The hunt

After several more enjoyable but underwhelming visits to the Aberystwyth starling roost, a few nights ago under crystal clear skies the starlings finally provided a glimpse little of the drama I have been waiting for all season.

It was the unexpected arrival of a peregrine falcon that triggered this brief flurry of action. The starling flock burst into a frenzy of shapeshifting murmurations in an effort to intimidate their attacker and evade predation, hoping safety in numbers will protect them.

A peregrine ambushes the flock from below as they panic and split into small groups
Taking avoiding action as the peregrine closes in from beneath

Faced with an almost impenetrable mass of beating wings it is difficult for the peregrine to pick out one individual from the crowd. A seemingly impossible task perhaps, but not for the fastest bird in the world…

The peregrine attacks, lost among the mass of panicked starlings
Peregrine re-emerges from the flock
The peregrine departs, but was it a successful hunt?

It wasn’t until I reviewed the images at home on my laptop screen that I discovered the peregrine’s hunt had indeed been been a success despite the starlings’ cooperative efforts. In these heavily cropped photos you can just spot the silhouette of one unfortunate starling, dangling from the peregrine’s grasp…

A starling clasped in the peregrine’s talons
No escape…
The peregrine departs leaving the huge starling flock one member down…

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Photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2023

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