Heathfield Starlings

Further to my previous post, I have visited the site twice more (24th & 26th Feb) when I estimated 15-20,000.  There were certainly fewer than the 20-25,000 (and possibly more) on my first visit (21st) and an observer on 24th suggested numbers had declined by some 50% from a fortnight earlier.  This suggests that many birds were aware of the severe weather (high pressure) coming out of Siberia and Russia, now resulting in freezing temperatures and the snow being experienced in eastern UK, and moved ahead of it to more clement climes in Cornwall, maritime France or even Iberia although the forecast suggests a lot of snow moving north from Iberia later this week.  It will be interesting to see if this roost declines further over the next week as temperatures plummet further and the ground becomes too frozen to feed.   Presumably their return to breeding grounds in N Europe/Russia, The Baltic and Scandinavia will be delayed bearing in mind the severe weather currently being experienced across their breeding range.

Also, it seemed that birds are probably not just coming to the roost from the Dartmoor direction.  Estimates of flocks joining the throng from that direction were insufficient to make up the total flock circling over the roost area for at least half an hour before entering the roost.

Posted February 27th, 2018 at 10:12 am by Dennis Elphick in Bird News