Starling Roost

When I say quack I want you to jump - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 809_1986

When I say quack I want you to jump – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 809_1986

I am working away from home so no chance to get down to Somerset’s Avalon Marshes. Anyway the weather has been so bad I probably would not have gone anyway.  So it’s time to recap what a starling roost is like.

It’s morning at Ham Wall and the roost of a few thousand birds is lined up ready to take off and spread out around Somerset.  The entire event is coordinated by a single tufted duck.

Starlings pour across the track - Westhay, Somerset, UK. ID DSCN1816

Starlings pour across the track – Westhay, Somerset, UK. ID DSCN1816

This is one of my favourite memories at a starling roost.  It was taken 15 years ago at Westhay Moor. It was really cold and only 4 people came out. The birds had been roosting next to the main drove. At dawn, instead of taking off, they poured over the footpath.

The Starling Roost

Back to the last few weeks in 2018. The birds no longer use Westhay Moor.  Instead, recently they are roosting at RSPB Ham Wall.

The birds often funnel into the roost site from many directions as lines of starlings arrive from across Somerset.

Starling Murmuration - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 826_4874

Starling Murmuration – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 826_4874

It is rare to see the birds roost while the sun it still in the sky.  Your best chance is at the start, or end, of the season with its longer days.

Loxtons Sunset - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 826_7212

Loxtons Sunset – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 826_7212

When the birds land in the reeds they do not settle down.  Instead the birds are up and down moving around in black waves.

Starling Murmuration - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 826_6728

Starling Murmuration – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 826_6728

The noise is amazing.

Gradually the noise drops as the birds spread out across all tons Marsh.

Starling Roost - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 805_2545

Starling Roost – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 805_2545

At Dawn

As dawn approaches the birds gather near where they landed the night before. As they did then they turn the reeds black.

Starling Dawn - Loxtons Marsh, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. 826_8673

Starling Dawn – Loxtons Marsh, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. 826_8673

Then at the flip of a switch the birds take a deep breath. A second of silence before the birds launch into the sky like a starling volcano.

Starling Dawn - Loxtons Marsh, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. 826_8687

Starling Dawn – Loxtons Marsh, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. 826_8687

And Finally…

Some of my favourite mornings in better weather.

When the birds are roosting in the Waltons Heath (next to the first RSPB viewing platform) the Tor View Hide can be greet place to watch the starlings leave their roost in the morning.

Starlings leave Waltons Heath at dawn - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 809_4057

Starlings leave Waltons Heath at dawn – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 809_4057

Maybe find a spot away from the crowds as the birds fly overhead.  Keeping low near water level improves the reflections and helps to avoid being seen by the starlings.  Keep west of the roost to see the birds flying through the colours of dawn.

Starlings at Dawn on Waltons Heath - Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 808_8148

Starlings at Dawn on Waltons Heath – Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 808_8148

At Shapwick Heath the birds lift and fly south over the main drove.

Starling Dawn - Shapwick Heath, UK. ID DSC_4876

Starling Dawn – Shapwick Heath, UK. ID DSC_4876

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