Autumn in the Somerset Levels sees summer greens change to autumn and winter yellows and browns. The sky also changes as dark clouds begin to form above fields, woodlands and reedbeds. But these are no ordinary clouds, they are huge flocks of starlings on the move; the starling murmurations. They use the reedbeds of the Avalon Marshes as a safe and warm night time roost.
Before the birds settle they often come together in huge clouds, wheeling, turning and swooping in unison. This is known as a ‘murmuration’. Birds of prey try to pick off individual starlings often causing the murmuration to pack even tighter and form even more spectacular shapes.
When to see the murmurations
As the weather starts getting colder, the starlings begin to arrive. This is usually from early November and they stay until late February or early March, again the weather tends to hold the key to their departure. The best time to see them is just before dusk, as the birds prepare to roost for the night.
Where to see them
Favourite locations to see the starlings are the Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall reserves which are easily reached from the Cart House Holiday Cottage. The way to find out where they roosted the night before is by calling the Starling Hotline on 07866 554142.