Rare birds cause flap at Woolacombe

Visit by night herons to North Devon causes a stir.

A RARE feathered visitor to British shores has seen birdwatchers from across the South West flocking to Woolacombe.

Four night herons have been spotted at a pond in the village and the migrating birds have attracted watchers from across the county and as far afield as Cornwall and Somerset after their arrival just over a week ago.

Jon Turner from Braunton, conservation officer for the Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society, said while it was unusual to see them in the UK, it was “unprecedented” to see four at once.

The Woolacombe night herons, so named because they are more active after dark, number three adults plus one juvenile and their normal migration route would take them from Africa to southern Europe.

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“Presumably they have migrated north as a group, got lost in the fog and landed on the first available pond,” said Mr Turner.

“I have not seen one in Devon before and have been birdwatching for more than 30 years. The best time to see them is in the morning or evening when they are going to roost or coming out to feed.”

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It has been reported at least some of the night herons were still at the site on Monday. Around 40 birdwatchers visited the spot when they first arrived, but now numbers have slowed to a trickle.

A single night heron has also been spotted at Halsinger near Braunton.

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