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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Warm weather tricks African bird
Hoopoe (photo courtesy Lucinda Manouch)
The hoopoe landed in a garden because it feeds in short grass
An exotic African bird has landed in a north Wales village garden after becoming hopelessly lost on its way to the Mediterranean.

The colourful hoopoe should have flown to Spain or Greece in its search for a warm location to spend the winter.

But it ended up on someone's lawn just a few minutes' flight from the RSPB's Conwy nature reserve.

Manager Alan Davies said: "There is a good chance it hasn't migrated before which is why it got it all wrong."

He said the bird it likely to have been fooled by recent warm weather and followed the good conditions hundreds of miles from its planned route to Spain.

Because they are bright and colourful birds, they stand out to any passing birds of prey
Alan Davies, RSPB

The hoopoe - Upupa epops - is a rare visitor to British shores, especially this far north.

It gains its name from its distinctive calls - a soft, low, resonant "hoop, hoop, hoop".

The RSPB estimates no more than about 100 birds land in southern England at this time of year after overshooting their normal migration pattern.

This specimen decided to stop when it spotted a suitable back garden in Ty'n-y-groes outside Conwy.

The site is a stone's throw from the RSPB's 49-acre nature reserve which is a haven for species such as the lapwing.


Mr Davies said the first he knew of the hoopoe was when a man living nearby phoned up and asked him to identify the strange-looking bird in his garden.

He said: "It was just pottering around the walls, looking for grubs and insects, it was pretty mobile last night.

"It is probably an inexperienced bird, they can just get caught in good weather conditions and carry on flying.

"I would imagine that if it was feeding very well here, it will re-orientate itself and fly back down.

"Unfortunately, it is a journey that is fraught with danger. They are prone to predation.

Crowds expected

"Because they are bright and colourful birds, they stand out to any passing birds of prey."

Wildlife photographer Lucinda Manouch, who lives in Capel Curig, arrived at the site around 4pm after a tip-off.

She said: "By 6pm there was a large crowd and this will weekend, if it is still here, there will be hundreds of people.

"It's just such a magnificent bird. It's so unusual. I had wanted to see one for so many years.

"The only one I had seen before was a stuffed one in the Natural History Musuem."

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