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Science/nature/environment

Murmurations of starlings

(22 Posts)
M0nica Mon 08-Mar-21 09:23:43

There has been a lot in the papers recently of that amazing natural phenomemon, the murmuration of starlings.

People have been amazed by them, having never seen them before. Yet in my childhood, such murmurations were absolutely normal. I spent the first few years of my life in London and such and they were a common almost daily experience and were seen regulalry across southern England, and probably elsewhere.

I read recently that the starling population has fallen by nearly 70% since 1970, hence the rarity, these days, of the sight of a murmuration. One of the clearest signs of global warming and the way we are destroying wildlife in this country as much as overseas.

Witzend Mon 08-Mar-21 09:35:39

TBH I grew up in what is now considered to be Greater London, in fairly leafy areas, and I don’t ever remember seeing a murmuration. I’ve still never seen one in the wild, only on film - would really love to, though.

We live in a similar GL area now and I haven’t seen a starling for ages, but we used to - they used to mimic the ring of a particular type of phone - the Trimphone I think it was called.
A dd living in Oxfordshire still gets a lot in her garden though.

I do often wonder whether the vast increase in magpies since they were protected, has anything to do with the decline in certain smaller birds. We see so many magpies here on a daily basis, whereas they used to be a rarity. They must account for so many losses of nestlings and young birds.

silverlining48 Mon 08-Mar-21 09:39:36

The murmeration over Brighton pier is a wonderful sight to behold.

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 09:44:08

I live in one of the best places to see them. Every day - glorious sight. I feed them every day - squabbling - before they fly off to the downs to their feeding grounds, leaving the garden for the small birds. Every evening they collect on the roofs hundreds of them before flying off to the seafront to roost near the warmer sea.

Soon they will be bringing the fledglings to the garden to feed, and what a noise they make!

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 09:44:39

silverlining48

The murmeration over Brighton pier is a wonderful sight to behold.

And the marina😄

silverlining48 Mon 08-Mar-21 09:47:49

Oooh WW thanks I didn’t know it extended along to the marina.
It is great experience to witnessing wherever it is.

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 09:53:42

silverlining48

Oooh WW thanks I didn’t know it extended along to the marina.
It is great experience to witnessing wherever it is.

I have a friend who had an apartment there and we used to met up to do a bit of watercolour and crafty stuff. Sitting on the balcony as they flew in was a delight.

She has since sold it and moved into the Sussex countryside, so we just met up for walks, arty stuff and lunches. No more gazing at the starlings as the sun sets. I assume they are still there - only if we eat there we tend to go for lunch.

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 10:03:14

When walking on the downs they are fascinating to watch, flocks if them digging in the grass. They sit on the sheep and cattle, preening and shining in the sun.

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 10:10:43

We live about 100 yds away from the South Downs boundary, which in theory is a haven for chalk downland flora and fauna.

From a distance they look delightful, but in practice so much of it is devoid of any real biodiversity, largely through farming practices of ploughing, pesticides, and fertilisers as well as overgrazing.

The U.K. has the worst biodiversity record in Europe.

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 10:15:54

Sorry, I’ll shut up now but it is a real issue with me. There are areas where you can experience what real biodiversity looks like. For example there is an area where at certain times you will walk through clouds of chalk hill blue butterflies. It is a truly astonishing sight.

MaizieD Mon 08-Mar-21 10:17:39

We had a pair of starlings nest in the roof of an outbuilding for several years but that was about 10 years ago. I rarely see any now, not even on my bird feeders.

However, a fine mumuration can be seen each evening at one of the local Wildlife Trust sites. It's impressive to be underneath it when it swoops low, hearing the sound of those hundreds (or is it thousands) of wings beating.

timetogo2016 Mon 08-Mar-21 10:25:10

The first time me and dh saw one, we were in Southport.
It was amazing.
We have seen a few since then and still find them amazing.

downtoearth Mon 08-Mar-21 11:17:49

Living in Norfolk, I am lucky to see this every evening from my window,they nest in trees about 50 yards from my home.
The only downside is they use my car and windows for target practice, they get smothered in bird poo.

M0nica Mon 08-Mar-21 12:30:01

I just find it so sad that this phenomena is so to be remarked on nowadays. When I was a child it was so common, it hardly called for remark.

I would love to see one again. All we see here are red kites and jackdaws, a lot of both - and that drives all other avian life away.

Kamiso Mon 08-Mar-21 12:37:57

My OH spent much of his childhood in the country. He feels that when ignorant people protested against bird culls (by removing eggs from nests etc) it has led to the larger more aggressive birds destroying the smaller ones.

We have masses of magpies and they throw the eggs out of other birds nests and then use the nests for themselves. One roof nearby often has 20/30 of them around their solar panels. Gulls have become a serious problem on the Sussex coast swooping down and snatching food from people’s hands.

Kamiso Mon 08-Mar-21 12:40:27

Meant to say that I used to see the Starlings swooping through the sky when I took the dog for his early evening walk in Kent. Like a choreographed display. Amazing sight!

Amberone Mon 08-Mar-21 13:17:32

Until 3 years ago we never saw starlings in the garden. Now there are loads - they come down en masse and eat everything in sight. Like the squirrels they can be amusing, especially when they have young ones with them, but we end up chasing them away because the small birds can't get near the feeders.

ayse Mon 08-Mar-21 13:28:49

As a child I lived near Brighton and there were always starlings in the garden. I’m just reading Wilding by Isabella Tree about the rewilding of Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex. It’s a fascinating book and demonstrates how quickly nature is able to bounce back given the opportunity. It also challenges the idea that Western Europe was covered with dense forest and I find the argument very compelling.

The lack of long term planning and activity to improve our environment, given the current climate problems is short sighted in the extreme.

I can’t see this government doing anything to change the status quo but action is urgently needed.

Casdon Mon 08-Mar-21 13:56:52

I think they may have moved to Wales, I see them local to me each evening. There’s a wide diversity and large numbers of birds where I live - and lots of birds of prey of different types as well (and seagulls when storms are forecast, they seem to be a good indicator).

Whitewavemark2 Mon 08-Mar-21 16:06:56

ayse

As a child I lived near Brighton and there were always starlings in the garden. I’m just reading Wilding by Isabella Tree about the rewilding of Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex. It’s a fascinating book and demonstrates how quickly nature is able to bounce back given the opportunity. It also challenges the idea that Western Europe was covered with dense forest and I find the argument very compelling.

The lack of long term planning and activity to improve our environment, given the current climate problems is short sighted in the extreme.

I can’t see this government doing anything to change the status quo but action is urgently needed.

Knepp is glorious, cattle a bit scary though😄

Parsley3 Mon 08-Mar-21 16:28:43

Gretna is a good place to go if you want to see starlings.

glammagran Mon 08-Mar-21 16:44:28

We saw a very large starling murmuration in Wootten Bassett in the last cold winter we had in 2018. Somebody also watching thought there were at least 20,000 birds. We drove out to see it specifically. It was utterly mesmerising.