Middlesbrough Herald & Post

Rosy glow to birders’ day

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THERE was a great deal of excitement among the birding fraternity of Cleveland last week.

The reason was the sudden appearance of a very rare bird in a quiet street in Billingham.

This rather attractive rose coloured starling, as brilliantl­y captured by Martyn Sidwell’s stunning photo, turned up in Cayton Drive.

So did lots of exuberant birders, me included, who thronged the street to catch a glimpse of this extremely unusual visitor which breeds anywhere from Eastern Europe to Asia and overwinter­s in India and surroundin­g countries.

I was eating lunch at RSPB Saltholme when news of the starling’s appearance emerged.

My chip buttie was hastily despatched and I was driving into Cayton Drive within ten minutes.

I was among the first wave of birders to arrive and have to say that the residents of Cayton Drive were absolutely terrific.

We were immediatel­y allowed into a couple of gardens to view the rose coloured starling and then I was one of several birders who were invited into the back bedroom of one of the houses to get additional views.

The residents could not have been friendlier. Everybody had an opportunit­y to view the bird and take their photos.

As can be seen from Martyn’s photo, rose coloured starlings have pink bodies with black heads, wings and tail. This individual has been blown off course and is not the first to have appeared in Cleveland, although it is the first that I have ever seen.

It appeared to be happy among a group of our common starlings. But when the weather turns, it will turn its attention to India. I hope it gets home all right.

Some of the area’s keener twitchers faced a long journey and battle against time to tick off the rose coloured starling and also Britain’s first ever elegant tern which appeared at Pagham Harbour in West Sussex. On the way back they will have taken a slight detour to tick off one of two red footed falcons in either Suffolk or Surrey.

However it is not just the rose coloured starling which has brightened up the birding in Cleveland.

We have been fortunate to host two scarce marsh warblers. I managed to tick off the first one at Saltholme, but not before falling into a bog on the way. I’m still trying to clean the mud off my telescope but it was worth it.

Eric would like to hear from readers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.paylor@gmail.com

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