These early days of December with a sprinkling of snow on the top of Mount Leinster, a thin little wind round Killedmond and a late sun rising in the Blackstairs at about 8.35 and going down well before 4.3o, these are tough days for our birds. The ground is wet and cold, there is little feeding around except for the windfalls on the ground and the Grey Squirrels seem to have a monopoly at the table these days,
But then there are the starlings. These birds with their iridescent colours; purples, greens, blues among the black. They can chatter like no other bird and they seem so happy at it! Years ago they were so plentiful. Most houses could boast a chattering starling on the roof. We used to have one in Killedmond that used the sound of our landline as a call to it’s mate. Don’t know what he would have made of the tunes on my 1phone!
Starlings were one of our more common birds in the 70’s but then they declined in numbers and now they seem to be making a comeback. In winter they gather into spectacular flocks called murmurations . Before they roost, if you are lucky you suddenly become aware that the sky has darkened a bit and a huge wheel of starlings, swirling and meshing together in an incredible weave of aerial gymnastics. It seems incredible that thousands of these starlings can fly so close together in these amazing patterns. Who is their leader? How do they communicate? How do they avoid colliding with one another. ? A murmuration of starlings is one of the great sights of winter s they swirl and turn before settling down to roost for the night.