Last night I received the kind of message that would galvanise anyone with an interest in wildlife. Helen Pargeter wrote:
If you would like to see a Starling Murmuration on land we rent at Grimley, do get back to me. You would need to be here around 4.30 tomorrow and I will drive us there. Trevor and I watched them for at least half an hour tonight…tens of thousands of starlings. Amazing sight.
It was on Sunday when the starlings first gathered for their evening roost there – apparently the first time this has happened there in living memory. So this evening I found myself at Camp Lane pools with Helen, her sister Sheila, and Sheila’s grandson Max, watching the starlings arrive, swoop, rise, fall, spread and contract: it was almost like watching smoke billowing.
Exactly why starlings murmurate is unclear, but it is probably to avoid predators. In winter, starlings tend to congregate in large flocks as they roost: there’s greater safety in numbers. Nevertheless, such large flocks attract watching sparrrowhawks, so the fast-flying, ever-changing shape of the murmuration is believed to confuse predators as to exactly where they are about to roost. Indeed, when they dropped into the reeds to roost this evening, it was sudden and without warning.
I will need to experiment a bit to improve the photography, but these few should give a reasonable for the event!
Sunrise in Wichenford
Meanwhile – on the theme of natural wonders – here’s a sunrise pic from the back garden a few days ago.