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Rare rufous bush chat in UK for first time in 40 years

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image copyrightPAUL NOBBS
image captionThe rufous bush chat is rarely seen in northern Europe

Birdwatchers have descended on a salt marsh to see a bird not seen in Britain for 40 years.

The rufous bush chat was spotted at Stiffkey, north Norfolk, prompting up to 100 birdwatchers to go to see it.

Native to southern Spain, Africa and the Balkans the bird, also known as the rufous warbler and rufous bush robin, is rarely seen in northern Europe.

Dick Filby, of Rare Bird Alert, said it "would have been heading for a tropical climate and went the wrong way."

He said the last time the bird was spotted in Britain was at Prawle Point in Devon in 1980.

image copyrightJoe Tobias
image captionThe bird was first spotted on the Stiffkey marshes on Saturday morning

"In 1998, one was seen in Jersey (part of the British Isles but not classed as part of Britain)."

Mr Filby said he hoped birdwatchers would be wearing masks and keeping socially-distanced as they enjoyed the view.

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image copyrightMike Hoit

Norfolk Police called on birdwatchers visiting the site in the hope of seeing the rare visitor to keep to Covid regulations.

image copyrightMark Golley
image captionBirdwatchers in the British Isles last caught a glimpse of the bird when it was seen in Jersey in 1998

Ch Supt Chris Balmer said: "People may arrive on their own but some have started to gather in groups larger than six to be able to see the bird. This is a breach of the law.

"In the first instance officers will engage, explain and encourage people to leave but enforcement is an option and we will be issuing fixed penalty notices should people not comply."

image copyrightMike Hoit
image captionScores of birdwatchers descended on Stiffkey on the Norfolk coast

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Related Topics

  • Wildlife
  • Stiffkey
  • Birdwatching
  • Birds

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