Starlings' sunset spectacular is caught on camera

Experts believe the starlings perform the murmuration as a form of protection from predators.
Experts believe the starlings perform the murmuration as a form of protection from predators.
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Wildlife experts have captured beautiful images of thousands of starlings in flight on the edge of a major conurbation.

At dusk, the skies above Shibdon Pond in Gateshead fill with the birds flying and swooping before the sun goes down in what is known as a murmuration.

The Tyneside gathering has been growing in numbers as the winter progresses, and is one of the most impressive in the North East.

Experts believe the starlings perform the murmuration as a form of protection from predators.

Vivien Kent, conservation officer at Durham Wildlife Trust, said: "Starlings are a red-listed bird, and their numbers have reduced significantly from 30 or 40 years ago.

"This is thought to be due to loss of habitat and changes in farming methods.

"The large numbers seen in this country in the autumn and winter are not just local birds, they are supplemented by millions that arrive from continental Europe, where the winters are much harsher, making it more difficult to survive."

Volunteers have worked hard at Shibdon to remove scrub and enhance the reed bed, making it more attractive for starlings.