Posted by: mynaturaldiary | November 6, 2011

Murmuration of Starlings

This time of year at the the RSPB reserve at Saltholme, the skies are filled with clouds of birds. The daytime belongs to the waders; Lapwing and Golden Plover, and dusk to the Starlings.

On reaching the reserve, Lapwings are climbing into the sky.

On the ground their colours show well in the bright sunlight.

But something unnerves them and they rise together, to form a desert of Lapwings.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Hundreds of Golden Plover group together on the ground.

They also rise into the air in a vast flock, a desert of Golden Plover.

Once in the air the birds fly high

they group into smaller flocks

before descending back to the ground.

Sometimes mixed flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover rise together into the skies.

Sometimes small groups of Golden Plover come close to the Saltholme hide, the better to appreciate the birds.

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

They aren’t the only waders on the reserve. Redshank fly in.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

And a Black Tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

On the feeders were Goldfinches.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

And on the ground was a Pied Wagail.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Shoveler were on the waters

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

As were Wigeon.

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

as were Teal.

Teal (Anas crecca)

And a Moorhen, sharing the picture with a Teal.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Little Grebes were on the reserve.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

At the other end of the size scale were Little Egrets, hunting on the waters edge.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Mute Swan flew over the waters.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Greylag geese were also there.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

And Canadian Geese.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

As dusk falls, the geese fly over the reserve, looking for somewhere to settle for the night.

Out of the dusk, Starlings form into a large cloud of birds, a murmuration. This rapidly wheels and moves as a group as it tries to find somewhere to settle.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Eventually the birds dive down into the reed beds for the night.

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