Norfolk

Rose-coloured starling watchers descend on house near Norwich

Birdwatchers in Stephen Leake's living room Image copyright Stephen Leake
Image caption Stephen Leake said more than 150 birdwatchers have visited his home to see the starling

A man's living room has been besieged with birdwatchers trying to get a glimpse of a rarely-seen bird.

Stephen Leake first saw the rose-coloured starling in the back garden of his house near Norwich on 7 October.

He reported the sighting to bird groups online and logged his postcode, thinking it was for recording purposes.

Mr Leake has since had more than 150 people visit his home, including some who had travelled from north England. He said they were "wowed" by the bird.

The starling should be migrating from eastern Europe to tropical Asia, where it winters, according to the British Trust for Ornithology.

Mr Leake, a teacher from Costessey, said it was a "mystery" as to why it had decided to settle in the back garden of a new-build home.

Image copyright Henry Page Photography
Image caption Mr Leake phoned the RSPB which confirmed the bird, pictured here in his garden, was a rose-coloured starling

He said he first thought it was a woodpecker or a juvenile magpie until he contacted the RSPB, which confirmed it was a rose-coloured starling.

Mr Leake said that 24 hours after reporting the bird online, he noticed a group of people outside his house.

He said he spoke to a couple of them and asked if they were there for the starling and they said they were.

"I thought I'd invite them in off the street and let them have a look to get a positive identification.

"I'm quite a kind guy and off work with a lung condition. I thought 'why not?' They called it a lifer - a once in a life time event."


Rose-coloured starling

Image copyright Henry Page Photography
Image caption The starling should be migrating from eastern Europe to tropical Asia, where it winters, according to the British Trust for Ornithology
  • The bird is also known as the rosy pastor
  • It has a pink body and black head
  • In their native Asia, rose-coloured starlings will gather in big flocks
  • About 50 sightings are recorded in the UK each year, with between five and 10 in Norfolk
  • The bird may settle in the UK until spring and is "not fussy" about eating classic bird seeds

Source: RSPB


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He said up to 30 people had visited his house at a time, including a man who had travelled from Burnley and another from Huddersfield, over the past two weeks.

"They were wowed by it. One woman even welled up," Mr Leake said.

"The birdwatchers are drawn towards the bird so why not give them the opportunity to see it.

"I am a bird fan, but not a twitcher. I'm a big fan of nature."

Mr Leake said they had been staying for about 20 minutes, "satisfied with a sighting or photographs".

"He's 4,500 miles off course so he'll never find his way home but while he's here, he's getting plenty of care and attention," said Mr Leake.

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