BIRDWATCHERS are all a flutter after a rare purple gallinule was spotted in Chester.
Saltney’s newest star has created a lot of excitement among ‘twitchers’ and many have travelled long distances to catch a glimpse of it – some travelling from as far afield as Cornwall to see the bird which has been seen in the brook opposite the site of the new Morrison’s supermarket.
Grahame Madge, spokesman from the RSPB, said: “It is thought that this bird is an escapee. In the wild this particular bird can be found in Egypt, central Asia and Turkey. It is unlikely that it has come here of its own accord which makes me think it has escaped from a private collection.
“It will take a while to establish whether this is a wild bird or not. But in the meantime it is still fascinating to go and see it.”
The bird appears to be un-ringed and has not escaped from nearby Chester Zoo.
Andrew Owen, curator of birds at the zoo, said: “We don’t keep purple gallinules at Chester Zoo so it hasn’t escaped from here. These birds have been spotted in the UK before but they usually turn out to have escaped. They are not rare in the countries that they come from, but you don’t often spot them in the UK.
“It is a bit of a mystery where it has come from. It is not a species commonly kept in zoos so I would expect it has come from a private collection.”
Catherine Hilton came to Saltney from Flixton in Manchester to take a look at the bird.
She said: “I have never seen one of these birds before so it was nice to see it for the first time.”
It is believed the bird may have been there for about three weeks. Bird watchers have reported someone claiming to be the owner turned up to try and catch it with nets at the weekend.