Stop press: there have been murmurs of murder on Wimpole Estate

A murmuration of starlings

A murmuration of starlings

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At least 500 strong if not 1000

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A tide of black shimmering in the dusk light

The starling population has fallen by over 80% in recent years, meaning that they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk. The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites in many parts of the UK.

So it was an extremely pleasant surprise at the end of a hard day’s toil, having dripped with sweat and blood  in the unusual temperatures for this time of year in England, to see a very large murmuration of starlings. Why the blood though? It was because of those cursed thorn trees, both May and Sloe, that we were cutting down around the Octagon, and it is this same pond that is full of reeds where the starlings come to roost. Why do they do this? God knows … it might be just for fun or it could be a safety mechanism to ward off birds of prey like the sparrow hawk (one of which incidentally we saw fly off). Apparently it all gets quite confusing for the falcons and hawks to single out a potential victim.

Time to roost

Time to roost

I have to say that I haven’t seen a murmuration of starlings for many a year and especially not one of this size (though they can be 100,000 strong in some places). We watched the flock of starlings grow progressively bigger as, every so often, small bands of ten to twenty birds would fly in and join the flock. It would appear that the Octagon is considered a suitable venue to come home to and roost in.

The murder of Brie Rabbit, Who dunnit?

The murder of Brer Rabbit- who dunnit?

So, what about the murder on the estate then?! Well we found this rabbit, it did not die of natural causes or by accident but rather was brutally killed by some other agent. Any ideas who the murderer was?

About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
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2 Responses to Stop press: there have been murmurs of murder on Wimpole Estate

  1. graemeu says:

    Well I once heard a terrible screaming in the manuka outside and parting branches saw an easily distinguished beastie, on account of the black tip to his tail is-totally different, flicking violently side to side while gripping a rabbit by the base of ‘is ears.
    But tell me is that small relative of otter and badger part of the natural order or an introduced pest like it’s prey

    Like

    • Sadeik says:

      Ah ha ours is native as are the others including weasels and polecats further north we even have the pine Martin once inhabiting Cambridgeshire until the early nineteenth century

      Like

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