Twitchers flock to Bolton as four rare glossy ibis spotted near Bob's Smithy Inn
WHEN it comes to famous visitors to Bolton — few could have attracted quite as much interest as the four who descended on the town over the weekend.
Long lens cameras and binoculars were out in force in an attempt to get a close-up view of four feathered friends — but these are not of the common-or-garden variety.
The rare glossy ibis birds have made a temporary home in a farmer’s field just behind the Bob’s Smithy Inn much to the delight of local twitchers and those from further afield.
Upon hearing the news — announced on the internet — the birds had landed hundreds of birders have been seen around the spot over the weekend as they attempted to catch a glimpse of the bird or, if they are lucky, get a much-prized photograph.
Bernard Hooley is one such bird enthusiast who dragged wife, Irene, along from their Kearsley home.
Apparently either used to human attention — or perhaps unfamiliar with other species — the birds appear completely at ease with all the attention and Bernard, along with his fellow watchers, has managed to get within six feet of them.
“As soon as I heard about it I knew I would have to get down here,” said Bernard, aged 69, who has enjoyed a life-long interest in birds.
Thanks to a bird watching website where all new sightings are recorded Bernard has been able to follow a range of birds across the UK, including this latest sighting which was a little closer to home for him.
“I have been all over Britain but it was good to be able to come to somewhere so close and see something so rare,” he said.
Farmer John Pendlebury got the surprise of his life at the weekend when dozens of vehicles started arriving at his field.
“I thought they were taking photographs of my cows then realised it was something else going on,” he said.
“They have been very good and haven’t caused any problems for me.”
The glossy ibis — or plegadis falcinellus — is a dark-coloured wading bird with a distinctive long down-curved bill.
It breeds in warm regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
It is a migratory bird which winters mainly in Africa and North America. Its numbers have been gradually declining In Europe but the bird recently established a breeding colony in Southern Spain.
There is a growing trend for Spanish birds to winter in Britain and Ireland. They mainly eat insects, leeches and molluscs, such as snails and mussels.
If you want to have a go at twitching, then here are a few words you will need to know:
• Crippler — a rare bird
• To dip out (or dip) — to miss seeing a particular bird
• To grip off (or grip) — to spot a bird another birder missed and to tell them about it
• First —a first record of a species in a defined area
• Lifer — a first sighting of a bird species by an individual birder which will be added to their “life list”
• Tick — an addition to a personal list sometimes qualified as year tick or county tick
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