Rare bird spotted by children gets twitchers in a flap in High Shincliffe

The Advertiser Series: Thomas and Emily Power. Picture by Gavin Engelbrecht Thomas and Emily Power. Picture by Gavin Engelbrecht

A RARE bird that brought hundreds of twitchers to a quiet village was first discovered by two children taking part in RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, it has been revealed.

The myrtle warbler was spotted by Emily Power, 12, and her brother Thomas, nine, as they ticked off more common house sparrows and starlings in their garden High Shincliffe, near Durham City.

As they skimmed through their identification list and couldn’t see anything similar, but further investigation showed that the unusual bird was the myrtle warbler - also known as a yellow-rumped warbler.

The bird is a true rarity in the UK with only 30 previous records in Britain and Ireland.

They come from North America and at this time of year should be wintering in South America.

This bird is believed to have  been blown across the Atlantic on a fast moving low pressure system - most probably last autumn.

Emily said: “We’d been doing the Big Garden Birdwatch for a few minutes and were really pleased to see how many birds were enjoying the food we put out.

“We saw a small bird with a flash of yellow and couldn’t figure out what it was, even when we looked at our chart of what to expect.

“Our mum took a picture and showed it to expert RSPB staff at the Saltholme Reserve who identified it as a yellow-rumped warbler.

“We were shocked that such a rare bird would come to our normal garden in County Durham.”

With the help of local bird watchers, arrangements were set in place and news of the bird was then shared with birdwatchers nationally, who have flocked to see the bird since.

“An on-site collection has raised funds to benefit the local school and the RSPB.”

Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch organiser, said:” It just goes to show that you never know what you might see when you take small steps to give nature a home – a bit of bird food, some shelter and some water could attract the rarest of creatures.

“We would never have imagined anyone would see a yellow-rumped warbler as they almost never come to the UK, so for someone to have taken a picture to prove it is brilliant.

“I hope their regular visitors don’t seem too dull in comparison now.”

  • Hundreds of thousands of people took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch during the last weekend in January, and many have already submitted their results.

Results can be submitted until Sunday, February 16. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch for more information and to submit your results online.

  • YouTube video Paul Hindess

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