Murmuration of starlings - this was taken yesterday of one of the largest starling murmurations seen for many years - there were perhaps as many as 3 million birds in total (this is just a small section) taken at Ham Wall in Somerset one of about six venues around the country where this happens during the winter months.
All the starlings will come originaly from Russia (I was so tempted to title the image 'JO') and will winter in our slightly warmer climate.
Numbers of starlings have been on the decrease quite dramatically over the last few years so this mass gathering was really quite heartening to see.
They gather prior to roosting (just before sundown) as they look for a communal place to spend the night. The name murmeration comes from the whispering noise they make en mass with the sounds of their wings. I have to say with this number the sounds is a bit more than a murmer!!!
The amazing swirls and aeriel ballet often seen is usually stirred up when a hunter is around (sparrow-hawk and harriers mostly).
The reasons for these amazing displays are not readily understood even today and after considerable study. It is thought to be a safety mechanism reducing the odds of beiing singled out quite simply because there are so many birds.
When they do finally settle there is a very clear hierarchy of who goes where - adult males (t'was ever thus) are right in the middle where it is safe and warm - then adult females then young males and finally on the outside young females.
I think these three shots were taken on auto - certainly with a longer lens 70 x 300 mm and handheld.
Anyway thanks for looking hope it has been of interest. I have to say if you have the chance to check one of these gatherings out - they are pretty amazing and fill up the memory banks.
Wildlife and nature
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