Some say that visiting the starlings on the Avalon Marshes is as good in the morning as it is in the evening. I have been to both many times. Some mornings are better than some evenings, but the evenings can be spectacular.
The big advantage of a morning visit is you should know the location of the roost site. This is never true in the evening. I would not advise a morning visit if you do not know where to go – so visit the evening before.
Today, I broke my rule. Suffering from the tail end of the flu I could not stay in bed any longer so I made the short trip to Ashcott Corner and hoped to meet someone who knew the roost site location.
A few other visitors were there but none had visited the previous evening – the weather was poor yesterday.
So I headed to Meare Heath where they were a couple of days ago. I listened out for the birds. I could not hear the birds from next to Shapwick’s Tower Hide so I walked on passed the bridge to the last roost site I knew. They were not there either. The last hope was the Meare Heath Hide.
Hear we found the birds and they soon lifted into the sky.
Having taken a group of visitors with me I felt I had to stay – but this could be the best location or the worst. From experience I knew the birds were likely to fly south over the scrap. Soon this became all too clear so I had the green light to dash around to the bridge and watch the birds stream over the South Drain and the Tower Hide.
Suddenly, I heard a flock behind me, quickly turning I grabbed a few shots just as the flock was overhead. I’m not sure where they came from but surprisingly they were flying along the length of the track.
Slow Shutter Speeds
This picture above shows what a starling looks like at 1/13th of a second. Starlings are black and the sky is bright so you should so each bird will be a long black streak? However, the longer the shutter is open the more their silhouettes fade to grey.
At 1/125th of a second, and faster, the silhouette of the birds is usually sharp and clear.
At 1/50th of a seconds the wings are lost in a blur of grey.
At 1/10th of a second the we capture a couple of wing beats for each bird. This creates a bizarre range of elongated and faded shapes.
The darker is gets the longer the shutter needs to be open. If we combine the brightness of the sky with the graphics above then our hopes of capturing long black streaks across the sky soon fade.
On return to the Ashcott Corner car park there was a beautiful sunrise over the ponds.