“And still they gazed and still the wonder grew” – these words from ‘The Deserted Village’ by Oliver Goldsmith came to mind when I was in Nobber, last week.
I never saw anything like it. It was a murmuration of starlings. Someone said that there was at least 2 million of them and I could well believe it.
Where did they all come from? Why did they all come here? How did they know this was the place? How long did it take to get here? How? Why? Why? Nobody really knows.
There are plenty of great videos on Youtube, if you haven’t seen a murmuration before – but here’s one that I made last week (which isn’t great because my stupid phone wouldn’t focus – but it shows the actual spot, the little grove of trees where all the starlings eventually come down to roost).
A murmuration, according to the Collins Dictionary, is: the act of murmuring… as in a murmuration of approving nods. (Not what I saw). It also mentions: a collective term for starlings but in truth, it’s just so much more than that. The whole sky over Nobber was black with starlings – wheeling around the sky in joyful unison, a whirling dipping, ever-changing pattern, and still they kept coming, more and more flocks arriving from every direction…
If you’re interested in seeing it yourself, Nobber (or An Obair in Irish) is halfway between Kells and Ardee, about an hour and a half from Dublin. You should arrive about 4.30pm and the starlings start arriving between then and 5pm. Just past O’Carolan College, there’s a small country lane on the right. You’ll see some people gathering there and that’s where the 2 million or so starlings come down to roost.
And still they gazed and still the wonder grew that one small grove could carry so many starlings… No, I’m not a poet – but it’s hard to know what to say when faced with such a multitude of starlings. And it clearly was nothing like the little flock that I painted last year (see top). I hadn’t seen the real thing yet.
But here’s a much better video below (with music added). It was made by Life: The science of Biology – Enjoy!