A Northampton photographer has snapped a rare sighting of a woodland-based bird, which was resting in his garden.
Harvey Fryer of Duston yesterday (October 30) stepped out into his back garden to fetch in his cat Albert when he was stunned to see the feline staring at a woodcock.
He said: "When I first opened the back door I was completely surprised to find my cat staring at this beautiful brown bird with a huge beak."
The birds, which typically live in woodland, have a long bill and brown camouflaged plumage.
He added: "I grabbed the cat, put him inside the house and then looked the bird up on the RSPB website.
"I already knew it was highly unusual and was amazed when I realised it was a woodcock, which normally stays under cover in woodland during the day. I’m not a bird spotter but I do feel really lucky to have seen such a beautiful bird in my back garden in the middle of Northampton.
"When I told the RSPB what I had seen they said I was very, very lucky. The woodcock must have got tired and decided to have had a break in the garden - I’m just glad it eventually flew away to freedom again."
Senior Conservation Officer Colin Wilkinson at the RSPB today added that this breed of bird is certainly an unusual garden visitor for residents who live in Northampton.
He said: "Woodcocks favour wet woodlands where they probe the soil for juicy worms.
"There is a British breeding population, which sadly is undergoing quite a steep decline.
"The fact this one has turned up in a Northampton garden suggests it’s a recently arrived and possibly slightly confused visitor from the continent, one of thousands that join us as mainland Europe begins to freeze.
"It will probably regain its bearings quite quickly and go find somewhere more suitable to spend the winter, perhaps in the willow thickets along the Nene Valley."