News archive

November 2008

Monday, 17 November 2008

'Starling Watch' from Monday 17 to Friday 21 November at Leighton Moss

'Starling Watch' from Monday 17 to Friday 21 November at Leighton Moss

Starlings are well known for being gregarious and are sometimes seen as the locusts of the bird world as they appear in gardens and quickly scoff the food. However, on closer inspection they are incredible birds with feathers a wonderful sheen of glossy purples and greens and a cheeky character, mimicking many of the sounds that they hear.

At this time of year, starlings can also provide us with one of nature's best wildlife spectacles. During the Winter our UK breeding population is boosted by birds from the Continent. They live in small flocks during the day, traveling between feeding sites and gathering in daytime roosts, normally a place with good all-round visibility. Then in the late afternoon all these feeding flocks, roughly within a 20 mile radius, join up to form progressively larger flocks before becoming a 'murmuration' of tens of thousands of birds in a winter roost site. You might have seen the jaw-dropping, swirling cloud-like formations on the television in the 'Carling' advert or on Autumnwatch, before being brave enough to drop in waves into their roost site.

The vast reedbeds at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale are an ideal spot to see this starling display and visitors can often experience this amazing sight before dusk throughout the winter.
'It's an amazing moment to see the sky full of starlings and to hear the loud 'whoosh' as they fly over above your head. I can become entranced by the different shapes of the birds wheeling around and I'm always astounded as to how they do it! It also makes me smile when they all loudly chatter to each other before all becoming quiet at once when they are settled for the night' says Jen Walker, Visitor and Publicity Officer at the reserve.

This year staff and volunteers at this popular local attraction are running a 'Starling Watch' from Monday 17 to Friday 21 November from 3 pm to dusk and are inviting people to come down and join them to look out for the starlings coming in to roost. They roost every night in the reedbed but to see the spectacle it is best to watch out on a fine afternoon. Just turn up at the visitor centre before 2.45 pm to be directed to the hide where the starling watch is taking place. It is a free event for all. Please Tel: 01524 701601 or see www.rspb.org.uk for more information.

For further information please contact:
Jacqui Fereday, Visitor Services Manager on 01524 703010

Starlings (copyright David Kjaer rspb-images.com)