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al55

What birds are flying in the dark?

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What are the birds i'm seeing flying over in the dark? Last night it was about 9pm, seen them a few times in the last month.

Quite high up, lightish on the underside, look about geese size, been in a flock of at least 50 in a sraightish line with just a hint of a v formation. Wouldnt have thought many birds fly in the dark.

Any bill oddies out there?

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Autumn migration - just about everything is in the air at the moment ... geese & swans often fly at night.

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Sounds like Barnacle geese on their Autumn migration :(

Mark.

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nightjars fly at night but not in formation and not in flocks and not at altitude...I'll get my coat.

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Whereabouts are you? Barnacles are unlikely except in certain locations on the North and east Coast. Most migratory geese are only on the coast and it's still a bit early for them.

I regularly get flocks of feral Greylags and Canade Geese flying over at night, so I'm guessing that's what you're seeing. If they're making a noise they are probably them, if not they could even be flocks of Lesser Black-backed or Herring Gulls.

Strangely, I had a Barn Owl over the garden last night, and I'm in fairly built-up area. Had no idea they strayed over suburbia till now, although I regularly see them in the fields a mile down the road.

Edited by lukebl

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Live near Doncaster, they are flying roughly on an west to east line, not heard any noise from them, wonderful sight though.

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I'd say Gulls then. Often fly at night between reservoirs and along river valleys, and there are a lot of reservoirs near Doncaster as I recall!

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I've heard gooses but also a lot of bats that fly, squeek and catch insects.

Never heard of bats in "'a flock of at least 50 in a sraightish line with just a hint of a v formation". Unless they're Fruit Bats. Now that would be something. Flocks of Fruit Bats over Doncaster!

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My vote would be for geese of some description. We have a number of gravel quarries nearby that form an aquatic nature reserve and these are full of geese this time of year (I think they're Greylag and Canada geese). They often fly across us in the hours of darkness honking merrily away!

Edited by r3i

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I saw a huge flock of white birds two nights ago. I don't know what they were, and at first, when I saw them with my naked eyes, I thought I'd found some sort of strange moving cloud or something. It was only when I looked through my binos that I saw they were birds.

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I was watching a total lunar eclipse once when a flock of geese flew over, bathed in an orangy glow from the moon. Quite spooky!

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Whilst meteor watching as a kid I saw a triangular formation of orange dots glide silently across the night sky - totally freaked me out, only to find later it was probably birds (geese?) illuminated by orange sodium street lights!

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Its very strange seeing birds flying at night with just their belly lit up by the street lights below. They look like a fleet of invading alien craft.

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Apologies. This is a very old string but I found it trying to find the answer to an experience I had way back in 1963, 4 or 5. 

I was an Air cadet as a 16 yr old or so and my mates and I had been on camp at RAF Linton on Ouse, UK. We had been out on the town and were returning to barracks walking across the air field after dark. To our fascination we saw what to us was a UFO. It was a strange light point source flying above us at an indeterminate altitude. It was about the same size as a star, but was yellow not star white. We took it to be high up because the light source was quite small and we could hear no noise from it. Its angular speed was quite high, moving over us from one horizon to the other in only 30 seconds or so.

It could have been a high altitude aircraft or perhaps a satellite but one thing in particular mediated against it being either. Every 3 or 4 seconds it made quick wiggling movements from site to side. If it was an aircraft or a satellite, these wiggling movements would result in horrendous acceleration forces on whatever it was.

So pin point yellow light, speeding across the sky and wiggling from side to side in a manner than said it could not be an aeroplane or satellite. We had no idea. It was a really fascinating big mystery!

Then the most serendipitous moment of my life. As a group of mates we went to the cinema a few weeks after we came home from camp. In those days Pathe news would present a short set of documentaries on some interesting news. You can look at some of these at https://www.britishpathe.com/ 

And to our amazement we viewed what was most likely the answer to our puzzle.


The film showed the work of a biologist in Yorkshire who was researching into how geese navigated. To look at any possible use of the Sun, he wanted to watch them take off in the dark. To be able to see them he had attached a small battery driven light bulbs to their legs. This explained the yellow nature of the light, its angular speed over us and the fact that it wiggled from side to side every few seconds -- when the bird flapped its wings!

I have searched for this film for some time now and would be really grateful if anybody here could help me. Cheers.

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I would presume they were geese. Did you get any close in shots of them? 😁

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I have often seen geese flying over my home, in groups, after dark.

Usually I have been alerted by their calls, then looked for them.

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