Motorist Captures Huge Flock of Starlings Doing “Hitchcock” on Road

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THE stunning moment a driver found himself in the middle of something out of Hitchcock’s The Birds has been captured on video.

The startled driver filmed as a giant flock of starlings completely covered the road in front of him.

Andrew Waddison was driving in Norfolk yesterday afternoon and came across “tens of thousands” of starlings lining the road.

As his car approached he noticed that the birds flew into the air to move out of the way but immediately returned to the road.

 

It is unclear why the birds were sitting in the road but as cars approached it made for a scene straight out of a horror film.

The unnatural occurrence even flummoxed the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The RSPB East twitter account retweeted the amazing footage.

The tweet said: “Has anybody else seen any incredible wildlife behaviour like this during #snowday? @AWPRCO has captured this unusual behaviour in Norfolk – amazing”

The video starts with Andrew, the owner of a public relations firm, sitting in his car as thousands of birds sit in the road. As well as many thousands more lining the snowy banks of the country road.

As the video continues hundreds of the starlings can be seen flying across the sky above the large gathering on the ground.

The noise of the starling’s wings flapping drowns out the noise of the cars waiting to get past.

 

RSPB East reacted to the sight on Twitter

A Mitsubishi 4×4 slowly approaches the birds and with Andrew exclaiming how “amazing” the sight is.

As the Mitsubishi gets close to the starlings they all flock to the sky putting on a stunning show that would make Hitchcock jealous.

Andrew said: ““My first thought was Alfred Hitchcock.

“I didn’t see them in the road at first, it was the hedges, banks and trees that were black with them all. What I filmed on the road was only a small percentage of the birds.

“It was almost like a swarm, when they took off the sky became black and the sight of tens of thousands of starlings set against the white snow looked like an old black and white horror movie.

“It was the strangest thing I have ever seen.”

Starlings flocking like this are called murmurations and are quite common at this time of year. They make grand shapes in the sky as the birds look for a place to sleep at night.

But it is unusual to see them on the ground like this in such high numbers.

RSPB were unable to definitively say why the starlings were acting like this but offered two theories – the birds were looking for water or nibbling on the grit salt which helps with their digestion.

“During periods of heavy snow cover, accessible freshwater is actually quite hard to come by if you’re a bird.

“It could be that this flock of starlings have descended on the road as there is some water at the margins, or (from above) the road actually looked like a river, prompting them to descend.”

They continued: “Some birds need to intake salt and grit to aid their digestion. Having lumps of grit inside their gizzard helps to breakdown food which is usually indigestible, such as seeds and nuts.

Video footage of the birds taking off

“The diet of a starling is mostly insects and worms they pick up out of the grass and surface soil, which they can digest without issue.

“However, due to the snow, their diet has changed to whatever they can source in gardens (mostly seeds, peanuts and suet cakes), and therefore they need to intake grit salt to help them get the most nutrition out of this new temporary diet.”

A picture of a starling murmuration was shortlisted for the The World Photography Awards this February.

The stunning picture shows thousand of the birds forming the shape of a giant bird.

A Conservation Scientist for the RSPB said that the birds were likely there to get access to water. He said: “It’s the only unfrozen water available in the area and they need it to drink. It needs to be not salty if there is a stream or ditch diverted by the snow.

“They also need the water to bathe. Birds need to take extra care in keeping their plumage clean when the weather is bad as they need their feathers to provide really efficient insulation.

“They are sitting on the last snow free patch of ground to keep warm and dry, the dark tarmac may be radiating some residual heat.

“Starlings are very sociable and often move around in flocks for protection and to share knowledge of where to feed, bathe, and sleep. If a couple land and decide it’s safe and that there’s something nice, all their friends will join in.

“You either get no starlings or you get loads.”

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