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Doncaster’s Aerial Ballet

Thursday 5th January 2017

Starlings at Potteric Carr - credit Jim HorsfallStarlings at Potteric Carr - credit Jim Horsfall

You may have seen the starling murmurations in Rome on the BBC’s Planet Earth 2 last year, but these aerial acrobatics can now also be seen in Doncaster!

Locals have been wowed by a wonderful aerial ballet being performed by starlings as the sun sets over Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Potteric Carr nature reserve on the edge of Doncaster.

Starlings come together to roost in the site’s large reed-beds each evening, and before they settle they often perform incredible aerobatics known as a murmuration. This aerial performance starts as small groups of starlings head to roost in the late afternoon. Gradually, the flock builds in size and if they are disturbed, they take off as one, twisting and turning like smoke over the site. The flock can look like a dark smudge in the sky, which rapidly changes shape and form, like a shoal of fish.

Andy Dalton, Potteric Carr Programme Manager said: “Winter nights have been brightened up by this impressive natural spectacle as the sun starts to go down in the sky. The starlings are best viewed from the new visitor centre at Potteric Carr, which opened at the end of November. The centre offers the perfect opportunity to grab a coffee or bite to eat and settle in to watch nature at its best!”

The new Potteric Carr visitor centre opened at the end of November and commands lovely views over one of the nature reserve’s lakes. It boasts a shop with a wide range of gifts, books and binoculars, a welcoming tearoom, spacious outdoor deck, toilets, meeting space and lots of information about Potteric Carr and the work of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The new visitor centre acts as a gateway to the nature reserve, which boasts several miles of level trails, many of which are surfaced, plus a large number of hides from which visitors can expect fantastic views of birds and other wildlife.

Entrance to the visitor centre is free but there is a small admission charge to access the nature reserve. Members of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have free access.