Celebrating Starlings with Brighton Pier

November 29, 2021

New starling observation space #StarlingsRoost launched on Brighton Pier

One of the UK’s most iconic tourist attractions, Brighton Palace Pier, famously known around the world for its rides, amusement arcades, and breath-taking views of sunsets, is also home to one of nature’s most impressive spectacles, the winter starling murmurations. Flocks of literally thousands of starlings that, just before sunset every night between November and March, group together in flight to create huge, dark, swirling clouds, before roosting under the Pier for the night.

On Thursday 25 November Brighton’s Green Party MP Caroline Lucas cut the ribbon to officially open #StarlingsRoost, the South Coast’s only dedicated starling observation post, complete with clever see-in-the-dark camera under the Pier with livefeed, enabling bird watchers to observe them roosting. It’s also streamed online on the Pier’s website. Guests were also treated to a stunning murmuration, just seconds after the #StarlingsRoost was opened, with a beautiful Sussex sunset making a fitting backdrop.

Marc Abraham Caroline Lucas Anne Ackord with big starling cutout

Marc Abraham, Caroline Lucas MP and Anne Ackord of Brighton Palace Pier at the opening of #StarlingsRoost

Image credit: Marc Abraham

The starling murmuration gets its name from the description of the sound that the starlings’ wings make as they change direction, whilst they perform their breath-taking dance in the sky. They are thought to group together in this impressive way at dusk, to exchange vital information about winter food sources and local feeding grounds, as well as to confuse predators such as sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons, before all huddling together under the Pier to keep warm through the winter nights.

The #StarlingsRoost also features murmuration artwork by local photographers, information boards about starlings, including how we can best protect their natural environment and stop numbers falling, plus origami stations for children to make and decorate their own starling to hang from #StarlingsRoost’s ceiling.

Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate The Living Coast, the Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO Biosphere Region includes land and sea from Shoreham to Newhaven. Starling Murmuration Brighton Seafront

Caroline Lucas MP said, “It’s a real pleasure to open #StarlingsRoost on Brighton’s Palace Pier today, not only to celebrate our local starling murmuration which brings so much joy to the city, but also to help highlight dwindling numbers of these incredible birds, and how we can all help them survive in the future. Simple actions like feeding garden birds through the winter, buying organic fruit and vegetables and helping raise awareness will all make a positive difference to our local starling populations.”

Anne Ackord, CEO of The Brighton Pier Group plc said, “Brighton’s starling murmurations have been hugely popular with locals and visitors to the city for decades, so it made sense to invite a local group of passionate starling enthusiasts and photographers, who assemble every night in winter to watch the murmurations, to work with the Pier to honour these special birds, and the result is the #StarlingsRoost! We hope the public enjoy our new free exhibit, learn about starling conservation, help raise awareness, and share photos and videos of the starlings on their social media platforms.”

Local photographer and #StarlingsRoost co-creator Alex Bamford said, “Like many other people in Brighton, watching the starling murmurations is a treat during the bleak winter months. It’s great to see Brighton’s Palace Pier celebrating this wonder of the natural world.”

Live Starlings Roost webcam on Brighton Palace Pier

#StarlingsRoost’s opening ceremony was also marked by Tim Squire from Sussex Ornithological Society reading the poem ‘Starling’, written by Rob Cowen, accompanied by Brighton musician Ben Walker. The #StarlingRoost is also supported by Brighton media vet and animal welfare campaigner Marc Abraham OBE, photographer Paul Cahill, artists Steve Geliot and Louise McCurdy, Phoenix Art Space, Brighton Photography Gallery, Latest TV,  The Living Coast, as well as Sussex-based wildlife rescue sanctuary Bird Aid, to which a percentage of monies raised by refreshments and picture sales from #StarlingsRoost will be donated.

Phoenix Art Space will be hosting ‘Undercurrents’ an exhibition of artists Steve Geliot and Louise McCurdy’s work on our local starling ecosystems in January 2022.

Have a look at the Brighton Palace Pier website to view the webcams and find out more information about #Starlings Roost.

By The Living Coast

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