Rare Arctic warbler gets birdwatchers twitching

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A RARE breed has got are birdwatchers twitching after it was spotted at the coast.

Scores of ornithologists have been waiting to see the Arctic warbler near Whitburn Coastal Park.

Bird watchers for a rare Arctic Warbler on Wednesday seen in the Whitburn Lodge car park area.,

Bird watchers for a rare Arctic Warbler on Wednesday seen in the Whitburn Lodge car park area.,

The green bird, usually native to North East Europe, is said to be about five inches long, and difficult to spot in the shrubbery due to its green colouring.

Chair of Durham Bird Club, Paul Anderson, said its extremely unusual to see such a warbler, usually bred in Eastern Europe, in this neck of the woods.

There have only ever been eight Arctic Warblers spotted in County Durham, and two in Whitburn.

“This is the first one since 1996,” said Paul, 53, of Tunstall, who turned out to see the bird. “It’s a long distance migrant bird which wanders to South East Asia.”

Fellow club member Andrew Kinghorn, 21, of Chester-le-Street, discovered the bird – which he didn’t recognise at first – at 11.30am on Monday.

“I was specifically looking for rare birds and I picked it out,” he said.

“I did think it was a greenish warbler at first, and then it was recognised as this.”

About 50 people were still hunting for the bird, which is said to have a dagger-like beak, and whose song is a fast trill, yesterday.

But, the warbler is not the only rare breed to be spotted in the region.

In November about 50 birders pitched up on Dartford Road to keep a look out for a little bunting spotted in Elba Park, off Chester Road.

The bee-eater, usually native to Europe and Africa, as well as Asia, was thought to have been blown off course as it migrated towards North Africa for the winter.

And in 2009 hundreds of binocular-clad spotters flocked to South Shields to catch a glimpse of an Eastern crowned warbler.

There had only ever been four sightings of the bird in Europe since 1843, and the bird spotted in Trow Quarry was the first to be seen in the UK.