13 best places to see roosting starlings

The sight and sound of thousands of starlings overhead is one of the greatest British wildlife experiences. Here’s where you can see this unmissable spectacle.

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Starling roost

As autumn progresses, the UK starling population doubles to 16 million birds. They land en masse and nestle together to keep warm and (so the theory goes) chatter about good feeding grounds.

Reedbeds and large buildings with ledges are favoured roost sites, but woods and cliffs are used as well. Starlings often switch roost sites, so try to get up-to-date local information before you set off.

Check the forecast, too: the most extrovert displays are in clear, calm, cold conditions. Wrap up warm, arrive an hour before twilight and select your viewpoint carefully: do you prefer the descending sun to illuminate the starlings or provide a crimson backdrop?

1 GRETNA GREEN, DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY Roost site is mobile, but usually just east of the M6 services.

2 RSPB SALTHOLME, NEAR MIDDLESBROUGH Flocks gather against a dramatic backdrop of heavy industry.

3 RSPB LEIGHTON MOSS, LANCASHIRE A medium-sized reedbed roost, as featured on BBC Two’s Autumnwatch.

4 SHAPWICK HEATH/RSPB HAM WALL, SOMERSET Probably Britain’s largest roost. It is very popular with visitors, so try to avoid weekends when parking can be a problem.

5 ALBERT BRIDGE, RIVER LAGAN, BELFAST The largest starling roost in Northern Ireland. Big city-centre roosts such as this have sadly become uncommon nowadays.

6 RSPB NEWPORT WETLANDS This large reedbed roost attracts the attentions of the local pylon-nesting peregrines.

7 ROYAL PIER, ABERYSTWYTH, CEREDIGION Watch from on the pier itself or along the seafront parade.

8 RSPB FEN DRAYTON LAKES, CAMBRIDGESHIRE The most accessible of several starling roosts in the Fens.

9 WEST PIER, BRIGHTON & HOVE Huge starling flocks gather along the Brighton and Hove seafront to roost on the pier.

10 RSPB MALTRAETH MARSH, ANGLESEY In recent years this wetland reserve has hosted a huge starling roost.

11 LOWER MARSH FARM, WILTSHIRE Watch from Sandpool at this Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve near Malmesbury.

12 RSPB STRUMPSHAW FEN A large reedbed roost in the Norfolk Broads.

13 SNAPE MALTINGS, SUFFOLK Starlings roost in the tidal reedbed here, and big flocks can be seen wheeling around over the River Alde and surrounding marshes.

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