Now the RSPB is asking people to send their experiences of this iconic sight to the charity to be displayed on Brighton Pier.
A self-confessed ‘Brighton starling obsessive’, I told the RSPB said: “Brighton is amazingly lucky to have these sunset-shows. I like to think of them as a ‘Starling Come Dancing’ – anyone who has seen the murmuration will know what I mean – there’s plenty of jiving and twisting, gliding and turning, and of course, shaking of tail-feathers!”.
The mysterious ritual of murmuration sees migrating starlings from as far away as Scandinavia join native starlings as they roost for the winter. At its peak in December, the flock will swell to around 40,000 birds.
Since 2006, the RSPB has been bringing this incredible sight to the public via a special viewing station as part of its Aren’t birds brilliant! (Abb!) scheme.
For the first time, the Abb! team will be on Brighton Pier itself, and the RSPB has launched the Brighton Starling project to celebrate.
The charity is looking for anything that describes the phenomenon, from images and comments, to drawings, poems and songs. The most popular entry will be used to promote the Starling Abb! next year.
The RSPB South East’s Adrian Thomas, who regularly photographs the murmuration said: “The word ‘spectacle’ is used of a lot of things, but I think this one is genuine. What’s brilliant about watching it from Brighton Pier is that you’re right amongst it – you can even hear the rush of their wings as the flocks whoosh and swirl around you.
“The most amazing thing is when the birds act in total unison – I love it when a flock of thousands of birds just seems to rock gently backwards and forwards over the sea, constantly changing shape in the sky. And when it is in front of an amazing sunset, it is just mind-blowing.”
“Loads of people who know Brighton love this sight. There are countless stories out there, I just can’t wait to see what people send in.”
Despite the large numbers seen over Brighton Pier in winter, the UK starling population is in decline, with numbers plummeting by two thirds since the Seventies. As a result, the bird is now Red Listed as a Species of Conservation Concern.
Email your experiences of the murmuration to firstname.lastname@example.org (images must be below 2MB) or post them to RSPB South East, 2nd Floor, Frederick House, 42 Frederick Place, Brighton, BN1 4EA. Call 01273 775333 for more details.
Visit the free Aren’t birds brilliant! scheme on Brighton Pier every weekend from Saturday, 6 December until the end of January, then daily from February.
The Abb! team will be there from 1pm. The best time to catch the performance, weather permitting, is between 3pm and 4pm.
To learn about starlings, download the RSPB’s latest podcast at www.rspb.org.uk/podcasts from December 12