Taking flight

Blogging challenges, England, National Trust, Wildlife

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is Taking Flight. What to choose? I thought of hot air balloons I’ve seen. I thought of planes. I thought of bubbles magically released into the sky to delight children and adults everywhere. In the end, two ideas insisted on their fifteen minutes of fame.

The first is the starling murmurations which are such a feature of life here early every spring. Once, one even took place over our garden. We were entranced until we saw the state of our car afterwards. Have you seen one? Murmurations take place towards evening, when thousands of starlings swoop and swirl in the sky above their chosen roosting site for that night. Are they keeping predators at bay? Exchanging information before nightfall? Nobody’s sure. But as suddenly as it begins, the display stops, and the birds descent to their roosts, and it’s over for another night. Here are a few shots – and look at the featured photo too.

Then there was our visit to the Farne Islands, a protected National Trust bird reserve off the coast of Northumbria What an afternoon we had here. We saw puffins, we saw razorbills, guillemots, eider duck, fulmars …. sea birds of so many kinds. But if it’s flight you want to see today, we’ll just stick with the Arctic Terns, with their bright white and grey plumage and orange beaks.

Arctic terns are feisty, aggressive birds, fiercely protective of their young, as these pictures may suggest. They are impressive migrants, flying between 44, 000 – 59, 000 miles a year to reach their European breeding grounds from the Antarctic.

Bright Square

Lens-Artists Challenge #144

58 thoughts on “Taking flight

  1. I love watching terns. The ones we see in Portugal are fortunately not too feisty and so we can just enjoy their acrobatics. And I am so envious of you having a murmuration about your place, even with what they left behind! I have not watched one in person since my Brighton and Hove days – amazing to watch

    Like

  2. Wonderful post, Margaret! I love watching murmurations – just learned the word…- and i do know about the terns. We were fiercely attacked in Iceland and had to run for the car. Farne islands sound an interesting place to visit. Great shots of the birds there! How I wish we could visit Britain again. Soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d settle for visiting ANYwhere, Ann-Christine. And yes, on the Farne Islands, wearing a sturdy hat is mandatory – quite right too!

      Like

  3. How wonderful to see a murmuration over your garden and a proper sized one at that. I haven’t seen one for years and years and come to that don’t see too many starlings these days either. When I lived in Norfolk I looked up why and read one opinion that suggested changes in farming practices with different stock and different crops changed the habitat resulting in less earthworms and leatherjackets for starling suppers. But who knows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have several nature reserves round here, which must help. But where those starlings disappear to when not murmurating is one of life’s unsolved mysteries.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As a child/young person growing up not far from Glasgow, I probably did see starling murmurations, but didn’t realise that is what they were at the time – we just saw that every evening the starlings from all over the place flew back to Glasgow to roost for the night – nothing special, happened all the time. Since I’ve been aware of these marvellous events, I’ve not seen one of course, but would love to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In late winter/early spring, have a look on the net to find info about where good places to spot murmurations near you are to be found. There’s almost certainly something.

      Like

  5. I’m envious of your murmurations – despite the aftermath. Another reason to get myself up to your neck of the woods. I think of them as autumn/winter spectacles rather than summer; am I right? As for the Farne Islands – I yearn to visit them. But maybe I’ll give those terns a miss…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You don’t need to come here to see them, and yes, they tend to finish as April kicks in. Various websites give details of good places to see them. There should be something near you? But yes, do come north. I’m waiting to meet you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Learned a new word! Well, actually not quite new, I now the word murmuration in an acoustic sense, I didn’t know it was also used for the movement of a flock of birds. Thank you. Great photos! I wouldn’t like to come between a tern and its nest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not! Terns are quite aggressive, and have very pointed beaks. So – I’ve taught you ‘murmuration’. What is it in German please? Asking for a friend … well my husband actually.

      Like

      1. Not easy to translate. The acoustic one is easy, it’s “Raunen”. The translation for birds flying in one big body is the same as for a flock of birds: “Vogelschwarm” or just “Schwarm”.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Marvellous pictures Margaret. The grandest murmuration we’ve seen was in Wales. There were so many birds, and they performed for so long, that it was mesmerising. We could feel the changes in air pressure every time they swooped down. We are quite fortunate in that we have lots of starlings visiting our garden and have mini murmurations on a regular basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful photos! You wondered, “Are they keeping predators at bay? Exchanging information before nightfall? Nobody’s sure.” Then you looked at your car. Could it be that the answer was plainly in sight? Us humans do an evening ritual in the bathroom before bed time …

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing murmurations Margaret, we see starlings here, but not so many, though I think they can be on the marshes. They arrive in September and disappear in February, probably to northern Europe, though I believe some live in the UK all year round.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The funny thing is that outside the murmurations, we hardly ever see a starling. It’s all a bit mysterious. I must ask my birding friend next week.

      Like

  11. I have never seen a murmuration except on TV but would love to experience one some day. Your images have reminded me my bucket list is still incomplete Margaret! Loved your terns as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Stunning pictures of starlings. To think I was excited to see seven in the field this evening. Now I am thinking the ones I saw were Billy-no-mates, relatively speaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Starling Murmurations are some of the most incredible sites to ever see. We still see them occasionally, but when I was kid growing up in Texas in the countryside, we would see larger flocks and incredible dances. When it happened at sunset, it takes the wind right out of you and leaves you speechless. I really do want to see those feisty Arctic Terns. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful images of birds in flight, Margaret. I just saw a video (coincidentally) of starlings in flight in Rome, which captivated my imagination years ago. I love their murmurations (thanks for that new word) and their flight patterns which are so synchronized. Apparently they are highly intelligent and can decide together where to land for the night. Can you imagine getting thousands of people to agree in a split second where they are going to sleep for the night??πŸ˜€

    Like

Comments are closed.