Why do starlings form murmurations?
During the winter months starlings gather in the UK from the continent seeking the (slightly) warmer temperatures. They start forming in November and can often be seen through to late January/early February. Flocks arrive from all directions as dusk draws near to form murmurations containing thousands of birds. The flock twists and turns in the sky to form incredible shapes. Numbers reach their peak as the evening light fades, then without warning the murmuration cascades into a nearby reedbeds and silence falls. Thousands of birds disappear from sight until the next day when they will perform their winter wildlife spectacle all over again.
There are many theories behind the reason for starlings forming these vast groups, the main one being is safety in numbers. If you are lucky enough to see a murmuration you may also notice another type of bird in the sky - Sparrowhawks. The predators try their luck at catching a starling which causes the murmuration to condense and change shape in the blink of an eye. Sparrowhawks rarely catch starlings when they are in such large number as it is so difficult to choose one bird to target in the middle of a hypnotising flock.
Idle Valley Nature Reserve starling murmuration
Tuesday 14th January 2020 - Estimated over 25,000 starlings in the murmuration over Tiln Pits. It's a 20 minute walk from the centre along the Warbler Walk and beyond along the path following the river to Tiln Pits. View a map of the location of the murmuration in relation to the Visitor Centre here. As the centre car park will close at 5pm we recommend parking on the access road before entering the Idles gate and follow the alternative route signs due to flooded paths.
Saturday 11th January 2020 - Large numbers are roosting in the reed beds near Tiln Pit, so best viewed from the bend in the River Idle at the southern end of Tiln Pits. Follow the path from the visitor centre around Belmoor Lake and take the path to the left when you reach the River Idle. View a map of the reserve here.
Thursday 9th January 2020 - We have had reports that there is a large number of starlings collecting at Idle Valley towards the north of the reserve from Chainbridge Lane. We'll keep you posted as we find out more information and where best to see them but please do keep to public rights of way if you visit.
Attenborough Nature Reserve starling murmuration update
Thursday 8th January 2020 - Starling numbers have dropped to less than 1,000.
Thursday 19th December 2019 - The numbers have slowly built to around 3,000 and can be seen from the tower hide at around 3.30pm - 3.45pm
Thursday 12th December 2019 - The starlings are consistent in number again at around 1,000 over Clifton Pond.
Thursday 5th December 2019 - Again approximately 1,000 starlings this evening.
Thursday 28th November 2019 - There were approximately 1,000 starlings in the murmuration this evening over Clifton Pond, so lower numbers but still increasing after the floods on site.
Wrap up warm!
For the best chance to see the starling murmurations, wrap up warm and head to the site around an hour before sunset. If you are viewing the murmurations at Attenborough or Idle Valley enjoy the warmth of the cafe and grab a hot drink and a sweet treat before you head outside in the cold. It can get chilly standing around waiting for the birds to appear but it'll be worth the wait!
Keep an eye on our social media accounts for up to date information on the best places to see them.
Attenborough Starling Murmuration FAQs
What time should I get there?
We recommend getting to the viewing area for around 3.45pm-4pm. The starlings have been gathering from 4pm so get there in plenty of time to get a good viewing spot!
The length of the starling's show can vary but stick around until the end, the spectactular plunge into the reeds is just as (if not more) exciting!
Where is the best place to view them?
Where can I park?
Please park in the Visitor Centre car park at Attenborough Nature Reserve. We are keeping the car park open later than the usual 5pm close so there is no need to rush back once the starlings have roosted.
Is this free to attend?
Of course. We do not charge anyone to view this incredible wildlife spectacle, however we need your help to safeguard sites like this and maintain them as a haven for wildlife.
We will often have volunteers at the murmuration site so please consider making a donation to them or in the visitor centre. Attenborough Nature Reserve alone costs us around £3000 every week to maintain and we rely on generosity from our visitors and members to keep these areas a haven for wildlife. Please give what you can.