|Pallas' grasshopper warbler|
The Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler was caught in nets at the ringing station at Whitburn Coast Park on Wednesday – and immediately caused a fuss among twitchers.
As word quickly went round, more than 40 enthusiasts made their way to the park to see the rare bird for themselves.
The bird is a long-distance traveller which breeds in Siberia and the Far East, and this is only the second time one has been caught and ringed in mainland Britain since records were set up by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) more than 100 years ago.
Borough birdwatcher Dougie Holden, of Garth Crescent, South Shields, said the bird was most probably migrating to South East Asia when it was blown off course by the recent storms.About 85 birds were caught in the nets, set up by ringing station chairman Adrian George, including unusual birds such as redwings and a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker.
But none ruffled more feathers than the warbler. Engineer Mr Holden, 50, said: “It’s what we call a ‘lifer’ – the dream of every birdwatcher to see a bird like this in their lifetime.
“You always hope to see one, but you never think you will and those of us that did, know we are very, very fortunate.”
The bird – a juvenile male – was ringed and its details logged with the BTO recorder for County Durham – which covers South Shields – who confirmed it was only the second sighting of such a bird in the area.
The bird was released back into the wild but dad-of-two Mr Holden – who said he won “the equivalent of the winning the World Cup” when he became the first person in Britain to spot the Eastern Crowned Warbler back in 2007 – doubts it will ever reach its intended original destination.
He said: “It was blown thousands of miles off course, and that’s how it ended up in South Tyneside.
“I doubt it will ever reach South East Asia and will probably end up in Africa – anywhere where it’s warmer than Siberia.”
More information on Pallas' grasshopper warbler (Locustella certhiola):