Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Murmuration

How many starlings are there in this flock? Someone who was there estimated 10,000. If there were, then at least 10,000 more came in afterwards, dropping or pouring (as Matt said) into the roost in the reedbeds. This was as close as we came to seeing the spectacular wheeling, whirling and pulsing that can happen in a big murmuration as the birds fly in close and perfectly coordinated formation to and fro across the roost site. It was a short display tonight, but as awesome as ever to see and hear so many birds.

I was looking through the viewfinder as I took this and hence I was not aware of individual details, but there was a sparrowhawk flying about and I'm guessing that is what the larger bird is above the flock. There was also a buzzard and a peregrine in attendance, but neither made any attempt to make a kill. It did make we wonder why the birds don't always do what most did tonight, drop straight into the roost with no murmuration pre-amble. I know the giant flock is said to be confusing and disorienting for predators, but I have seen sparrowhawks fly into a big flock and catch one - one would imagine that the safest strategy would be to spend the minimum time in the air as possible.

I walked to the Moss from home with Matt and Gus and the spaniels. It's the first time I've seen him in months. We have operated a strict quarantine throughout the danger period which excluded all mates and family apart from C. It's been a bit tough not seeing people, but the strategy has worked. In any event, it was great to see him, and Gus was clearly pleased to be out with the spaniels too. And we saw a cattle egret on the way - only the second bird I have seen in the UK, and less than a mile from home! A good day.

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