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The ecologist in me says they are probably encouraging others into the roost site, creating an ecological advantage for the starling's survival. However, my fun-loving side yearns to believe that starlings put on a Red Arrows show just because they can. These spectacles happen at specific sites across the UK from October to early spring, allowing anyone with a camera, or even a mobile phone to capture an impression of this aerial ballet. However your image will strip away most of the sensations that you felt at the time; the chattering of a million calling birds; frost nipping at your nose and toes; or perhaps the scent of distant bonfires.

So how do you create an image that best captures the impressions of the event? Firstly, think about the location. Try to position yourself on the eastern side of the action.

Book Review: On the Bright Side: The Starling series, Book 1 – by S.R. Johannes | Polilla Writes

As the sun sets in the west, standing facing the sunset will allow you to include the sun, or sunlit clouds, as a backdrop for your composition. Even on a cloudy day, the light in this part of the sky will be brighter and will last for longer after sunset. Think about how you frame your picture; including a distant church spire; a line of trees; or some other feature on the horizon will lend your picture a sense of scale and also a sense of location.

You could also include other spectators for added human interest. Consider whether you want to capture a single image or create a sequence of pictures. Locking the camera on a tripod could enable you to take a set of pictures with the same framing. Including the same foreground while capturing the different patterns of the swirling flocks is one way of trying to describe the choreography of these.

Photographers with a little more technical know-how might want to create more impressionistic images. You have a choice where you can use a fast shutter speed to freeze each bird or use a slow one, allowing the movement of each bird to register as a streak across the frame. However you choose to capture the event, be sure to take a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere of the event before the birds tumble from the sky and settle down for the night.

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    On the Bright Side

    White Library is the most comprehensive ornithological library in Australia, containing thousands of books, journals, and media about birds and related topics. A big thanks to CDUni alilleyman and the organising… twitter. Egg-cellent news! Our resident White-bellied Sea-Eagles are busy incubating two eggs in their nest from last year. The Common Starling is a medium-sized bird with a pointed beak, short, triangular wings and a short tail. Young birds are a dull mouse-brown colour, and when moulting into their adult plumage in autumn, the plumage of juvenile Starlings appears patchy, brown and black.

    Book Review: On the Bright Side: The Starling series, Book 1 – by S.R. Johannes

    Report potential sightings immediately! Although Common Starlings are distinctive, especially in the Western Australian landscape, there are a few birds that people may confuse them with. The Yellow-throated Miner is a native honeyeater with grey upperparts with a white rump and a yellowish tinge to its wings and uppertail; it is pale-grey below.

    It has bright-yellow skin above and behind its eye, contrasting with a black eye-mask, and it has a yellow beak. Inhabiting forests, woodlands and shrublands in groups of around 10—12 birds, Yellow-throated Miners are noisy and aggressive, often giving a harsh, loud alarm call, tew tew tew. The Dusky Woodswallow is a medium-sized, dark-brown bird with obvious white edges on its wings and its long tail; the tail is often fanned and twisted.

    Its bill is light blue-grey with a dark tip. Their flight is rapid and graceful, regularly interspersed with gliding on outstretched wings. Their calls include a soft veet veet, which is often given in flight. The Purple-crowned Lorikeet is a small, green lorikeet with pale-blue breast, orange-yellow across its forehead and on its cheeks, a patch of purple on its crown and a black bill. It has red underwings, which are visible in flight. Although this small brightly coloured lorikeet looks nothing like a Starling, it often occurs in flocks whose acrobatic flight habits can be confused for those of a flock of Starlings.

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    Everybody knows what a Willie Wagtail looks like — a small black-and-white bird with a long tail that is waved about energetically. Willie Wagtails often perch on the backs of cattle or sheep to feed on insects disturbed by the livestock. If you see a bird that is not a Willie Wagtail perched on the back of livestock in WA, it could potentially be a Starling, and should be reported.

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