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Nature_Garden

 Nature Notes 

 Review of 2021  

 Robins 

 Meadow Maintenance 

 Sweet Chestnut 

 Ants 

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 Stag Beetles 

 Hay Meadows 

 Goat Willow 

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 Ivy 

 Take it easy 

 Falling Leaves 

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 Pollinator Patch 

 Bird Song 

 Dandelions 

 Garden - May 

 Garden - Apr 

 Birch Trees 

 Rotting Wood 

 Starlings 

 Mistletoe 

 Bramble 

 Hedgehogs 

 Sowing Seeds 

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Starlings - Jan 2020

 

Recent visitors to the Rec may have noticed a small flock of starlings who have adopted the trees alongside the central path as their daytime roost. Noisy and gregarious, they seem to divide opinion between those of us who like them and others that see them as a nuisance.

 

Allow me to put in a good word for Sturnus Vulgaris. I think of them as the cheeky chappies of the bird world; they are definitely birds with attitude! They strut their stuff searching for insects in the grass, happily squabbling amongst themselves and with most other birds that cross their path. Sometimes thought of as rather boring in appearance, their glossy black feathers show a stunning iridescent sheen of purples and greens when they catch the light. Also, in the winter, they are handsomely freckled with tiny beige spots. The youngsters are admittedly a dull greyish brown in colour, but soon acquire their adult plumage and need no time whatsoever to develop their bumptious character!

 

And who can fail to be impressed by one of nature’s greatest spectacles in the form of a starling murmuration.  These wonderful displays occur during the autumn and winter months when thousands of starlings congregate to form overnight roosts. Numbers in the UK are swelled by an influx of birds from Europe, who are drawn here to wait out the worst of the continental weather. The reason for such large flocks is thought to be as a protection against predators such as peregrine falcons and the mesmeric twists and turns of the ‘sky dance’, could also have a deterrent effect. A few years back, there were large murmurations that could be seen from the Winnall Moors Industrial Estate just off the M3…some of you may have witnessed them. I remember going to visit one late afternoon in November. I was standing directly beneath the starlings as more and more joined the flock from miles around. It was hypnotic watching them as they seemed to flow through the sky in perfect unison. Then, as if on some unseen signal, they suddenly dropped into the warmth and safety of the reedbeds on the nature reserve. It was a really breathtaking sight!

 

Sadly, starling numbers are in rapid decline throughout Europe and have fallen by more than 80% in Britain over the last forty years. They are now red listed as a species of High Conservation Concern. It is thought to be due to a loss of suitable nesting sites and a serious depletion in the numbers of soil invertebrates, which they depend on to feed their young.

 

And if that doesn’t convince you that they’re birds worthy of our attention, perhaps their talent for mimicry will. Starlings are known to copy other birdcalls as well as mechanical sounds. Mozart was certainly impressed!  He acquired a starling from a Viennese pet shop that had learned to sing the motif of his latest piano concerto. When it died after 3 years, Mozart held a funeral in his garden, for which, according to Lyanda Haupt  (author of Mozart’s Starling), he wrote a ‘whimsical elegy’…..Now, what better endorsement than that!!

 

 

 

 

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