Birders flock to see rare ‘butcher bird’ at coastal beauty spot

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It’s only recorded visiting the UK one a year - but this rare bird decided to call in on South Tyneside.

An Isabelline Shrike - also know as a ‘butcher bird’ - was discovered on the Leas, off Coast Road, on Friday afternoon.

Dougie Holden

Dougie Holden

Eagle-eyed Dougie Holden, a National Trust ranger, was delighted to capture the feathery friend which has only been recorded, according to the British Trust for Ornithology, 68 times between 1960 and 2007.

The visitor has caused quite a stir with twitchers flocking to the coast.

Dougie from South shields said: “I was walking The Leas on Friday afternoon on the lookout for migratory birds (as I do every Autumn) and managed to turn up a superb Isabelline Shrike.

“It was hunting for insects in a well-established bramble patch very close to Frenchman’s Bay.

“This is a bird which breeds in Mongolia and western China and is a rare vagrant in Europe. As far as I’m aware there have only been about 100 sightings of this species in Britain since records began, and the British Trust for Ornithology state on their website that there’s on average only one sighting per year in the UK.

“Suffice to say the bird has gone down well with local (and some not so local) birdwatchers as a decent size crowd had gathered by last light on Friday with most people getting good views.

“To the delight of everyone, this long distant traveller showed very well all weekend and was still present late on Sunday afternoon, who knows, it may even stay a bit longer – just goes to show what a wonderful coastline this is for wildlife.”

It’s not the first time Dougie has spotted a rare bird in South Shields.

Back in October 2009 more than 2,000 bird lovers from across the country raced to the borough to catch a glimpse of an Eastern Crowned Warbler which had turned up at Trow Quarry.

It was the first time the small bird – normally found in China and Indonesia – has visited the UK.

At the time Dougie declared the sighting as like “winning the World Cup”.