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Budgies swarm in outback Australia as wildlife photographer stands ready to capture images

Green and yellow budgies swarming at a waterhole, with red earth in the background.
A rare budgie murmuration has been seen in outback central Australia.

Supplied: Steve Pearce

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A wildlife photographer has captured stunning images of a budgie murmuration as more than 8,000 birds swarmed at a secret waterhole in Central Australia on Friday.

The thousands of green and yellow budgies twisted and turned in a stunning acrobatic display in a rare sighting of the birds.

Steve Pearce is a photographer who visits the region regularly in the hope of catching the birds flying in formation.

"I was very lucky to be close around Alice Springs and be in the right place at the right time to catch something spectacular, budgie murmuration," he said.

"This is only the second time I've seen them. They are remarkable and mesmerising and fantastic, as you could imagine."

A flock of budgies swarms in the sky, above a waterhole surrounded by red dirt.
The birds duck and dive around the waterhole in the red centre.

Supplied: Steve Pearce

'Intense flashes of light' as birds turn

Mr Pearce said the way the birds moved was spectacular because it was a "fantastic play of light and shadow".

"We all know that budgies are very green, but when they move and are backlit by the sun, they become very dark," he said.

"You'll see these bright green, intense flashes of light ripple through this cloud of birds as they turn, and that bright green will turn to a very dark colour or even to maybe a black.

Budgies flying and dipping into a waterhole, with red dirt in the background.
Budgies stop for a quick drink at an outback waterhole in Central Australia.

Supplied: Steve Pearce

"So it's like a wave of colour moving through these birds that are flying through the sky as they change direction."

What is hard to prepare for is the sound of the birds.

"As those birds fly through the air — you might have heard them fly over your head at a waterhole — they go vooosh," Mr Pearce said.

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YOUTUBE: Budgie murmuration at an outback waterhole in central Australia in 2012

Opportunity not to be missed

It has been five years since the photographer first saw the budgies performing their murmuration, and he was not about to pass up the opportunity to see them again.

Mr Pearce said the number of birds in the flock was hard to a gauge.

"[About] 8,000 to 10,000, looking back at some of the photos. You could sit there and maybe count them, but you could never photograph all of them at once," he said.

Budgies flying against a blue sky.
Swarming budgies duck and dive around a waterhole in Central Australia.

Supplied: Steve Pearce

'Birds go in and out of the swarm very regularly so you can never really see them all at once.

"A lot of the birds are really shy of predators. There are falcons and kestrels and all those sorts of predators waiting for the chance to catch them as well.

"To avoid being caught, many of the birds will stay in the tree line and only really come in when they think it's safe."