Monday, 4 January 2016

Christmas and New Year Wildlife

Happy New Year to everyone! Here's a little of what we've managed to do and see in the generally miserable weather over the Christmas break.

We spent the first part of Christmas is Southsea at my in-laws. It was lovely to have some walks by the seafront during the festivities. No migrant birds to be seen this time, but some beautiful house sparrows and starlings around, alongside a talkative gaggle of brent geese. Among the geese were a few skittish pied wagtails.

On the morning of our departure, on a nearby church, perched a peregrine falcon tearing at its meal of pigeon, feathers being blown in the wind after each rip of the peregrines beak.

Just after new year, we visited some friends who live in Sheringham. Another walk along the seafront in a very different part of the country. We approached a rather tame cluster of turnstones. Among this hardy little group though lurked a couple of much shyer purple sandpiper. Not a bird I think I've seen in Norfolk before.


Turning our backs to the sea, we spotted a small murmuration of starlings over the town, which slowly grew in number as the light began to drain from the sky. Multiple flocks appeared which mingled with each other, then separated. We hunted out their chosen roosting spot, watching the flocks shape shift above streets and houses on our travels. It was wonderful to see so many groups of people just stopping and watching the birds' performance. Eventually, we tracked down their chosen spot to a large conifer tree in a back garden and watched some of them stream down from the sky, then jostle and chatter for position. By the time we left, our friends estimated that there were probably in the region of 1500 birds in total.

This has been the only starling murmuration I have seen so far this season, but I have been sure to record it on the starling survey. If you see any, be sure to submit your recordings too.


  1. I love early year birding there is all the excitement of starting a new years recording, and I'm a fan of winter birding in general, usually much easier to see the birds with no leaves on the trees :)

    1. Me too - I started reading 'Bird watching with you eyes closed' in January one year and listening to the podcast to try to learn some bird songs before their owners got too well hidden by the leaves!