“A Murmuration of Starlings”. Somehow a single Starling
seems a very strange idea. For the most impressive thing
about Starlings is the way that they congregate in huge
flocks in the winter. During the day they feed in grassy
fields in smaller gatherings. but as the day wears on they
gather into huge swirling masses, which darken the sky like plumes of smoke. And then they gradually
disappear into their chosen roost site, which could be a city centre, a wood, a belt of trees or a
reedbed. Many people regard a Starling roost as one of the most impressive wildlife sights in Britain.
It is likely that many of our local starlings are currently roosting in the reedbed downstream from
Blackpool Mill which can be seen from the viewpoint in Minwear Woods (walk down from the picnic
site at SN054139). It is well worth a visit on a fine evening – the first flocks arrive about an hour
before dusk - and it provides us with a chance to see this spectacle at first hand. Last year It was
estimated that several hundred thousand birds used this roost, until eventually all the reeds were
flattened and they moved off to a new site.
There is also a much bigger roost in the spruce plantation at Dudwell Mountain. You can park right
next to it at SM906221 and watch the Starlings whoosh over your head from the south or
alternatively watch from a distance by driving up the track off the B4330 to a viewpoint at SM918234.
On a good night the Starlings will whirl around in spectacular shapes, their actions often triggered by
the various birds of prey which are looking for an easy meal. A mild night without too much wind
usually give the best sightings - if it is too windy or too cold the Starlings just tend to fly straight into
As I write this at the beginning of November the Starlings are just arriving - they are late this year,
probably due to mild autumn weather and plenty of food in
their breeding areas, but possibly also due to the prolonged
westerly winds which could have held up their journey from
the north and east. For Starlings are a winter pleasure for us
– there are very few breeding birds in this area, though it is
not really obvious why this should be. Although still very
numerous in winter, they are decreasing rapidly as a breeding
bird in the UK, and as far as I know the cause is just not
known. Other birds which feed on grasslands, such as Rooks, are doing well. Other birds which nest
in similar sized holes, such as Greater Spotted Woodpecker, are doing well. So why not Starlings?
Minwear starling murmuration:
The reedbeds on the Eastern Cleddau at Minwear, near Narberth, are used as a roost by hundreds of thousands of starlings in October. The birds arrive in the valley in small flocks that coalesce into a magical whirling shapes formed by thousands of birds seemingly acting as one. The best place to enjoy this spectacle is from the viewpoint on the southern bank of the estuary in Minwear Wood. There is a carpark at Canaston Bridge