Today’s post was meant to be my blog’s highlight. I have been looking forward to sharing one of nature’s greatest spectacles with my children and have been planning a trip to see the Starling murmuration at Ham Wall for a very long time. However, things didn’t quite go to plan.
It started OK, as we drove from our friends’ house in the Mendips towards the Somerset Levels. E was zonked and Izzy was playing I Spy with B and me. We started noticing small flocks of Starlings in the orchards and gardens as we drew closer to our destination, as well as Swans in the fields and mole hills of black peat. It was a gorgeous evening – clear and dry and our anticipation was growing. As we approached the overflowing car park, it became clear that the Ham Wall starlings are a lot more famous than they were the first time B and I watched them. maybe 6 years ago or so. We joined the river of people heading deeper into the reserve and found a place to stand and wait. A sliver of moon appeared and the sun set a deep orange on the horizon. There were Tufted Ducks, a Heron and Coots on the water in front of us. People pointed at the sky as clouds of Starlings started to drift in. The groups gathered and joined together, shifting like ribbons of smoke. It was amazing. Izzy watched from B’s shoulders, but, unfortunately, by this time, E had had enough. He cried “Mummy, Mummy” repeatedly at me as I tried, in vain, to work out what was wrong. He was clearly cold, but refused to wear a hat or gloves, flinging them off if I tried to insist. A few raisins helped calm him down, but as we hadn’t been at home beforehand, I was ill prepared and had nothing else to offer. Feeling guilty that we were ruining the experience for everybody around us, we started to head back to the car and then Izzy started whingeing, too. The crying continued as we drove home and worn out, we stopped for burgers at a service station. After a few mouthfuls of junk food, the kids instantly perked up. Venus was bright in the sky as we carried on with our journey, the kids singing and joking around and Izzy keeping her eyes open for fairy dust.
Total wild time – 1.5 hours