The spectacle of the starling murmuration is part of the British wildlife watching Zeitgeist. No year will pass without at least one segment appearing in the Springwatch stable. Wildlife magazine will include it in a ‘what not to miss this winter’ article. The latest British Wildlife Photography Awards portfolio will arrive and somewhere within its pages will be a photo of starlings in action.
I’d seen a similar marvel of tens of thousands of waders taking off at Snettisham, but only modest flocks of starlings. So I endeavoured to rectify that this winter, but as is the way, neglected to do so. Until Friday afternoon when I stumbled across the excellent work of Alan MacKenzie, who observed that Brighton’s winter flock is at its largest in years. So following a quick check of the weekend’s weather (Sat: cloudy start but clearing in time for sunset, no rain and low wind. Sun: very wet, very windy), my schedule was set.
So come 5pm on Saturday I found myself stood on Brighton Pier, waiting for the performance to begin. The clouds had parted enough to allow for some magic hour light, and the wind level was low. I even had Alan for company. Then the starlings came in their countless thousands and did their dance in the sky. They did not disappoint, even tempting the throngs of tourists to stop and peer over the edge. Then a sixty second hailstorm blew through and brought the performance to a swift conclusion.
I was barely back on the train before my thoughts turned to when I might return…
Portfolio: Murmuration 2015