In the sometime occasional series by Professor Norton Folgate there have been many fascinating and intriguing topics and today's is no exception.
Today we contemplate the joys and dangers of witnessing Starlings in huge numbers.
"Now is the time of year to see millions of Starlings. Well it is if you live somewhere like Ham Wall, near Glastonbury or somewhere else where they all roost.
In Somerset, it is said that the murmurations can reach quantities of millions, eight million at the last count. I'm fucked if I would want to be the bloke who has to count them though, have you seen how fast they fly?
By why do they do this? I did a bit of research and the results were more than a little interesting.
Apparently, back in the day, loads of Starlings used to roost alone or in bunches of five or so and they were easy pickings for things like Sparrowhawks and killer Wigeons so they decided to gang up and get safety in numbers, a tactic passed down through the years from the Romans who invaded Norway or somewhere in their billions.
But when the numbers got into the millions, the Starlings realised that they could do more than just fly into their beds, they realised that if there was around one million of them then they could destroy a pet Rabbit. When they had a million more mates, then they were prepared to take on larger animals like a semi-tame urban fox.
But when they reach numbers in excess of 8 million then the residents of Ham Wall have to take cover. Apparently, numerous small children, children up to the age of nine, have been stolen by Starlings and forced into a life of crime, made to steal scraps of food from old peoples pantries and trained in the art of stealth milk drinking.
I once went to Old Ham to watch the magnificent display of the largest murmuration of Starlings in the Universe. There were around 400 people there to watch the display, including myslef and my three daughters. The latest I heard, 367 people got home that night and I am seriously considering never going there with my two daughters again.
I have actually forgotten what I was talking about and I have to go as there is a tapping at the window."