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Your exotic sightings

Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 12:47 UK time, Monday, 5 July 2010

We had a great response from you on the blog when Martin asked you to tell us about exotic species in the UK. The topic prompted a lot of discussion on our messageboard and in our Flickr group too so we wanted to share some of best sightings with you.

You certainly can't blame our winged friends for paying no attention to international boundaries. We've had lots of reports from you of them doing just that.

Brandon Anderson, Lynne Dymond, dancingbeard and Harpert4 report thriving groups of ring necked parakeets in both north and south London. But it seems they've been spreading their wings even further: tomrichards88 spotted this one in Singleton Park, Swansea.

Parakeet © Tom Richards

Parakeet © Tom Richards

Several of you, including Julie Doyle and Charlotte Mijatovic have noticed pheasants sporting darker colours than our native chestnut and golden brown variety. Although common pheasants can sometimes appear greener due to changes in their pigment, these dark green sightings could be Japanese green pheasants, reportedly introduced by gamekeepers because they're hardier than our native variety.

Over on the messageboard there was much talk about hoopoe. These exotic patterned birds don't breed in the UK but can be found along English coasts in spring as they overshoot their migration to Europe from Africa. Mike Rawlings was amongst our Flickr group members who managed to photograph one of these visitors.

Hoopoe © Mike Rawlings

Hoopoe © Mike Rawlings

As well as established populations, introduced species and stray visitors we have more than a few exotic escapees according to your reports. Norfolk plays host to a loose flamingo according to tootsietim and levingtonash tells us there's a flock of macaws who prefer a local woods to their aviary.

Meanwhile down in Devon, Matt Mcveigh was lucky enough to have this colourful visitor to his garden.

Purple glossy starling © Matt Mcveigh

Purple glossy starling © Matt Mcveigh

We have to agree with MPG's identification that it's a purple glossy starling, normally found in tropical Africa. Has it escaped from a private collection?

If you have an exotic pet and find you can't look after it, please don't dump it in an unfamiliar environment. The RSPCA has advice for anyone struggling to care for their pets. It's certainly cruel to abandon those that can't cope with our climate and those that do survive can cause havoc like the red-eared terrapin. Mike Foster, John, spikeharby, Moss Penguin, Jools and Stephen 1980 have all noticed these invasive amphibians reptiles that predate our native pondlife and in the Flickr group Edward Nurcombe took this photo in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

Terrapin © Edward Nurcombe

Terrapin © Edward Nurcombe

After Gordon's film about the wallabies on the Isle of Man, lots of you have reported wallabies across the country. auchingee has seen them on Island Inch Conachan, Loch Lomond, greenottingham told us about their presence in Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire, david darling reports evidence of them in Andover, hants, Ray Dorian shared his sightings in Leonardslee Gardens, Sussex and jeandavisroy has seen one from the M4 headed toward Bristol. Is there anywhere without wallabies?!

A real eyebrow-raiser is Sara Sid's sighting of a coatimundi in Berkshire, a raccoon-like mammal that's an awfully long way from its normal home in South America. Could this be a case of mistaken identity, perhaps an unusually marked fox? Whatever the explanation, Britain's wildlife is clearly incredibly diverse and more discoveries are waiting to be made. If you do see any, we'd love to hear about it right here.


  • Comment number 1.

    I saw wall lizards last week in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Apparently, the lizards were first noticed there in Victorian times, and no one yet knows whether they were introduced, or whether they were already established. The lizards are common in Europe, but not normally foound in the UK. I have pics if you're interested.

  • Comment number 2.

    We have a lovely evergreen honeysuckle in our garden in Saltaire which is very close to our washing line. Whilst putting washing out this morning I noticed a large flying insect hovering over a honeysuckle flower gathering nectar. At first glance I thought it was a humming bird but it looked too akin to a moth. Having searched the web, I have discovered that it was a hummingbird hawk-moth. What a beautiful little thing! Unfortunately my camera was not to hand but it was a delightful sight to behold whilst carrying out a daily chore!

  • Comment number 3.

    Today I saw the hummingbird hawk-moth in my garden again.
    I have managed to film it on my video camera.
    It is a beautiful creature to see and hope they will return year after year.

  • Comment number 4.

    Can someone tell me what we have in our back garden here in Hertfordshire that makes a noise somewhere between a cat fight and a screeching parrot most evenings around 11pm. I thought it was muntjac deers, but according to other websites muntjacs 'bark' and 'click'. Thanks.

  • Comment number 5.

    @lizzy & victoria - Butterfly Conservation would be really interested in your hummingbird hawk moth sightings! Follow this link to add your sightings to their map:


    I am quite jealous of your reports! Keep them coming in and remember you can link to your photos in your posts :)

  • Comment number 6.

    that must have been some site ill check out the pics

  • Comment number 7.

    that humming bird halk moth looks amasing is it a mixture of those anamils?

  • Comment number 8.

    Whilst walking in the Yorkshire Dales my partner and I saw what we thought was some sort raptor sitting some distance below us on a wall at Whelprigg near Barbon. We noticed a very small bird hovering around it, which then popped something in its open beak. We realised then it was a juvenile cuckoo being fed by its surrogate parent. After a while the cuckoo flew up to a nearby tree and squawked continually for more food. The small bird came back to it and fed it again a couple more times before the cuckoo flew off to another branch out of sight although we could still hear it demanding to be fed.

  • Comment number 9.

    I got to see an exotic sight today. In a well known high street store I found, crouching on the floor, looking at camera cases, was Martin Hughes Games. Hair and glasses just as on the tv. Having disturbed his train of thought, he very kindly had a chat for a minute and then I left him where I'd found him. What a lovely, charming chap he is. Thank you Martin, you made my day.

  • Comment number 10.

    I just wanted to tell someone that on monday the 12th july i saw a beautiful multi coloured type of humming bird in my garden which i have now found out is in fact a humming bird moth which i read comes from south africa so i wondered if there was a sighting survey for this if so could you add it to the survey thanks pam.

  • Comment number 11.

    While on holiday in Swanage last week we saw a beautiful bright blue butterfly while we were on the beach. It was about 2-3 cm. Having consulted the internet and our butterfly book, we're fairly sure it was a male Adonis Blue. We managed to get a photo too. What a treat!


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