On Wednesday I watched the starlings at Shapwick Heath on my own apart from a couple of visitors which I persuaded to follow me down the track. On Thursday I shared the starlings with a dozen more visitors. Today Friday, I expected there to be crowds just like Ham Wall earlier in the season.
The crowds did not appear but we had a good size group to share the experience.
Heath and Moor
It was a beautiful evening at Shapwick Heath. Before the birds arrived, and before the sun dropped behind the trees, the reeds glowed in the last of the evening’s warmth.
The previous couple of evenings the birds braved the high winds of Storm Doris and flew in small groups low over the heath, and onto the neighbouring moor. Today was different, maybe because of the improved weather, a huge mega-flock flew over our heads towards the moor – the entire starling roost arriving together high in the sky.
The flock flies over the Decoy Hide onto the moor behind.
I knew they would return and hoped they would drop at the same spot as yesterday. So I stood on my box that I carry with me and waited. I sometimes take a box to stand on so I can see over the tall reeds. This is important here as the track is very close to the reed bed and there are no high vantage points.
After a few minutes you could hear the noise of the birds taking off from fields around Shapwick Moor and soon the sky was full of returning birds.
For the second day in a row a wall of birds moved back across Shapwick Heath.
Unfortunately, they did not stop. They kept going passed Glastonbury Tor in the distance, only to drop closer to the main drove that passes through the reserve.
The birds finally dropped to a hundred yards away.
The Roost Site
The roost site was surrounded by trees with soon they turned black with the huge number of birds.
The birds take a long time to settle with smaller groups slowly adding to their numbers.
The last three evenings at Shapwick Heath have been a wonderful experience. I’ve enjoyed them so much. As we approach March the size of the flock will drop and as spring blooms across Somerset there is too much else to see. So this will be the last Starling Trail post of the season – a strange but wonderful season.