Bird watchers are all aflutter after a rare species was spotted at a nature reserve.
Several sightings of Blyth’s reed warbler have now been confirmed at a United Utilities nature reserve in Leigh.
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Blyth’s reed warblers are a very rare sight in Britain and even rarer in the North West.
Birding experts at Leigh Ornithological Society believe the sightings at Hope Carr Nature Reserve are the first in Greater Manchester and the first time the tiny bird has been spotted in the UK at this time of year.
It usually spends the winter in India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.
The small, brown insect-eating bird is almost indistinguishable from other more common types of reed warblers, apart from its song and some very small plumage differences.
Society chairman David Shallcross said it was the first time Blyth’s reed warbler had been entered in the society’s records since being located by local birder Phil Rhodes.
“Since that day many of the society's members have been to see it, as have hundreds of birders from up and down the country,” he said.
Local bird watcher Craig Higson said: “I was lucky to see the bird at my second attempt. It does spend most of its time deep in the brambles and some people haven’t been as lucky. I believe some people are on their fifth or sixth attempt. It might be a ‘little brown job’ but it’s amazing that this bird, that should be somewhere in India right now, is here in Leigh, and that just adds to the attraction of seeing it.”
The 37 acres of wildflower meadows, wetland and woodland habitats at Hope Carr Nature Reserve, next to Leigh Wastewater Treatment Works, has gained a reputation among bird lovers after being transformed into a haven for wildlife by United Utilities.