Spectacular sight as starling murmurations are seen above Newbury, Thatcham reedbeds and the Kennet and Avon canal
Thousands of starlings have been creating one of the most fascinating sights in nature in the skies above West Berkshire recently.
The annual murmurations have been taking place over the past few weeks, as avid ornithologists, as well as eager residents, gather at Thatcham Reedbeds at dusk to witness the majestic sight.
The birds have also been spotted soaring overhead in Newbury and above the Kennet and Avon canal.
Those looking up have been treated to the beautiful swirl of patterns created as the birds swoop and soar across the sky as they gather to roost in the reedbeds.
Our photographer, Phil Cannings, captured the spectacle on three evenings over the New Year - December 30, December 31 and January 1.
As the flocks of birds, coming from all directions, merge and the numbers in flight increase, the patterns appear to expand and contract in the skies overhead.
According to the RSPB, starlings create this “mass aerial stunt…completely breathtaking to witness” for many reasons.
"Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotising flock of thousands,” it said on its website, www.rspb.org.uk.
"They also gather to keep warm at night and to exchange information, such as good feeding areas. They gather over their roosting site, and perform their wheeling stunts before they roost for the night."