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Watch the birdie... it might be a parakeet!
WILD parrots have been spotted in the skies of Basingstoke by birdwatchers in the borough.
The rose-ringed parakeet, the only naturalised parrot that can be found in Britain, are more usually found in South East England, typically London, Surrey and Kent.
However, recent sightings of the bird, otherwise known as the ring-necked parakeet, in the borough could signal that the birds will become a much more common sight in the town.
Keen birdwatcher Kevin Farr, 53, spotted the unusual looking bird in the telegraph wires opposite The Hilton Basingstoke hotel, in Old Common Road, Black Dam.
Mr Farr, a technician from Lea Close, Eastrop, said: “I knew straight away what I was seeing as they are very distinctive.
“They are not solitary birds and move around in flocks so we can expect to see many more in the coming months.”
Peter Hutchins, of the local Royal Society for the Protection of Birds group in Basingstoke, said he had heard of a few sightings in recent weeks.
He has had reports of the birds in Sherfield-on-Loddon, the Chineham area, and his wife, herself an RSPB volunteer, spotted one over Basingstoke Leisure Park.
Mr Hutchins said: “People will certainly be very excited about the chance to see the birds because they are so unusual here in Hampshire.”
Hannah Peck, head of research project Project Parakeet, which investigates the parakeet population in the UK and its impact on local biodiversity, said it appeared the number of the birds being spotted is steadily increasing.
Miss Peck, a PhD student at Imperial College London, said: “We have records of them being spotted in Reading and Guildford, and it is quite possible they are now being seen in Basingstoke. There are large numbers of them in London and the numbers certainly seem to be growing.
“Very little research has been done, and we are keen to see the impact on other birds and on agriculture.”
Parakeets were first spotted living wild in London in the 19th century, but since the 1960s, when more of the birds were bought as pets, the population has grown dramatically.