When I go to the supermarket I take the remnants of a loaf to feed to the birds in the supermarket car park, then I buy some more in the supermarket to give them an extra treat when I come out. Recently I have been disappointed by how few starlings there were, and I put it down to two things: the presence of a lot of crows; and the failure of our migrating birds to return. Our populations are different in winter and in summer. Our winter birds fly away further north, and birds from further south come to breed here. Starlings are thought of as common and ordinary, but they are really striking:
Many of you will have seen amazing film of starlings flocking together at dusk to land in their thousands at their chosen roost site. This is called a murmuration of starlings, which is weird, 'cos they do anything but murmur!
As I started my shopping trip, we were back to having lots of starlings congregating for some free food. Lots of babies were among them. I was delighted.
When I came out, I started to feed them some more bread (only wholemeal will do, got to give them their protein!) trying hard to keep them away from the road.
Suddenly an old man got out of his car and started berating me. "Don't you know that's illegal?" he said. Well, it isn't, and I told him so.
"Well they shit all over the cars." And our cars shit all over their environment. He didn't like that. He denied it. Well, we build all over their territory, I said. "No we don't." I laughed and swept my arm round to indicate the acres of concrete car park. But he wouldn't understand. So I just told him to shut up and mind his own business.
If we are to continue having these murmurations, we need to protect these wonderful little birds. The planet has too many people. Especially people like that crabby old sod.
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