Belfast Telegraph

First nighthawk sighting has birdwatchers twitching

Nighthawk: a very rare sight in NI
Nighthawk: a very rare sight in NI

By Laren Harte

Birdwatchers are all of a flutter this week after the first ever recorded sighting of an extremely rare American bird in Northern Ireland.

Experts believe the common nighthawk was blown off course from its normal migration route to South America due to the force of Storm Lorenzo.

It is the first sighting of the bird in Northern Ireland and only the third in Ireland.

The discovery was made last weekend by a fisherman along the River Maine near Ballymena in Co Antrim.

Fergus Auld had initially thought the bird was a nightjar but on closer inspection it turned out to be its close American cousin, the sleek and long winged nighthawk.

Stuart McKee from the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association said yesterday the nighthawk's arrival had resulted in birdwatchers from across Ireland and the UK flocking to the area.

"This is an incredibly rare nocturnal bird, so it's lucky that Fergus had the presence of mind to take some video footage of the nighthawk to confirm its presence here," he said.

"When we went to see the nighthawk this week there were around 70 birdwatchers there, which would constitute one of the largest gatherings of twitchers in Northern Ireland to see a rare breed."

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