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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Old bird breaks UK record
Albatross (Vt freeze frame)
The albatross holds the world record for longevity
A bird believed to be Britain's oldest has been found off the north Wales coast.

The gull-like seabird, a Manx shearwater, has amazed experts by preparing to breed again, at the age of 50.

How to spot a Manx Shearwater
Slightly bigger than a pigeon
Black back and wings with a white belly
Preyed on by stoats, rats and birds
Prefer to keep away from the mainland
What is perhaps more remarkable is that the nomadic bird has clocked up about five million air miles (eight million kilometres).

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) told BBC News Online: "I think it surprised everybody that this bird was able to live so long."

Other birds, such as ostriches, emus and albatrosses, were known to reach a ripe old age, he added.

There have been cases of puffins living into their mid-30s while an albatross and a Fulmar have both reached 40.

Coronation chicken

The Manx shearwater was probably born in 1952, the year of the Queen's coronation.

It was ringed in 1957, and since then has travelled between Britain and South America many times on its summer migrations.

It happened to alight on Bardsey Island this month where it was found by staff of Bardsey Bird Observatory.

However, the seabird is unlikely to attract the attention of birdwatchers.

According to the RSPB, the only way of identifying this particular individual is by checking the ring attached to its leg.

It is likely to stay in the UK for a while to nest. About 90% of all Manx shearwaters in the world breed in Britain before going on their travels.

The BBC's Wyre Davies
"The Manx shearwater has one of the largest migration patterns of any bird"
See also:

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