One of Britain’s rarest birds of prey has been spotted hunting in Halton.

The osprey has been seen fishing along the Mersey and making regular appearances at the Norton Marsh nature reserve near Moore.

Bird watchers are urged to keep an eye out from Widnes or Wigg Island as it is expected to roam widely along the banks of the river.

The sighting is highly unusual according to the local Cheshire Wildlife Trust, who said osprey pairs elsewhere in the country are currently in the midst of raising chicks, with the nearest confirmed nesting ospreys some distance away in Wales or the Midlands.

The nature charity said the bird could be a young adult who has made the migration from Africa but has been unsuccessful in finding a mate this season.

Tom Marshall from the Cheshire Wildlife Trust said: “It’s a real summer treat to be able to see an osprey on the Mersey at this time of year.

“This is an iconic bird in Britain, and with birdwatchers often having to travel hundreds of miles to see one, to witness an osprey with all its fishing prowess here on the Mersey is very special indeed.

“The fact that it has stayed around for a few days also shows the continuing health of the Mersey too, the same improvements that have allowed wildlife like the otter, salmon and water voles to recover in our local waterways.”

The last time an osprey visited the area for an extended period was in 2006, This very distinctive bird with white underparts and brown above, almost became extinct following persecution in the early 1900s.

There are now around 250 pairs now in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District.