Starling murmuration at Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve

The starling murmurations of up to 250,000 birds at Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve have been drawing the crowds in recent weeks with people taking photos and videos as the birds whirl overhead.

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Ruth Campbell, from outside Ripon, was one of those who has been watching the birds.

She said: “This was one of the most amazing starling murmurations I’ve seen.

“There were hundreds of thousands of them and it was simply mesmerising to watch the shapes they made in the sky, against the dramatic backdrop of the setting Sun. When some of them swooped down into the reed beds in front of us and then suddenly rose up again, it sounded like a tidal wave. At one point, huge numbers went right over our heads, the sky seemed to turn black and the noise was overwhelming, a totally immersive experience. Better than any firework display I’ve ever seen.”

Thanks go to Helen Hays for this video footage.

Andy Dalton of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “No one knows for certain why starlings put on such mesmerising aerial acrobatics, but avoiding predators through safety in numbers is one common theory. These dazzling dances attract more and more birds as they progress, so another theory is that the murmuration is a way for birds to ‘share’ news of the best local feeding areas.

“Of course, describing a starling murmuration rarely does it justice – the best thing is to see it for yourself. Ripon City Wetlands is one of the best places to go. The birds start to gather around thirty minutes from sunset and can be seen performing across the reserve until they descend into the reedbeds to roost. Watching a many thousand strong starling murmuration ripple and dance across a dusky pink winter sky is one of nature’s best wildlife spectacles.”

York Press: A starlingA starling

Created from the footprint of a working quarry, Ripon Wetlands nature reserve is a thriving home for a range of birds and other wildlife on the outskirts of the city and you can see starling murmurations as late as March, as starlings continue to forage and roost in large flocks.

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