Ibis bird worshipped by ancient Egyptians turns up in UK 5,000 miles away from its African home 

Ibis bird worshipped by ancient Egyptians turns up in UK 5,000 miles away from its African home

  • Dot Crow captured the African sacred ibis wandering around in her back garden
  • The rare bird flew down from the sky before tucking in to cream cracker biscuits
  • Bird photographed in Braunston, Northamptonshire – 5,000 miles from its home

A bird revered by the ancient Egyptians has turned up in the garden of a British grandmother, more than 5,000 miles away from home.

Dot Crow captured an incredible shot of the African sacred ibis wandering around her lawn before perching on her patio table in Braunston, Northamptonshire.

The grandmother revealed how the rare bird flew down from the sky before tucking in to some cream cracker biscuits she had left out for her hens.  

Dot watched on as the exotic visitor from the African plains touched down in the garden and also swiped the chickens’ seed and drank their water.

Experts believe the bird may have escaped from a private collection in the UK or from a zoo or other tourist attraction in Europe, rather than having made the 5,000-mile flight from sub-Saharan Africa.

A bird revered by the ancient Egyptians has turned up in the garden of a British grandmother, more than 5,000 miles away from home

A bird revered by the ancient Egyptians has turned up in the garden of a British grandmother, more than 5,000 miles away from home

Sacred ibis birds were once common in Egypt up until the mid 19th century, but it is now much more common on the shores and marshes south of the Sahara and in Madagascar

Sacred ibis birds were once common in Egypt up until the mid 19th century, but it is now much more common on the shores and marshes south of the Sahara and in Madagascar

Dot said: ‘It’s really nice, it’s something completely different. I had my granddaughter here yesterday with the French windows open and she was drawing it.

‘It was lovely. It’s not the sort of thing you expect to have in your garden.’

The bird, which is about 30 inches tall and a bit like a heron, has become a regular visitor.

Binocular-carrying birdwatchers known as ‘twitchers’ are now scrambling to the Midlands to see the rare bird. 

Dot has contacted the RSPB, the RSPCA, and several castles and zoos to see if the bird is theirs, to no avail.

Leicester Wildlife Hospital told her to catch the ibis so they can rescue it, but she does not feel prepared to do that.

Dot Crow captured an incredible shot of the African sacred ibis wandering around her lawn and drinking her hens' water in Barby, Northamptonshire

Dot Crow captured an incredible shot of the African sacred ibis wandering around her lawn and drinking her hens’ water in Barby, Northamptonshire

Ornithologist Mike Alibone believes the bird has escaped from a private collection in the UK or is a wild bird which strayed into Europe and has flown over from Brittany.

‘It’s quite a rare sight, I’ve only seen one before and that was nearly 10 years ago by the River Nene at Weston Mill outside Northampton’ he said.

Dot’s bird has seemingly made its home in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire after being spotted flying around several towns and villages recently.

It’s been reported in Long Buckby, Market Harborough and Clipston, and at Ravensthorpe Reservoir over the past month.  

How the African sacred ibis was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians

The African sacred ibis (or Threskiornis aethiopicus in Latin) was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, who believed that it was the embodiment of Thoth.

Thoth was the god of wisdom and reason, and therefore of study, writing, knowledge and truth.

The sacred ibis was considered to be the living incarnation of Thoth, who was depicted as having the head of an ibis. 

Sacred ibis birds were once common in Egypt up until the mid 19th century, but it is now much more common on the shores and marshes south of the Sahara and in Madagascar.

The bird is usually found in groups of around 20 other ibises, however they can sometimes fly in groups of up to 300.

An omnivorous scavenger, it mostly feeds on insects or small aquatic animals such as frogs or fish. 

They mostly live in large colonies near waterways throughout Africa, but in more recent history have seen seen inhabiting rubbish dumps.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it could threaten UK biodiversity.

The Ibis is an ‘opportunistic feeder’ and is known to eat the eggs or young of other birds, and tends to flock to estuaries and wetlands. 

Defra has an ongoing invasive species action plan to prevent the ibis from colonising in the UK, and so far no breeding pairs or wild populations have been detected.

The action plan aims to reduce the risk of invasion from abroad, detect and confirm sightings, and humanely cull or remove any where needed. 

The Ibis was first spotted in the UK in 1995 and 49 were recorded in 2012, according to the website NBN Atlas.

In 2013 the owner of South Lakes Wild Animal Park, in Cumbria was prosecuted and fined after a number of the park’s Sacred Ibises escaped to the nearby Furness Peninsula.

 

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