdscapes is as much about ourselves as it is about birds.” – Jeremy Mynott.

Terminologies of the Month

Robin Stroker. A somewhat disdainful term for people, who generally watch birds from behind the curtains of the front room, as they feed in their garden or on feeders. At least they put out feeders though. I always imagine this term referring to inhabitants of middle England.

Dude. A person who goes out birdwatching but who does not have the same level of expertise as other more experienced birders have. A dude could act as though he/she knew more than they actually do. It seems to me that dudes are looked down upon by some of the higher placed birders, but surely everyone has to start somewhere. I suppose it is the level of humility with which you carry your ignorance around with you that allows you to survive in the field or not. It’s a jungle out there.

Bird Songs of the Month

Birds Flew Backwards – Doves. Just love the line birds flew backwards yet still arrived. Beautiful song.
07 Birds Flew Backwards

On a small note, only one bird can actually fly backwards and that is the hummingbird.

Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle – Bill Callahan

Ok, this is a bit of a cheat as it is a whole album but there are too many bird mentions to just pick one song. An extraordinarily gorgeous album that invites you in and sits you down in front of the campfire and allows you to glimpse the odd world of a finely strange mind. A winner on all counts.