ORNITHOLOGISTS reached for the history books when a flying visitor was spotted in Herefordshire for the first time.

The bearded tit, a striking bird with markings which look like it has a drooping black moustache, was seen at a wetland site at the Wellington gravel pits.

Frances Weeks, from the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, said it was the first time the species has ever been recorded in the county.

While the bearded tit is sometimes seen on the east and south east coast of the UK, there are only around 630 breeding pairs in the country.

The bearded tits prefer reed beds, found around the edges of lowland lakes, where they can feed on the seeds of the reeds during the winter.

The Lugg Living Landscape Officer, Sophie Cowling, said this type of habitat is becoming increasingly scarce across the country but that the lakes found to the north of Hereford have the potential to provide large areas of reed bed.

And at Bodenham Lake nature reserve, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is planning to re-profile areas of the lake to create shallower sides and areas of reed bed.

Ms Cowling added: “This is such an exciting sighting. The bearded tit is exactly the sort of reed bed specialist we are hoping to attract to the reserve."