Starling murmurations at Otmoor

It was 3.15pm, we had been walking around Otmoor for the past two hours. The weather was cold and windy, the ground a mixture of ice and squelching mud. Even with 3 pairs of socks on each step I took was beginning to hurt as my feet were numb with cold.

We had spent the past 10 minutes in the Wetland watch hide trying to warm up and decide whether we were going to stay to watch the starlings or start the walk back to the car park.

In the end we decided to head back out to the Starling viewing point. We joined tens of people heading the same way. Couples, birdwatchers, photographers, families with small children, all hoping to see the amazing aerial display put on by the Starlings.

Along the path, small bird shaped signs pointed out facts about the starlings or many of the other birds, such as Marsh harriers or Gold crests that can be seen on the reserve.

As we walked, small  clusters of starlings flew overhead, the sun began to set and the clouds cleared.

Groups of Starlings started to join together, some coming in small batches, while others poured in long dark tornado looking  masses. They moved from left to right in undulating waves. With each passing wave the cloud of Starlings grew bigger and darker.

Then the shapes started to appear.

This one was my favourite – it looks like Mary Poppins with her umbrella.

Looks like Mary Poppins - starling murmuration



The photo below is just a small section of the starling murmuration. I’ve put a grid over the photo to enable me to count how many starlings there were.

The middle square has roughly 50 starlings in it.

There are 70 squares which makes roughly 3500 starlings in this photo – and that was just a small section of the whole murmuration!

starlings with grid


About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. This year my debut book "Get Your Boots On" was published I am a keen amateur photographer. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire Badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
This entry was posted in birds, Citizen science, nature, Nature reserve, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, RSPB, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Starling murmurations at Otmoor

  1. RossMountney says:

    Absolutely spectacular – loved watching that. Thanks for sharing. All the best. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post and some fabulous photos Alex. I’d love to witness a murmeration in the wild, it’s high on my wildlife ‘to do’ list. Your blog looks great, I’ll have a good read through in the next week or so

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stephan Schulz says:

    Hi Alex,

    first of all I’d like to thank you for these wonderful shots. I’m a wildlife filmmaker from Germany and I plan on coming to Oxfordshire in January 2019. I’m just not quite sure if it’s worth the trip at this time of year. I mainly want to film starling murmurations. Can you help me or can you recommend a better location? I already filmed starlings at the German-Danish border this autumn. Unfortunately there were no spectacular formation flights. Check out my video if you like:

    Thanks a lot for your help.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. JR says:

    Alex, I am visiting (from overseas) in mid November. Will we be able to enjoy the murmuration at that time? Is it weather dependent? Is sundown the appropriate time? Thanks for your blog posts

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Thank you for your comment. Yes, the murmurations are just starting now. They will definitely be around in November. Where abouts in the Uk are you visiting? Otmoor is great, but then so is Brighton and Ham Wall in Somerset. It seems to be weather dependant, but that might be looking at it from a spectators point of view. A nice cold sunny evening with a red sunset makes a much better evening than watching on a rainy day. But I’ve been on beautiful evenings and the starlings have just flown straight in to the roosts. I think they murmurate for longer when there are predators around. The starlings start arriving about an hour before sunset. Hope that helps. Alex


      • JR says:

        it does help. thanks for that. i’ll be in Oxford anyway, hence the focus on Otmoor

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ok. For Otmoor. I would get there about 3pm in November. It’s quite a walk from the car park to the murmuration watching hides. Although you can see them from all over the site.
        The walk to the hides is well marked, but you can just follow all the people with cameras.
        The car park is quite small and fills up quickly.
        Good luck


  5. I’ve watched other murmurations and the choreography is just so spectacular. The extraordinary energy and dynamic form really makes the phenomenon so impressive. Beautiful photos and I enjoyed the video.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Spocki says:

    Great photos, and I love the ‘Mary Poppins’ one too. Otmoor is fantastic. I look forward visiting the place again next time I’m in Oxford. Also, thanks for the follow!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Alex,

    Loved this post, very interesting, We also saw something similar but didn’t know what it was called.
    thanks for info!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.