CROWDS flocked to see an unusual species of bird that had only been spotted in Britain five times before – the last more than 20 years ago.
The orphean warbler attracted around 2,000 twitchers to Hartlepool’s Headland yesterday after it was caught by bird enthusiast Chris Brown.
The lost African animal brought scenes reminiscent to June last year when the 59-year-old netted a white-throated robin that landed on the mainland for the first ever time.
Chris, a landscape gardener from the Headland, captured both birds as part of his voluntary ringing work with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
The Tees Ringing Group (TRG) member said: “It’s almost exactly a year since the last one. Hartlepool will be getting a reputation for these birds.
“There’s been a lot of people here again, maybe a couple of thousand. They’ve come from all over Britain to be here.”
Chris had set up a net on the Headland to catch birds to ring as part of his work to track species. But it was keen “birder” Graeme Joynt who quickly identified the snared white, grey and black coloured animal as being out of the ordinary.
After checking the unharmed animal over, Chris released the warbler near the Headland Bowling Green and word quickly spread to fellow enthusiasts around the country.
Thery arrived with expensive binoculars and cameras to capture the moment that last happened on these shores in 1991 in Cornwall.
Chris said: “It’s not like the robin that showed quite a bit. It’s quite skulky and feeds in the bushes.
“It will have been migrating from Africa and has Spring overshot, as in it has got wind behind it and just gone to far. It should be somewhere like Spain.
“A lot of people will have come to tick it off their list. It’s not the most exciting bird, it’s a nice bird though with a black head and white bits.”
The white-throated robin sparked a massive “twitch” last year as more than 5,000 bird watchers from across the country rushed to the town to take part in the unique event.
The Asian robin had only been seen twice before in the British Isles, on the Isle of Man in 1983 and then on Skomer Island, off the south west coast of Wales, in 1990 when the news was suppressed to stop an invasion of the puffin sanctuary by bird watchers.