I have a confession…

I had decided to tell you on Tuesday when we had spent the morning searching round Holyhead for Ken’s flock of five Waxwing. I didn’t catch up with our Bohemian friends, but I did have great views of beautiful starlings as they shimmered and sang. Despite their decline, starlings are much maligned. People often tell me that their feeders are decimated by the starlings. I wonder who they think these ‘bird’ feeders are for.

It’s not often we go bird-watching in the back-alleys of Holyhead, there are many reasons why I wouldn’t suggest doing this regularly… Unless you want a restraining order perhaps? It was definitely worth it though, if only to get closer to my iridescent friends.

I didn’t get around  to writing my blog in a very timely manner (this happens quite often!), but tonight I have been compelled to profess my love.  Today, dusk provided that moment when you see a loved one in a new light and you fall deeper.

I’d had a request to point BBC’s Winterwatch in the direction of Anglesey’s spectacular starling murmurations. Flattering as this was, the roost we have previously visited on our sunday winter walks has moved! As the water encroached during the recent floods, I believe it reached the roost and the starlings abandoned the area.

Before the BBC request, I had decided that tonight I’d go and find out where they had gone as hundreds of thousands of birds can’t escape unnoticed. Can they?

I had an inkling that some if not all were now roosting further up the island at Rhosneigr. I hopped in the car, Ken in tow, to go and track them down. Late afternoon was beautiful as we drove towards Rhosneigr. Unfortunately, there were not the hordes of flocking starlings that make up a murmuration, just the odd small flock heading towards the other end of town.

Feeling a little bit down-hearted we made our way round to the Maelog Lake where we saw a small flock headed away from us. I followed them.  Just a little further down the road (past the Oyster Catcher restaurant) I stopped as we saw a couple of hundred starlings on the telephone wires. Ken wondered how many birds it would take to bring the wires down.

Although a lovely sight in itself, this was not the spectacle we’d hoped for. All of sudden we noticed that a tree in the distance was buzzing – they’ve chosen a tree roost instead of the reeds! We found them!

We walked down a little lane towards the heaving mass in the trees and the trees were hidden from view as we got closer, but the noise was unmistakable; tens of thousands of starlings chattering away.

As we turned the corner we were filled with excitement as we’d reached the hub of the roost. It was impossible to count the numbers (although Ken tried) that were crammed in onto every branch of gorse available over to our left. There appeared to be a constant stream of birds coming in to join them too – wow! Inadvertently, we had ended up right on top of the activity and consequently had our own personal murmurations right above our heads… “Don’t look up when they fly over” was Ken’s advice. Incredible, I was awestruck. I consciously had to shut my jaw at one point whilst observing.

Use the links below to visit my youtube channel to view the videos I took from my phone. I hope they go some way to conveying how awesome it was to be there!

Video 1 – As we rounded the corner.

Video 2 – Note the black area in the gorse to the left of the building – all birds!

Video 3 – The whole flock (approximately 25,000 birds) flew from the gorse to trees within metres of where we stood!

So, my confession..? I LOVE starlings!

I feel so privileged to have had this experience today! And I very pleased to say that I saw a Barn Owl (a live Barn Owl) on my way home from pilates this evening too.

If you don’t already, then I hope you can learn to love these spectacular starlings as much as I do!

We will be running further trips to see them all being well, but not until 2013 now.

Feel free to share any of your own starling stories with me,

Kathy x

About nature.bites.admin

Kathy is a wildlife enthusiast who loves nothing more than to inspire people about nature. She is the Trust Development Officer for the West Wales Rivers Trust, a researcher at Aden Productions and offers guided wildlife tours on Anglesey with the amazing Ken Croft. Outside of work, Kathy arranges Anglesey Marine Week in order to promote engagement in conservation. Please see the 'Wildlife Tours' page of the website for more details of how to join a tour.

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3 Responses to I have a confession…

  1. Julian Breeze December 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Wonderful experience. Another much maligned visitor of bird feeders is the jackdaw, and I’m fortunate to regularly see large gatherings of up to a thousand roosting on the power pylons near the Britania Bridge on the Bangor side.

    • Kathy December 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

      It’s so unfortunate that any bird gets bad press. I spend quite a lot of time sticking up for the under dogs…or should that be under birds?! We had a big flock of Jackdaws over our house the other day, not as many as that though! Wow!

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  1. Now you’ve moved too! « naturebites - December 13, 2012

    […] I worked this out slightly after publishing my latest blog (including videos) about a starling murmuration today on Anglesey… Please check it out here. […]

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