Watching your local wildlife, even the familiar characters that surround you every day, is a rewarding and worthwhile experience. But it’s always exciting when something a little out of the ordinary shows up.
That happened here on the West Cork coast a few days ago, when news broke that a local birder had found an adult Rose-coloured Starling (Pastor roseus) near Galley Head. As usual during the summer holidays, I was on the road anyway, ferrying teenagers back and forth to the beach, and couldn’t resist a short detour to take a look at this extraordinary bird.
About Rose-coloured Starlings
Rose-coloured starlings look superficially similar to our regular European Starling… with the rather striking exception that they have a bright pink body, that contrasts starkly with their jet-black head, wings and tail. A bird of easternmost Europe and temperate south Asia, Rose-coloured starlings are strong migrants, and spend the winter in India and tropical Asia. It has a habit of periodically irrupting far beyond its normal geographic range. The reason for these irruptions are not yet clearly understood but are thought to be linked to changes in the population of locusts, grasshoppers and other insects on which the birds feed.
You’ll find more information about Rose-coloured Starlings here.
According to the BTO reports started to emerge from Eastern Europe in May 2018 that such an irruption was underway, and there have been several reports of birds in France, the UK and Ireland since then, with Irish records from Cork, Kerry, Wexford and Donegal over the last few months.
So keep an eye on your local starling flock… there could be a more exotic visitor in amongst them!