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STARLINGS in Topsham

In days gone by, Topsham was an old smuggling village and still today it’s filled with an interesting and mysterious past.
Relaxing on the stonewall overlooking the Estuary, we watched the starlings gather on summer evenings. After purchasing tea and beer from the well-known Lighter Inn nearby we carried our beverages over to the algae covered sea wall.
We sipped our drinks as the day softly dissolved into the horizon and twilight descended on the quiet Estuary. Life was good!
Stunning sunsets inevitably urged us there night after night and the appearance of starlings was an extra and much appreciated prize. They flew in front of a setting sun covering the burning red sky in black dots. Fluttering in unison while stretching and elongating then suddenly crowding together in a black mass, only to elongate again like a rubber band, this visual concert was a synchronized movement in the sky’s expanse – a concert that held me spellbound for the entire evening.
Swans gliding up to the wall in their search for food imparted a contemplative setting on those evenings as the boats were being moored up for the night after chugging in from a day’s jaunt.
When the sky took on its apricot and rosy hues, the starlings continued circling the vicinity while all the time smaller groups from the surrounding area joined them, quickly merging in with the gathering. In the early evening they often sat on the brown tiled roof of the church nearby, waiting for their group to assemble.
Darker blue hues came looming in from the sky when the birds seemed to have finally gathered their group and with one dramatic swoop, they crowded together and fell into the marshes. That was it!
Once settled, a noise must have disturbed them on one evening, for they rose out of the marshes in an excited mass – circled around for a while and descended again for the night.
One may plausibly assume that this display night after night could become monotonous. In fact it was always captivating; the natural rippling movement through the evening sky was mesmerizing. Nature offers an opportunity to be present in each new moment and to perceive the enchantment through fresh eyes – always unique and always different. It’s not surprising that artists come especially to this village on the Estuary.
On one of those evenings an artist from Germany was sitting silently on the stonewall close by and while she was totally absorbed in her work, I glimpsed a sensation of colors and emotion on canvas. She later explained that she had been coming to this location for the past five years, and each year there was even more to express through the mysterious language of art.
I continue to look for the starlings whenever I visit Topsham, because it signifies a place where I found and still find peace. Now, walking to that evocative place on the wall, I am bathed in a wave of nostalgia and many good memories.

This story comes from my book ‘My Reflections of England’.
My Reflections of England

Copyright reserved Charmiene Maxwell-Batten August 2010

Currently unavailable for purchase

This is a narrative about the lovely summer evenings spent watching the Starlings settle for the night in tune with the setting sun. Those were special moments never to be forgotton.
Topsham is an old smuggling village from bygone days, it is now a lovely quiet village near Exeter in Devon, England. The boats are moored on the Estuary and people enjoy the summer evenings watching the wildlife sanctuary of birds across the water.

Featured in: LOVE BYTES


birds, boats, charmiene maxwell batten, england, starlings, summer, sunset, topsham

A self-taught, passionate photographer and writer – I love capturing beauty through the eyes of a camera. I have self-published 13 books, all non-fiction except one. My books are real life human interest topics that I feel are worthy of reflection.


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  • Shiva77
    Shiva77about 4 years ago

    That is a lovely narrative, I could visualize the scene!

  • Thankyou so much Shiva, it is a lovely vision to see these birds in the evenings

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • HamperRefuser
    HamperRefuserabout 4 years ago

    Brilliant painting a picture of words…

  • THANKYOU soooo much! I really appreciate your comment

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • LisaMM
    LisaMMabout 4 years ago

    I adore this beautifully painted picture, gorgeous writing describing a gorgeous part of the world. Thank you.

  • THANKYOU so much Lisa! I truly appreciate yoru comments

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • ian osborne
    ian osborneabout 4 years ago

    Beautifully descriptive and quite apt for me at the moment, as I’ve been watching them myself here as the day is ending. Don’t know Topsham, but you make it sound so attractive. Nicely written evocative piece.

  • THANKYOU Ian! Arn’t they wonderful to watch – mesmerizing!

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • Country  Pursuits
    Country Pursuitsabout 4 years ago

    Excellent writing Charmiene.

    I have yet to go and see the Avocets in the winter, who seem to favour the mudflats at Topsham during low tide.

  • Thankyou so much Richard!! I do apprecaite your comments – writing and photography have become my biggest passion and greatest sanctuary!! Yes those marshes and mudflats in Topsham attract amazing birds and wildlife

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • LisaMM
    LisaMMalmost 4 years ago

    Congratulations !
    Your work has been a part of our first Members Choice Feature Page

  • THANKYOU so very much, this means so much to me!!!!

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • G .
    G .almost 4 years ago

    Congrats on the feature!!

  • thankyou so very much for this feature, I am truly grateful and thrilled!!

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • trish725
    trish725over 3 years ago

  • thankyou so very much for this feature in your wonderful group!!!

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • bearwings
    bearwingsabout 3 years ago

    I think I’d like to go there some day, sit on the rocks, throw in a line, no care if the fish are biting, it’s only an excuse. The images are great in this, I reflect on seasons change and the inevitable return, there’s more to this write than words, it’s a picture for sure.

  • thankyou so very much!!!

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

  • dmacwill
    dmacwillabout 3 years ago

    stunning images

  • thankyou so much!

    – Charmiene Maxwell-batten

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