Birdwatchers see rare swift killed by wind turbine

By Simon Johnson, The Telegraph

BirdMill

Dozens of birdwatchers who travelled to a Scottish island to see an extremely rare swift have been left distraught after it was killed by a wind turbine.

Around 40 people were watching the White-throated Needletail, the world’s fastest flying bird, on the Isles of Harris when the tragedy happened.

Sightings of the bird have only been recorded eight times in the UK in nearly 170 years, most recently in 1991, prompting around 80 ornithologists to visit the island in the hope of catching a glimpse.

David Campbell, from Surrey, told BBC Scotland the incident took place late on Wednesday afternoon. Speaking as he made his way home, he said: “We just watched the whole thing with dismay.”

Josh Jones, of Bird Guides, a specialist website for ornithologists, said he had spoken to witnesses, who had seen the bird fly straight into one the turbine’s blades.

He said: “It is ironic that after waiting so long for this bird to turn up in the UK it was killed by a wind turbine and not a natural predator.

“More than 80 people had already arrived on the island and others were coming from all over the country. But it just flew into the turbine. It was killed instantly. The corpse will be sent to a museum but obviously this is just terrible.”

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