Starlings

We regularly get starlings feeding on the fat balls in our garden. However it has declined  as a breeding bird in the UK. Each autumn into winter our resident birds are joined by huge numbers of birds come over from the continent to winter here. They will gather together in the evening into spectacular murmurations where they swirl overhead as they prepare to roost.

Starling soaking up the sun

Starling soaking up the sun

They are dark, thrush sized bird with longish pointed bills and short tails. They have a big head and short tailed with a striding walk. They have glossy, iridescent plumage which has a sheen like oil on water when caught in the sun. In winter it will gain more white spots and its beak will darken in colour.

Adult and juvenile starling

Adult and juvenile starling

Juvenile Starlings can cause some confusion when spotted as they have none of the sparkling plumage of their parents.

Adult starling feeding juvenile

Adult starling feeding juvenile

Nature’s Free Show

I’ve only ever seen a starling murmuration on TV so when I heard there was one virtually on my doorstep I had to go down and see it for myself. I had my camera with me but the mesmerising show taking place over my head meant I didn’t take any pictures. Sometimes you just have to watch the show.

The flock was small to start with but within minutes others of varying size joined the moving kaleidescope. It seemed Nature was playing with iron filings and a magnet drawing them across the sky to create continually spiralling shapes and patterns. For twenty minutes the birds freewheeled like a shaken Etch A Sketch giving the watchers a black and white firework display.

And then whoosh the whole flock of maybe a thousand birds descended into a tree, their chattering the only clue to what had just happened.

I’ll definitely be going back.

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