Comedians flocking here from the east

PUBLISHED: 13:24 29 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:15 28 May 2010

One bird that is particularly hard to ignore at the moment is the comical and very entertaining starling. The autumn is an interesting time of year to pay closer attention to them. Those that have nested here in the UK (raising one, but occasionally two b

One bird that is particularly hard to ignore at the moment is the comical and very entertaining starling.

The autumn is an interesting time of year to pay closer attention to them. Those that have nested here in the UK (raising one, but occasionally two broods) have flocked together to create a real spectacle. In addition the first migrant starlings are starting to arrive.

Starlings from Eastern Europe come here for the winter, as do many from even further east, in Russia. If you are an early riser, it is worth spending some time watching the sky early in the mornings for the next six weeks or so. You may see vast squadrons of starlings heading in a southerly or westerly direction over your garden. These are newly-arrived migrants.

If you happen to be up on the coast at this time of year, you can watch starlings making their first landfall, although they don't stop as soon as they hit the coast.

A few may tumble down into sea buckthorn bushes to feast on the ripening berries, but most continue along the coast without a pause until they reach an 'entry point' to head inland such as a river mouth to follow.

In the evenings, it is a different starling show to look out for. This is when they form their famous roosts, gathering together from all directions and grouping to twist and turn in the sky like vast clouds of smoke. Listen, and you will hear their wingbeats as they wheel around and then suddenly change direction.

I now have a small starling roost in a line of smallish conifers opposite my house. It is great watching the numbers grow as the days go by and my local birds are joined by those from further afield and, as October progresses, the Russian birds should start appearing too. It's a nice way to end the day, watching them wheel around outside and then finally settle all together in the tree.

If you don't witness either of these special sights, there is always the daytime antics of starlings to enjoy.

If you feed the birds in your garden, you will almost certainly attract starlings at some point. They are so adaptable and will take to almost any type of food, no matter how you serve it, from food on the ground to hanging cage feeders.

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