Go to Brighton to see the starling murmurations – Challenge no 31


Well I won’t beat about the bush, this was an unexpectedly moving experience and whilst cliched, I just don’t care, my heart soared with the birds.  

Some years ago I was sat in the garden around dusk and watched the 20+ starlings in our garden dance around the tree tops, swooping, moving on and eventually landing in their chosen roosts, it was mesmerising behaviour and when I later learnt that huge groups or murmurations ( the collective noun for Starlings, sometimes also known as chattering, affliction or scourge) of Starlings collected at Brighton pier I decided to check it out…..but never quite did.  So this is how it appeared on my 50@50 challenge list.

It turned out to be one of those special days, the ones you don’t have high hopes for.  I had researched when was best to see them but found very little on the internet about it apart from one post years ago dated February so that was the month I earmarked to do it.  The weather was supposed to be Ok so I decided the shopping would be good if nothing else!!  As I don’t drive I took the half hour bus trip to the station, waited 45 mins for the connecting train and spent 1hr 45 on the scenic trip through Romney Marshes and on to Brighton….but it was sooooo worth it.  I shopped for a bit in the North Lanes and then headed down to the pier (avoiding the donuts, ice creams and chips due to the silly losing weight Challenge I set ☹) but the fair ground was going. I have to say I love the Carousel, loads!!! So imagine how pleased I was when they said I could go on it, even though no-one else was there…my own private swirl around…winding back the clock, the music filling the air…pure nostalgia and I loved it.  After that I left the pier and went to wait, with little expectation as all I had seen thus far were gulls and oyster-catchers; but from nowhere 20 starlings appeared over the water!!!


If I tell you I was thrilled with 20 you can imagine my feeling as more, more and yet more groups of starlings joined the flock to make one massive murmuration.  They split into two groups straddling the pier but on one side were much closer to the water so I swapped to that side and at times as they approached the air darkened and you could hear their beating wings.  They flew low to the water so they were lost from sight momentarily then emerged and would rise forming DNA strand-like shapes, then switch direction and deploy an invisibility cloaking system so again you would hardly know they were there.  It was impossible not to gasp with wonder and marvel at the genius and beauty of nature.  

As the light faded the Starlings began to swoop closer to the Pier and sections would split off and head under to their roosts, this was repeated and the numbers depleted but this was then replaced by the cacophony of chirrups from under the pier…and here I left them….elated!!

This took place between 4-30-5.30pm on Friday 26th February.

There were very few people watching this spectacle and I just wonder…why?  It was great, heart warming entertainment, free to view and I will certainly be heading back again but with my camera next time!!