BIRDWATCHERS flocked to Wearside after two rare sightings.
A little bunting was spotted in Elba Park, off Chester Road, Sunderland, bringing in birders from across the UK, and enthusiasts travelled from as far afield as Cumbria, Birmingham and London to catch a glimpse of a European bee-eater in Fulwell.
They are generally found in southern Europe and Africa, as well as Asia.
They survive on a diet of insects, specifically bees and wasps.
It’s thought the bird was blown off course as it migrated towards North Africa for the winter.
More than 50 twitchers gathered outside Kirk Adamson’s Dartford Road home as the bird fed off a wasps’ nest at the gable end of the property.
“It’s been a bit weird, but the people watching have been no bother so it’s not a problem,” said Mr Adamson.
Pensioner couple Roy and Linda Harvey drove about 130 miles yesterday morning from their home in north Lincolnshire to Sunderland to see the bird.
“It’s so rare to see a bee-eater,” said Mr Harvey, who spent hours taking photographs and videos of the bird.
“They are not a resident bird in Britain and the other interesting thing about this is that it’s so late in the year to see this bird in this country.
“It’s been worth coming as we’ve got here with the bird still here.”
A 37-year-old birdwatcher from Fulwell, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s a youngster that has been blown here.
“Sometimes when they migrate they go off course and that is probably what has happened.
“It should be travelling to sub-Saharan Africa now, not Seaburn.”
A RARE bird has become only the ninth of its species to be spotted in the North East.
The little bunting has been seen by local birdwatchers at Elba Park, off Chester Road.
Andrea Baxter, senior community ranger for Groundwork North East, which manages the park, said: “We’ve never experienced anything which has caused so much interest before. It’s really exciting.
“We are delighted to have this new addition to the park. Even though the park is only a few years old, it’s really starting to develop as a haven for wildlife.”
The little bunting nests in Scandinavia and Russia, before migrating to South East Asia for the winter.
“In the past couple of weeks, when we’ve had a lot of fog, the bird has possibly been thrown off course and ended up here,” said Andrea.
Fewer than 30 are seen in the UK each year, most of which are found around the Shetland Islands and the Isles of Scilly.
Geoff Grant, 76, from Burnmoor, often walks around Elba Park. He said: “We look at all of the birds once a week. We’ve seen all sorts of birds down here. I looked this one up in the book and apparently it’s very rare, but we’ve not seen it yet.”