Autumn and winter in the UK is a fantastic time to see the aerial displays of huge numbers of starlings as they flock together before roosting in the early evenings. Known as 'murmurations' - either for the sound their collective wings make, or for the undulating shapes they make in the sky (no-one really knows!) - there are a few places on our patch that you have a good chance of spotting them.
The murmurations usually start again around November, after the birds have all returned from their breeding sites and begun to gather as a flock again, but can sometimes be seen from as early as September. Numbers usually swell in December/January as migrant birds join our resident flocks for extra safety and warmth.
The best time of day to see them is just as the sun is setting and they are settling down, or when the sun is rising and they all take off together in a huge whoosh of wings. You don't need any special equipment. If you can find somewhere quiet, and they pass right over your head, it's worth tuning in your ears as well as your eyes. You'll hear the sound of their wings flapping like the very air itself is gently murmuring.
We'll keep you updated with the latest sightings around our three counties, and if you've seen a murmuration yourself, please do let us know!
Please note: By their very nature, the flocks often move and we cannot guarantee their showing at any of the suggested sites. The birds roost every night, but don't necessarily flock and murmurate each time. Not all murmurations happen conveniently near a car park or nature reserve. Please respect private property and be careful not to trespass or trample.
Summer Leys, Northamptonshire
Starlings have returned in 2018 in quite large numbers, and there are lots of pictures and videos online. They are often displaying at dusk and viewable from our Summer Leys nature reserve.