Starling Murmuration, Shapwick Heath, Somerset Levels

This morning during a wildlife themed lesson at school, one pupil asked me what the most amazing thing is that I have seen in nature. I did not hesitate. The murmurations of starlings in the winter months is without a doubt my favourite wildlife spectacle.

I had heard great things about the murmurations on the Somerset Levels but had never visited. It was on my bucket list for 2017. With starling numbers declining I never wanted it to be a regret in years to come.

During the February half term we made our way to the Somerset Levels. Choosing a spot to view a murmuration is always a gamble. The Decoy hide on Shapwick Heath was recommended, but if the starlings decided to murmurate behind or over the hide, views would be limited. Ham Wall was also a favourite, but in previous evenings the starlings had moved further down the bank and away from Ham Wall. The riverbank at Shapwick Heath was also a favourite but the area was so vast that choosing a spot was difficult. After speaking to a volunteer at RSPB Ham Wall we opted for the riverbank. But as the evening drew in I was beginning to lose hope. What followed this doubt at 5pm that evening was the most breathtaking, unbelievable sight I had ever seen. An estimated total of 1 million starlings flew overhead performing one of nature’s most incredible wildlife spectacles.

This footage shows the sheer volume of starlings …

The first distant sightings of the starlings over the woodland, then from out of nowhere a huge gathering appears from the trees…

Starlings fly overhead, then seem to disappear into the setting sun…

The noise of the starlings flying right over our heads was incredible…

Roosting starlings made these trees look as though they had black foliage from a distance…


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