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  • Writer's pictureJohn

Agent Starling!


 

Not a reference to the classic movie but the large numbers of Sturnus Vulgaris which is the Scientific name given to Starlings which can currently be seen in huge numbers flying in Berwick-Upon-Tweed at certain times of the day.


Many thanks to avid wildlife photographer Ronnie Hek for introducing me to one of natures amazing events, the Starling Murmurations. These are an aerial display of literally thousands of birds which fly, swoop and dive in unison prior to sunset before they roost.


I have also been informed that there was previously a Starling Murmuration here in the village.


There are various theories for this spectacular event including safety in numbers from predators such as Peregrine Falcons or Sparrow Hawks, to keep warm, communicate or just for the fun of it!


 

When I was given the location I was expecting it to be in a rural setting and was surprised when it is actually taking place on the Ramparts industrial estate near the Municipal recycling centre! (Below is a link to Google maps)


Google Maps Starlings Berwick


 

The best time to see them is early evening, just before dusk. This usually happens in the winter months between October to March before the breeding season.



All the images and videos were taken on my phone or camera two nights ago in Berwick. The birds fly low and they can clearly be seen without the aid of binoculars. The first time I watched them I was rewarded with a display of over half an hour. Last night a Sparrowhawk flew amongst the group but did not manage to capture any prey. If you arrive early enough you can see the first arrivals which on Saturday was four and then the numbers quickly increased.


 

Although photos and videos may seem impressive, actually seeing the event 'live' is more memorable. They fly only a few hundred feet above the ground and due to the sheer numbers you can hear their wings flapping. When they swoop down you feel like you are part of their group. It could be described like a shoal of fish in the sky. Surprisingly the birds seem oblivious to all of the human activity below them which may receive an occasional dropping or two!


 

There is a dedicated website which offers further information on locations plus links to social media.


https://www.starlingsintheuk.co.uk/


Also the charity below has a page about them and I would agree the Murmurations have a 'wow' factor. Starlings numbers have started to decline since the 1980's which has sadly resulted in them being given a red status and is a bird of a high conservation concern which are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Loss of habit, in particular grassland is one theory for a decline in numbers.


https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/starling/starling-murmurations/


 

If you are considering seeing this you have a few weeks before March so why not take a flask of coffee/tea along and see them from the comfort of your car?

Please remember this is a busy industrial estate and therefore park in a considerate and safe position.


Enjoy!


 

More from the Discovery series coming soon...

 

 

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