Large numbers of starlings arrive from as far away as Scandinavia to join their native cousins as they roost for the winter. The flocks, which can swell to as many as 40,000 birds at the peak in December, can be seen each evening over Brighton Pier as they perform their spellbinding aerial show known as ‘murmuration’.
Starlings feed up to 20 miles from their winter roost, returning each evening. In late afternoon feeding flocks join together to form large pre-roost gatherings in places where the birds can get one last meal before nightfall. At dusk, birds from these gatherings fly, often in a swirling cloud-like formation, to the roost.
Despite the large numbers seen over Brighton Pier in winter, the UK starling population is in decline, with numbers plummeting by two thirds since the seventies. As a result, the bird is now Red Listed as a Species of Conservation Concern.
Find out more information about starlings from the RSPB website.
Images of the murumation over the pier (photos by Chris Mole with kind thanks to the RSPB)