THESE starlings were caught flying in formation over a West Oxfordshire lake at sunset.

The magnificent displays, known as murmurations, were captured by Witney amateur photographer Matt Jellings, 24.

He snapped the starlings showing off over a lake at Dix Pit near Stanton Harcourt.

Mr Jellings, a tree surgeon by day, said: “They come together as this massive group. It really is quite amazing.

“I was told by some friends it was happening just as the sun was setting.

“They come in groups of 50 or 100. They have all been around in the day foraging in the local fields, then these larger groups all come together.

“It’s all very low level, just above the tree line.”

He guessed he saw at least 5,000 of the birds during a half-hour display.

He photographed the spectacle on a Canon 5D digital SLR camera.

It is not known exactly why starlings perform the displays, although it is known that grouping together offers safety in number.

Birds of prey like peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird amidst a hypnotising flock of thousands.

They are also thought to gather together to keep warm at night and to spot good feeding areas.

Our top stories