Starlings swoop in to Loch

Unexpected visitors have been causing excitement at Loch of Strathbeg after thousands of starlings have been spotted across the nature reserve.

The species which have wintering populations and year round populations, are all experiencing levels of decline and appear on the Red List of endangered birds.

The famous huge flocks are overwintering migrants which have been seen over the last few days at the wildlife reserve and are still appearing across the UK during the coldest months.

Visitor and Publicity Officer, Diana Spencer, said: “The starlings have been an unexpected treat for people coming on our dusk Goosewatches.

“We’ve always had a small starling roost at Strathbeg but we’ve not seen one of this size for many years.

“They’ve been doing the classic Starling display of swooping around going from dark to light and making these incredibly intricate shapes in the air.

“They’re a lot harder to count than geese but we’ve estimated the flock to be between eight and ten thousand.

“They do move around and roost in different areas but the best places to see them from have been wither the Tower Pool hide or the small car park at the south end of the loch, usually around half an hour before dusk.”

Starlings are smaller than blackbirds, with a short tail, pointed head and triangular wings.

They can appear black from a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens.

Their flight is fast and direct and they walk and run confidently on the ground.

Noisy and gregarious, starlings spend a lot of the year in flocks.

Still one of the commonest of garden birds, its decline elsewhere makes it a Red List species.

This list, generated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) gives a bird a red, amber or green status depending in its historical population and current plight.