HUNDREDS of twitchers have been turning up to a Weymouth nature reserve hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare American bird.
The short billed dowitcher has got bird enthusiasts in a flap as it is only the second UK sighting of the bird.
Since it was officially identified the RSPB’s Lodmoor site has been inundated with twitchers. The bird was mistaken for the more common long billed dowitcher at first.
The small brown wading bird uses its long beak to forage for food in the mud and waters.
RSPB spokesman Luke Phillips said the team at Lodmoor believed the little bird might have been disorientated and blown off course from its winter migration by the recent Hurricane Isaac in the United States.
He said: “It’s a North American species. The recent hurricane they had in the United States could have sent it off in a slightly wrong direction, instead of sending it on its way to South America for the winter.”
The small billed dowitcher breeds in the far north of arctic Canada and migrates for the winter to warmer climes in South America.
Mr Phillips said: “It’s possible it could have been disorientated and started migration.”
He added: “It’s a long way from North America to here. It’s amazing they can fly that far.”
RSPB staff said they think the bird will probably feed up in the reserve before continuing its journey.
Mr Phillips said its future could be uncertain. He said: “It will feed up. It obviously thinks it’s in migration. It will probably go off and find somewhere for the winter.
“If these rare birds make it home or not is a bit of a mystery. It’s possible some birds make it back.”
But for the time being the crowds at the nature reserve are growing, with people from as far afield as Scotland coming to try and catch a glimpse.
Mr Phillips said that the bird’s presence showed that the reserve’s habitat was good and there was plenty of food as any lost birds would be very hungry.