A FANTASTIC natural phenomenon is filling the skies over Sterte every night as around 100,000 starlings form a black cloud.

This amazing sight over Poole as the light fades is attracting scores of bird watchers and photographers, all of whom are keen to capture the starling spectacle.

Last winter there were around 20,000 to 30,000 birds wheeling around the sky but this year the flock has grown enormously as more and more birds join in.

The murmuration of starlings started after one or two small flocks of local birds came together over Sterte and others joined in the formation flying.

“There is safety in numbers,” said Paul Morton, information officer for the RSPB at Arne. “There’s 100,000 pairs of eyes all looking out for each other and there is no chance of a peregrine or sparrowhawk being able to penetrate.”

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Other reasons for the mass wheeling around the sky are so the birds can build up body heat before roosting for the night and it’s also a social event.

When they leave the roost in the morning they split up into small groups and spread 20-30 miles, feeding in parks, gardens and on farmland.

Many of the birds causing such a stir over Poole will have travelled from Eastern Europe and will fly back in the spring.

“The RSPB has red-listed the birds as a threatened species,” said Mr Morton. “It’s a good positive sign to see such huge numbers but thousands of them will be Eastern European birds.”

One of the places thousands of chattering starlings spend the night is in tall leylandii near the railway line, at the rear of Annette Geyser’s garden in Sterte Road.

“I have lived here nearly five years and I have noticed them before but never to this extent,” Ms Geyser said. “It’s quite amazing to watch but you should see the cars in the morning. They are covered.”

See all our images from the flock - click the picture to go the gallery