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Moor Starlings

March 2013 is really really cold; the coldest March since 1962. By this time in 2012 the migratory starlings were already on their way back to their summer places, northern Europe and Russia. But now they are staying put for the time being, hanging out with their English cousins until the wind changes and eases their passage on the long journey north, a warm south westerly ruffling their rainbow sheen feathers.

Last week we made the journey to see them fly in to the massive night time roost on Bodmin Moor. At sundown the birds just keep coming and coming, a million plus. This time we saw birds of prey, possibly a hen harrier and a merlin, going in for their supper.

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The murmuration of starlings did a bit of their aerial dancing at the beginning which was amazing but I was absorbed enough to miss capturing it on camera.Β  As it turned out they didn’t do any more.

I’ve posted this link before, it is such a lovely short film of the starlings doing their thing – breathtaking and sweet. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRNqhi2ka9k

And this is the direction most of the starlings come from.

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Also, if you’re into birds and the need for good habitat in general,Β  this is an amazing blog post from Wolf Tree Farm, a farm not far from here, in which she describes their valley over decades.

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Anonymous #

    Terrific pictures! No’s 4, 5 and 6 are ace.

    April 6, 2013
    • Thanks Finn, though I do yearn for a proper SLR at these times! I think I’ll get a second hand one soon.

      April 8, 2013
    • Love your photo’s and blog. I want to explore all of those ditches, tunnels, fence lines, hills and dales too. As a child in the deep south of Western Australia, I was always puddling through streams, rock pools at the ocean side and down interesting paths. I spent many years on farms exploring everything there was to be discovered. Love it, thanks for bringing back old hidden memories.

      April 12, 2013
  2. Thank you for the video link, so I can now watch them all year round. I saw thousands of starlings at the disused airfield in Davidstow recently. For a moment one group were in a hot-air balloon formation; a large upper blob and smaller basket shoal below.

    April 7, 2013
    • Yes slenderbill I’m sure those were the very same starlings as these! They were probably on their way there, it’s only a mile away. Glad you like the video πŸ™‚

      April 8, 2013
  3. And yes, yours are fab pictures. And I like your blog’s hairy banner and beautiful meadow background – you did it!.

    April 7, 2013
  4. Rhonda Crowe #

    Beautiful pictures-thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    April 7, 2013
    • It’s always a bit of a challenge to get over the sheer stupendous nature of these kind of experiences, in fact, I’m not sure it’s really possible. The video helps. I try to focus on the landscape as well. Thanks!

      April 8, 2013
  5. I first learned of murmurations (at least by that word) this year. We often see good-sized flocks of this or that, but their behavior is different. I’d seen the video, but nice to see it again, especially in the context of your photos.

    And isn’t murmuration-the-word wonderful? It always makes me think of tintinabulation – birds and bells, a lovely combination in the evening. Despite the relative absence of birds, I think I like your last photo the most. The colors are beautiful.

    April 8, 2013
    • Yes I had to slip that one in, it was such a glorious evening! Thanks.

      I love the murmuration word too. I don’t know if the name has anything to do with the sound of their wings, but it fills the air and then it’s gone. Amazing.

      And tintinabulation, that’s lovely too, I’ve never come across it before.

      April 8, 2013
  6. One of nature’s wonders. What wonderful pictures, it must have been amazing to watch, and in such a beautiful spot, too.

    April 8, 2013
    • Thanks Lorna, it is an incredible sight. Though absolutely freezing! My fingers were aching from the cold. I know this probably sounds a bit wimpish to you πŸ˜‰

      April 8, 2013
  7. Really nice pics Sarah. I like your new format and the info it is just right. Keep it up.

    April 9, 2013
    • Oh, thanks Craig glad you like the new look. The info pages were all there before but maybe easier to see now…

      April 10, 2013
  8. Wonderful photos and what an awesome video to link to! It’s quite a while since I’ve seen that display for real, brought it all back.

    April 9, 2013
    • It is pretty amazing isn’t it? Something about the timing and I love the last bit. Glad you enjoyed the post.

      April 10, 2013
  9. The starlings are all doing their Tippy Hedronesque best to terrify me! We don’t have them here on Serendipity Farm but they are around the place. Apparently there was a concerted effort to eradicate them from the Auld Kirk Church eaves and it would seem that starlings carry a grudge. Lovely linkies that give beautiful weight to your uber cold post :). Surely now we are chilling down nicely (like a fine Tassie chardonay) you should be starting to put on shorts and sunglasses? Seems like that Northern winter really doesn’t want to let go. Must have heard about how sodding aweful our summer was and doesn’t want to play second fiddle πŸ˜‰

    April 10, 2013
    • Hah! Shorts and sunglasses, I’m shivering just thinking about it…infact, I can’t remember a time when shorts were on….3 bad summers in a row. Must stop talking about the weather…but oh! I can’t, am culturally programmed and primed, just mention it and I’m off πŸ˜‰

      April 10, 2013
  10. (oops…”awful” ;)…)

    April 10, 2013
  11. I have great memories of driving home from work, watching the starlings do their dance which I believe can suitably be called ‘The Murmur’. Lol. Mexican waves along the hedge, chasing the front tip of my windshield like dolphins to a ship bow… it was always a relief to arrive home safely as my eyes spent too much time looking up!

    April 22, 2013

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