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Birdwatchers flock to West Cork as rare bittern spotted

December 8th, 2015 10:05 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Birdwatchers keeping a keen eye on the Bittern at Castlefreke last week.

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BIRD watchers and photographers from as far as Dublin flocked to Castlefreke, Rathbarry last week to catch a glimpse of an extremely rare American Bittern bird. 

The last live bittern seen on this side of the Atlantic was in the 1800s, so excitement reached fever pitch to catch a glimpse of such a rare bird.

It is understood that the bittern may have been blown a certain distance and could have come off a boat. Word spread fast that this bird was spotted in Castlefreke and it wasn’t long before bird watchers and photographers began to arrive to catch a glimpse of the bittern.

Peter Wolstenholme, a member of the West Cork branch of Birdwatch Ireland was eagerly excited to see ‘The American.’

‘A bittern was one thing, an American was quite another. I had noticed the scapulars had chestnut plain brown centres, quite different from European bittern with its black serrated centres,’ he said.

‘That was enough for me. It was definitely American and then the news went out to Irishbirding.com,’ said Peter.

‘The bird stayed feeding in the channel in full view for ages and as ‘birders’ arrived, they simply jumped out of their cars to see scope- filling views of this amazing bird. I was told this was on every Irish birders wish list. It was only then that the significance of the find sunk in.’

The bird continued to be seen on the second day and was last seen the following morning when another storm blew up and it disappeared.

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