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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 16:27 GMT
Scramble for glimpse of rare bird
The long-billed murrelet: Photo Mike Langman
It is expected to remain in the area for several days
A rare sighting of a North Pacific bird has attracted more than 1,500 birdwatchers to a Devon seaside town.

Enthusiasts from as far as Durham and Manchester have come to Dawlish for a glimpse of the long-billed murrelet.

Devon Birdwatch Preservation Society spokesman Mike Langman said it was the first ever sighting in the UK, and the second in Europe.

News of the bird's arrival spread among the birdwatching community after its photograph was published on the web.

The long-billed murrelet breeds in northern Asia, and is known to dive frequently. It bears a black back, white front and has distinctive face markings.

'Remarkable distance'

A local twitcher spotted it feeding on Tuesday. Experts hope it will remain in the area for several days.

I don't think Dawlish knows what has hit it
Mike Langman, Devon Birdwatch Preservation Society

Mr Langman said: "This is the first record for Britain and the second record for the whole of Europe, the first one of these birds was found dead in a lake in Switzerland.

"It has travelled a remarkable distance to get here.

"It was first seen on Tuesday, briefly, and photographed and thought to be a little auk, but luckily some of the pictures were published on internet and one or two birdwatchers had a look at that and said, 'no, that's not a little auk, it's something different'.

"People are travelling down from all over the country. By the end of today, there will be between 1,500 and 2,000 people.

"I don't think Dawlish knows what has hit it."


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