Bird watchers fined after travelling to Exmouth to see rare mockingbird

Stock image of bird watchers Credit: PA images

Five birdwatchers have been fined for breaching Covid rules after travelling to Exmouth to catch a glimpse of a rare mockingbird.

The bird - which is rarely seen on UK shores - was spotted by local Chris Biddle and posted on social media.

The photo prompted a flurry of excitement from birders.

It is thought to be only the third British record of the bird, normally found in North America, and the first for more than 30 years.

News spread of the rare sighting and caused some bird enthusiasts to head to Exmouth despite government guidelines that people should not travel out of their local area.

Devon and Cornwall Police said it was contacted early on morning on Saturday 13 February over potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations in the coastal town.

In a statement, the force said: "It was reported that a number of individuals, suspected to have travelled from outside the area, were trying to photograph a rare bird which had been seen in a garden."

Fines were issued to five people for breaching the regulations, it added.

The grey, long-tailed northern mockingbird is known for its mimicking ability, and is found in southern Canada, across the US, Mexico and the northern Caribbean.

The sighting of the bird came after two accepted sightings in the UK in the 1980s, at Saltash in Cornwall in 1982, and at Horsey Island, Essex, six years later, experts at BirdGuides said.

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