A RARE bird once reportedly on the verge of becoming extinct in Britain has been spotted in Dorset.

The Lady Amherst’s pheasant has been seen in two different gardens by a couple of eagle-eyed bird watchers.

The Lady Amherst’s pheasant is described as ‘very secretive’ by the RSPB.

The male is very colourful with an extremely long black and white tail, greenish back, red and yellow rump and black-and-white neck ruff.

The species survives in small numbers, mainly in Bedfordshire, and was originally introduced from China in the 19th century.

The pheasant was named after Countess Sarah Amherst, whose husband, William Pitt Amherst, was governor general of Bengal.

Sheila Phillips, from Granby Close, Weymouth, said she had never seen anything like it before.

She said: “I think it was last Wednesday. It’s difficult to remember. It just appeared. It was there in the garden when we first woke up.

“I got my camera, shot down to the garden and managed to take three photos.”

“I think it’s somebody’s pheasant. I can’t imagine it came from the Abbotsbury Gardens.

Meanwhile, Nicola Dunford spotted the pheasant at her home in their garden on Chickerell Road.

She said: “We first saw it on Thursday night, at about 8pm.

“I have never seen anything like this before, it was a really big bird.

“It stayed in our garden for about 10 minutes and then jumped over the fence and we didn’t see it again.”

The Lady Amherst’s pheasant has often been spotted at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens.

Luke Phillips, information officer at the RSPB Nature Reserve at Radipole Lake, said they had received reports of sightings earlier this week.

Luke said: “They are usually from collections.

“It could have wandered all the way along the Fleet. It’s certainly unusual. It’s not something that could naturally turn up as such.”

He added: “It’s a special looking thing.”