One of the few joys of this otherwise joyless winter has been the number of starlings. I’ve never seen so many. Even Cilycwm has its resident murmuration, and a slice of them descended on the garden last month. Starlings always look busy, and this is partly because of the way they use their beaks to force things apart. I vividly remember having an orphan starling baby when I was about 10. A house in our village (Ogbourne St. George in Wiltshire) was being re-thatched and the starlings’ nests in the old thatch were being thrown out. We rescued one nestling and when it became a fledgling, it would sit on my hand and prize my fingers apart.
Most of the starlings we see in winter are migrants from continental Europe, our resident numbers being much lower. I was lucky to catch one of the big flocks in Somerset. It was at Ham Wall near Glastonbury and I arrived at the roost site with only minutes to spare before the big black stain in the reeds exploded into the air and resolved itself into a few thousand starlings who then performed their wonderful aerial ballet before flying silently off to their feeding grounds.