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Bird swaps savannahs of Africa... for Donegal

A rare bird usually found on the backs of herd animals in the savannahs of Africa has arrived in Co Donegal because of the mild weather.

The rarely seen cattle egret was spotted at a pig farm near the village of St Johnston.

The discovery has caused excitement among wildlife enthusiasts as the cattle egret is a migratory member of the heron family and is native to Africa and Asia.

It is often found riding on the backs of animals such as wildebeest on the plains of the tropics and sub-tropics.

Birdwatch Ireland development officer Niall Hatch said our milder-than-usual winter and climate change generally were possible factors in the bird's arrival.

“This is a very rare bird generally for Ireland but getting one as far north as Donegal is an exceptional occurrence,” said Mr Hatch.

Cattle egrets have previously been recorded by Birdwatch Ireland in southern counties including Cork, Waterford and Wexford.

“This is an important sighting not only because it is such a rare bird in the overall Irish context, but when you see birds like this turning up in new areas, it is often a sign that something is changing,” added Mr Hatch.

Belfast Telegraph