On the last day of October 2019 I had the immense pleasure of witnessing one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon I have ever seen, the Corvid Roost near Buckenham Marshes in Norfolk. Throughout the winter months, just as the late afternoon sun begins to fade, groups of Rooks and Jackdaws begin flying in to gather in the trees surrounding the remote Buckenham Railway Station. The birds continue to arrive from all directions over a period of about forty five minutes. Incredibly, it is estimated that up to 80,000 birds gather here each evening, coming in from all over the region to roost together. Once fully congregated, just before the last few minutes of light fade away, some sort of signal spurs the birds to fly up at once and swirl noisily a few hundred metres to the east to settle in the woods of Buckenham Carrs where they spend the night together. The sight and sound of this spectacle literally makes the hairs on your neck stand up, an incredible level of noise accompanied by a visual treat with the sky becoming a swarming, moving sea of black.
Planning this recording trip hadn’t been easy. I had spent significant time researching the location before arriving in Norfolk but information was sparse so I was going in a little blind. I had heard from some other sound recordists who had been here in the past that the platform of Buckenham Station was a good location to position the microphones so on arrival I initially sat on a bench on the platform with my mics pointing towards the woods where I believed the Rooks and Jackdaws would be roosting. But as time went on I couldn’t see or hear any birds within the vicinity and I began doubting my position. I was using my MKH8040 mics on a stand, so the setup was easy to move without having to de-rig anything. Knowing this I decided to follow my instinct and headed away from the station and down towards the marshes. As I walked along the muddy path I began hearing a small amount of commotion coming from a group of trees in the middle of a large marsh field not far from the station. I setup my mics on the side of the muddy path and to my delight I soon realised that the group of trees was in fact the gathering point for the corvids. Over the next forty five minutes thousands and thousands of Rooks and Jackdaws flew in from all directions, each arrival setting off more vocal commotion. Often as a new group would arrive, thousands of birds already in the trees would fly up twenty metres or so making an incredible noise, before settling back down again. Finally the moment came when they all flew up together and noisily flew right over my head towards the woods on the other side of the station.
The shear number of birds was mind blowing. This daily phenomenon has been taking place here for centuries. Nobody quite understands why this occurs at Buckenham, but it remains one of the UKs most interesting natural spectacles. I had unsuccessfully tried to come here almost every year for the last six or seven years, each time denied by varying circumstances so I was over the moon to have finally made it and to have witnessed the incredible showpiece. A truly amazing spectacle!