By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
A rare sight: the green heron at Heligan
A green heron has been spotted in the UK, the first since 2008.
The bird is only thought to have been sighted in the country on ten previous occasions since records began.
Green herons usually live on the other side of the Atlantic, being widespread across their native countries of the United States and southern Canada.
The bird is thought to have been blown off course, arriving in Pentewan, Cornwall yesterday where it was sighted in the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
The gardens, now a privately held visitor attraction, are part of an estate that was for more than 400 years the seat of the Tremayne family.
The bird was sighted on Wednesday by Bob Mitchell, a member of Heligan's wildlife team, while he was making his daily checks on the estate.
He and his team then photographed the unusual looking bird, which was perched on the edge of the lake in Heligan's Lost Valley.
"My eye was first caught by the unusual plumage of the bird and I realised it deserved closer investigation," says Mr Mitchell.
"On doing so I realised it was a heron, but not one that should be here at Heligan or even in fact in the UK."
The sighting was confirmed by Derek Julian from the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society.
Green herons have an unusual means of hunting for food.
The birds will commonly drop bait onto the surface of the water to attract small fish for it to catch.
The green heron is thought to have been accidently blown across the Atlantic Ocean during its annual winter migration.
"We think it probably came in ahead of gales on Tuesday night," says Mr Julian.