Spectacular shapes have begun forming in the skies across the region as one of nature’s most mesmerising spectacles gets underway.
Flocks of hundreds of thousands of starlings have begun to migrate here from continental Europe, to spend the winter months here, and have been gathering noisily at dusk to perform dazzling aerial displays.
According to the RSPB, this is the best time of year to witness this type of starling murmuration.
RSPB volunteer Nicola Stables managed to capture on camera the moment a starling murmuration formed a heart shape in the sky at RSPB Old Moor in Yorkshire.
Nicola said: “A mass of thousands of birds quickly swoop and whirl and dive in unison, creating different shapes and waves in the sky. It is absolutely breathtaking to witness. It was incredible to be standing on the reedbed path watching them right above our heads at times. The shapes they were making enthralled everyone watching.”
Each year the UK’s starling numbers are boosted by migrating arrivals, who gather at dusk over their roosting site, and perform their wheeling stunts before plunging down to their roosting spot to settle for the night.
Charlotte Ambrose, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “Many of us see starlings in our gardens but to see this amazing display at dusk is a real treat and an unforgettable moment. It’s believed they do this to keep safe from predators and then settle down to keep warm and exchange information.”
The starling murmuration at RSPB Old Moor is building by the day and around 10,000 have been seen leaving their roost, but numbers can reach up to 100,000 birds at some locations across the country. Some of the largest and most impressive have been witnessed at RSPB Fen Drayton and RSPB Leighton Moss reserves.
Murmurations can be spotted on RSPB reserves up and down the country.
Visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves to find your nearest nature reserve.