Starling Murmuration at Llanelli WWT

Sunday, December 04, 2011 Adam Tilt 7 Comments


Last Sunday we were at the WWT's Llanelli reserve for a wildlife encounter that sums up this time of year like no other; a huge Starling murmuration featuring in excess of 100,000 birds. Despite visiting regularly for the last couple of years this is the first time that I have heard of there being a murmuration on site, and by all accounts it was not to be missed. Therefore as the sun started to set we headed over to the Millennium Wetlands to take up position and wait for the arrival of the first Starlings, all the while being serenaded by calling Water Rails and Cetti's Warblers.

25378 - Starling Murmuration, WWT Llanelli

After half an hour the first few birds started to appear over the distant tree-line and in no time at all they were circling overhead.

25379 - Starling Murmuration, WWT Llanelli

From that moment on birds were flying in from every direction in ever bigger flocks until the sky was one swirling mass. Their numbers were impossible to estimate but the sound of flapping wings was incredibly loud, only interrupted by the pitter-patter of falling droppings. Needless to say I was trying to shelter under a small tree.

25381 - Starling Murmuration, WWT Llanelli

With the flock seemingly as big as it was going to get the first birds started to spiral down into the reeds. What started as a trickle soon turned into a torrent as thousands upon thousands of Starlings joined the descent. How the reeds were able to hold so many is still a mystery to me, even more so considering that they were almost impossible to see once inside.

25382 - Starling Murmuration, WWT Llanelli


After seeing all of the birds down we turned around to see another huge murmuration of at least the same size again gathering behind us. Amazingly these new arrivals made their way over to us and landed in exactly the same small area of reedbed before the whole lot once more took to the air. They soon settled down again in an area that was a little more out of reach from the footpath.

25384 - Starling Murmuration, WWT Llanelli

There were an amazing number of people present to witness the show, probably more than I have ever seen at the reserve in fact. As it turns out the BBC news website had featured the spectacle quite prominently the day before which has given some great exposure not just for the WWT but also for this most fantastic of spectacles. If you are in the area it is well worth the visit.

7 comments:

  1. It is that time of year, flocks of Starlings, really extreme photos Adam

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  2. like watching an avian tornado. just fascinating. :)

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  3. Wonderful images and video Adam.
    It's a marvelous sight to see.

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  4. They might not be in everyone's top ten of birds Adam, but there's no denying they put on one of natures most spectacular shows.
    The first time I ever witnessed this spectacle, I was totally gobsmacked.
    Great video and pictures.

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  5. Bob - it is and the Starlings are one of the best things about the winter.

    TexWisGirl - a tornado is a great description. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Bella - thank you.

    Andrew - certainly is. I never bore of watching them.

    Keith - thanks. Starlings are a great example of one of those often overlooked birds that can be as spectacular as anything else this country can offer.

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  6. Marvelous post... and once again... had to look up an unfamiliar term (murmuration)... your video is excellent... you might like to have a look at the one posted here that I found in my rambles about the net trying to find the meaning of murmuration: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/11/starling-flock/ (you may have already seen it)

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