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Police fine birdwatchers who breached Covid rules

Police fine birdwatchers who breached Covid rules by travelling to Devon to catch glimpse of northern mockingbird which has not be spotted in UK for more than 30 years

  • Birdwatchers travelled to Exmouth, Devon, to catch glimpse of the rare bird
  • Chris Biddle tweeted about the sighting of the rare bird in his garden this month
  • Devon and Cornwall Police said fines issued to five people for breaching rules

Birdwatchers who breached lockdown restrictions to catch a glimpse of a rarely seen northern mockingbird have been fined by police.

Chris Biddle tweeted about the sighting of the rare bird in his garden in Exmouth, Devon, earlier this month, prompting a flurry of excitement among bird enthusiasts.

The sighting saw some enthusiasts head to Exmouth in the hope of spotting the bird, in breach of government guidelines which state people should not travel outside their local area. 

It is the third time the North American bird is believed to have been recorded in the UK, with the last sighting dating back to 1988. 

Birdwatchers travelled to Exmouth in Devon in the hope of spotting the rare northern mockingbird. (Stock image)

Devon and Cornwall Police said they were contacted early on Saturday morning 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, the force confirmed. 

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. 

Chris Biddle shared an image of what he believed to be a northern mockingbird earlier this month

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.

They typically feature white patches on both the bottom and tops of their wings and are commonly found on tall shrubs or tree branches on the edges of forests.  

The birds will often eat fruit, seeds, berries, and small insects and are hunted by snakes, owls, hawks, blue jays and raccoons.    

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