Forget wildebeest migrations or the northern lights. Right now, right here in the UK starlings, geese, ducks, wagtails, rooks, waders and other birds are performing a natural spectacle above our heads. Winter is a brilliant time to watch flocking birds. The pulse, swell and grace of a flock of birds all moving together is almost hypnotic. Starlings are one of the most common bird species you are likely to see flocking, they are the small dark ones that do the full acrobatic display. Look out for them at dusk, they’ll begin to gather in small groups ready to fly to their roosts (the place where the birds sleep) together and then the groups will get larger and larger as they all merge. Flocks of starlings can number in the tens of thousands of individual birds, blackening the sky and swirling and twisting almost like a single animal.
Pied wagtails are also well known for flocking, they tend to come together in dribs and drabs and aren’t quite as majestic as starlings. If you see a group of large black birds these are probably rooks, distinctive by a cacophony of cawing.
If you live near the coast you’re likely to see large flocks of geese at dawn and dusk as they fly between their roosting and feeding sites. Have a look at this video clip from the RSPB’s Otmoor nature reserve. The most spectacular footage is about half way in.