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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.