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On winter nights, hundreds of thousands of birds gather noisily together to roost. Thousands of starlings fly in to roost under the town pier, engaging in a wonderful choreography of synchronised aerobatics. Find out more. This nature reserve is one of the best locations to view millions of starlings as they swirl and swoop across the landscape.

Nine thousand starlings begin their display at dusk over these beautiful lakes in Cambridgeshire. Sign up to receive our newsletter! Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Countryfile. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Home Go Outdoors Starling murmuration guide: why and when they happen and best places to see one in the UK. Starling murmuration guide: why and when they happen and best places to see one in the UK A murmuration of starlings is a remarkable wildlife spectacle to witness. September 13th, at pm.

The birds of Shakespeare cause US trouble

More related content: Starlings on the Somerset Levels Ellie Harrison: the plight of the starling in Britain Where do birds go to winter? Ham Wall reserve in Somerset is a popular spot for birders. Getty Images.

Middleton Moor Murmuration. The starlings are roosting in reed beds in a disused pond, part of Cavendish Mill. Up to 40, birds arrive from as far away as Scandinavia to winter alongside their native cousins on the pier. Some of the reasons, we don't," he said. They still appear in lots of gardens, but nowhere near as many as in our grandparents generation. Also in decline is the song thrush, because of less food available to them.

Also, they like quite untidy areas of the garden to nest in. There are, however, birds which have been thriving in the changing environment, like the nuthatch. Robins are another. And the long-tailed tit. At this time of year you get them in flocks of ten to twenty. As for those divisive figures of the bird world - such as the pigeon and the magpie - despite thriving in the past few decades, they may have already reached their peak.

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Incredibly clever birds, very good at adapting to new environments and they've done pretty well out of human habitation and food that they can get. But they're not having any affect on other species as far as we know. As we expand our towns and cities, we start to eat into natural habitat and those are the things that are really affecting birds. A tidy garden can still be a wildlife-friendly garden, according to the RSPB. It is when gardeners become "too clinical" that it damages the habitat for birds.

A range of plants which flower and seed at varied times throughout the year will provide food for birds, as will insects that are active and feeding over different periods. Ensure that plants are of genuine native stock and not from far flung places - birds like food which grows in the habitat in which they live. Put out food for bird in feeders, but also think about planting flowers and plants which produce berries, and those which attract insects and moths.

Resist the urge to clear up at the end of the summer, as leaving seedheads standing provides a great food resource to many birds.

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Chaffinches, nuthatches, thrushes, blue tits, sparrows… It goes like a fair, from dawn until dusk. So common is it in Scotland that you may be surprised to hear that not all countries believe in feeding the birds. In Australia, for example, the practise is frowned upon. The arguments against it are varied: some behavioural we should not disturb their normal feeding habits , some epidemiological feeders can act as hubs for the spread of disease , and some a simple matter of ecological caution.

In recent years, scientists have raised some concerns, noting that providing supplementary food for birds — as is recommended by the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird RSPB and British Trust for Ornithology BTO — may be one of the largest human influences on bird populations, alongside climate change and habitat loss.

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When we feed the birds, we are inadvertently participating in a vast experiment upon our fellow creatures. Last year, scientists revealed that, over the last four decades, great tits in the UK have grown longer beaks than their Dutch counterparts. Birds better able to access the seed have had an evolutionary advantage, in a very form of natural selection.

Or unnatural selection, perhaps. And our provision of food can favour different species over others, or change their geographical distribution. And in , the BTO announced that blackcaps, a type of warbler associated with spring and summer, have developed a new genetically encoded migratory route, which has seen them increasingly overwintering in the UK over the 60 years that bird feed has been commercially available. These British blackcaps also have narrower and longer beaks. So: is it bad to feed the birds? Well, perhaps not. And those receiving food have greater reproductive success — laying more eggs, earlier, whose occupants are more likely to survive.

For many, feeding the birds is a deeply pleasurable, even profound experience. The RSPB has a number of recommendations:. When spring comes, consider planting bird-friendly vegetation: prickly bushes and thick climbers make for a safe hideout, while fruit trees provide a valuable source of food through late autumn and early spring.


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Nestboxes are useful too — simply position them high enough that cats cannot reach them. With any luck, your garden will soon become a haven for birds of all kinds. Moths have a bad rep. One might be forgiven for assuming they were all drab clothes-munching wardrobe haunters. Fluttering, frightening fly-by-nights of no particular interest. It can be tricky to tell them apart for one thing. No hard and fast rule.

Folk wisdom holds that butterflies appear during the day, and moths at night — but there are over a hundred diurnal daytime moths. Any assumption that butterflies are more brightly coloured falls down the moment you stumble across one of the Emerald Moth family, who are just as vivid a shade as the name suggests, with scalloped detailing picked out in white.

Or one of the Burnets, with their scarlet velvet spots upon a sleek bottle green backdrop. Or one of the Tiger Moths, mottled black-brown and cream up top, and black-brown and orange or yellow below. Generally speaking, butterflies have club-shaped antennae while moths have feathery or comb-like ones, but there are many exceptions. Both emerge from pupae — butterflies generally from hard chrysalises, while moths can emerge from silken cocoons, chrysalises buried underground, hidden in bark or folded leaves.

But the attempt is a delight: the gathering and discarding of one evocative suggestion after another, each one more lyrical than the last: is it a Smoky Wave? A Satin Beauty? A Scarce Tissue? A Phoenix? A Flounced Rustic? A Clouded Brindle?


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