Thursday, 26 October 2017

Shape-shifters

6,000 Starlings in a flock is small beer when watching certain roosts. Yes, they may sweep and wheel, coalesce and break apart, seemingly playing around as much as choosing exactly where to roost and share in the day's news via their chortling - but a flock of 6,000 Starlings coming in off the sea is a different proposition all together.

They are direct. They have urgency. They are arrows. They have dispensed with grace to act upon a primal urge to move on, move forward, survive. We picked them up maybe a mile offshore, a shifting smoke, shape-shifting until we could start to appreciate what we had before us. A leading mass that seemingly sped up as they closed in on us, then revealed a tail of birds that went on and on. They breached the beach and gained height, the tail of the flock panicked into catching up. More followed, and within half-an-hour we had counted 15,000 birds - early morning in France, breakfast in Blighty.

The Starlings took the feathered plaudits but moths stole the natural history headlines. Spoladea recurvalis, Cosmopolitan and Red-headed Chestnut made for a truly good day as regards migrant Lepidoptera. Never a dull moment at Dungeness.

1 comment:

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

We had some big lcoal murmurations a few years ago, residents complained about the mess on their cars...bloody typical. There were about 2000 birds strong over Newark town itself. Amazing.