Starling Murmurations in Cumbria
Huge starling murmurations can be viewed in parts of Cumbria during the late autumn and mid winter. One of nature’s most amazing displays, a murmuration consists of many thousands of birds in swirling, synchronised, aerial acrobatics.
Cumbrian starling murmurations are usually first sighted in November, although early formations have been recorded in September.
Although some starlings live all year round in Cumbria, during the winter months many more will visit the county from the continent, seeking out the temperate winter climate.
Good places in Cumbria to view starling murmurations include Gilcrux village, the Solway Firth near Silloth, and around Orton, Walney Island and Carlisle. Gretna Green, just north of Carlisle, is also famous for its starling murmurations.
Notably, there are few murmuration sightings within the Lake District National Park. It is best to move just over the National Park border to see the displays.
In the winter months starlings roost together in large numbers. This is believed to be both for safety in numbers and to keep warm.
During the day starlings form smaller flocks in roosting places such as treetops, where the all round visibility is good. As the day ends, however, these smaller flocks begin to come together for their communal night time roost.
Shortly before dusk, as wave after wave of smaller flocks come together, the huge murmurations are formed in the skies over the communal night-time roosting site. Then, suddenly, as the last light fades, the starlings disappear, dropping down to their night time roost together.
Images by Jan Fialkowski