Starling season and Covid-19
Please note that this blog was written before the government lockdown announcement on 5 January. In light of these recent announcements, we urge you to follow the legislation around non-essential travel and please visit your most local nature reserves and green spaces for essential outdoor exercise.
As you may know, starling season is our busiest time of year for visitors across the Avalon Marshes from October through to March. It is with great sadness that this year we are asking our visitors to try and visit an alternative local roost instead where possible, and to think carefully before travelling to our site due to the difficulties created by Covid 19 and the need for social distancing.
For the safety of all our visitors, staff and volunteers, we ask that if you can, please try alternative sites before choosing to visit us at Avalon Marshes – while we’d love to welcome you, the government guidelines on social distancing and maximum gathering sizes measures mean we cannot safely accommodate the usual large numbers of people who visit us.
Please visit starlingsintheuk.co.uk to find out where your local alternative roost is to visit – we’d hate for you to be disappointed on arrival here at Avalon Marshes. If you’re travelling from further afield, there is also a great range of our other reserves that host starling murmurations that are worthwhile visiting instead, including:
If the Avalon Marshes roost is your local roost, and you choose to visit us, please remember that the experience you may be used to at the reserve will not be the same this year. We ask that you plan your visit carefully and read the following guidelines to avoid disappointment:
- The RSPB Ham Wall car park will have limited spaces available for visitors – please do not be surprised if we have to turn you away due to reaching our site capacity. Please do not park on the road – be considerate of our neighbours and the need for emergency vehicle access at all times. If the car park is full or closed, then the site is at capacity – please return to visit the roost another day or choose a different roost to visit
- We ask that all visitors be considerate of each other and work together to ensure that everyone can view the starlings safely, maintaining social distancing at all times. Please wear a face covering if you are able to wear one
- The maximum group size able to visit our reserves together is 6, unless you are from the same household or bubble. Groups who do not follow this legal requirement will be asked not to enter our reserve.
- Be mindful that our sites have a reduced toilet availability due to extended cleaning regimes
- During weekends and over the Christmas period, we usually experience the highest number of visitors. Consider visiting outside of peak times such as weekdays or in the morning as the sun rises when the birds fly up spectacularly from the reedbeds. If you’d like to visit the reserve in the daytime instead, we also have some fantastic other wildlife to see such as bitterns, marsh harriers and majestic great white egrets
- Parking costs £3 per car or is free for RSPB members (display membership card on your dash) in the RSPB Ham Wall car park. Payment is taken via credit or debit card. We will not be able to lend out RADAR keys for those planning to use our reserve blue badge parking so please bring your own with you. The Avalon Marshes Centre car park is free but has limited spaces.
- Be mindful of the sensitive habitat around the reserves – please stick to the paths and bring a torch to help you find your way in the dark. Please note that dogs are only permitted on the main track and footpath running along the Glastonbury canal (Red Route) at RSPB Ham Wall and must be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted on Shapwick Heath NNR
- There are no bins at any of the sites across the Avalon Marshes, so please take your rubbish home with you to avoid it harming our sensitive wildlife
We understand that a visit to the Avalon Marshes starling roost is an annual tradition for many and naturally people will be disappointed that the experience will not be the same this year. However, it is necessary that we ask people to consider everyone’s safety before visiting, including our own staff and volunteers as well as other site visitors. We hope that you are able to find an alternative roost to visit that you can enjoy safely, and the Avalon Marshes starlings will be here to greet you once it is safe for large groups to gather again.
Thank you all for your continued support
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