Sunset at Big Ben
Behind the Shot
London is home to the types of birds one would expect in a metropolitan area close to the water—approximately 150 different species including pigeons, gulls, terns, crows and ducks. Before World War II, peregrine falcons were common, but their taste for messenger pigeons forced them to be hunted to near extinction. Ravens are considered so crucial to the survival of the monarchy that legend (and superstition) holds that “if the Tower of London ravens are lost, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.”
In 1949, a flock of tiny starlings accomplished what the London blitz could not. Perched on the minute hand of Big Ben’s clock face, the weight of hundreds of the tiny birds slowed the clock by about 5 minutes.
Whether they were starlings or gulls or crows, Kyle found himself in the middle of a winged maelstrom during his December visit. “It was my first time in London, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Setting up for a shot of Big Ben, I saw these birds everywhere that evening, flying all over and buzzing me at this moment.”
Kyle was intrigued by the gothic revival style of the tower and surrounding Palace of Westminster. “I was attracted to the points and spires of the architecture. We don’t have anything like this here at all, so it was very foreign to me. I had to stop and shoot this gorgeous London sunset.”