Birdwatchers watch spectacular starling murmurations in Oxfordshire

  • ITV Meridian's Juliette Fletcher went out to watch the starlings take to the skies.

At this time of year we might expect to see flocks of starlings swooping and diving across our skies.

They are called murmurations and it's thought they gather together in this way to protect themselves from predators, so it's not easy for a single bird to be picked off by a bird of prey. It's safety in numbers.

At Eynsham in Oxfordshire residents have been enjoying spectacular displays in the sky as the sun is setting.

Groups usually begin to form in November and build up through the winter months. More and more birds will flock together as time go on, and the number of starlings in a roost can reach 100,000 in some places.

Vince Wooloff has been filming the daily murmuration from his back garden. He says the sheer size of it is awe-inspiring.

Starlings roost in areas where they can shelter from bad weather such as woodlands, but reed-beds, cliffs, buildings and industrial structures are also used.

In Eynsham they are settling in a tree at the back of some houses.

Despite the fact that murmurations sometimes contain huge numbers of birds, starlings are actually on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.

The RSPB says the starling population has fallen by more than 80 per cent in recent years.

That's thought to be down to a loss of habitats, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites.

The murmuration's a rare sight in Eynsham

Starlings are smaller than blackbirds and seen close up they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens.

They appear to dance in shape-shifting patterns as they swoop across the skies.

It's been a real treat for the villagers to see the starlings descend on Eynsham in Oxfordshire as the sun sets and they settle down for the night.