Friday 18 November 2011: A Day Of Birding Majesty
Sometimes some things go better than your wildest dreams!
The Twedding was beyond our best expectations .. and we set them high!
I decided to go to Newport Wetlands on Friday to try and see the Starling Murmuration having failed to get decent photos last Friday.
A murmuration if you didn't know, is a huge flock of starlings preparing to roost for the night. They choose reed beds as they protect them from potential aerial predators, and the wet land stops ground predators creeping up on them. It is one of autumns awesome spectacles. Someone on twitter described it as natures lava lamp. How true that is!
The last few occasions I have been to Newport it has been quite quiet there. Today more than made up for that!
It started well, with a good sighting of a Water Rail. It's quite rare to see them feeding this far out in the open when the ground isn't frozen. There were two in that particular reed bed. It was another life tick for me. As was the Water Pipit that landed in the same reed bed at the same time! Thanks to Mat the RSPB chappy, who happened to be on hand, or else I would have missed the later! The fact that there was a Goldeneye on the lagoon as well meant the first five minutes were quite special.
It was a glorious afternoon by now. I had a wander around the reserve. There was a huge flock of a hundred or so chaffinches by the shoreline. They were all spooked by this pheasant, and the whole flock took to the air at once. Quite a sight.
Having finally ticked the elusive Green Woodpecker at The Lodge a week or so back. I flushed another one walking around by the powerstation. We had a game of follow my leader for ten minutes, but I could never get close enough to get a photo!
It started getting dark enough to go and walk to where the starlings usual congregate. I sat in the hide for ten minutes, in time to see a blue neon Kingfisher dark across the reed beds!
The best thing about the murmuration is getting there early enough to watch the flock build. Hundreds become thousands in front of your very eyes. And then thousands become tens of thousands.
In the end, the whole flock was circling and cascading within twenty feet of me. Forget the sight of that mass of of birds gyrating in the air, the sound was incredible. It simply sounds like rushing water, but the pitch changing the time. Absolutely magical.
And if that wasn't incredible enough. Add to the mix, they were being hunted by a Marsh Harrier, a Peregrine and a Hen Harrier! Chris Packham would have had friction burns on his thighs from vigorous rubbing I can tell you! I was buzzing from it all evening!
Some videos from the iPhone.
Murmuration Vid #1
Murmuration Vid #2
Murmuration Vid #3
And some more photos:
Murmuration Photo #1 (There are 20, 124 birds in this photo, I need ValleyAllBlack to check please!)
Murmuration Pic #2
Murmuration Pic #3
Murmuration Pic #4
Can't wait until Sunday when I go down again!
Species List in two and half hours.
Water Rail (2), Water Pipit, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Greenfinch, Chaffinch (c-100+), Pheasant, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Kingfisher, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Redwings (5), Green Woodpecker, Long Tailed Tits, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Peregrine Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Starling (c-20,000), Robin, Hen Harrier.