Starling murmuration Ham Wall
Thornbury U3A Birdwatching Group
Visit to Ham Walls on the Somerset Levels to see the Starling Murmuration 6.2.17
On a grey damp afternoon with the prospect of rain later, 13 members met at the Leisure Centre. After a brief discussion, the verdict was that we had prepared for the worst so we would set off for Ham Walls on the Somerset Levels where the starling hotline said the birds had gathered in past evenings. It was windy as we arrived at the car park but not raining, where we met two other members who had already arrived. However, as we made our way along the old railway track as we headed for the hides, the rain started, driven on by the wind. Along the way chaffinches, blackbirds and robins were seen in the undergrowth. From the viewing area, in spite of the dimpsy, we saw a variety of ducks, one of the resident Great White Egrets and a Kingfisher. Over the Avalon Marsh a Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds while in front of the hides we had excellent views of a number of Snipe amongst Teal and Mallard.
By this time, the wind had picked up but large waves of starlings were making their way over and around us and, in spite of the wind, we could hear the whirr of their wings. Almost certainly due to the wind and rain, the starlings did not perform their customary aerial displays in huge numbers but we were able to observe them wheeling and dipping just before they dropped down into the reeds at some distance from our viewing point. As we returned to the cars, large flocks of gulls sailed above us as they returned to their roosting sites.
Thank you to all braving possible exposure and hypothermia to make the return trip to Ham Walls. Although the spectacle was not as we had hoped, nevertheless, it was just as rewarding to see the huge number of starlings. We saw 21 species, not bad considering the conditions and the short time we were there.
Species list –
Chaffinch, Canada Goose, Robin, Snipe, Blackbird, Teal, Mallard, Kingfisher, Coot, Woodpigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Marsh Harrier, Shoveler, Cormorant, Pochard, Dunnock, Tufted Duck, Carrion Crow, Great White Egret, Starling, Gadwall, Black Headed Gull