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Family catches a glimpse of rare bird along Norfolk coast

PUBLISHED: 11:30 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:17 05 August 2020

A rare hoopoe was spotted in Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells on the north Norfolk coast, by the Franklin family. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILY

A rare hoopoe was spotted in Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells on the north Norfolk coast, by the Franklin family. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILY

Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILY

Only a hundred migrate through the UK every year, but that did not stop a family from north Norfolk catching an extremely rare glimpse of the hoopoe bird.

A rare hoopoe was spotted in Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells on the north Norfolk coast, by the Franklin family. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILYA rare hoopoe was spotted in Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells on the north Norfolk coast, by the Franklin family. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILY

The exotic-looking creature, which is about the size of a mistle thrush, can turn up, often as single birds, when overshooting while migrating north to Europe from Africa.

And although they usually land on the south coast of England, the Franklin family were lucky enough to spot one not too far away from their doorstep.

Richard Franklin, of Cawston, was driving with his wife, Joanna, and daughter, Terri, through the village of Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells, on August 2.

As they made their way along the road towards Egmere, they spotted the distinctive black and white wings, resting against its pinkish-brown body.

A rare hoopoe was spotted in Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells on the north Norfolk coast, by the Franklin family. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILYA rare hoopoe was spotted in Wighton, between Fakenham and Wells on the north Norfolk coast, by the Franklin family. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FRANKLIN FAMILY

He said: “We were just driving past a field when we spotted it.

“I knew what it was straight away but I have never seen one before. For one to fly up this way, it’s quite rare.”

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They managed to take a quick snap using a pair of binoculars and an iPhone 7.

Oriole Wagstaff, of the RSPB, described hoopoe as “amazing birds”.

She said: “They have a pinkish-brown tuft on the top of their heads which they can raise like a fan when they get excited. They also have a brilliant Latin name, upupa epops, which is what their call is said to sound like, in ancient Greek and Latin.

“They don’t breed in the UK so they are quite a rare site, but we’ve noticed an increase in reported sightings in some areas over the last few months.

“It’s likely this recent sighting was a hoopoe on its journey back south ahead of winter.”

The hoopoe is protected by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and is listed as a Schedule 1 species.

It is also admired for its long, black, down-curved bill and a long, pinkish-brown crest which it raises when excited.

Most hoopoes turn up in late April and May, although they can be spotted annually in the south-west in March or during autumn between August and October. The best chance of seeing a hoopoe is during spring migration along the south coast and not far inland, but birds have turned up as far north as Shetland.

They eat insects and spiders.


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