Sunday, 12 January 2014

Starling attraction

A day up the coast on Saturday saw a couple of Long tailed Ducks at Druridge Pool, a nice fly by Red throated Diver at Hauxley but little else of note. A shooting party at Hauxley meant all the ducks were sitting on the sea so with little close by I headed to East Chevington to end the day. Little of note there when I arrived other than eight or more Goldeneye. I settled down to scan the north pool Bittern and Bearded Tit more a hope than likely. As I stood next to the tin box I heard lots of car doors slamming and noticed people, obviously not all birders, walking down to the hide looking at me in puzzlement for not making use of the facility. One asked about Otters and then about the Starlings which I must admit I had totally forgotten about. TB joined me wondering what was about as there were lots of cars parked on the road. At 3.40 three Starlings appeared over the pool and we chuckled at the lack of numbers. Five minutes late fifty more and a Sparrowhawk flew across the north pool hunting the eastern reeds before perching on a fence post. As I watched through my bins a shape appeared from the north and the Sparrowhawk attacked it. As the shape rose it was clearly much bigger and a Peregrine was identified flying off south just as five hundred or so Starlings appeared over the pool. Hmm dinner may be about to be served.
A thousand or more Starlings wheeled over the north pool at 4.00 and the numbers kept building as groups of twenty to two hundred joined the throng. Then a large flock of thousands higher up merged into the main flock and the spectacle was complete. It was not the fastest or most dynamic I've seen but they moved back and forth between the two pools possibly deciding if it was safe to land. Eventually at 4.15 the south bank of the south pool seemed to be the preference and as they passed low over the reeds at the inlet groups started raining into the reeds on every pass until 4.20 and it was all over. Nice to see so many folk interested and amusing to see that tablets as well as phones and cameras were being used to take photographs. A bit unwieldy but the results seemed ok.

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