Flocks of migrating starlings are renowned for their incredible aerial displays around this time of year.
But residents in Taunton, Somerset may have had a bit of a fright yesterday as thousands of flapping birds formed the shape of a giant cobra swooping down on houses in the late afternoon sky.
In a scene reminiscent of Hollywood blockbuster The Mummy, the starlings were captured on film snaking ominously around the rooftops in the awe-inspiring formation.
Mysterious: The phenomenon, known as 'murmation' usually occurs around dusk each day before the birds roost and is one of nature's most magnificent displays
Although their numbers are in decline, large clouds of starlings are not unusual at this time of year as the birds flock to the UK to escape the even harsher climate of the European mainland.
The phenomenon, known as 'murmation' usually occurs around dusk each day before the birds roost and is one of nature's most magnificent displays.
The mysterious formations are a result of the starling's survival instinct, protecting themselves from predators using safety in numbers.
Spot the difference: This real cobra bears an uncanny resemblance to the flock of starlings seen swooping over the rooftops of Taunton. Although their numbers are in decline, thousands of starlings migrate to the UK at this time of year
Starlings form a tight sphere-like formation in flight, expanding and contracting and changing shapes in what is known as a Moot.
These large flocks forage together, in a practice called roller-feeding where the birds at the back of the flock continually fly to the front to forage for food.