Mutterings and Murmurings

13th February 2018

It was certainly more by luck rather than by design that a week away in the Somerset Levels put me right in the middle of an estimated 750,000 Starlings, gathering to roost in the reed beds of the Avalon Marshes.

Each morning thousands of birds would fly high over our little barn idyll, some gathering in "swarms" on nearby trees to sing in chorus. From a distance the trees looked as though they had a covering of leaves. Often the noise would drown out all other background noises but then a two-second silence would signal a group take off and the “leaves” / starlings would become a cloud of beating wings.

Later in the day the Starlings would regather and regroup to head over to the marshes where the real murmuration spectacle would begin. Smaller flocks joined to become super groups, actually murmuring communicative calls to presumably direct and get the flock into position.

Once gathered the Starlings were ready to head to their chosen roosting spot, hovering Marsh Harriers caused them to create some of the incredible acrobatic twists, turns and shapes that are now so well documented.

Often the birds were just a river of blurred movement across the darkening skyline creating bands of light and darkness on the skyline that I really liked the simplicity of.

The mutterings were from me, never quite being in the right place to capture exactly the winning shot but a wonderful spectacle and privilege to behold.

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