Murmuration of Starlings

November 28, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Like the puffins, the wintertime murmuration of starlings is one of nature's must-sees.  It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I realised the word "murmuration" existed - it is the description of many thousands of starlings which flock together to weave in undulating clouds at dusk before settling to roost.  I had never seen the spectacle for myself until yesterday and it was by chance that I read a report of murmuration occurring near the Solway Firth in the south-west of Scotland.  

A friend and I drove down and arrived just as the starlings were gathering on nearby pylons and telegraph wires.  There were so many that the wires were laden with the sheer number of them all.  The air was full of their chatter as more and more sub-flocks arrived and as we took up our position, they started to fly off into the bigger cloud.  Unfortunately, there was no particular sunset to speak of, so the images are rather monochrome in the fading light which is a pity, given the beautiful iridescent plumage starlings have.  Despite that, I rather like the effect in the images on the pylon, and the lack of colour doesn't distract from the main objective - seeing this vast cloud of birds swooping hither and thither like shoals of fish.  In one of the videos, it is possible to see one of two buzzards flying off to the left.  It wasn't apparent whether it had managed to grab itself a meal.

My friend, who is a keen birder, stated that he couldn't begin to estimate the number of birds in the murmuration.  We had to marvel though that they all managed to tuck themselves into the bushes below with apparent ease after a few minutes.  I hope it's not the last time I witness such a spectacle.  It was a mesmerising murmuration: http://www.alexinthewild.com/p469920728


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