A RARE bird is still on the run in Saltney despite previous reports that it had been captured.

The RSPB told the Leader that the purple gallinule had been caught by its rightful owner on Tuesday, but locals say the bird is still revelling in its freedom in Balderton Brook.

Saltney Councillor Veronica Gay said: “It was still there on Wednesday morning because my father-in-law saw it when he went down for a paper.

“I wonder if the RSPB have actually been out to check or whether they have just believed what someone has told them.”

A spokesman for the RSPB said he had learnt about the bird’s capture from twitching blog UK 440 Club Rare Bird Alert.

The blog states the creature had escaped from a private owner in Saltney, but was caught and returned to its aviary on Tuesday.

The bird, also know as a grey-headed swamp hen, has been causing quite a stir in the town.

Twitchers have travelled from as far away as Stoke to catch a glimpse. Birdwatcher Phil Woollen has been following the animal on his website A Wirral Birders Blog.

He said: “The bird was there, dwarfing the local moorhens and behaving like a wild bird - pulling down grass and reed stems to eat the seeds and occasionally chasing off the moorhens.

“The plumage is immaculate. Wherever it’s come from it’s a stunning if not incongruous site on a small stream opposite a Morrison’s supermarket.”

With a distinctive purple plumage that covers the whole body, the bird’s usual habitat is the marshlands of France and Spain and the lily beds of Asia.