Yellow-crowned night heron has ornithologists flocking to Co Mayo

A yellow-crowned night heron has landed in Belcarra, near Castlebar

A yellow-crowned night heron.
A yellow-crowned night heron.

Ornithologists from Ireland and Britain have been flocking to Belcarra, near Castlebar in Co Mayo to catch a glimpse of a rare North American bird - the yellow-crowned night heron.

It has been speculated the bird may have arrived in Belcarra, after getting caught up in the Atlantic hurricane system in the autumn.

Birdwatch Ireland confirmed this is the first sighting ever of the species in Ireland or Britain.

The “extraordinary” sighting has been described as a “once in a lifetime experience” by bird and wildlife experts.

Eric Dempsey of Birds Ireland photography told RTÉ's Morning Ireland there has only been one previous sighting of the bird recorded in Europe.

He added that the yellow-crowned night heron would never be able to get back across the Atlantic by itself.

Mr Dempsey described the bird as a smaller version of a grey heron - a chunky bird with a striking head pattern.

“Yellow-crowned night heron gives the false impression that it has this beautiful daffodil yellow crown. It’s actually more creamy than yellow and it has a black stripe through and a while stripe underneath its eye. Then it has lovely long plumes on its on its head,” he said.