Saturday, 7 November 2015

Starlings November 4th

I felt that it was time for me to go down and witness the starling roost for myself. Over the last few weeks the reported numbers have risen steadily. The roost is now more than 70.000 birds and even without the shape shifting flight is a spectacle simply in terms of the sheer numbers involved.
I got out to the first screen by three thirty and already there had been large flocks patrolling the reserve, restlessly settling and chattering in the treetops prior to going down in the reed bed.
After twenty minutes or so, huge numbers of birds began to fly in from all points of the compass and start to settle in the reeds straight out from the screen. On the evening I was there they did not do their fantastic pre roost display. They didn't imitate whales or create swirling ellipses and elegant parabolas. There was one massive flock that came in from the west of over twenty thousand, like a low sweeping cloud. The whole mass swept down round and piled into the reeds. The sound of whirring wings was a loud thrumming.
Every so often one or other of the Marsh Harriers would pass low over the reeds causing a mass panic and a brief explosion of birds. It was impossible not to be awed by the sheer biomass. A Starling roost is a wonderful sight on a TV programme or a film but being there and experiencing it in three dimensions is incomparable. Both the sound of it and being surrounded by it adds massively to the experience.
By four forty five it was close to dark and the birds had settled onto their reed stems to roost, The sound now was a low sussurration as if neighbouring birds were having a quiet chatter before sleep. As I was walking back a met three people making their way towards the screen and sadly they had missed it. If anyone wants to go down to see it I recommend checking the sunset time and allowing for the weather. Also weekdays are much better than weekends when parking can be really difficult.
As one of the visitors on Wednesday said " this is one of the best free shows you can have".As I walked past the oaks along the bridleway what I had first thought were windblown leaves resolved themselves into bats spilling out of one of the hollow trees and as I reached the carpark field a Woodcock flew over heading out from its daytime roost to feed on Greenaways.
All Pics (c) Bark

1 comment:

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