Feb 15 2022

Sighting of the month – the starling!

The woodlands are bursting back into life as small glimpses of spring occur (OK, maybe not this week – as I write this, it is very wet and windy, but I can see the flowers poking through!). However, I have chosen to focus on a spectacle you can see nearby to our sites in the South East (and others throughout the country). Behold – the humble starling and their breathtaking murmurations!

My local ‘murm’ happens around the time that day turns into dusk, and on most evenings (probably not today due to afore mentioned weather conditions!), where huge numbers of birds gather, making patterns across the sea and the famous Brighton seafront, before making their way under the pier to roost. The principal theory as to why starlings perform their ritual is centred around communication – a catch up after a busy day, if you will, or maybe they are just showing off to those watching the sunset, as there is usually a nice one of those as well. The shapes that they make are also determined by peregrine falcons at Brighton, who regularly turn up to try and pick out a bird or two. It really does make for an amazing experience. There are shouts and gasps from the humans on the beach and cheers and applause when it ends (even though your hands might be absolutely frozen by that time).



So, next time you are wandering and see a starling, or maybe more than one, you can be sure that there is more to this little bird than meets the eye. Very intriguing and one of nature’s greatest gifts to me and all other avid audience members. Brighton’s starlings will be there for a few more weeks in such a large crowd. I hope you get to enjoy visiting them.


Words and pic: Anna Claxton, Volunteer Development Officer (South East)

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