These included several Cetti’s warblers, widgeon, shoveller, gadwall, stonechat, teal (courting and mating), chiff-chaff, great crested grebe, snipe, marsh harrier (both male and female), coot, long-tailed tit, lapwing, kingfisher, great white egret, little grebe, cormorant, tufted duck, and mute swan.
Photo: Male Marsh Harrier
The starlings started flying over our heads just before dusk, firstly in flocks of about 100, then gradually they increased to 400, and finally 3000 at a time. This was an amazing sight; we could hear the down thrusts of their wings as they flew directly overhead towards the reed beds where they would be roosting overnight. They choose this type of area to get protection from foxes, who cannot (usually) swim. Suddenly each flock plummets down into the reeds, which are deliberately left uncut, and they chatter amongst themselves until it is dark; this sounds just like water going over Pulteney Weir! Because the reed bed is full of birds, it is warmer than open ground.
Starlings do not feed at night, but spread out during the day up to 20 miles away in fields to feed. They keep away from each other in the vast overhead flocks by noting the positions of the 6 birds around them, avoiding their wings; a very simple but effective way of not bumping into each other!