LUCKY nature lovers have discovered some of the rarest birds ever seen in Britain by taking part in the planet’s biggest garden wildlife survey.
PUBLISHED: 13:18, Fri, Jan 25, 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20, Fri, Jan 25, 2019
As the Big Garden Birdwatch celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend, conservationists are revealing the highs and lows of the mass citizen science project. While the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ annual winter nature count has charted the marked decline of the house sparrow and starling in the nation’s gardens, some lucky observers have spotted exotic visitors from all points of the compass. One of the most amazing discoveries was a straggler from across the Atlantic that turned up on the streets of London – the striking American robin.
Only 30 of these red-breasted thrushes – close relatives of the blackbird rather than our native robin – have ever made it to British shores since the first sighting in the early 1950s, many drawing huge crowds of twitchers.
The use of an animatronic American robin rather than the British species in the Spoonful of Sugar scene of Disney classic Mary Poppins, supposedly set in Edwardian London, has been described as one of Hollywood’s biggest bloopers. Yet delighted observers taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch were lucky to a get a sighting of a real American robin in Peckham in 2006.