A flock of Starlings dances rhythmically to the waning light of a brilliant Irish sunset over the County Clare countryside.
This image appears in my best-selling book, Magical Irish Countryside, the third volume in my Mystical Moods of Ireland series.
According to Birdwatch Ireland, Starlings are widespread throughout Ireland at all times of the year, though their population is declining in other parts of Europe.
They typically form huge flocks during winter in Ireland, joined by cousins visiting from the European continent. Flocks as large as 500,000 have been reported, and they can provide some spectacular aerobatic displays, usually at dusk.
Ireland has more than 450 bird species, with less breeding birds than neighboring lands, primarily due to the relatively isolated location of the island at the edge of Europe.
The unique Irish climate, tempered by the Atlantic current, does make for a popular nesting ground for some species that are in decline in other parts of the Europe, including Storm Petrels, Roseate Tern and Chough.