September 17 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, March 2, 2014
An amateur wildlife photographer managed to score big when he netted this astonishing image of a starling ‘murmuration’ over a Suffolk nature reserve.
The amazing football formation - made up entirely of wingers - was captured at RSPB Minsmere by Tim Oakes, from Westleton.
The 47-year-old was waiting patiently in the reserve’s Bittern Hide when tens of thousands of roosting starlings burst into the sky. “I guess it was just a lucky shot,” said Mr Oakes, who has been bird-watching for most of his life. “I’d taken about 50 or 60 and only saw the shapes when I looked at my camera afterwards.”
Minsmere’s publicity officer Ian Barthorpe said: “This phenomenon really is one of the great spectacles of the natural world. It’s always popular.
“At the moment we have thirty to forty thousand starlings roosting in the reedbeds. The timing of when they gather varies from year to year. In recent years we’ve found March to be the best month to see them here.
“For the last 10 days to a fortnight, they have been gathering in small flocks from about 5pm and starting to form these great swirling clouds until it gets dark.
“We are really pleased to have such a spectacular display here this year - and there’s plenty of other wildlife and stunning sunsets to see.”
It is not certain why accumulate in such a fashion but experts say it’s most likely down to safety in numbers from predatory birds.
Most of the starlings currently at Minsmere have arrived on the Suffolk coast from parts of Europe where the climate has become too cold.