A Murmuration Of Starlings


Previously I have mentioned how I am so lucky to live very close to the Snowdonia National Park. Living on the coast I also have the added bonus of having nature reserves used by migrating birds right on my doorstep. So last night I went out to photograph a phenomena that not everyone gets to see…a starling murmuration.

The Gathering

Each evening starlings from all around gather together to roost in the reed beds at Gronant Dunes. Slowly but surely they fly in, usually in small groups, from the countryside and towns where they have feeding during the day.

Groups

Those small groups start to become larger groups as they fly around waiting for other starlings to join in. Why do they do it? The thought is that grouping offers safety. It’s harder for predators like peregrine falcons to attack one bird when there is a flock of thousands. Safety in numbers as they say.

Murmuration

It’s also thought that the starlings communicate good feeding areas and by gathering in numbers it’s easier to keep warm during the night.

Lift Off

Slowly but surely more and more birds arrive and the sky is full of them. You can hear a sort of swishing sound as they fly about and the closer they get to you the noisier it becomes. “Take Cover……”

Bigger Yet

One thing I will say, don’t get underneath them. It can get extremely messy.

On The Move

Eventually, when the group is large enough they head of to their night-time roosting areas in the reed beds

Presthaven

Just behind this caravan park are the dunes and the marshes, home for the starlings at night. And there they are. One last flourish and down they all settle. It’s pretty safe out there. The marsh has lots of water making it hard for predators to approach the starlings .

Settling Down

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this quick post – Mike

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12 thoughts on “A Murmuration Of Starlings

    1. Right on my doorstep as well. Friend of mine has told me that further up the coast, there’s another big murmuration over an old abandoned pier. Once the snow goes I might travel up and see if its worth a photograph

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  1. I’ve never seen what I thought was a murmuration of starlings even though we have lots of them here. I have seen both species of grackles at dusk fly in for the night to roost in the trees in the city. They seemed to do a murmuration of sorts and it is quite interesting to watch. I think I like the last photo the best. The group shape of the birds as they are settling into the reeds is so beautiful. Actually I like all of the pics but I always have a favorite it seems. 🙂

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    1. Wrong place, right time Yvonne. I was standing on the dunes where they finally settled. But when they first flew in they went further down the coast. So I left where I was standing and went to where I thought they would display. I got that one wrong as you can see from the photographs. That was just the gathering point before they went back to where I was previously standing. It happens every night so I can always go back but at the moment we have heavy snow and biting cold winds so not ideal conditions for venturing onto the marsh and dunes.

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