Every night as the sun goes down, the starlings of Brighton’s West Pier do their amazing evening dance around the hulk of the burnt-out structure. They’ve been there for as long as anyone can remember. After the fire in 2003 they took a while to come back, but return they did. And now they guard the ruins of this once beautiful building.
They fly in tight formation every night, swooping and diving in their hundreds, possibly thousands. Their fluid mass bends and distorts seemingly at random, but with an amazing unity and power. Occasionally the flock gets separated, as the split second synchronisation breaks down for a few moments. Before long, the two clusters re-join and the temporary rebellion is absorbed back into the flock.
Each bird is an individual creature which controls its own flight. Yet the instinct to fly as a flock is overwhelming and this nightly spectacle is the captivating result. It’s always different, yet always the same. you can watch it for ages. Better than any screensaver.
After watching the birds for what seemed like an eternity on Sunday evening, I turned around to see dozens of my own kind all standing in unison on Brighton beach, all gazing out to sea as one.
Then I climbed back on my bike and weaved my way home through the hundreds of cars queueing to get out of Brighton for their migration back to London after the sunny weekend.