Sunday, January 07, 2007

A chatter of Starlings

In the winter, the starlings [Sturnus vulgaris ] come back to the Cote d'Azur. They aren't really welcomed as they cause an enormous amount of damage and mess due to their droppings.

Cars parked under their roost trees end up in a terrible mess and i think the excreta actually damages the paint finish. Locals tend to avoid the affected parking spaces but I've seen some cars splattered from bonnet to boot in grey and white from the droppings of hundreds or maybe even thousands of birds.

The black specks in the trees in the following photos aren't leaves -they are thousands of starlings waiting for some invisible signal to take off into the sky.

They gather as huge flocks in the morning and at dusk - and chatter very noisily until the whole flock is assembled before taking off like a huge cloud of black confetti. The 'confetti cloud' turns into an amoeba shape and swoops and dives without an obvious lead bird or signal mechanism to coordinate the aerial acrobatics.

I like to watch them flying around- I think it looks like some sort of giant kalaeidoscope and the flight patterns are both amazing and beautiful.
I have never managed to take a decent photo of them flocking but I found some wonderful ones here
This is a close up that gives an idea of how many birds are in the tree - definitely hundreds of birds

I suppose some photos from the cote d'azure aren't completely without a palm tree

They don't manage to crowd on to palm branches as densely as they can on trees that have lost their leaves for winter.

I am quite a fan of collective nouns [probably because they seem to add some interesting detail to the thing they describe.]

I looked up the collective noun for starling, it seems that they have quite a few different collective nouns.
Some have arisen due to their noisy habits: a murmuration, a chatter, a chattering. Some are due to their mess and pest nature: a scourge, a vulgarity, a filth, a clutter and some are due to their flight patterns: a flight, a constellation, a cloud .

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isay said...

hi alison!

great photos.

Maggie said...

Thanks for the link to the flying flocks of starlings - look like some kind of weird pointilliste (sp?) painting. I love watching them in the autumn evenings at our caravan in Wales - and on occasions we've been "dive-bombed" by them when driving, the noise of their wings up close is amazing! But you're right, they do leave an awful mess. Fortunately they prefer to roost the other side of the field to us! :-) Happy New Year from Liverpool!

natural attrill said...

Hello again and Happy new year!
I love watching birds flying in the sky making such wonderful moving patterns.