Nature never ceases to amaze me! Whether a sky on fire at sunset or a tiny brightly colored moth, I love it all. I’m lucky to have many friends who share this love of nature. A couple years ago a nature loving friend told me of a spectacular show I would enjoy in Connecticut. On a river in Old Lyme swallows gather on Goose Island. At dusk each night in September they put on a show that rivals any Broadway performance. It is the best natural show on earth- murmuration!
Getting Ready for the Show
We kayaked on Connecticut River out to Goose Island. An island completely made up of reeds, we choose the smaller quiet side of the river where the current was not as strong. The river itself is beautiful, we kayaked up and back waiting for the show to start. Pathways in the reeds led into the island, we explored around unknown bends. Eventually, the paths lead to dead ends where the reeds were too thick to paddle through. Seagulls and cormorants entertained us while we waited. We all knew they were just the opening act. We had seen incredible videos online but nature is unpredictable. We were not sure what was in store for us.
I was hoping for this:
As the light faded a few swallows flew overhead into the reeds in front of us. Then more and more joined the cast that was assembling. Swallows twittered in the reeds as the excitement grew. The show started with a wave of birds flowing over the reeds and then back down again. These rolling waves of swallows grew larger and larger flowing like sand through an hourglass. Rising up and dancing in synchronized movements, the swallows moved gracefully in the air. After each dance, they flew back down into the reeds for moments before rising up again. Waves of choreographed dance in ever changing flowing shapes, the birds had us under their spell. Time stood still as we watched waiting to see what the performance would bring next.
Nature Does Not Disappoint
The show was both relaxing and exciting. We were mesmerized and wanting more. Before the sky was completely dark the swallows rose again in a huge group (groups of 400,000 are not uncommon). Higher and higher into the sky until they were tiny specks of black against the clouds. Then they funneled down in waves through an imaginary hourglass into the reeds. The audience clapped and cheered. If we were not in kayaks we would have given them a standing ovation!
Check out the show on our video
Never the Same Show Twice
We paddled back to the busy parking lots still reeling from the show. Everyone was happy and discussion of previous year’s murmuration was common. Nature is not predictable, each show is unique and there are no guarantees. People were helping each other load boats onto and into vehicles. Others directed cars out of tight parking spots. A great show brings out the best in people!
Keeps Us Coming Back
This was our second murmuration and we know it will not be our last. Scientists have theories on why the swallows perform this beautiful dance. Some feel they are feeding before roosting for the night. Other theories that they are in these larger groups to protect themselves from predators. I think they are warming up for the main event- migration. These birds are travelers, heading to the Carolinas and Gulf coast in October to November to winter in warmer climates. No matter the reason I am amazed by their pre-trip planning! Share with us your favorite natural show on earth.
Some tips for seeing the murmuration in this article
This video makes me want to go to the Netherlands to see starling murmuration!
Sunsets are the best! Please take a moment to Pin this: