BIRD ringers at a North Yorkshire local nature reserve had a pleasant surprise when they discovered a rare long-distance visitor from the east.

When a yellow-browed warbler was caught in one of the mist nets at Foxglove Covert Nature Reserve it was a moment to savour for the hard working staff and volunteers. A strongly marked bird with distinctive wing bars and eye stripe, the yellow-browed warbler is only just smaller than a chiffchaff. It is not much bigger than a firecrest, with which it can be easily confused, if seen briefly.

Reserve manager Sophie Crease said: “This is only the second time that this beautiful species has been ringed at Foxglove.

“The closest breeding grounds for this bird is the Russian Urals, however, it is a frequent – and increasing – vagrant to Britain and Ireland. They are most often spotted on the east coast where they join flocks of coal tits.

“They winter mainly in tropical South Asia and South-east Asia, but also in small numbers in western Europe. On migration they will feed in any cover they can find although they seem to have a preference for Willow and Sycamore both of which grow on the reserve.”

The team also noticed redwing have started to arrive on their migration from Scandinavia and the first one of the year has been ringed at Foxglove. Another stunning bird ringed was the redpoll. They are only slightly bigger than a blue tit and are streaky and brown with patches of red on their head and in the case of the males, their breasts. They used to be winter visitors to the UK but now breed here.

Several young goldcrests have also been ringed. Such a tiny bird would seem to be no candidate for long distance migration, however, ringing has shown regular movements from countries around the North Sea and Baltic, including Russia.

Foxglove has 70 mist net sites and a purpose built field centre ringing room rarely equalled at other sites. By the end of 2019 the group had processed altogether more than 238,500 birds of 147 species.

Volunteers or visitors are welcome at Foxglove Covert. It is located at Catterick Garrison with directions available on the website; entry to is free with a small parking charge. Any visitors must bring photo identification for security purposes.