After the Christmas break it was time to return to RSPB Ham Wall to catch the starlings returning to their overnight roost. The last few days had been dark and grey, and life brings to many distractions such as opening presents, so today was my first opportunity to re-join the starling trail.
Recent images on twitter and facebook had shown me that the birds were roosting north of the main drove – so I headed off to the large Avalon Hide.
I arrive early at Ham Wall – parking is so much easier then. So I have plenty to time to enjoy the views from the Avalon Hide.
A great white egret strolled up and down the shallow lagoon in front of the hide. In the background is the water tower at Stileway farm.
As the sun began to drop near the horizon the colours became deeper and deeper.
North at Stileway Farm
The starlings were gathering around the farm at the tiny village of Stileway.
It seems some had flown about 20 miles to get there.
The farm buildings are a favourite resting spot.
As the number of birds start to build, they move across the fields in waves – crossing hedges and passing trees.
Take to the Air
As the sun drops below the horizon the starlings leave the trees and fields and fill the sky above Stileway.
The size of the flock is huge.
Drift to Ham Wall
The flock formed around the water tower. This is a long way off from the Avalon Hide and looking north in the darkening skies makes them hard to see.
The flock gradually drifts over Ham Wall.
Unfortunately they were going to the wrong side of the Avalon Hide. It is now that I hoped they would circle around and drop into the reeds north of the second viewing platform – where they went yesterday.
Sadly, today was the day they changed their plans. Perhaps because of the brighter weather the birds flew passed, over the Glastonbury Canal, on to Waltons Heath near the first viewing platform.
The heath was blessed by a beautiful sunset – I missed it all.
Of course, I had still had a fun (if frustrating evening) and they should be in a great location for a return visit in the morning.
First car in the car park as normal. I headed straight to the Tor View hide. The birds covered the reeds around the hide but at 6am they are pretty quiet.
The reserve was peaceful in the early morning light.
I had the hide to myself for an hour listening to the starlings and the ducks. At 6:30 the noise of the birds suddenly increased. As more people arrived at the hide the noise levels inside and outside the hide gradually increased.
As the light of dawn illuminated the reeds the noise of the birds was fantastic.
Suddenly, the starlings lifted out of the reeds next to the hide.
… filling the sky.
As they started their journey across Somerset for another day on farms, gardens and parks. Many eating the fat balls we hang out.