Local twitchers are in a frenzy after a rare bird to the UK was spotted at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
First sighted on Wednesday 11 December, the black-throated thrush (Turdus atrogularis) was found by a keen-eyed zoo visitor last week and remained on site since.
Similar in some ways to UK thrushes, the overseas visitor has a distinctive black throat and bright yellow beak – instantly alerting local birders to the rarity of the sighting.
Native to Asia, the bird is a rare vagrant to western Europe – experts at ZSL believe the bird could have potentially been blown off course on its way to its wintering grounds in Asia. It currently seems to be favouring a native berry bush near the children’s farm – Hullabazoo.
Tyrone Capel, Leader of the Native Biodiversity Group and Keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo said: “ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is home to many amazing animals, and it’s wonderful that this bird has chosen us as a place to stay for the holidays!
“It’s been amazing to see the interest in this beautiful bird – we’ve welcomed 40 photographers and birders flock to us each day to see the bird after its location was posted on a local bird forum. Although the species has been seen in the UK before and is common throughout its range – it is an extremely rare sighting for the UK.
“The diverse habitats – from ancient woodlands to large lakes – of Whipsnade mean we often see rare birds and other wildlife around the Zoo – just last year we had a little egret (Egretta garzetta). We record all the rare native wildlife sightings in a database to help with national records of rare and endangered species.”