RSPB in plea after unusual visitor to Bradwell birdbath

An unusual visitor to a Norfolk garden has sparked an appeal from the RSPB for people to keep their birdbaths topped up during the dry spell.

Valerie Miles, 66, of Woodfarm Lane, Bradwell, was amazed to look out of her window to see not the usual blue tits round her birdbath, but a sparrowhawk.

She said: 'My husband Terry saw it come down and said, 'what type of bird is that?'

'I recognised it as a sparrowhawk and said it must be thirsty. You could see the drops of water on its beak.

'Our garden is a real wildlife haven and we have seen everything from pheasants to muntjak deer - but never a sparrowhawk on the birdbath before.'

RSPB spokesman Aggie Rothon said: 'I must say congratulations to anyone who has a birdbath and keeps it topped up.

'In dry periods like we are going through it is especially important. Birds like sparrowhawks would normally drink from pools of water but when they dry up they have to look to less usual places.'

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She said it meant that people might be lucky enough to see some interesting and unusual visitors to their garden as Mrs Miles had done.

John Law, a forecaster at the UEA-based WeatherQuest service, said it was little wonder birds were looking round for water after two exceptionally dry months in March and April.

He said: 'Parts of our region only saw 10mm of rain during that entire period compared to the normal monthly average of 40mm for March and April. In some places the dry weather even started from the end of February.

'That has been coupled with really warm sunny weather that meant any rain that fell quickly evaporated.'

He said the weekend outbreak of thundery showers had not really helped because such heavy rain quickly ran off.

During the coming week, the moist westerly airflow was likely to bring some more showers but there was little prospect of heavy rain.

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