Northern Waterthrush sighting in Heybridge attracts hundreds

Northern Waterthrush outside with branches next to it
Image caption, The Northern Waterthrush is originally from North America and has only been spotted in the UK eight times

By Stuart Woodward and Shivani Chaudhari

BBC News, in Heybridge

The following report was taken form the BBC news website. If there is any issues, we will remove the post – Admin.

Hundreds of people have flocked to an industrial estate in Essex to grab a glimpse of what is considered an “incredibly rare” bird.

Birdwatcher Simon Wood said he “nearly fell off” his chair when he saw the Northern Waterthrush – originally from North America – in his garden in Heybridge, near Maldon.

Mr Wood said it had only been sighted eight times in the UK.

Crowds have gathered near his home to try and catch a glimpse.

“I nearly fell off my chair because I knew what it was, because I’d seen them in the Americas, and there was a lot of expletives,” said Mr Wood – president of the Essex Birdwatching Society – who first spotted it in his garden on Wednesday.

“I rushed for my camera, rattled [off] a few pictures and then it had gone. When the news had broken, all hell had let loose.”

Bird watcher Simon Wood
Image caption, Simon Wood described the sighting in Heybridge as a “big deal”

On Thursday, the bird moved to an area of scrubland and reedbed nearby, and about 130 people turned up.

On Friday, about 200 birdwatchers arrived with their binoculars, telescopes and cameras trained on the industrial area off Bates Road and Hall Road – near Heybridge Creek.

Several men standing or sitting on a hill with cameras or binoculars
Image caption, Scores of birdwatchers have been getting a sighting of the Northern Waterthrush
A group of birdwatchers standing on a hill looking through binoculars or cameras
Image caption, News of the sighting has drawn twitchers from far and wide

Mr Wood speculated that the bird was likely knocked off course by bad weather while navigating across the ocean.

“The chances of it getting across the Atlantic and it actually landing in the garden of someone who knows what they’re looking at – it’s remarkable,” he said.

He said the “incredibly rare” sighting could be the first time a Northern Waterthrush has been spotted in Essex.

Bird watcher Steve Grimwade
Image caption, Steve Grimwade said he saw the Northern Waterthrush in the Costa Rican jungle two years ago, where the North American bird typically spends its winters

Steve Grimwade travelled the short distance from Colchester and said he had always wanted to see the bird in Essex, having last spotted it in the Costa Rican jungle two years ago.

“This is an amazing bird so it’s nice to see so many people out and about enjoying it,” said Mr Grimwade.

“I’ve had good views, no photographs, just good views with the binoculars [so I am] more than happy.”

He described the bird as having a “mythical status”.

According to the National Audubon Society, based in the United States, the Northern Waterthrush is uncommon anywhere south of Canada and the northern states of the US.

It likes “swampy or wet woods” as habitats, but is more commonly seen in tropical climates during the winter.

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