It is the time of year when starlings are beginning to flock together; many of these birds are actually migrants from Scandinavia who stay here over the winter months. There are lots of reasons for them to form flocks but one of them is for protection from predators. Our resident Falls of Clyde peregrine falcons find it much more difficult to target one starling amongst a sea of thousands. A larger group of birds also has a higher chance of spotting a predator. They can then either choose to mob this predator bird or perform evasive manoeuvres to confuse and overwhelm the poor hungry bird! Starlings form a flock known as a murmuration and numbers of birds can swell to over 100,000. It is wonderful wildlife spectacle and sadly is something we see less and less of and what we think of as large murmurations now are actually a lot smaller then what they once were. Populations have crashed by over 70% in recent years and they are one of the UK’s birds most at risk. One of the closest places to see a large murmuration is down at Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway and many people have visited the nearby motorway service station of an evening to see this amazing display.
Laura Whitfield – Falls of Clyde Ranger