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Rare sight of European robin in Beijing causes stir and Brexit jokes

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

The rare appearance of a in here in the Chinese capital has caused a among nature fans, with some calling the bird a "refugee".

Nearly 200 bird-watching photographers flocked to the popular Zoo last Friday after word spread that a had been spotted there, the reported on Monday.

The red-breasted bird is common across but is rarely seen in - it's only the third time one has been recorded in the capital.

Some birdwatchers have joked the robin might be a "refugee", the report said.

"It's very rare to see [the European robin] in Beijing," Terry Townshend, of Birding told the

"Almost 200 photographers camped out for it. I think a lot of people want to [capture it] because it's a very photogenic bird and it has that sort of exotic feel."

Townshend said he found out about the sighting through bird watching groups on WeChat - a messaging app in

"A lot of people associate the bird with Britain... [so] someone in the WeChat group called the bird a 'refugee' because [they joked that it was] escaping the political chaos in the UK," Townshend said, referring to embattled British Theresa May's controversial Brexit deal with the which would be voted by the on Tuesday.

A defeat in Parliament would throw May's Brexit plans into disarray, weeks before the UK is due to leave the 28-member bloc on March 29.

It is not common for robins to migrate and it is unclear how this one might have landed so far away from home.

"It normally lives in [and] Beijing is at least 1,500 miles (over 2,400 km) of where it should normally be," said Townshend. "But it's likely that this bird is from the eastern part of and not Britain."


"We don't really know why birds sometimes turn up in odd places, it might be related to weather, when they are migrating they could be blown by strong winds."

However it got there, the is expected to stay in Beijing for some weeks to come.

Townshend said a robin would normally only leave for home at the end of winter.

"So we would expect it to stay in Beijing for the rest of winter and it would probably disappear in March."

The European robin was in 2015 chosen as UK's first national bird in a poll of more than 200,000 people.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 14 2019. 18:00 IST
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