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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Swoops and swerves in the sky and a deafening beat of wings - a chance encounter with starlings

Published 20/03/2014 | 22:13

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A dazzling display over Tuberelva, near Tulsk Co.Roscommon Photo Johnny Bambury
The starlings recently filled the evening sky with thousands of beating wings as a murmuration of starlings filled the sky. Photo Johnny Bambury
...A bird watcher's dream. Photo: Johnny Bambury

With mesmerising swoops and swerves and a deafening beat of wings, this murmuration of starlings was something photographer Johnny Bambury had always hoped to witness.

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But in the end it all boiled down to chance.

Johnny, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth decided to take the road less travelled when he went to pay a visit to his daughter in Galway and googled 'a straight line' route via the back roads just to make his journey a little different.

It was a worthwhile fluke. He was in the Toberelva area near Tulsk, Co Roscommon when he thought he saw a thunderstorm on the horizon - but then he spotted the telltale dip and dive of starlings moving through the sky in formation.

"I drove like a mad thing to catch up with them and then just jumped out of the car," said Johnny.

"They flew very, very close over my head three or four times - the wing beat was incredible - it's like bees buzzing in your head."

"There were literally thousands of them but it felt like a million birds were overhead," he said, adding that they did not whistle or call.

Once the birds flew over, the sky grew so black that it was frustratingly impossible to take a photograph and so Johnny had to wait until they had reached some distance away. He only managed to capture six or seven shots "worth looking at", he said.

"The farmers around Toberelva are saying the starlings are always there - they just take it for granted but I just thought it was such a fantastic thing," said Johnny.

At no stage was the independent photographer afraid of the birds.

However he admitted that a literal brush with a colony of around 30 bats in Listowel, Co Kerry when he was aged 10 had left him with a lifelong fear of those other winged creatures.

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