writes Paul Jones

THIS is the moment a staggering murmuration saw an estimated ONE MILLION starlings burst into flight across Somerset skies.

Somerset Camera Club member Jochen Langbein captured the extraordinary sight on camera at the RSPB Ham Wall Nature Reserve on New Year's Eve morning (December 31).

He said: "Instead of fireworks for this New Year Eve, we went to see the 'explosion' of starlings at dawn at RSPB Ham Wall Nature reserve, and (were) fortunate to witness close to a million (estimated) birds as they emerged from their night time roost."

The astonishing footage shows the birds taking to the skies in what is an annual attraction for bird fans from across the country.

It remains unclear why starlings choose to 'murmurate', which is when thousands of birds - sometimes more - gather and fly, seemingly in formation, around where they are roosting.

The Woodland Trust says the formation flying could be a 'signpost', helping others join the roost to provide safety in numbers.

A spokesperson said: "Murmurations are believed to act as giant signposts, attracting all the other starlings in the area so that all the birds can roost together.

"Safety in numbers - when there are thousands of birds all wheeling and turning together, it makes it much harder for predators to single out one particular bird."

Somerset has become a popular hotspot for birdwatchers hoping to catch sight of sizeable murmurations, with Ham Wall a particular favourite.

The birds have also been known to take to the skies in more populated areas - including at Clarks Village, Street.

Originally published in the Somerset County Gazette

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