Murmurations in Avalon

According to the 12th century historian Gerald of Wales, “What is now known as Glastonbury was, in ancient times, called the Isle of Avalon. It is virtually an island, for it is completely surrounded by marshlands.”  Some of those Somerset marshlands are known today as The Avalon Marshes, and they are home to thousands of birds.

In winter you can see many, many thousands of starlings, most of which will have migrated from Scandinavia, or even further east.  They come here to roost, and their pre-roost assemblies, called murmurations, are amazing.


The reeds the starlings roost in are beautiful when backlit by the evening sun.


The birds form these twisting and ever-changing shapes in the sky prior to roosting.  There’s a passing Easyjet airliner with an orange contrail in this one!


Sometimes the birds settle in trees, only to suddenly all lift off again with a loud and raucous twittering and a rapid beating of many wings.  The movement blur, (shutter speed 1/100th sec), gives a sense of the action going on.


The large cloud of birds gets closer and closer to the ground, and finally they settle in the reedbeds for the night.  The loud chattering noise after they have settled is amazing.

It’s a fantastic sight and well worth going to see.

Photography of the starling roost is challenging as they tend to arrive at dusk as the light is fading.  I had to use higher ISO’s than I would usually use, and I am looking out for a wide aperture telephoto lens to give me more reach, and help keep the shutter speed up.

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