Monday 5 March 2018

5 in 5 - March 2018 - A stir of starlings

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
each month I post 5 photos that I have 
taken in 5 minutes.

A couple of years ago I saw a video of a starling murmuration and knew that the longing to witness this for myself would not rest.  So last year I got excited when I heard of a large flock in Suffolk but when I phoned the warden of the reserve I learnt that the birds had been such large numbers that over the last couple of days they had flattened the reed bed and since left. I've heard of smaller flocks nearer home but I was looking for a spectacle, an experience that would live with me and match my expectation.  And so when I saw a recently uploaded video I immediately contacted the photographer. She kindly sent me details of when and when I might see them, and we lost no time in packing the campervan and heading off.

It was a bitterly cold day, with north winds blowing from the open sea. It's always cold along the east coast but the wind made it especially so - but nothing that layers and thermals couldn't contend with! We were staying in the grounds of a local pub overnight and a meal was booked for the evening.  So with that in mind we felt stoic and hopeful that our visit was not in vain. I had phoned in advance and learnt that there were now a lot less birds, it seems they are unpredictable and leave without warning. But with hopes high and a flask of hot coffee we set off along the paths towards the suggested sighting. While the presence of the starlings is not predictable, the time of their activity is.  And so at the appointed hour we were joined with many other people with cameras and binoculars poised.

Everyone stood in eager anticipation and silence, waiting for the first birds to rise from the reed bed. Then we saw then, a small speckling in the sky but enough to stir the soul. They hovered and then gained height. And over time more small flocks revealed themselves, until gradually I saw a pattern forming.  They would rise, circulate, then fly across to the other side of the fen before landing among the reeds. Gradually more and more small flocks gained momentum, and slowly they joined into an ever increasing flock that gained shape and size. Flying backwards and forwards, so that on one occasion the murmuration flew directly overhead. What an incredible experience! My camera rested as I watched and was fully present in that moment, wishing time to pause as I watched individual birds with flapping wings and incredible agility. How is it that so many birds, swooping and making sudden twists and undulations can avoid collision? But they seem to, and I'm sure there is an answer if I look for it. But for now I am happy to hold on to the memory of that magical hour and the privilege I felt of witnessing this first hand. I did take a few videos, but since this is a photo challenge I will keep to the idea of sharing 5 photos taken in 5 minutes:

Thank you for visiting and to Karen, Velady, Melanie, Borqna, Green Tomato and Maggie for taking part last month.  I wonder what photo themes will be shared this month? It is a time for Spring, snow and lots of other photo opportunities. Do join us! Here's how: 

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a timer for 5 minutes (I use my mobile phone).

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool below.

You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.


  1. What an amazing experience!

  2. Wow! Those are amazing photographs.

  3. Sandie this is definitely a WOW moment. Starlings are not big birds so to get that thick pattern in the sky you know it is a lot of birds. We also get starlings & I always just referred to it as their evening dance - glad to learn there's a proper name; murmuration. Most definitely a magical moment.

  4. Oh that is a stunning experience. How clever photo number 4 is where they appear to be smoke coming from that chimney shaped building . I must make the effort as you did to go and seek one out. The Somerset Levels are another popular sighting spot.

  5. Absolutely amazing and so beautiful!

  6. What an amazing site to witness!


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