Where to see mur­mu­ra­tions this win­ter

Bird Watching (UK) - - Nature Starling Murmurations -

Star­lings move around to dif­fer­ent sites in win­ter, so it’s al­ways best to check with na­ture re­serves on the day, to see if they’re ex­pect­ing the birds to be there in good num­bers. It’s also worth re­mem­ber­ing that mur­mu­ra­tions won’t hap­pen ev­ery evening: some­times birds will ar­rive in small flocks and sim­ply drop in to roost. Merse­head RSPB, Dum­fries and Gal­loway

In Jan­uary 2017, 50-100,000 Star­lings roosted here. If you’re on site be­fore dusk, look out for the re­serve’s other win­ter spe­cial­i­ties, in­clud­ing Bar­na­cle Geese, flocks of win­ter waders and farm­land passer­ines.

Leighton Moss RSPB, Lan­cashire

Be­tween 20,000-100,000 Star­lings usu­ally ar­rive here in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber. In some win­ters they only stay un­til the New Year, but in other years they have stayed through to Fe­bru­ary or March. This usu­ally de­pends on how harsh the weather is in the coun­tries they’ve trav­elled from, and then how se­vere the con­di­tions are here.

New­port Wet­lands Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve, Gwent

The na­ture re­serve tends to run spe­cial view­ing events in Novem­ber when there are the high­est num­bers of birds. Last win­ter, the Star­ling flocks, which peaked at around 50,000 birds, stayed on through De­cem­ber and Jan­uary.

Avalon Marshes, Som­er­set

The RSPB’S Ham Wall re­serve, or Nat­u­ral Eng­land’s Shap­wick Heath, are pre­ferred roost sites; call the Star­ling hot­line on 07866 554142 to find out where they roosted the night be­fore and plan ac­cord­ingly.

RSPB Fair­burn Ings, West York­shire

Up to 20,000 Star­lings roost here at the for­mer coal min­ing site. The lakes are great for win­ter ducks, too, in­clud­ing Gold­en­eye, Goosander and Smew, and this is also an im­por­tant site for Wil­low Tits.

Brighton Pier, East Sus­sex

The pier is a favourite roost site – it’s hard to miss the gath­er­ings from any­where on the front. Watch our video of a Star­ling mur­mu­ra­tion in Brighton at bird­watch­ing.co.uk/videos

Saltholme RSPB, Cleve­land

Mur­mu­ra­tions here tend to be best from late Oc­to­ber through to De­cem­ber, peak­ing at around 20,000 birds. The re­serve runs Sun­set Sa­fari walks for peo­ple to come and see the Star­lings ev­ery Thurs­day and Sun­day through­out the month of Novem­ber when they can be more pre­dictable.

Strump­shaw Fen RSPB, Nor­folk

The peak Star­ling count last win­ter was in ex­cess of 30,000 birds. There was plenty of ac­tion with Spar­rowhawks chas­ing birds as they de­scended into the reedbeds and Marsh Har­ri­ers prowl­ing the sky above.

Fen Dray­ton RSPB

This wet­land re­serve near Cam­bridge gets a good gath­er­ing of Star­lings most years, and the lakes are well worth check­ing for the likes of Smew.

Mins­mere RSPB, Suf­folk

Mins­mere saw more than 40,000 Star­lings mur­mu­rat­ing in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2018. The spec­ta­cle is best viewed from the ‘North Wall’, a 10-minute walk from the vis­i­tor cen­tre, just be­fore dusk.

Bris­tol by fit­ting 25 young birds with ra­dio tags and then track­ing them with por­ta­ble re­ceiver sta­tions, placed in the homes and cars of lo­cal vol­un­teers. The re­sults will be used to see whether fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the vol­un­teer net­work could help build a more com­plete pic­ture of Star­ling be­hav­iour. The pi­lot project was funded by Nat­u­ral Eng­land through its Ac­tion for Birds in Eng­land pro­gramme (AFBIE).

How you can help Star­lings

While we don’t know for sure that a lack of in­sect food is di­rectly driv­ing Star­ling num­bers down, it’s al­ways a good thing to boost this re­source for the ben­e­fit of these – and other – birds. Leather­jack­ets, the lar­vae of crane­flies, are a par­tic­u­lar favourite, and by keep­ing your lawn chem­i­cal free you can en­sure there’s plenty of in­ver­te­brate life among and be­neath the grass. Keep an area of your lawn mown short, too: that makes it eas­ier for the Star­lings to probe into the ground be­low to find some­thing to eat. You can also help in­sects on farm­land, too, by sup­port­ing na­ture-friendly farm­ing. This in­volves mak­ing con­sid­ered choices when you’re shop­ping, and you can also join the

Na­ture Friendly Farm­ing Net­work (found on­line at nffn.org.uk) which is open to ev­ery­one. Fi­nally, have you got room for a Star­ling nest­box or two? These holen­est­ing birds read­ily adopt man-made homes and are fas­ci­nat­ing to watch as they raise their young.

Star­lings over Brighton Pier

This is what an in­di­vid­ual Star­ling looks like in win­ter plumage

Birds gath­er­ing low over the wa­ter

En­joy­ing the spec­ta­cle!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.