Monday 18 December 2017

Starlings stage aerial art show

A murmuration of starlings above the small village of Rigg, near Gretna, in the Scottish Borders
A murmuration of starlings above the small village of Rigg, near Gretna, in the Scottish Borders
A murmuration of starlings above the small village of Rigg, near Gretna, in the Scottish Borders
The shape of two dolphins could be seen at one stage during the murmuration

Twitchers were treated when thousands of starlings performed a tea-time spectacular, forming shapes like dolphins, a huge gorilla and even, perhaps, a giant bird.

The amazing sight of up to 10,000 starlings doing an aerial dance, known as a murmuration, probably as a form of defence was visible for around 20 minutes at dusk yesterday near Gretna, close to the English-Scottish border.

They were shot by Press Association photographer Owen Humphreys who said: ''The shapes they formed were spectacular, making a gorilla, two dolphins and maybe a giant bird.

''People can see in them what they like.

''There was also a bird of prey, probably a buzzard, which seemed to make the starlings fly even more.

''As well as the sight, the noise of them flying was remarkable.

''I've been going over to the site for the last three weeks to get the right picture. Last night made it all worth it.''

Chris Collett, a spokesman for the RSPB, said: ''There are several theories as to why starlings gather in this way as they prepare to roost for the night.

''Some have said it is for fun or for communication but the most likely reason is for survival.

''The theory is that the sheer number of birds will confuse a bird of prey.

''Lots of birds of prey will still have a pop at them - peregrines, sparrowhawks, merlins, kestrels.

''Despite being one of our most common species, starlings are red listed, which means they are of high conservation concern.

''This is because their numbers in the Britain have decreased by 66% since the mid 1970s.

''It is a similar story across the rest of northern mainland Europe.''

Press Association

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