Sunday, 6 February 2011

Number 5: murmurating

This week I was all about the birdwatching, having decided to take part in the RSPB Great British Bird Count for the first time and also with an expedition to our local RSPB reserve to see the magnificent murmurations of starlings at dusk.

All great stuff. Or you'd think so.

Starting with the bird count, I did a run up to the event by putting out plenty of food, with a good variety of stuff, and keeping an eye on what was popping in to eat at our diner over a couple of weeks, and who liked what.

The hour arrived and I set myself up with our titchy binoculars (bought for grand prixs) in the spare room with a good view of the lawn. And waited. Then waited. And waited some more. Where were the jays, the woodpeckers, the magpies, the long tailed tits? Nowhere... It was like the birds were all sitting in a hedge, watching their watches, waiting for the bird counting weekend to end.

Even the pigeons only showed up at the last minute, and even then only one of them. Wonder if the RSPB come and check up on people who appear to have registered a bird exclusion zone...

Then for the murmurations. By reputation these are spectacular displays with thousands of birds flocking into the reed beds at dusk. We arrived at RSPB Strumpshaw in good time and had a wander around the rest of the reserve, getting muddy feet and a close up view of a flask of coffee from one of the hides.

At the appointed hour, we were huddled together at the best vantage point. We began to wonder whether anything would happen when no-one else had showed up. We waited. We then started to note the absence of starlings. Not even one.

We waited. Maybe they all travel together?

We waited some more. And were rewarded with the arriveal of a 'proper' twitcher, who kindly pointed out that the starlings had all moved on earlier that week.

I can't even claim credit for the photo of the geese (sure I should know which type they are but I've already forgotten). T took it with our new DSLR camera. They were too far away for me to have a chance with the compact.

Here's to better luck next week!

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