After our exploration of Ynys-Hir we headed back to nearby Aberystwyth where we had a B&B booked for the night. I spent five happy years at university in this town so it was great fun to get reacquainted with the place. One of the most amazing natural spectacles to be seen in Aber is the huge Starling roost that gathers throughout the winter on the old pier. Each evening as dusk approaches various smaller flocks congregate in the air above the pier, merging with others until one monolithic mass is formed. After an aerial display that has to be seen to be believed they make one final swoop underneath the steelwork before settling down for the night. No one is sure why the birds put on such a dramatic performance as the energy involved must be significant. One theory is that the birds use the exercise as a way of checking out a roost site for safety before landing. This certainly seems plausible as while I was watching a Peregrine Falcon swooped in and took a bird for its evening meal.

12070 - Starlings over Aberystwyth Pier
12069 - Starlings over Aberystwyth Pier
12066 - Starlings over Aberystwyth Pier
12074 - Starlings over Aberystwyth Pier
12076 - Starlings over Aberystwyth Pier
12071 - Starlings over Aberystwyth Pier

Even after the birds have settled down the noise emanating from beneath is very loud but no where near as offensive as the odour from all those droppings. How they get any sleep I do not know! Speaking of droppings it is worth mentioning that if you do happen to be in Aber when the Starlings come in to roost, make sure that you are stood nowhere near the pier. Past experience teaches me that the promenade gets absolutely pelted with little Starling treats. I narrowly avoided a disaster myself a few years back thanks to some quick running and a handy rain shelter. No sooner had we dived inside than a wall of droppings fell all around us. It was quite a surreal experience but one of those moments that really sticks in my head.

1 Comment

Richard King · March 11, 2010 at 12:40 am

Great photos of the Starlings there Adam, but hopefully we won't see this in Western Australia. Nice blog.

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