Starling Murmurations & Red Kites

Running my first holiday to Wales did give me a couple of opportunities to pick up my camera again for the first time in almost a year! I hadn’t realised it had been so long until I noted the date on my last post, so if you’ve been waiting for me to add a new story I hope this almost makes up for the wait…

Staying near the seafront at Aberystwyth gave us two evenings to enjoy the Starlings as they gathered to roost at the pier and although this will never be the largest congregating of Starlings in the UK, the setting surely can’t be beaten. Facing due west, the setting sun gives a perfect backdrop to one of natures most incredible events.

With the tide on the rise heading towards dusk we had time to check out the rocks for waders and in particular look for Purple Sandpiper which are found here in small numbers over the winter months. With time running out and the light beginning to fade, I managed to pick one out on the rocks allowing everyone good views and Phil the chance to get images. There was of course the usual debate among the group about “whats purple about it”, but either way they are a lovely little wader. Not much else to add bird wise apart from a group of Turnstone and incredibly a Red Kite that cruised low overhead while we stood on the promenade which again Phil snapped. The Starlings had started to arrive now in small numbers, initially gathering over the impressive old College Building that still stands proud on the seafront, 227 years after its construction.

Starling numbers still building over the pier

All my images were taken on the second evening when I left the scope behind and gave the canon an airing. We’d had a lovely pink fluffy kind of sunset the night before, so this evenings warmer looking sky gave the group a different backdrop to enjoy the show.

All sorts of shapes being thrown out there… The Whale
The Mushroom

The show went on for roughly one hour, below are a few more of my favourites from the evening.

After two evenings of Starlings and visits to Cors Caron and Ynyslas nature reserves, it was time to head home via the Elan Valley to Gigrin Farm to enjoy the Red Kite feed. As ever the Kites were amazing and a truly wonderful spectacle to witness at such close quarters.

The birds are fed here each afternoon, with Gigrin being the official feeding station for the Kites since 1992, at a time when these birds were still struggling to maintain a foot hold as a British species. This not only helps the Kites thrive but of course gives us as visitors the chance to watch in awe as they swoop in for the morsels of meat and eat them on the wing at such close range.

Closing in on a snack
Help its a murder of crows… well Rooks actually!

It’s quite rare to see the Kites eating from the ground like this, but clearly does happen. Gigrin also provides a good opportunity to brush up on your identification of the various corvid species, with Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Raven and Magpie all coming down for food at times.

Its a great place to practice flight photography

I never tire of visiting Gigrin and taking a group with me only adds to the pleasure when I see their faces light up when seeing these incredible birds so close.

The short break went very well, with 57 species seen in all at a nice relaxed pace, some fabulous locations visited, a couple of very nice meals taken in good company and even good weather throughout.

I’ve already got the next holiday of this type on sale for February 2024, so why not check it out on my ‘Holidays page‘ and perhaps join me on the next one.

4 thoughts on “Starling Murmurations & Red Kites

  1. Hi Ashley, fantastic photos as always. Remember watching the Red Kites being fed the other year. Well done you. Sue x

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  2. Hi Ashley
    Fab photos. Good to hear from you.
    I’m off to Switzerland in the morning for 2 weeks skiing. Roll on the summer then!!
    Hope you’re both well and we catch up with you somewhere during the year. Is there a bird fair this year?
    All the best
    Maureen and Peter xx

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • Thanks Maureen. Have fun in Switzerland, good to hear you’re back on the skis!
      All good here thank you, hopefully see you soon. Yes Birdfair is back, 15th-17th July, may see you there.
      Take care x

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