National Trust Purbeck Wildlife

A Murmuration of Starlings

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If you happened to be using the chain ferry recently as the daylight was beginning to fade, you would have been taken aback to see the Shell Bay car park overflowing and hundreds of people lining the high points of the dunes.

Word spreads fast when nature hands us a great wildlife spectacle.  For swirling around above the watchers, in ever changing patterns of synchronised twists, turns and spirals, is a great mass of starlings, perhaps as many as fifteen thousand.

They have chosen the reedbed there as an ideal winter roost and this mass aerial display is a prelude to their sudden disappearance as they funnel into the reeds and surrounding trees.

It is a mesmerising thing to see and the grand finale often brings a hushed round of applause as the spectators show their appreciation, respectful not to cause any disturbance to the birds.

It is difficult to say how long the murmuration will continue, so take the opportunity to see it now.  If you can’t visit, there are some brilliant film clips on youtube – just search for ‘starlings at Studland’.



Author: Kevin Rideout

National Trust Visitor Experience Officer based at Studland

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