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Awesome autumn starling spectacles!

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 10:14 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Many of you have been reporting seeing huge starling murmurations already this year. For the unitiated, murmurations are when flocks of starlings come together around dusk wheeling and turning to create amazing shapes across the early evening sky.

It looks like the weather this weekend will provide the right conditions for this behaviour so we've got together a list of the best places to spot murmurations this autumn.

Although it's impossible to perfectly predict the incidences of these murmurations, most sites will have their peak activity across late November and early December. So if you can't get out this weekend then try doing it in the next month or so.

The Somerset Levels in the south-west of England have some of the largest murmurations across the country. These will be visible from now until the end of February. RSPB Ham Wall has currently been seeing around 25,000 but expects to see about two million in December, and nearby Shapwick Heath NNR has records of over six million. Somerset Wildlife Trust's Westhay Moor has a starling murmuration hotline you can call to find out where to see them.


Last year we heard that Davidstow Moor in north Cornwall receives thousands of starlings in December.

Brighton Pier and Blackpool pier as well as Marton Mere on the south coast receive tens of thousands of starlings up until the end of December.

The Fen Drayton Lakes in Cambridgeshire have six to seven thousand starlings in murmurations which last around 25minutes. They recommend you arrive at 4pm to be sure you catch it. These will continue until mid December.

RSPB Leighton Moss in Carnforth, Lancashore is peaking now with around 110,000 starlings flocking.

RSPB Minsmere, Suffolk, is also peaking now at 15,000.

The Newport wetlands and surrounds in Wales are currently getting around 40,000 and expecting 50,000 on top of that in December.

Aberystwyth Pier in mid Wales has a spectacular roost of starlings which Chris and Kate visited for Autumnwatch last year.

Malltraeth Marsh near Anglesey is currently getting 200,000 and expecting 250,000 in the next few weeks until December.

RSPB Saltholme in Middlesborough has murmurations fo 30,000 birds but likely to have more in December.

Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway is expecting hundreds of thousands during their peak in December and definitely has some of the most spectacular murmurations in the north of the UK.

Belfast City Centre has flocks of around 30,000 until late December.

Share your murmuration hotspots by commenting below and watch out for some spectacular starling footage in this week's Unsprung. Of course we'd love to see your photos too so pop them into the Autumnwatch Photo group here.


  • Comment number 1.

    what about newport wetlands we had a fantastic display tonight

  • Comment number 2.

    Last weekend we travelled all the way to Somerset from Essex to watch the Starlings do their thing at Ham Wall RSPB reserve. However the little beggers just flew in overhead in various sized groups and went straight down into the reeds.
    Typical - A 500 mile round trip for not even a single "Swirl".

  • Comment number 3.

    I usually see loads of them in the skies around Lockerbie at this time of year, but not a cheep this year. What has happened to the local birds?

  • Comment number 4.

    We had a colossal display, visible AND audible (there were that many) from over half a mile away one year (2006 iirc) and yet had never had one before and haven't since.

  • Comment number 5.

    Not heard about the ones at Lockerbie, Skeerbs, Was there only Weds .

    The Gretna numbers are well into 6 figures now (I believe), but last couple of days have been moving around a little. I been updating the information on the messageboard with the thread: "starlings roosting"


    and with the starlings, the raptors follow!

  • Comment number 6.

    Have a look at some pictures of the starling flocks on our Leighton Moss Flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/foxysj/6349231959/in/pool-1446774@N22/

    and here's a video taken in the last week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3BvNivaTBg

    More info about visiting see: www.rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss

  • Comment number 7.

    i love to watch the starlings in crewe and nantwich where i live but is really upset about complains from other local people. they complain about the mess they make and the smell they cause. the council are even holding meetings to discuss how to discourage them. i ersonally think this is terrible as these are decreasing in number. why cant everyone see their beauty

  • Comment number 8.

    Above it says Malltreath Marsh "near Anglesey " . It is, in fact , on Anglesey but you are more likely to see the birds heading over Malltreath Estuary and on to RSPB Conwy

  • Comment number 9.

    We were at Gretna last Saturday(12th) and Sunday, Saturday was simply stunning with I'm sure 10s of thousands, and a Peregrine. Sunday was a much cooler and slightly windier evening and the numbers were less but still an absolute treat, sadly tho' we filled the car at the Service Station with Petrol instead of Diesel, - nozzles had been swapped, take care!!)

  • Comment number 10.

    In our town centre in weymouth we had! Starling roosting in an Ive bush that had grown on a wall by a door way. The Ive has been there the last 15 years , we would rush up to see the starling all come back, But last week the Ive bush was all choped down. Very sad, we will miss not seeing them.

  • Comment number 11.

    In our town center in weymouth, we had some starling that roosted every night,in a big Ive bush that had been growing on a wall, in between the back two shops for the last 15 years, we would rush up to see the starlings, come back to roost, sadly two week ago the Ive was all chooped down!! We will miss them. I hope they will be OK! and find a new home.

  • Comment number 12.

    The starlings do nothing but fight with each other to eat the fatballs in our garden.

  • Comment number 13.


    That is so sad, why do people do that?

    Anyone know the best places in surrey for murmurations?

  • Comment number 14.

    walking across wandsworth bridge last night around 3;45pm large murmuration of starlings swirling and swooping over and under the bridge...wonderful sight right above our heads. Whilst not as spectacular a display as some on your web pages, this is in the centre of our city London with the starlings roosting under the bridge and the shrill of this bird choir was great. A wondrous sight to behold indeed.

  • Comment number 15.

    Anyone know of a good spot in or around Northampton?

  • Comment number 16.

    Between the HMS Warrior and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth at dusk every evening can be seen a murmuration of starlings - a lovely sight to see is the stragglers skimming across the water to join up. They roost beneath Portsmouth Harbour rail station.
    Jennifer and Jerry Rawlings

  • Comment number 17.

    I Drive the Train @ Hengistbury Head, we quite often have Starlings doing their Murmeration over the Head & Christchurch Harbour, what a wonderfull sight we have while are comming home on the train :-) we also watch their antics outside our office, they are such little charactors, ague over everything & anything :-)

  • Comment number 18.

    Does anyone know of good spots for starling murmurations in the Birmingham, Coventry or Warwickshire area. I cannot find much on t'interweb about this and just cannot believe there may be none, or few, in our area. Please help as I cannot afford a trip to Aberystwyth this year

  • Comment number 19.

    Anyone know of a likely spot for Starlings within easy reach of London? A few years ago I saw a nice murmuration in the Lea Valley country park, near the Bittern Hide. Has anyone seen this recently?

  • Comment number 20.

    I remember as a child seeing the birds in the feild by us. Now only a handfull of around 100 birds are here such a shame

  • Comment number 21.

    Amazingly I saw the start of a murmuration in the centre of Lincoln a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I was sitting in a queue of traffic at the time so couldn't wait to see how many more starlings arrived or where they finally roosted. I need to go back to check up and report further. I was on Pelham Bridge at the time looking East over the railway line so if anyone else has seen them maybe they can post a message.

  • Comment number 22.

    I've just read bstonier's message re starlings in Crewe and Nantwich - where do you need to go to see them? I've seen them at Leighton Moss but didn't realise there was somewhere a lot closer to home! Perhaps birdwatchers could go and enjoy the spectacle and then write to the Council to say how much they enjoyed it, maybe shop in the area at the same time so we're helping the local economy. Is it being discussed in theTown Council or the County Council?

  • Comment number 23.

    The starlings coming in to roost by Rough Tor, near Davidstow, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, are a sight to behold and we love to see them each winter. A cloud will often appear on the horizon, they flow in from several directions, often swooping low, the sound of their wings clear, then they roost in the woods. They pour in for around 15 minutes, a solid stream much of the time, varying their route with the prevailing weather conditions I assume. Sometimes they take flight after settling and do a spot of murmurating, but it is mainly the sheer volume and magnificence of their regular arrival that is transfixing, often, as today, accompanied by a dramatic sunset. There are reports that there are around 2,000,000 at times. During the day they disperse to their local feeding areas, for example we have a small flock in our hamlet each day. We went to watch them leave at dawn a few years ago, also a magnificent sight, albeit cold! I would love to know more about these birds - does our little local flock comprise the same birds each day, or even each year, plus offspring? - how far do some of them fly each day to roost? I understand they are migrants from the cold winters in Russia. They make winter so much more tolerable!

  • Comment number 24.

    Last week saw 40000+ starlings at RSPB Strupshaw Fen in Norfolk and a few days later at Hen Reedbed near Southwold Suffolk where there was at least 20000+ starlings.

  • Comment number 25.

    Can anyone suggest a good murmeration viewing spot on the Severn, maybe in the Lydney/Blakeney area? We are going there at the weekend. Many thanks for any help.

  • Comment number 26.

    Close to Bolton a good location for finding a murmeration is along the top end of Plodder Lane between its junction with Highfield Road (SD 709059) and just short of its junction with St Helens Road (SD691060) They frequently roost in the line of large conifers that are right next to the northern side of Plodder Lane at the Edge Fold Industrial Estate (SD701060 ) If they do not use these conifers there is a wonderful clear view south towards the South Lancashire plain that makes flocks easy to locate.

  • Comment number 27.

    There are often Starlings hanging around the University in Lincoln and along Tritton Road :)

  • Comment number 28.

    Wow...Bournemouth has a mumeration. 16.37 tonight just over Cotswolds car park on Castle Lane East. A smallish one - our video not that good but will do another soon and post it here. Worth watching as a fantastic air display.
    See you there! Make sure you park up before say around 16.20 and wait - I can see how it can distract car drivers and this is a busy area with lots of children coming home from school.

  • Comment number 29.

    There is a small group of starlings roosting in Cheltenham in the conifers by the railway line on Swindon Road near the railway bridge, close to the Council tip. There are only about 200 birds at the moment but still worth watching. There is also a much larger roost in the centre of Gloucester in the GL1 5HP area (for those with Sat Navs).

  • Comment number 30.

    For the last couple of years we have enjoyed a starling mumeration above and beside Chichester Railway station. Let's hope that it continues in 2012, it really is fantastic to watch and enjoy. One can actually hear the wings of the birds.

  • Comment number 31.

    Further to my previous comment, there are now about 1,000 starlings in Cheltenham. Every time a train goes by underneath them they make shapes - why is that??

  • Comment number 32.

    I visited the starling roost near Davidstow this January. It is a spectacular sight just by the Rough Tor car park. My shaky film doesn't do it justice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86SIFnHqDU4

  • Comment number 33.

    In the last month we have had starlings decided to roost in our south Lakes village of Holme. We are getting fantastic mumerations, but they are in the middle of the village and in some ways their presence is not welcome - how much bird ferliser can a garden take. The car wash is keeping busy. Any ideas why they have arrived or how long they will stay? Can be seen on this very bad video https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=173962392716314


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