As they swooped to escape a peregrine falcon at their roost in Aberdeenshire, thousands of starlings put on an impressive display.
Wildlife photographer Ron Macdonald, who was out on Monday night to photograph the fascinating display, caught the early evening aerobatic show, known as the ‘murmuration’.
The Starlings were attacked last night by a peregrine falcon at their roost in Aberdeenshire. #Twitternaturecommunity #NatureGoneWild #birdwatching #bird photography #birding #bird #murmuration pic.twitter.com/aMWIZdvdzm Look out at the end for the falcon swooping into the woods with a starling in its talons
– Ron Macdonald (@ronpon ron) November 24, 2020 November 24, 2020
The birds transform and seemingly flee from all directions with the Aberdeenshire twilight sky as a backdrop.
To shield themselves from predators, scientists believe starlings form murmurings – protection by numbers.
On this occasion, however, a starling meets a bitter end as the predatory falcon returns with its prey to the trees.
A wonderful still image of the marmot was also captured by Mr. Macdonald, which was hailed by officials of the Nature of Scotland Awards as a “stunning image”
After a late afternoon of photographing murmuring starlings in Aberdeenshire, enjoy the Nature of Scotland Awards @https://twitter.com/NatureofScot #NatureOfScotland . Good luck to all of the finalists and pic.twitter.com/TJS4QYFxPbb well finished.
– Ron Macdonald (@ronpon ron) November 25, 2020 November 25, 2020
In winter, the Starlings migrate to the UK to avoid the relative cold of continental Europe, gathering in the sky in flocks of up to hundreds of thousands.
Just before dusk in November, they are most frequently seen.
Flocking also allows the birds to exchange information, such as good feeding spots and to stay warm in the night air before settling into their roost below.
The birds, also known as starlings or European starlings, typically roost in protected areas such as forests, but they are also known to use reed beds, cliffs and even man-made buildings and industrial sites.
Ron Macdonald posted the video on social media, saying, “Starlings attacked by a peregrine falcon at their roost in Aberdeenshire last night.
“Watch out at the end for the falcon dropping into the woods with a starling in its talons.”
One Twitter user wrote: “Absolutely amazing what a sight and sound that must have been.”
Another added, “Awesome! Great filming Ron.”
A third thanked him for sharing the incredible footage.