Hundreds of people flocking to Galgorm to catch rare sight of bird blown off course from America

A nighthawk roosting at Galgorm. Picture: Mervyn Campbell

HUNDREDS of people have been flocking to Galgorm to catch a sight of a bird which has temporarily taken up home on the River Maine after being blown off course by Storm Lorenzo.

The focus for many people this week was very much on the situation at the Wrightbus factory at Galgorm but a short distance away bird lovers were keeping an eye on the sky.

A Common Nighthawk from America has found a temporary new home locally and experts believe the Nighthawk – only the third ever seen in Ireland – was blown across the Atlantic by storm Lorenzo.

A few lucky birdwatchers were fortunate to have caught sight of this #CommonNighthawk outside #Galgorm yesterday evening. The bird seems to have taken a detour from its normal habitat of the Americas!🎥 John Edwards

Posted by Love Ballymena on Tuesday, 8 October 2019

John Edwards filmed the bird at Galgorm.

The male bird typically sleeps during the day before feeding at dusk.

Ian Graham from the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers’ Association said it was first spotted by a man fishing on the river.

“We thought it could be a Nightjar, which is a rare enough bird itself, but it’s actually a Common Nighthawk from America,” he said.

Mr Graham said the bird was migrating from North America to South America when it was blown off-course.

It appears to be healthy, despite its long journey.

“At the moment it’s feeding on flies and moths,” he said.

“When the food dries up it’ll move on. These birds are programmed to migrate south so it’ll continue to do that. Who knows where it will end up?”

Mr Graham said the association had been contacted by dozens of birdwatchers, including some in England.

“It’s good for the birdwatchers to see it but it’s a bit of a sad story for the bird,” he said.

“It’ll never get back to America,” the Irish News reports.

Margaret and Kevin Denny from Yorkshire were buying a new car when they saw a Tweet about the bird so immediately drove to the ferry to head for Galgorm.

They were rewarded for their efforts on Friday when they spotted the Nighthawk resting on a log.

Delighted Margaret and Kevin said they had once just missed seeing a Nighthawk flying by in Cornwall and they were “over the moon” to see the rare visitor up close before getting the night ferry home last night, Belfast Live reports.

In recent days, several American birds have landed in Ireland following last week’s Storm Lorenzo.

Other confirmed sightings have included a Baltimore Oriole, a Black and White Warbler, and a handful of Red-Eyed Vireos.

A Least Bittern, a small American bird which is a member of the heron family, was found in a Co Kerry garden but died shortly afterwards.

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