Fines for birdwatchers who travelled to see mockingbird in breach of rules

Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent
·1-min read

Police have handed out fines to birdwatchers who breached lockdown restrictions to catch a glimpse of a bird rarely seen on UK shores.

Chris Biddle tweeted about the sighting of the northern mockingbird in his garden in Exmouth, Devon, earlier this month, prompting a flurry of excitement for 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.

But news of the rare visitor prompted some enthusiasts to head to Exmouth to see the bird, in breach of government guidelines that people should not travel outside their local area during the latest lockdown.

Northern mockingbird
A northern mockingbird filmed in Exmouth (Will Scott/PA)

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, 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.