Birdwatchers were astounded to see a rare bird for the first-ever time at a Barnes wetland centre on the Bank Holiday weekend.
Eagle-eyed ornithologists spotted the seldom-seen Little Bittern at the London Wetland Centre last weekend, which is normally found in southern European climes.
The small wading bird is among the smallest of the heron species, with the male exhibiting a ‘splendid orangey-red beak’.
Reserve manager Joe Davison said the most likely explanation was that unusually hot weather had altered the bird’s normal migration course.
Mr Davison said: “It’s caused quite a stir and we hope it continues to stay around for a few more days.
“The Little Bittern is an incredibly rare sighting and is seldom spotted north of its breeding grounds in southern Europe and Africa so it’s even more exciting that this is the first time it has been spotted here at London Wetland Centre."
Other sightings in May included the first of the orchids that have come into flower including Southern Marsh Orchids and Bee Orchids, a pair of Kingfishers, Shelducks and Sand Martins.