Starling Trail

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9069

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9069

Christmas and New Year evenings are a very busy time at RSPB Ham Wall as hundreds of visitors arrive to watch huge flocks of starlings return to roost amongst the reeds.  Each evening the birds return for protection in numbers, plus the relative warmth and security of the marsh islands.

Currently, the flocks are dropping next to the first viewing platform.  From there they are spreading out across the reserve.

Waltons Heath

Most of the starlings arrive at Ham Wall just as the sun sets.  In other words as its getting dark, often too dark for cameras to take good pictures.  Following a series of dull grey evenings today a gap in the clouds let in the winter sunset.

The birds start to appear in small groups.  They often circle around the reserve, disappearing behind trees only to re-appear from another direction.  The reserve covers a large area and correctly guessing where the birds will roost is key to good visit.  So this period of uncertainty is an exciting, but tense, few minutes.

The first flocks appear out of the sunset.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9027

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9027

Soon flocks begin to fill the sky.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9031

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9031

A flock arrives from the east over our heads.  They are flying across Waltons Heath (part of Ham Wall) towards a beautiful sunset.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9055

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9055

Lines of birds begin to stream in.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9060

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9060

In twisting patterns the starlings drop down into the reed beds.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9123

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9123

The classic shape of thousands of birds pouring down to the same spot in the reeds.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9153

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9153

Soon the reed beds turn black as the starlings pack into a small area of the reserve.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9184

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9184

As more and more birds arrive from all directions the roost seems to turn to chaos.

Starlings Murmuration - Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9194

Starlings Murmuration – Waltons Heath, Ham Wall, Somerset, UK. ID 827_9194

The birds do not settle, instead they fly around and spread out across the neighbouring reed islands.

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