The starling roost: a very British spectacle
For most months of the year, the starling wouldn't make it into anyone's top five bird list. During autumn, however, this highly intelligent, iridescent bird comes into its own with its famous and spectacular aerial displays (as this clip from Nature of Britain shows).
Starlings gather in large flocks (or murmurations to give them the proper name) of up to a million birds. The flocks wheel and turn and create amazing shapes across the early evening sky.
But why? The most convincing explanation is to ward off predators such as hawks and peregrine falcons attracted to the area by the huge number starlings roosting.
Ringing studies have shown that the Scandinavian birds tend to winter in the north of Britain while those from Germany and the Netherlands tend to winter in the south of England.
Sadly since the mid-1960s, breeding populations in Europe have been in decline, probably due to modern farming practices and loss of habitat.
Best seat in the house
Although it's pretty hard to predict exactly where these displays will occur each year, there are places where they've been seen year after year.
The Somerset Levels attracts the largest murmurations of starlings in the country. Displays here can contain more than a million individuals. The Levels are an attractive place for the starling flocks as they offer large reed beds which are the perfect feeding ground for hungry starlings.
Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve is particularly good. In 1999/2000 it attracted an estimated flock of over 6 million starlings. Other locations in the county include RSPB Ham Wall and Westhay Moor.
If you are fancy heading to the Somerset Levels to watch the spectacle then phone the very handy RSPB Starling Hotline before you leave on 07866 554142 or send them an email to make sure you visit at the best time.
If Somerset's too far there are several RSPB reserves that attract flocking starlings: Fen Drayton Lakes in Cambridgeshire, Leighton Moss in Lancashire, Saltholme near Middlesbrough, Newport Wetlands in Newport, and Snape in Suffolk.
Or there's Aberystwyth pier in Wales (where Chris and Kate went for Thursday's show), Blackpool pier, Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway and Brighton Pier in Sussex.
From your comments on the messageboard it seems this very British spectacle is a big favourite with many of you. So do you have any starling stories? Where's your favourite starling flocking location? Tell us by posting a comment below.