AN inflatable bird taller than an African bush elephant toured Swindon yesterday for BBC Children in Need.

The bizarre blow-up great bustard – Wiltshire’s county bird – is touring towns around the county this week – and it’s being pulled by BBC Wiltshire breakfast presenter Ben Prater.

The presenter and his team are pulling the 12ft inflatable 10 miles a day and hopes to raise £5,000 this week for Children in Need. People are being asked to “stuff the bustard”, dunking coins and notes into a collection bucket stuck in the bird’s midriff.

Ben, who is on air from 6am to 9am every weekday, yesterday told the Adver: “It’s good to get out of the studio and into the fresh air. People are coming to see us. It proves someone’s listening.

“You never know who’s going to stick £20 in.

"You can go through posh parts of town and you don’t get anything. Go through other parts and people are stuffing in £20s.”

Asked what people made of the unusual sight, Ben said: “We were told to ‘move that dinosaur off my driveway’ on Springfield Avenue, in one of the posher parts of Swindon.

“They were chuffed. Once we moved it they gave some money.

“Yesterday we raised just over a grand. Today we’re hoping for the same.”

While the bald-headed bird was attracting some odd looks from drivers, it seemed to be proving a hit with pedestrians.

Trevor Andrews, 61, of Ferndale Road, had already donated cash when he spotted the BBC Wiltshire entourage on the High Street in Old Town shortly before 2pm.

“It’s great. It’s a good charity, I suppose. If the kids want something,” he told the Adver.

In previous years, the Children in Need celebrations have seen former Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker drop by Wiltshire on his rickshaw.

But the one-of-a-kind blow-up bustard – made by an inflatables expert in Essex – is new to the county.

Will Walder, BBC Wiltshire’s breakfast show producer, said: “Ben wanted to do something with the Bustard.

"He wanted to walk in Wiltshire and gather in all the different towns.

“We decided we wanted to take a great bustard of some sort around Wiltshire and get as much money as we can.

“I just thought: ‘Stuff the bustard!’

“People think it looks a lot like a turkey.”

Once Children in Need comes to a finish on Friday night the bustard will be packed away and brought out for special events. Will said: “This is Wiltshire’s county bird, so people in the county really do need to see it.”

Featured on the Wiltshire county flag, the great bustard was once a common sight across the land.

The birds were hunted to extinction in Britain by the 1840s. Generally slow-moving, they are capable of short flashes of lightning speed. Although they live in groups known as droves, bustards are generally shy birds.