Sunday, 14 December 2008

Starling City

A tiny fraction of the Starlings on Brighton Pier

I went on a monumentally traffic-filled, stuttering drive to Brighton on the south coast today as a guest of the RSPB to witness the 50,000 or so Starlings coming into roost on the pier. It was the dullest day ever in terms of light. At 3pm it seemed like the sun was giving up for the day about to go down early. I brought my mother with me to experience her first birding trip. I know. It's totally embarrassing. I've been birding all my life and have never taken my mum out birding.

I think that part of the reason why she has never accompanied me is that she has never shown any inclination previously - and I have asked her before, believe me. I think that she has always just thought 'just let him get on with it.' I also think that she just didn't get it when I was growing up. How could her son, raised in a black/Irish neighbourhood - miles away from the nearest stretch of countryside, be into birds? Don't get me wrong, she totally encouraged me as much as she could. I think that now that I'm getting recognition for my lifelong passion, she taking a closer look. On the way down to Brighton this afternoon, I looked in the rearview mirror and caught her thumbing through the pages of Bird Watching Magazine and actually reading some birding articles (apart from my own piece)!

Anyway, back to those glorious Starlings.

I was on the pier with the RSPB's Kate Whitton and her team meeting the public, chatting to the  volunteers and of course, checking out the masses of Starlings. Being a birder, I was also scrutinizing the gulls that were milling around the pier. I suppose I was hoping for a passing Mediterranean Gull, but I had to make do with Herring and Black-headed's, though I was pretty certain that I had a first winter Common Gull.

It was quite interesting to watch the multitudes of Starlings swirling low over the sea. I tried to upload a picture I took but the upload thingy was taking eons.

Big week next week. I have several big meetings. I will keep you up to date.

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