Large flock of Common Starlings flying together

Locations, Wildlife

Winter in the countryside

14 Dec , 2018  

Forget the thought that runs through your head; it’s winter. Its cold out there why should I go out when the heating is on, and it’s nice and cosy in here. Get out and look around you may just be surprised what you can see and photograph.
Winter is a great time for photographing and spotting wildlife. Cold drives wildlife to search for food and the shortness of the day length concentrates this activity into a few short hours.
Winter also brings new faces to our countryside. Think sun-drenched semi-tropical paradise. It may not seem that way as we pull on another layer of clothing as the temperatures drop. Winter heralds the arrival of millions of avian migrants. Their homes will at this time of year be perpetually dark and covered in centimetres of snow. Our countryside, on the other hand, has hedgerows overflowing with goodies to eat.
Some species that migrate here boost the number of birds resident all year round. Starlings for instance, at this time of year, can swell to nearly two or three times its normal population. They are from the near continent, most likely Scandinavia or Russia.
Every evening individuals come together, to form large roosting flocks. By roosting together on mass provides them with warmth and safety, sheer numbers can confuse predators. These gatherings are murmurations and occur on well know sites all over the UK.
If you want to witness an experience that makes your spine tingle Google “starling murmurations near me”. To find a location closes to you. To get the most out of your adventure, look for a calm evening with little or no clouds. You need to get in place at least 30 minutes or more before sunset. Take your camera, wrap up warm and wait.
If you’re lucky as we were in Somerset, on some occasions, you will witness perhaps 300,000 plus starlings coming into roost in the reed beds. And before they finally settle in for the night, they will dance in the sky — hundreds of thousands, of birds, wheeling and turning above your head, performing an unsurpassed aerial ballet.
These and many other wildlife experiences only occur when winter comes to our lands. By March/April it will be over for another year. Winter is a magical time of year. It might be a little colder, and maybe the weather is unpredictable. However, on a cold crisp day, what could be better than getting out and taking a few pictures of the best this season has to offer.


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