A murmuration of waders

Knots and Black Tailed Godwits

At 6.45 am I stood poised in the new section of the Snipe Platform with my fellow birder Neville Davies watching a big flock of Black Tailed Godwits and Knots that had gathered on Priors Lagoon. It was a cloudy morning but as the rising dawn sun rose a beam of light broke through a gap in the clouds that lit up the otherwise shrouded in darkness Priors in a golden light.

Dawn breaks through the clouds at Goldcliff

I had set up my video camera and had pressed record. I had a feeling that something was about to upset the peace and I was going to leave the video running just in case as on Thursday evening I had tried to do something similar but had forgotten to press the record button in my excitement.

Moments later I could sense something unsettling our feathered friends. There was a trickle of startled birds that began to fly over Priors from the direction of Monks Lagoon. The Knots began to get jittery, then it cascaded to the Black Tailed Godwits. A few nervous Knots started to fly around in a panic . This caused the Godwits to stand bolt up right - a sure sign something was awry.

Suddenly "boom" everything took to the air and chaos reigned.

Watch the video here or go to the end of the blog.

Hundreds of waders fill the skies

Black Tailed Godwits and Knots turn tightly

Well it was organised chaos in a way. We then witnessed a fantastic murmuration of waders. Starlings get a lot of publicity for their super murmurations but they are not the only birds that can fly en-masse and do incredible synchronised flying . How they exactly do it scientists do not exactly know but its a real marvel of nature.

A frame full of birds

The protagonist causing the havoc was a female Marsh Harrier. In she came expertly negotiating the strong wind swooping in to the panicked waders turning with the wind currents trying to find a gap in their defences.

Marsh Harrier pursues the flock

The Harrier herded then birds into a huge swirling flock. It was almost high tide and the waders had few places to roost instead.

As the chaos continued the "resident" Glossy Ibis rose from the reedbed on Priors and circled above Priors in alarm.

Flossy the Glossy ibis takes to the air

The flock departs

Eventually the waders pursued by the Marsh Harrier fled the scene hurtling out onto the estuary. They returned later but this time settled on Becs Lagoon

The video recording I took turned out to be great and I manged to capture it all practically in the whole frame.

You can watch it below on my YouTube channel -


There was more fun to be had but that is going to be saved for a separate blog post as I have some shout outs to do around Curlew observations after meeting a very knowledgeable gentlemen who knows a lot about Curlews.


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