IT is usually a safe haven for blue tits, bullfinches and other common Scottish birds that do not fly south for the winter.

But Steve Inch has been surprised to see that two rather more exotic visitors to the garden of his home in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, when a pair of ring-necked parakeets flew in together for a feed.

The brightly plumed birds stopped to sample the garden's bird feeders on Saturday before flying away again. However, it appears they enjoyed what was on offer and have returned on several occasions,staying long enough for the amateur photographer to take some snaps.

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Mr Inch, a former senior official at Glasgow City Council, said: "I had put quite a few bird feeders out, and they attract the normal birds you would expect in Scotland. But then my wife came in and said: "You'll never believe this, but there's two parakeets hanging off of one of the feeders in the garden.

"I have never seen anything like it before, and I have no idea where they came from. But they have come back a few times and I think they are nesting nearby."

However, despite their exotic appearance, ring-necked parakeets are birds that have become feral in Britain after breeding pairs escaped about 50 year ago.

Around 30,000 are thought to live in and around London and there have also been sightings in the north-east of England and the Borders.

The birds are regarded by the RSPB as the UK's only naturalised parrot and it is thought they have thrived thanks to the ready availability of food in gardens.

Ring-necked parakeet expert Graham Madge, of the charity's London headquarters, said: "They are very much a bird of the suburbs and survive quite happily on what people leave out in their gardens.

"We don't have much evidence about how they are spreading and it could be this pair are birds that have been released rather than a pair which have flown north.

"Their natural habitat extends to the foothills of the Himalayas and although they are exotic birds they cope quite well with the cold."