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Enthusiasts flock to spot a rare bird

PUBLISHED: 10:44 07 July 2010 | UPDATED: 09:51 01 August 2010

A RARE bird has drawn hundreds of twitchers to marshes in Thorpe next Haddiscoe.

The arrival of the river warbler has been described as a "mega rarity" in the bird watching world.

A RARE bird has drawn hundreds of twitchers to marshes in Thorpe next Haddiscoe.

The arrival of the river warbler has been described as a “mega rarity” in the bird watching world.

Less than 40 have ever been spotted in Britain and it is only the third glimpsed in Norfolk and the first in more than 20 years.

Enthusiasts have been posting messages on forums about the small brown bird, which has a distinctive song and is normally found in Eastern Europe.

The male bird is thought to have been in the village since the middle of last week and was identified by Chris Allen and his wife Alison.

Mr and Mrs Allen are keen birdwatchers and Mr Allen heard the bird on the couple's land.

Details about the bird's location were relayed to twitchers via Rare Bird Alert, a Norwich-based company which offers a news service for sightings of rare and scarce birds throughout the UK.

Mr and Mrs Allen welcomed about 250 twitchers onto their land on Sunday and about 150 on Monday night.

Mrs Allen said: “My husband heard the bird first and he knew straight away what it was because the song is very distinctive.

“It sings its heart out in the evenings but it is not going to have much luck if it is looking for a mate. It must have a one in a million chance of finding one.”

Mrs Allen, a local vet, said twitchers who visited their farm on Sunday got a good view of the bird, but on Monday it changed its routine and moved into an area where people could hear it but not see it.

She added that one enthusiast travelled from Devon to catch a glimpse of the bird as a sighting of it is considered a “mega rarity” in the twitching world.

The couple will be organising more opportunities to see the bird if it stays in the area and will let people know via Rare Bird Alert. They are charging £2 per person to see the bird, which will go to nature charities.

Dick Filby, a keen twitcher who owns Rare Bird Alert, said the river warbler is normally found in Eastern European countries like Poland. He likened its distinctive call to a steam train chugging across the plains.

“It went the wrong way on spring migration,” he said. “It is a spring over shoot and went further than it should have done.

“It has found some very suitable habitat in lovely wet meadows and alder carr and it is looking for a mate.”

To find out more visit www.rarebirdalert.co.uk

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