Rare purple heron spotted by birdwatcher in Derbyshire 'for the eighth time ever in county'

The rare purple heron has been seen in Derbyshire less than ten times Credit: Ian Elliott

A rare purple heron was photographed at Willington Water for the eighth time ever in Derbyshire.

Birdwatcher Ian Elliott saw the rare bird at the nature reserve on Thursday 11 August.

He said he had never even heard of a purple heron until last week and checked the local wildlife records to discover it had only been seen a handful of times at Willington Wetlands.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said the purple heron has only been reported eight times in the county.

Mr Elliott said he was "chuffed to bits" to witness the very rare bird in the Midlands.

After finding out about the bird Mr Elliott decided to try and spot it.

He said: "I just sat up for four or five hours, I was in the hide, and then all of a sudden it just flew from left to right, right along the length of the lake."

"Luckily I had my camera ready, I was chuffed to bits," he adds.

Mr Elliott had not heard of a purple heron until he saw it Credit: Ian Elliott

Mr Elliott said the bird couldn't be missed because of its colourful features.

He told the BBC: "It looked a lot darker and you can see it has got purple tinges to its wings and on its back."

"You could see straight away that it wasn't a normal grey heron," he said.

The purple bird possesses some of the same characteristics as the common grey heron.

It is a similar build to the grey bird but is slimmer, has slightly smaller legs and bigger feet, and its most distinguishing feature is its darker feathers.

Around 20 records of purple herons migrating to the UK are made each year.

They are sighted more often in southern Europe and some parts of northern Africa.