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American Robin in the South Downs!

It doesn't get much better than an American bird turning up in Sussex... except when it's in the South Downs National Park too! The first ever American Robin in Sussex is currently on the east edge of the park, on the fringes of Eastbourne, having been found by a resident birdwatcher last Tuesday.

The American Robin has been enjoying the supply of berries, perfect winter food!

The male bird is also just the 38th American Robin to be recorded in Britain and Ireland. It is a ubiquitous bird in North America, where the species is largely resident in the USA but birds in Canada and Alaska are long-distance migrants, wintering as far south as Florida and Central America. It might be one of these migratory birds which made a navigational error or got caught in a weather system last autumn, undiscovered until now. Or it might just have recently crossed the Atlantic recently in an unchecked escape movement after recent cold fronts in North America. Even 'resident' populations of birds fly a long way when weather makes feeding difficult, sometimes too far.

Largely sticking to the hillside, sometimes the American Robin hops around the cul-de-sac

However it got here, the bird is surviving well feeding on berries alongside the local Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. These are actually much closer relatives than our familiar European Robin, which is in the Old World flycatcher family, while the American is a thrush. It was called a 'robin' by colonisers because its orange-red underparts reminded them of their garden birds back home.

You can easily see the American Robin for yourself. It can be seen from the cul-de-sac at the end of Hill Road. There's plenty of parking nearby; take care not to block any access and please be respectful of local residents, who have been very good about all the attention on their neighbourhood's special visitor.


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