Monday, May 05, 2008

A rare bird "first" for Darlington

The Golden Oriole found in Darlington, and one of the town's Black Poplar trees

Exciting news for wildlife lovers in Darlington.

My colleague Cllr. Andy Scott was walking by the Skerne in Rockwell Pastures late last week, and came across what he took to be an escaped caged bird in some distress.

He took it to the Ramshaw Rescue Centre, who identified it as a wild Golden Oriole. This is exciting stuff - they are very rare in the UK and previously have been confined to the south. This is the only sighting of the species this far north.

The bird was quickly returned to full health by the excellent staff at Ramshaw, and has been released again at Rockwell Pastures. Not being a 'twitcher' myself, I had to resort to Wikipedia for more information about the Golden Oriole, and there was a clue there about what the bird was doing in Darlington - apparently they like to nest in Black Poplar trees, and of course Darlington is a haven for this tree species, which is itself one of the most endangered in Britain.

Since the 1990's Darlington Borough Council has been working with partners to boost numbers of the Black Poplar at various locations in the Borough, together with generally improving the habitat for wildlife - Rockwell Pastures is just one example of that. The Golden Oriole find is one spectacular example of how that work is now paying off.

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