AN exotic visitor to the River Bela has been attracting birdwatchers from Cumbria, Lancashire and beyond.

The rare glossy ibis was first spotted just south of Milnthorpe on June 17 and has been sighted most days since.

An RSPB spokesperson said the wading bird was ‘a fairly rare sighting but not unheard of’ in the UK.

The glossy ibis would normally be in Greece or Turkey at this time of year after spending the winter in north Africa.

There have been around ten sightings across the UK so far this year.


One theory is that the birds have come this far north because the place they normally migrate to is very dry.

The spokesperson said the glossy ibis should stay here until autumn before going back to Africa.

Keen birdwatcher Jamie Green, of Backbarrow, said: “It’s caused quite a stir because they’re relatively uncommon.

“They turn up occasionally but you’re not guaranteed one every year.”

Meanwhile, staff at Levens Hall are keeping their fingers crossed for the arrival of three oystercatcher chicks this week.

A pair of the black and white wading birds has created a makeshift nest in the hall’s gravel car park.

An area has been cordoned off to keep the three eggs safe from visitors’ cars.

Head Gardener Chris Crowder said the spot has been used for the past three years, although it is not clear whether the same pair of birds are returning each year.

“They arrived three weeks ago so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the eggs will hatch any day now.

“Cars don’t bother the parents at all but they’re very wary of people, and they take it in turns to watch the eggs.”

Visitor Emily, Nicholson, 87, of Burton-in-Kendal, said: “It’s a feather in the cap for Levens and seeing it made our day, particularly for my six-year-old granddaughter.”

Oystercatcher are large, stocky, black and white wading birds with long, orange-red bills and reddish-pink legs.

They can be seen on almost all UK coasts and there are large numbers on major estuaries, such as Morecambe Bay.

  • Ibis’ are heron-like but have shorter necks, rounder heads and more slender, curved bills
  • No Ibis are regular in the UK but the glossy ibis appears some years as a stray
  • The glossy ibis is the most widespread ibis species
  • Glossy ibises undertake dispersal movements after breeding and are very nomadic
  • They feed in shallow water and nest in freshwater or brackish wetlands
  • Their average length is 60cm and wingspan is 88cm.