Rare bird causes a huge flap

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

YOU have to be so care­ful when you are deal­ing with na­ture ex­perts – es­pe­cially when it comes to the birds. You see, some peo­ple would even take that the wrong way?

Ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­net – a birder se­ri­ously pur­sues the hobby of bird­ing while a twitcher trav­els long dis­tances to see a rare bird to tick off his/her list.

Re­fer­ring to a birder as a twitcher is hugely defam­a­tory, although I haven’t yet heard of any­one be­ing taken to court.

So when a rare bird turned up on Lit­tle Woolden Moss, close to Cadishead in Sal­ford, the other week, there was a great deal of twitch­ing on the na­ture re­serve be­long­ing to the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and north Mersey­side.

Yes there def­i­nitely were twitch­ers head­ing in our di­rec­tion to see a stone curlew, a bird last seen in Greater Manch­ester in 1963.

That means any­one younger than me wouldn’t have ac­tu­ally seen this bird on home turf so it was a ma­jor oc­ca­sion if you were a birder or a twitcher.

I was a tod­dler so I wouldn’t have re­mem­bered.

When some­one told me there was a stone curlew on the Moss, I had no idea what an im­por­tant sight­ing this was.

That was un­til David Steel got in touch.

David is the moss land birder supreme and when he gets ex­cited about some­thing you know it is im­por­tant. David was the first per­son to see the bird and man­aged to get some pho­to­graphs too.

With a lot of th­ese rare birds it’s just a brown non-de­script lit­tle thing or it has a slightly greyer chest or darker beak.

That wasn’t the case with the stone curlew, this is a re­ally won­der­ful look­ing bird.

The first thing you no­tice is its bright yel­low eyes, which help it to for­age for food in the dark – night vi­sion eyes and you can tell there’s some­thing spe­cial just by look­ing at them.

Then there are the gan­gly legs, with thick knees.

Those knees have led to its nick­name which is ‘thick knees’, which didn’t take a lot of thought.

The bird is also called the wail­ing heath chicken be­cause it screeches, a sim­i­lar call to curlews, who also nest in the moss. The stone curlew is the size of a crow with a large head, to ac­com­mo­date those laser eyes, and all in all is a fab­u­lous bird.

In spring and sum­mer mi­grant stone curlews gen­er­ally stick to south east Eng­land and breed in small num­bers.

Up here it’s a rare sight which had both bird­ers and twitch­ers twitch­ing and el­bow­ing each other out of the way.

●● The rare sight­ing of a stone curlew on Lit­tle Woolden Moss, Sal­ford

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.