Another evening, and yet another visit to the starling murmurations at Aberystwyth promenade. No two experiences are ever the same, and this is one of the reasons I am drawn back to watch the starlings time and time again.
Conditions today were quite the contrast from just my previous visit with overcast skies and a buffeting wind blowing in from over the sea, churning up the waves below. Under a blanket of cloud the light was fading fast and the birds arrived early, keen to reach safety and shelter before the onset of darkness.
As the starlings began to descend and jostle for the prime spots on their iron perches beneath the pier, a sudden explosion of activity sent them wheeling back into the sky. Such panic could only be caused by the ambush of a predator, a sparrowhawk lying in wait…
The gulls too were sent scattering from the nearby rocks, although they lacked the grace and coordination of the starlings, it was every gull for itself!
You can see the drama unfold at the beginning of this video clip, fortunately I had started recording just in time!
If you look closely at the video you might be able to spot some of the below formations which I also captured in still images. I particularly like this first photo when the starlings momentarily formed this spiralling funnel, a starling tornado!
Despite much sky scanning, I was only able to get a few glimpses of the sparrowhawk against the clouds and among the chaos of thousands. The starlings’ shapeshifting behaviour assured me it WAS there, but I did also successfully capture one shot of it on camera, just to prove it!
The starlings continued their fluid dance for several of minutes, rippling through the sky like an enormous Mexican wave. Confronted by this almost impenetrable wall of starlings, the sparrowhawk’s hunt was thwarted and it swiftly moved in search of an easier meal elsewhere.
I can’t get enough of photographing these twisting, whirling shapes, they rather remind me of abstract art (only better!).
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All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2021
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