The Whistler – August 2019

Smoke Bath
Tom Kennedy, Wildlife Photographer Exhibition of the Year


Welcome to West Hill

People are constantly moving into and out of the West Hill/Seven Dials area. It can be a bit disorientating when you move into a new house or flat – it takes a while to work out where things are and how things work in your new neighbourhood. No sooner have you moved in, than you’re ready to dispose of your celebratory bottles. You stagger to the communal waste and recycling bin locations on Buckingham Road near Bright News, or the Dyke Road end of Compton Avenue or Clifton Road, and there’s no bottle depository! But, what the hell, you just leave all your bottles near the bin because you don’t know where else to take them, and although you take recycling seriously, not seriously enough to keep walking until you find the nearest bottle bank.  In this case, please do your neighbourhood a favour and dispose of bottles responsibly in the following locations: Buckingham Place end of Compton Avenue; Dyke Road near St Nicholas Church; corner of Terminus Road/Howard Place; or at the Montpelier Crescent recycling station. Have you noticed how near everything is to everything else in this part of town?

As reported in the last issue, we’re still looking for residents to join the West Hill Anti-Graffiti Action Team. If you’d like to volunteer to help blitz the tags in this area, please write to

If you’re curious to read some archive copies of The Whistler, going back to 1989, to get a flavour of what has been going on in this area over the last 30 years, please write to us at Depending on the year, we have two copies of each vintage publication month to give away.

Smoke Bath

The image above – ‘Smoke Bath’ by Tom Kennedy – is part of the remarkable Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery (until 8 September 2019). It has the most amazing photographs, each one accompanied by the story of how and when the photo was taken.  

Tom saw the rook as he glanced out of his living room window. Wings spread, the bird was using the neighbour’s chimney pot to smoke bathe. Realising the opportunity – and knowing the heat and smoke would only allow the rook to remain for a few minutes – he quickly took his photograph before leaving the bird to enjoy its smoky bath.

Rooks are incredibly intelligent creatures and smoke bathing is likely to be a learned behaviour, rather than instinct. The smoke helps the birds to fumigate their feathers, ridding them of irritating parasites such as lice, mites and ticks. The related jackdaw has even been seen fumigating itself over smouldering cigarette ends.

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