'Brexit refugee' receives grand welcome in Beijing, poses for photographers
Updated 14:38, 13-Jan-2019
Alok Gupta
The rare spotting of a European Robin – a bird native to the UK and large parts of Europe – near Beijing Zoo has surprised ornithologists and other bird lovers.
Crowned as the national bird of the UK after an extensive nationwide ballot in 2015, the Robin attracted a large swarm of photographers and onlookers, who braved the prevailing cold wave to witness the majestic bird.
The European Robin was last sighted in the Chinese capital in 2014, perching in the city's Temple of Heaven Park. Buoyed by the colorful orange-brownish bird posing enthusiastically for photographers, bird lovers at the zoo instantly indulged in finding a suitable name for it.
Since the Robin was elected as the national bird a year before the Brexit referendum and arrived in Beijing when the UK is finalizing the deal, the crowd unanimously decided to call it the “Brexit Refugee.”
“European Robins are rare in China, occasionally seen in the far west in Xinjiang. This is only the third ever in Beijing,” Terry Townshend, director of Eco-Action, told CGTN.
“This individual probably lost its way on the migration route but can probably survive in Beijing. They're hardy birds that can brave cold weather.”
Though birds have a strong sense of direction, sometimes a few of them turn up in unusual places. It is difficult to ascertain why.
Strong winds or bad weather also forces birds to go off course on their migration route. At times, they just try out new destinations.
“There is a theory that some are 'programmed' to go a different way as an insurance policy if the usual winter grounds have a problem,” Townshend added.
With excitement running high to catch a glimpse of the “Brexit Refugee,” photographers and selfie aficionados are trying their best to get the optimal shot.    
Ornithologists have cautioned photographers not to scare the winged guest and follow the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) code of photography.       
(Top Image: European Robin, a migratory bird, made a rare appearance in the city with photographers and bird lovers swarming to capture the moment at the Beijing Zoo. /Photo courtesy of Zhang Xiaoling)