As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 25 January 2016

IN PICTURES: Rare birds flock to Sandwell Valley nature reserve

Rare birds have been spotted at Sandwell Valley nature reserve following the unusually wet and warm winter.

At least two rare species have been seen this month roaming the reserve - which provides a key sanctuary for birds flying over the built-up area.

The extraordinary weather seen around Britain this winter has been cited as the reason why the birds have flocked there early.

Andrew Purcell, a volunteer of more than 40 years at the reserve, said: “We had a smew here not long ago, which is only the seventh time we have ever seen one at the valley.

“The oystercatcher came in mid-December too, they don't normally come until another six weeks.

“We think the warm weather is the reason why they have flocked here earlier.”

The smew is a small diving bird that migrates to Britain from northern European countries, such as Scandinavia and Russia, to escape the freezing weather.

Males are white with black masks and backs, and females are grey with reddish-brown heads.

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