Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Birding Blackpool Illuminations?!

Yep, it’s that time of year again - the now annual family trip to the west coast of Lancashire, to the tacky glory that is Blackpool.

As a child I’d come here with my family at least once a year here for holidays, short breaks, to stay with friends, and of course to see the Illuminations.We often stayed in a friend’s caravan just inland at Great Eccleston; it was here, as an eight-year-old boy, I first watched a Lapwing perform its distraction display, pretending to have a broken wing, trying to lure a Carrion Crow away from the Lapwing’s nest.

Starlings, Blackpool, Lancashire - 24th October 2011

Well, there was no birding on the agenda this year, just a quick trip over the Pennines with our two youngsters to go on a pier, ride on a tram, and enjoy the lights. Fortunately, my kids are trained well. At dusk, while we were on the North Pier, my three-year-old son started shouting and pointing to the sky – at the fantastic flock of Starlings that were circling over our heads. There was a huge pulsating mass of dark arrows, wings hissing as they passed close.

The birds created some great shapes, and my six-year-old daughter said, “It’s just like we've seen on the TV! Now they’re making the shape of a seahorse!” The main group would break into several smaller ones and create new shapes; at one point, one of these groups landed on the beach to form a large black pool…

Starlings, Blackpool, Lancashire - 24th October 2011

What a lovely bonus: my kids were so excited by the whole spectacle. And they liked the illuminations too…

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