Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Slebech Miscanthus Starling roost

On our way home this evening we stopped along the A40 to view the starling roost at Slebech. Many thousands (possibly 100,000 or more?) of starlings were coming in to roost. There were no obvious murmurations, the birds simply piled straight into the c. 2 metre high and quite extensive Miscanthus crop.

The photos show many of them at the surface but most seemed to quickly disappear into the grass. A couple of crepuscular buzzards were watching closely from the trees. As it got darker they started to quarter the field, disturbing quite a few starlings and causing many to move around.

A buzzard watches from a tree as the starlings pile in
Miscanthus has obviously become an attractive roost-site for them. Recent studies of the Slebech Miscanthus crop also show that it has probably become a locally important "relatively new" habitat for harvest mice as well.

Earlier in the day we had a generally quiet, mainly coastal walk at St. Brides. Not too many birds about but it was nice to see a feeding flock of about 100 or so skylarks and 30+ chaffinches in a stubble field, where most of the inland fields surrounding the stubble could only really be described as "green desert".

Out in St Brides Bay we could see a couple of distant divers (one definite red-throated). The local adult cormorants are beginning to look quite smart now in their pre-breeding plumage. The one photographed was a bit distant but could be seen to be sporting a short but rather fine Mohican-style dark crest.