A FLOCK of twitchers headed to a historic part of Hartlepool to spy on a rare foreign feathered visitor.
Dozens of bird watching enthusiasts from around the region travelled to the Headland in Hartlepool where a Thrush Nightingale had decided to drop by – the first of the species to visit the region for 16 years.
And all eyes, binoculars and telescopes were fixated upon the small brown-coloured bird which hopped around in bushes opposite The Borough Hall.
Today, bird expert Liz Morgan, of the RSPB Saltholme, said its appearance had stirred up excitement among the bird-watching community.
She said: “This is a very rare breed and the UK may only see about three turning up each year, in a good year.
“The last time a Thrush Nightingale was spotted in Cleveland was in 1997 so it’s big news among bird-watchers and they’ve all been heading down to the Headland to catch a glimpse.”
Liz said the small bird – which is about the size of a robin - spends our winters in Africa and then migrates to breed in North-East Europe, in countries like Norway, Sweden, Russia and the top of Asia.
She believes the bird has ended up in Hartlepool due to it being blown off course, as it would not ordinarily choose to come here.
“It’s obviously just lost its way,” she said. “It would be an accident that it got here. I’m not entirely sure why because the temperatures where they normally breed are slightly colder than here. It’s probably been on its way from Africa through to its breeding ground in North-East Europe and the top of Asia.
“We see so few of them in this country that the bird-watchers are all delighted and its another one for them to tick off this year’s list.”