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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
Wednesday 17th December 2008
Brighton Pier

As we were both free for this very sunny afternoon we took the chance to do some christmas shopping in Brighton's North Lanes followed by taking in the spectacular starling roost at the Palace Pier.
We got to the pier at 3pm and at that time there were more sparrowhawks in the sky than there were starlings (one). We wandered to the very end and within 15 minutes the first starlings started to arrive a few hundred at a time. We saw that the better place to see them all was near the deckchairs just before the amusements. From there we could see swarm after swarm of them coming out of the city and all heading towards us in a wavy, circling motion. It was completely mesmerising and it was easy to see why it may have the same effect on predators. We didn't spot any birds of prey at all, apart from the earlier sparrowhawk. We also noticed that there was only a small amount of birdsong and no droppings at all coming from the birds (otherwise we would have been covered).
After swooping around and joining into several super-flocks, the birds starting making random swirling shapes in the sky. They kept this up for ages and were coming so low over our heads that they seemed like a sort of bird-ceiling (?). Eventually they all began to dive underneath the pier where they were going to sleep for the night. They all perched just underneath the wooden boardwalk only several inches from
everybody's feet and started chattering away like mad. They kept this up until their thousands of  brothers and sisters had finally made their way to bed, when they suddenly fell silent. The whole show was over by 4:30 and we then noticed for the first time that we were freezing cold, so we headed off for hot soup in the Lanes.
If you haven't seen this amazing show, then treat yourself to it very soon. But dress warm!