Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Wild Bird Wednesday 391 - Starlings

When we were in the UK we spent a couple of hours at the RSPB Reserve at Ham Walls in Somerset.  This reserve is only about 30 minutes from where I was born - so I always like to visit if I am in that part of the world.

In the winter huge flocks of Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) gather there in the evenings to roost in the reed beds. Before they 'settled in for the night' they fly around in (often) huge flocks called murmurations.  The day before we went it was estimated that there were 250,000 birds in the roost, and I can see no reason why there would have been less on the day we were there.

It was pretty remarkable to watch, as flock after flock joined the roost.  By the time most of the birds had arrived it was getting dark, at this time it seemed some form of collective decision was made to move to another part of the reed bed a couple of hundred meters away.   It was too dark for photography, but watching the birds stream from one part of the reed bed to another was truly remarkable.

Ham Walls Reserve is a good place to visit at any time of the year, but this was my first winter trip.  I hope it wont be the last.








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21 comments:

italiafinlandia said...

Starlings are awesome from this point of view: they stick together wonderfully.
All the best, Stewart!

Brian King said...

Fantastic photos! It's fun to watch such large flocks moving as a single unit!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
I recall seeing murmurations on quite a regular basis in my childhood. 50+ years on, at least here in Scotland, I think I might have witnessed one such event in the last five years only. Mind you, I live on the West coast, where starlings are not so much seen. There are events up this end though. Just need to get myself organised! YAM xx

Sharon Wagner said...

Wow! What a sight to see!

Florida Farm Girl said...

I love watching murmurations as they move through the sky. It's fascinating.

Rhodesia said...

We saw a murmuration of Starlings in Wiltshire on Christmas day a couple of years back, they are amazing to watch. Great photos. Cheers Diane

Marcia said...

Never knew what that swarming was called. We have starlings here that came from Europe. Not a well loved bird. I didn't realize though that the flying behavior you described was starlings. I often wonder what decided the fast changes.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

It is an unfulfilled wish of mine, Stewart, to observe one of these murmurations of starlings, and I can only imagine your elation upon seeing such a spectacle. I hope that Sally, Hamish and Pippa were there to enjoy it with you.

Marie Smith said...

There have been murmurations on Prince Edward Island but I’ve never seen one. I don’t think there are as many birds as you saw though. Wow.

My ancestors are from Somerset.

Lady Fi said...

Wow - that is amazing!

Cloudia said...

A moving post, both images and your words, Stewart

Lea said...

Amazing!

Jocelyn is Canadian Needle Nana said...

Oh what I would give to see this, Stewart. What a joy for the eyes!

Wally Jones said...

What a special experience, Stewart! I would be tempted to return again and again to enjoy that spectacle!

And to think, most "birders" wouldn't cross the street to see an individual Starling.

Hope all is well in your part of the country.

Richard Pegler said...

Delighted that you managed to see one of nature's most incredible spectacles, Stewart - and capture it so well. I'm quite lucky in that there are two regular murmuration sites near me, but I've not been to see them for a coup[le of years - must go again!

Best wishes from UK - - - Richard

Nathalie SANTA MARIA said...

I love these scenes of birds becoming one! It's magical !
Friendship

Linda said...

Very cool! The third shot looks like a duck!

betty-NZ said...

Great images! I saw them (I assume they were starlings) over Kansas back in the 90's and it was just an incredible thing to see.


My Corner of the World

carolinesnatuurfotografie said...

Hi Stewart, so much birds. It's like a spectacle. Beaufiful photos. Are they starlings? Have a nice sunday. Greetings Caroline

Veronica Lee said...

WOW! I imagine watching a murmuration of starlings would be like watching God's changing screensaver in the sky! Astounding!

Happy Tuesday, Stewart!

http://www.designercountry.com/ said...

WOW! I see so much birds. It's like a spectacle