Saturday, 16 November 2013

Early Murmeration

First visit to Ham Wall bird reserve this year to see the starlings. Adam and Bec staying with us and we squeezed in a little walk at sunset before we headed off to the wonderful Somerset Carnival in Glastonbury. As soon as we got out of the van it was clear that, in-spite of my fear that we were too early in the season, there were indeed starlings gathering. Clouds of birds were making there way past, low in the sky and heading towards the reed-beds in Shapwick Heath. I had heard that the murmeration was divided this year and thought that perhaps we were at the wrong site but there were still groups gathering over the familiar site at Ham Wall. As the birds came in from all directions, after a day's feeding on the fields and cattle troughs, they funnelled into the reeds without much delay. Groups  of hundreds swelled over the reeds on occasion as they jostled for roost space but the large murmeration seemed to have eluded us. Then as the thousands of birds chattered in the reed-beds a marsh harrier came over and suddenly the huge mass of birds was airborne, as one - (See very blurred phone photo above as I gawped) - The marsh harrier was clearly rather disorientated and sloped away over the reeds to pursue less dramatic quarry as the birds bulged and swelled before re-settling into the roost. It was great to share the local seasonal spectacle, it really is such an amazing sight and it's only going to build as the winter begins to bite.