Wednesday, October 04, 2006

ENV: Chasers Chase Chased

Hmmm, haven't heard a story like this in a while . . .

Anger over rare starling's death
MILES JERMY, 28 September 2006

BIRDWATCHERS were accused of chasing a rare rose-coloured starling to death when it turned up in Winterton at the weekend.

Nursing sister Carole Barnes buried the bird on Wednesday after discovering it had died in her garden.

RSPB member Mrs Barnes, 66, said the bird, which is normally found in central Asia, had been constantly chased around despite being in a weak state.

A group of around 30 or 40 birdwatchers had arrived in Rowan Court by Saturday morning, many staying throughout the weekend to catch a glimpse of the bird.

“It started off with two or three and then there were crowds converging on the village, it was a nightmare,” said Mrs Barnes

“I would not have minded if these people had come, seen the bird and gone, but by the time they left it could not fly.

“It kept trying to get away, but was only a young bird and needed a bit of peace and tranquillity.

“They were not interested that it was frail and did not care if they chased it to death.

“There were men with long lens cameras pointed at the roof of our house, racing up and down pathways and leaving cars in private parking spaces.

“I am ashamed that adults can behave like that, it was wicked; they were not interested in the welfare of the bird, just getting a picture.”

Mrs Barnes was horrified when she saw a cat nearly catch the bird, which was thousands of miles away from its normal home east of the Black Sea.

RSPB spokesman Chris Durdin said: “Rose-coloured starlings are regular migrants in small numbers and are not rare enough to attract birders from around the country.

“If it is the case that the bird was disturbed then that is a pity, there is a code of conduct to avoid harassing tired migrants.

“Sometimes people get carried away; there are more birdwatchers than ever, but fewer examples of bad behaviour.”

Rose-coloured starlings breed in the open farmland of central Asia, often spending the winter in India.

Adult birds have an eye-catching pink body, legs and beak and glossy black head, wings and tail.

Juveniles, like the one in Winterton, have a much paler plumage and short yellow beak.

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