Parrots spotted in gardens around Northumberland may not be exotic escapologists after all, but part of a native feral population.
There have been at least three sightings of bright green birds - believed to be ring-necked parakeets - in the last week, in an area stretching from Embleton to Ponteland.
And a pair have been repeatedly seen in an Alnwick garden over the last three months, where they regularly feast from a bird-feeder.
Susan Oddy rang the RSPB after spotting one at her home in Kirkwhelpington.
“I was quite surprised to see what looked like a bright green parrot in my garden,” she said. “It was there for three or four days before flying off and I haven’t seen it since. I rang the RSPB and they informed me that these are likely wild parrots. Apparently, there are several thousand breeding pairs living in the UK, which was quite a surprise to me.”
Feral parrots and parakeets are now a common sight in parts of south-east England, most notably in Kent where flocks of several thousand have been reported.
It is believed that the birds originally escaped from zoos and film sets before reproducing in the wild.
Experts estimate that the feral parrot population is rising by around 30 per cent each year. The population is made up of Alexandrine parakeets, Monk parakeets, Fischer’s Lovebird and, the most common bird spotted around the Kent area, the rose-ringed parakeet.
John Lumby, the recorder at North Northumberland Bird Club, said: “You can get flocks of several thousand in the London area.
“It is suspected that they are slowly migrating north but our club hasn’t had any reports of parrots or parakeets up here. However, there’s a good chance that these could be birds which have escaped from aviaries locally or been let loose by their owners.”