Jarlath Flynn’s Amazing ‘Gretna HedgeHog’ Photo

SRUC’s very own Jarlath Flynn took the internet by storm today with his incredible photo of a Starling Murmuration. His photo, which features around 60,000 starlings took the shape of a hedgehog against the backdrop of the moon and the internet fell in love with it. We asked Jarlath to tell us more.

Tell us about the photo you took?

I was on my annual trip to Gretna to watch the Starling Murmuration and to do some Christmas shopping at the outlet village. There are great bargains to be had there!

Word was spreading that there was a massive gathering of birds near Gretna this year which had me very excited.

Just before sunset as the starlings started to do their display the moon was rising which made for an interesting backdrop. I decided to do some zoomed in close-up shots of the birds as they flew past the moon.  Every so often I’d zoom back out to get a wide angled shot.  Then all of a sudden the birds and the moon aligned into the shape of the now famous “Gretna Hedgehog”. I remember laughing and joking to those around me that I think I just saw a flying hedgehog.Gretna Hedgehog

What has been the response to the photo?

I was so surprised when I posted the photo on the Starling Murmuration Facebook page that within a few minutes there was about 100 likes. I went to bed and woke up the next morning to find about 500 likes and 500 shares on the photo. People loved it.

A newspaper phoned me to ask if they could print the photo and I gave them a few words also. When they printed the story on Tuesday things really kicked off views wise  5K …10K  20K views

The best news story to come out of this was when a hedgehog charity asked me if they could use the photo to boost a petition to save the Hedgehog. Within a few hours of the petition going live a few thousand signatures were added on the back of my photo and most people donated £2 each.  Hundreds  comments were left about the photography alone.

Random strangers have also messaged me so say thanks for making their day “happy”.

Has anyone famous interacted with you over Twitter because of your photo?

I really don’t know, they might have but I can’t keep up with all the likes and retweets. There was 100,000 views on Twitter alone by Wednesday morning!  Those good folk at Country File best be in touch as it would make my year if I got into their calendar!

Did you imagine you would get such a huge reaction?

Not at all….but the more I look at the photo the better and better it gets. It really does look like a leaping hedgehog into a hedge with a bright eye

Any tips to budding wildlife photographers out there?

Ha ha….Go to Gretna for 9 years, then take about 100 photo each year and maybe, just maybe by year 9 a one in a million photo will materialise.  Seriously though, for starling murmurations, use manual focus as auto focus is too slow in the low light to capture the birds in all their hedgey hoggee glory.

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