Starlings fly in stunning whale formation


A STUNNING picture has emerged of a flock of starlings over the M6 – in the shape of a sperm whale.

The snap, taken by bird enthusiast Tom Lowe, shows hundreds of starlings flying in formation above the road at Shap in Cumbria.

They appear to be flying in a shape resembling a sperm whale, with the head and tail clearly visible.

It was uploaded to social media on Sunday evening with the caption: “Whale at 1,000ft: moorland murmuration by M6 at Shap just now.”

The starlings flew in a formation which resembled a sperm whale
The starlings flew in a formation which resembled a sperm whale   Picture copyright: Tom Lowe


The area they flew over is one of the highest points on any motorway in the UK – 1,050ft above sea level.

The photo attracted a wealth of comments from admirers.

Rebyj wrote: “All whales go to heaven.”

Ian Witham joked: “Smaller flock, not pictured, forming a bowl of petunias.”


It is common for starlings to come together in their thousands during the autumn and winter months, creating spectacular shapes in the sky known as a murmuration.

One reason why they group together is to create safety in numbers, so that their predators find it hard to pick out a single bird.

They usually group around dusk, and their timing is so precise that their formations can usually be predicted.

Despite their seemingly large numbers, the starling population has crashed by over 70% in recent years, meaning they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.

The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites in many parts of the UK.

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