Caught by the River

The Bird Effect Diaries

Ceri Levy | 12th April 2010

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. Read previous entries, starting here.

Isles Of Scilly – Part 4
Tuesday October 13th

I go out on my own today as I really fancy a wander with no particular purpose and St Mary’s is wonderful for shambling around, especially as it is t-shirt weather today. I go to the very north of the island around the Ja-Co-Ba feeding station and then downhill through the pines towards Bar Point which is right at the north of the island and this is where I discover my first somewhat rare bird on my own. It’s a Ring Ouzel and is an exciting moment for me. I see it and know immediately that it’s not a blackbird thanks to the white bib around its neck and the fact that it is more skittish than its more common relative. But I really want to make sure it is what I think it is as I have the CB in my hand and don’t want to be putting out duff gen. I feel the import of the moment. I am alone, me and my CB. I have to be sure and if I’m not then I cannot call it in. There is a responsibility that is so unnerving. Then for a good long moment I get perfect views and I am certain. I raise the CB to my mouth, “Ring Ouzel at Bar Point, repeat, Ring Ouzel at Bar Point, over.” I hear the message being relayed on and march off with a bounce in my step. I bump into a couple of scurrying birders who ask if I have heard about a Ring Ouzel up this way. “I have indeed,” and point them in the right direction.

Wednesday October 14th

Sitting on top of Bryher I am left to my own devices for the afternoon, I do nothing and enjoy it.

I drink my favourite beer in the South West tonight. A fine pint of Tribute in The Scillonian, which is more memorable than watching the qualified England beat Belarus 3-0.

After the game, I finish watching what I consider the great lost American cop series, The Shield. I loved The Wire first time around, but this is another level. It’s a story about a four-man LA cop crew, who develop into criminals over seven series of scrapes, camaraderie, robberies and murders. Vic Mackey is played by Michael Chiklis, better known to many as The Thing in The Fantastic Four, and is the leader of The Strike Team. But for me the most engaging character is Detective Shane Vendrell, played by the magnificent Walton Goggins, which must surely be one of the great actor names in history. His portrayal of a cop disappearing down an irredeemably slippery slope is one of the finest television performances by an actor ever. And the end story for his character is possibly unsurpassed in a series such as this.

If you don’t know The Shield, buy it on DVD. The look of it is also fantastic, done in a doco shaky style with a beautiful urban grain covering the picture. I will miss this little gem of TV heaven. God bless The Shield.

Thursday October 15th

St Martin’s. 8am start. A Radde’s warbler and a Little Bunting have been seen as well as a Red-Throated Pipit. I manage to see the Little Bunting. Dipped out on the others. Starting not to care so much at the moment.

I am in a bit of a dark space today and not enjoying the day. I am wondering what the bloody hell I am doing here standing around waiting for birds to appear. I feel displaced. Why am I making this film? What do I want to make? Am I going about things in the right way? Odd feeling. I hate questioning myself like this. But out of the darkness comes light as I think through my task.

There is so little I want to film for TBE at the moment but I am managing to get certain aspects of the film clearer in my mind. I know for sure that I don’t want the main focus to be on birders per se. Perhaps a lot of my filming so far is in fact notation through my voyage of bird related discovery. This is my education being out here in nature. This is where I connect with birds in a different way than I have before and it affords me the chance to stop, stare and become caught in their wonder and enjoy their magic. That is what I want to get across in my film. How they affect us. How they inform us. How they capture us. Enchantment.

There are so many avenues for the film to travel down that I have yet to explore properly and I think more about the cultural associations with birds. For God’s sake my background is art, music and words. And birds have invoked so much in these areas, which are my worlds, as well as in the scientific and conservation worlds.
What I need to do is to tell the right stories from the right people from these diverse domains to really show the existence and the workings of the bird effect for The Bird Effect. I need to continually find more bird tales and more storytellers. And I have quite a few already up my sleeve. Eu-bloody-reka! I think I’ve got it.