Exotic Asian avian visitor spotted at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Local twitchers are in a frenzy after a rare bird to the UK was spotted at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. 

Rare black-throated thrush bird seen 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.”

Book tickets to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

More news from ZSL

Amur tigers Makari, Czar, and Dmitri celebrate their second birthday

Three Endangered Amur tiger “cubs” at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo celebrated their second birthday with their favourite treat – an ice block made of blood...

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell with a sea lion at the re-opening of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The sea lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have been making sure everyone knows the UK’s largest zoo is open and ready to welcome visitors back through...

White rhinos Clara and Bertha with gemsbok at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo releases 3,000 ‘social distancing’ tickets per day for visitors