Shropshire Star

Twitchers' hearts flutter as Russian bird seen for the first time in Shropshire

A Russian bird that normally winters east of the Himalayas to Japan has found its way to Shropshire for possibly the first time, say excited nature gurus.

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A red-flanked bluetail. Photo: Takashi Yanagisawa/Pixabay

A red-flanked bluetail was caught on a camera set up to record pine marten activity near Stiperstones by Stuart Edmunds of Shropshire Wildlife Trust on November 5 last year. The site's location is not being revealed.

In summer the red-flanked bluetail is a striking bird with bright orange flanks and azure head, back and tail.

But in winter it looks looks much drabber and not unlike a robin without the full red breast, and like a robin tends to skulk around under foliage.

Simon Cooter, the senior reserve manager, said they actually had two exciting bird sightings just before Christmas. Reserve enthusiasts received the news in a New Year update newsletter this week.

The first visitor was a snow bunting on December 1, which is only the second recorded for the reserve. It was spotted while the wardens were carrying out restorative work.

"This one was a splendid male bird and couldn’t be missed," said Mr Cooter.

"Particularly with the amount of white showing on its wings when it flew in front of us as we passed by Shepherds Rock. These Scandinavian birds are usually found in large flocks when they visit our coasts in winter, so I can only assume that this one had blown off course following some of the December storms."

Mr Cooter added: “It was nice to see. It’s an unusual bird for the nature reserve, and it’s only the second record of it ever being seen on site. It must have blown in on the northerly winds we experienced the week before, as it’s usually seen around coastal areas.

"Unusual migratory birds sometimes blow in thanks to different weather events, particularly on the coast. It was very unusual to see a snow bunting at the Stiperstones, but it was very nice to see!”

There is a video of the red flanked bluetail at