THIS impressive spectacle of starlings turning and swooping over reed beds at sunset was captured by a photographer looking out over the Otmoor nature reserve.

Snapper Greg Blatchford took the picture from St Mary the Virgin church, in Charlton-on-Otmoor. The displays – called murmations – are common in the autumn and winter months and are how the birds choose their communal night-time shelters.

They also protect the starlings from predators such as peregrine falcons, which find it hard to focus on individual birds in the formation.

The RSPB said starlings like to roost in places protected from harsh weather and predators, such as reedbeds, to keep warm and exchange information about good feeding spots.

Our top stories

The gatherings are largest during winter, when migrant birds visit from Europe, and in some areas the numbers of starlings in one roost can swell up to an amazing 100,000.

They can also feed up to 20 miles away from where they eventually decide to settle for the night.

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.