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Parakeet takes up a perch in a Watford garden
An exotic bird more commonly suited to equatorial Africa has been spotted in a Watford garden.
The ringnecked parakeet is the UK's only naturalised parrot, it is almost as big as a magpie and has a long-tail.
They are particularly distinctive because of their bright green feathers, red beaks and a pink and black ring around their face and neck.
Keen bird-spotter Val Hogan-Buckle saw one of the colourful birds, which is native to the tropical climes of West Africa and the southern Himalayas, perched at the bottom of her garden in Hillrise Avenue.
She said: "I saw a bird on my craft room at the bottom of my garden. I got my binoculars out and found it was a green ringnecked parakeet.
"I thought I was seeing things.
"I’ve not seen any here before so it was a shock; it seemed to be happily flying around the area for some time."
Ms Hogan-Buckle said she was aware of other sightings in Croxley Green in August.
She added: "The Tudor Estate is likely to be a home to these birds. Let’s hope they do not scare off our favourite garden birds."
It is unlikely that anyone will come forward to claim the parakeet, which is a species of parrot, as their lost pet.
The RSPB estimates almost 4,300 ringnecked parakeets are now present in the south east of England.
Sarah Buckingham, from Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: "Ringnecked parakeets became established in the wild in the 1970s, after captive birds escaped or were released.
"The birds are concentrated in the south east of England, and this December there have been sightings in parks and on bird feeders in St Albans, Brookmans Park and Hitchin.
In 2008 the Watford Observer reported how residents in Croxley Green spotted a flock of the birds in the village.
Austin Hollands, of the Watford branch of the RSPB, said it was unusual to see so many of the birds in the town, suggesting they had come from a roost in Twickenham.
The flock of birds, thought to total almost 2,000, may have rock and roll pedigree, as one of the rumours surrounding their appearance suggests they bred from a pair set free by Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.
Other theories claim they escaped from Ealing Studios, in West London, during the filming of the movie The African Queen in 1951, or from an aviary during the 1987 hurricane.
Whatever their origin, the birds were made to feel less than welcome in July last year, when camouflaged men were spotted climbing trees in the dead of night, as part of an ongoing mission to eradicate monk parakeets in Borehamwood.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) claimed the Parakeets caused significant damage to crops and pylons, prompting a £90,000 eradication programme.
But can Watford’s newest avarian resident expect a similar reception?
Ms Buckingham said: "It is Defra’s responsibility to assess whether or not the ringnecked parakeet populations are having a negative impact, for example on native birds - it looks like there is some competition for nesting holes with species like nuthatches.”
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