Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Snowy owl is spotted on islands

Snowy owl on Isles of Scilly
The owl is thought to have flown south while looking for food

Recent wintry weather has attracted a flying visitor from the arctic circle to the Isles of Scilly.

The snowy owl is thought to have flown south in a search for food. Its usual diet includes lemmings.

In western Europe, it is occasionally seen in Iceland and Scandanavia, although some birds have also been spotted in the Scottish isles.

The last time a snowy owl was seen on the Isles of Scilly was 1972. It stayed for several weeks.

Nigel Hudson, of the British Birds Rarities Committee, said: "There's a chance that its foodstock, which is lemmings, have plummeted, so it's trying to find extra food and has blown across the country and arrived on our shores."

At almost 2ft (0.6m) in height and with a wingspan of more than 5ft (1.5m), the snowy is one of the largest owl species in Europe.

The birds are thinly distributed over enormous areas over the world's northern parts, predominantly in Canada, Russia, Greenland and Iceland, with a smaller presence in Scandinavia.

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