This exotic bird is enjoying toast and cream crackers after being spotted around Northamptonshire

The African sacred ibis has been spotted around Northamptonshire. Photo: Dot Crowe
The African sacred ibis has been spotted around Northamptonshire. Photo: Dot Crowe

An exotic bird has seemingly made its home in Northamptonshire after being spotted flying around several parts of the county, including Northampton.

An African sacred ibis has been seen in Clipston, Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Long Buckby and Market Harborough over the past month, before making a nest near Barby where it currently is.

The ibis has a drink while the chickens watch on in Dot Crowe's garden

The ibis has a drink while the chickens watch on in Dot Crowe's garden

Dot Crowe, who lives near the bird's nest on Daventry Road, has been enjoying watching it wander around her garden and eat with her chickens for the last two weeks - so much so she feeds it.

"It's really nice, it's something completely different. I had my granddaughter here yesterday with the French windows open and she was drawing it, it was lovely," she said.

"It's not the sort of thing you expect to have in your garden!"

The African sacred ibis is a wading, scavenger bird native to Africa and the Middle East - but there are known feral populations in mainland Europe, including northern France.

It is especially known for its role in the religion of the Ancient Egyptians, where it was linked to the god Thoth, the masculine god of wisdom and writing.

Dot thinks the ibis likes the open farmland that surrounds her home, as well as the amount of food on offer, including fish sticks, toast, cream crackers, the chicken's leftovers and berries from her allotment.

She said it seems quite domesticated as it is not spooked by her or things like clothes on a washing line or her pets.

"The chickens were coming into the house the other day and it was almost in the house with us!"

Dot has contacted the RSPB, the RSPCA, Birdland in Bourton on the Water, Oxfordshire, Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire, Dudley Zoo, Mini Meadows in Welford, Woburn Safari Park, Tropical Birdland in Leicestershire, and Warwick Castle to see if the bird is any of their's, to no avail.

Leicester Wildlife Hospital told her to catch the ibis so they can rescue it, but she does not feel prepared to do that.

Mike Alibone lists bird sightings in Northamptonshire on his website, northantsbirds.com, and there have been four reports to him of a sacred ibis in the county, either flying or seen on rooftops.

The amateur ornithologist believes the bird has escaped from a private collection in the UK or further afield, as it has not been ringing as is very domesticated, or it has flown over from Brittany.

"It's quite a rare sight, I've only seen one before and that was nearly 10 years ago by the River Nene at Weston Mill outside Northampton," he said.