Arnside and beyond

By gladders

One starling doesn't make a murmuration

If Gus and I go out before the sun is up, but when there is good light, we often see vast numbers of starlings overhead, flying purposefully northwards, heading over the estuary to the Grange side and wherever they go over there for a day's foraging.  They leave their roost at the Moss and radiate out from there all over the nearby countryside.  How far do they travel each day?

I've been wondering about this, and whether the starlings that come to feed in the garden are resident birds or part of the massive winter influx of birds from continental Europe.  This morning I did see a couple of small groups peel off the main flock and land on trees and roofs just up the road from our house.    This bird may well be one of them, it was one of at least six birds that were visiting today. 

It is said that many of our own breeding birds migrate south to Iberia and elsewhere in southern Europe, but do they all go?  I think that there is at least one bird that stays as I see it using our neighbour's roof space, though I don't know if it joins the throng for the night roost.  In the next lane over from ours, there is a bird that is singing most days, and is distinctive in its mimicry of a bubbling curlew.  It could be another resident bird.

So many questions, isn't that the joy of natural history?  You can never know everything, there is always more to find out.

In any event, there was no chance of seeing a murmuration today, the weather took a turn for the worse as the day went on, and also late this afternoon we took Gus to see his vet Ellie.

He's been limping for a couple of weeks, and initially we thought it was his arthritic shoulder and his pads becoming more sensitive with age.  But it's been getting worse and we've shortened his walks, and tried to keep him on softer ground.  Looking at his paw, it seemed a little swollen, so we booked him in this afternoon for an examination.

Ellie soon spotted and removed the problem, a long thorn from a blackthorn bush, deep in between his pads.  Blackthorn can give nasty infections in people and pets, and he's clearly been struggling uncomplainingly for a couple of weeks.  He has a week's course of antibiotics to take and hopefully soon he will be able to put his foot down without it hurting, and we can go for longer walks again.  The bad news is that he's a little overweight, so his rations will have to be reduced.  He will be less happy about that.

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