Murmuration of starlings is a sight
The Wells Active Living Group
The Wells Active Living Group met at the St Lawrence Day Centre on January 31.
While we all had a hot drink and delicious jammy dodger biscuit, Ellie welcomed our new members Jean, Pat, Greta and Marjorie to the group.
We then settled down to watch a film and listen to a talk given by artist Neil Clarke entitled "A Murmuration of Starlings".
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Neil's hobby of photography expanded after retirement and this particular presentation was filmed in 2011 at the RSPB Nature Reserve Shapwick Heath.
The reserve is on reed beds, planted in 1999, where peat has been extracted first for fuel and then garden compost.
It is criss-crossed by drains and ditches which makes it the ideal environment for ducks, swans, great white egret, otters and of course starlings.
The season for the starling migration from northern countries such as Sweden is October to March.
The people arriving to watch the display have to come quite early to find where the birds might roost for the night and pick a position to see them as this time of year they arrive five minutes later each day.
It all depends on the weather, sometimes if it's not good the birds will land quickly.
If the sky is clear with no wind they will circle, spiral and swirl around checking for predators such as sparrow hawks, if one is in the sky the display will be more spectacular as they know that a sparrow hawk can only focus straight ahead on one target at a time and if the birds keep on the move constantly changing direction they are safer.
When they do land it is often several birds to a reed with quite a bit of movement as no one wants to be at the bottom of the reed.
When all the birds have settled for the night their body heat can raise the temperature of the reed beds by five degrees.
The film showed that mornings at the reserve can also be pretty dramatic with thousands of hungry starling flapping their wings as they take off from the reed beds in the first moments of dawn to return to the feeding grounds.
After thanking Neil for this really interesting film Ellie suddenly said "you thought you had got away with it but we are now going to have a quiz to get our brains working".
The winners each had nine questions out of 15 correct and then we had our lunch, every person either brings their own or pops out to buy it.
This was followed later by 18 movements of Tai Chi and five finger Tai Chi which left us very relaxed.
The next meeting will be on the February 28, with a presentation by a person from WISH on the changing benefits system who will then answer all our questions.
The times of the future meeting will be doors open at 10am finishing at about 2.30pm.
The price of each session has to rise to £2 for drinks and biscuits due to rising costs (jammy dodgers).
Any person who wishes to attend but has transport problems please contact Ellie Doe on 01749 678435.