Asian avian visitor attracts twitchers to Whipsnade

A black-throated thrush has caused a rush of birdwatchers to visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.

Black-throated thrush at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. © Anthony McGill

Twitchers from around the UK have been visiting ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to see a rare avian visitor to the country – a male black-throated thrush.

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The bird was first sighted on Wednesday 11 December, and has stayed at the zoo since, feeding on berries in the bushes.

“It’s been amazing to see the interest in this beautiful bird – we’ve welcomed 40 photographers and birders flock to us each day to see the bird after its location was posted on a local bird forum,” says Tyrone Capel, leader of the Native Biodiversity Group and keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

“The diverse habitats – from ancient woodlands to large lakes – of Whipsnade mean we often see rare birds and other wildlife around the Zoo. We record all the rare native wildlife sightings in a database to help with national records of rare and endangered species.”

Black-throated thrushes are native to Asia, though they are occasionally seen elsewhere as vagrant birds. They are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

They are rarely seen in the UK, which has prompted this twitch from keen birdwatchers.

It is believed that the bird was blown off course during its migration to its wintering grounds.

Black-throated thrush at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. © Ian Wells

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Main image: Black-throated thrush at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. © Anthony McGill