A mind-blowing encounter with a European Roller
A super rare bird not seen in Cornwall for almost 30 years has been spotted and bird watchers from all over the UK have flocked to capture the moment.
The European Roller is a highly colourful bird, mostly seen in southern Europe. It was last spotted in the Duchy in 1994. It was spotted last week on the Clowance Estate, a collection of luxury holiday lodges near the village of Praze-an-Beeble.
As reported by the BBC, the sighting of it has attracted crowds of birdwatchers, some of whom have travelled from all over the UK to try and capture a glimpse - and a precious photograph - of the rare bird.
Dave Clayton, a retired head teacher from near Penzance who became interested in birdwatching during lockdown, managed to snap the elusive European Roller and took this beautiful photograph of the blue bird.
He said he heard about the sighting and went to the site at dawn on May 24 where he found a crowd of people staring across a field. He told the BBC: "It's a ludicrous colour. Front on it's utterly gorgeous. Every time it moved it showed a different colour combination - it was absolutely mind-blowing.
"It's really nice to be with a group of people who are really excited by the beauty of nature."
Mr Clayton said the bird was "flying from tree to tree" as if it was "trying to show itself from every angle". The bird is said to have remained on land owned by the Clowance Estate since but has flown to a more inaccessible location on the property.
Tom Stewart, from the British Trust for Ornithology, said this was the first roller seen in Cornwall since 1994. "Rollers are rare and extremely colourful visitors from southern Europe that are usually recorded only once every couple of years in the UK," he said. "Rollers spotted in the UK tend not to hang around for more than a day or so, however, so the fact the current bird has now spent a week here is very unusual."
European rollers are medium-sized birds known for their aerial acrobatics during courtship or territorial flights. They have brightly colored plumage and a hooked bill. European rollers are striking in their strong direct flight, with the brilliant blue contrasting with black flight feathers. Males and females are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.
European rollers breed in Europe. Their overall range extends into the Middle East, Central Asia, and Morocco. These birds are long-distance migrants, wintering in Africa south of the Sahara in two distinct regions, from Senegal east to Cameroon and from Ethiopia west to Congo and south to South Africa. Some populations migrate to Africa through India. European rollers are birds of warm, dry, open country with scattered trees, preferring lowlands. Oak and pine woodlands with open areas are prime breeding habitat, but farms, orchards, and similar areas with mixed vegetation are also used. In Africa, they occur in a wide range of dry, open land with trees. Rollers winter primarily in dry, wooded savanna and bushy plains.
SOURCE: https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/bird-waters-flock-cornwall-after-7157660 and https://animalia.bio/european-roller