Experiencing the majesty and wonder of a starling murmuration is on many people’s bucket lists of natural wonders of the world.
During the winter months the skies over the UK are often host to this wondrous sight as migrating starlings join the resident population and gather just before darkness falls to roost for the night. Somerset levels and the Avalon Marshes are among the best places in the whole of the UK to watch the starlings coming in to roost for the night. Hundreds of thousands of birds gather to roost in the reed beds and circle together in the sky creating huge dancing formations before landing.
The RSPB reserve at Ham Wall is a perfect place to see this spectacular sight. Make sure and phone the Starling Hotline on 07866 554142 to find out where the Starlings are roosting before you head out.
They have a programme of ranger led events although these book up fast. There is ample car parking (small charge for non RSPB members), toilet facilities and plenty of signs and information to guide you around the reserve at your own pace. Ham Wall is not just a seasonal home to the starlings, you can see rare species including bitterns, glossy ibis and great egrets here and of course the arrival of starlings in large numbers attracts predator birds too – recent sightings include hen harriers and sparrowhawks.
The star of the show is the starlings though and our trip this week to witness them coming in to roost didn’t disappoint.
The photos don’t come close to capturing the sheer numbers of birds. The almost eerie sound of hundreds of thousands of pairs of wings flapping and the feeling of joy watching the clouds of starlings swoop, duck, dance and dive in the air moving together as though they were one entity.
Our top tips are to wrap up warm – you want to arrive at the reserve around 3.30pm to be there before it starts to get dark for the best chance of seeing the starlings, so be sure to have plenty of warm layers and cosy socks. A dry, still day gives the best photo opportunities (and makes for a nicer experience standing waiting for the starlings to appear). Be sure to have spare batteries for your camera and if you plan on staying until after dark (the car park is open until 6.30pm) then a torch to light your way back to the car would be useful.
For early risers, or those keen to get the entire starling experience why not plan to return before sunrise the next day and see the morning flight of the starlings when they wake and rise into the sky.
Middlewick is a short ten minute drive away from RSBP Ham Wall reserve. Check out our availability for cottages and glamping options this winter and tick experiencing the starling murmuration off your bucket list.