HUNDREDS of birdwatchers gathered at Idle Valley Nature Reserve following reports of a possible rare species of bird being sighted.
Excitement was in the air as word spread that a long toed stint may have been spotted.
This brown wading bird with an elongated toe on each foot is classed as a ‘mega’ species in bird-watching circles – a bird that is only spotted in exceptionally rare circumstances in the UK.
Crowds of enthusiasts gathered for hours in the hot sunshine, bringing specialist telescopes in the hope of catching sight of this unusual bird in the shallow waters of the nature reserve.
By the end of the day however, the reports remained unconfirmed as to whether the long toed stint had in fact paid a visit to this wildlife haven - the bird remaining elusive.
The hundreds of birders didn’t go home disappointed though – with an American widgeon being spotted instead.
This duck species did much to satisfy the twitchers as it is more commonly spotted outside of Europe.
Speaking about the day, assistant reserve officer Aran Atkinson said: “The birders were turning up in droves as the word spread throughout the area.”
“It got very crowded by our viewing screens, with everyone trying to set up their equipment as close as possible.”
Wildlife Trust spokesman Erin McDaid added: “It was an exciting day, when we thought we had a real rarity on our hands.”
“The fact that we had the American wigeon on site, however, shows that this reserve is indeed becoming a hotspot for birdwatching, as a haven for birds all year round.”
“The site is over three miles long and its sheer size and diversity of habitats means that there is always a chance of something interesting turning up.”
There are many events coming up at Idle Valley Nature Reserve, including regular walks, talks and children’s activities throughout the year.
To find out more visit the Wildlife Trust’s website.