Are we ready for skyfuls of Starlings?
As temperatures drop, discerning local nature watchers head for our cold reed beds. Why? Because it’s murmuration season.
You may have seen the videos, with swirling shapes pulsing across the winter sky, baffling ever-changing patterns made by thousands of Common Starlings, birds we ignore the next day at our bird tables.
I was lucky enough to see one of the Peak District’s most spectacular murmurations ten years ago: they don’t happen every year, and no-one really knows for sure how and why they occur at all.
You can find out more about the murmuration season via various social media channels devoted to the purpose, and there’s a handy murmuration map to check as the season progresses.
Locally, you might find roosting starlings at Potteric Carr near Doncaster, Poolsbrook Marsh near Chesterfield, and Middleton Moor near Stoney Middleton, and very occasionally smaller flocks of Common Starlings might stage a mini-murmuration for you pretty much anywhere, if you look for them in the half hour before dusk.
In this piece (below) for full members, I look at research on the murmuration mystery, and give my personal account of the tens of thousand of birds from all over Europe I was lucky enough to watch performing in the darkening sky just outside Tideswell.
The signs are good for this year, but nothing’s certain yet, and I’ll keep this story updated as news comes in.
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