Is this the photograph of the year?
Steve Johnstone captured this amazing image at Langness on the Isle of Man in November 2017. It shows a flock of Starlings that had been feeding mid-air on a hatch of flying insects along the coastline of Langness.
A Peregrine (visible in the photograph, bottom centre) decided to make an opportunistic dash into the flock, presumably hoping the Starlings were too preoccupied with their feeding frenzy to notice its advances. We can only imagine that the Starlings did see the Peregrine coming, and reacted by forming a tight, dense ball - similar to the bait balls of Herring and Anchovy in the seas featured in documentaries such as BBC's recent Blue Planet II series.
The result is an image the like of which we cannot recall seeing before. Click on the image and zoom in to get a sense of the action.
Steve is unsure as to whether the Peregrine succeeded in catching a Starling. It all happened so quickly and the Peregrine disappeared behind the whirling flock.
If you've seen an image like this before, we'd love to know! And though we're not offering any prizes for the most accurate count of the Starlings, if you'd like to guess then we'd be interested to know your estimate!
Congratulations to Steve on a terrific image.