Experiencing A Mumuration Of Starlings

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It’s a lovely sounding word isn’t it, murmuration? My favourite collective noun (although a ‘plump’ of moorhens is pretty perfect too) and also the most amazing natural display. At this point in February, it sometimes feels like it has been winter forever and that perhaps spring might not ever arrive. Persuading yourself away from the warm indoors/cosy sofa and outdoors is not always easy, but is so rewarding. Winter’s natural beauty isn’t always as obvious as simple summertime pleasures, but just takes a little more effort to get out there and enjoy it.

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But the sun is still here, and the clear winter skies are stunning…even if multiple layers of thermal clothing are required to get outside and enjoy them! I am definitely not a hardy outdoorsy type person; I suspect my body’s circulation system is based more on a reptile than a mammal; I’m only truly warm having soaked up some warm sunshine for a few hours!

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Having visited RSPB Otmoor near Oxford to see the starling mumurations last year, I had to see this amazing display again. I waited weeks for good weather and a Sunday to happen simulataeously, and it was worth the wait. After walking a mile or two through the nature reserve I reached the reed beds where the starlings land to roost each evening. And was just in time; whilst the birds were roosting further away than last time I had seen them, the murmurations could still be seen in the far distance. Thanks to the super zoom lens I was just about able to capture some of their sky patterns.

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It was so incredibly peaceful, standing quietly with a small group of people all gathered for the same reason. Everyone wrapped up warm for the freezing cold, some with telescopes or binoculars and with cameras, and most with a thermos!

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Luckily we had packed hot chocolate supplies for the walk and settled down in a bird hide to enjoy our drinks and watch the starlings settle down for the night.

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The walk home as the sun set over the nature reserve was stunning; such pink winter skies and silhoutted bulrushes and trees. The mist was gathering over the water and the only sound was geese and ducks in the distance.

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Watching the starlings is a winter ritual that I am becoming very fond of, and one not to be missed. Since our trip to Otmoor I have seen coverage on a few tv shows of murmurations all around the country, and perhaps next year we will travel to the coast to see them gather and dance over the sand dunes!

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