Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 15:53 UK

Thousands flock to see rare bird

Crested lark seen on Dungeness last week
Bird watchers have flocked to see the visitor (Pic: David Walker)

Birdwatchers are flocking to a nature reserve to see a bird seen for only the third time in Britain in 35 years.

The crested lark was seen at Dungeness National Nature Reserve in Kent on Wednesday and since then about 1,300 people have visited hoping to see it.

By the end of the bank holiday weekend, about 2,000 twitchers are expected to have descended on the coastal site.

The last sighting of a crested lark in Britain was 12 years ago. The sighting before that was in Dungeness in 1975.

It's quite an amazing spectacle to see hundreds of birdwatchers running across the shingle chasing it

Spokesman for the Romney Marsh Countryside Project, Owen Leyshon, said the bird was similar to the skylark, which is more commonly seen in the UK, but "slightly plainer and a different shape".

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Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Project says the bird is similar to the skylark

He said: "It will have crossed over the Channel from France.

"They are not rare in Europe, but they are here as they are a non-migratory bird and do not usually like flying over water."

He added that the crested lark was "quite secretive and flighty so it's hard to get prolonged views of it on the ground".

And he said: "It's quite an amazing spectacle to see hundreds of birdwatchers running across the shingle chasing it."

Twelve years ago, a crested lark paid a fleeting visit of just four hours after flying over the Channel from France, Mr Leyshon said.

The 1975 sighting in Dungeness attracted about 80 birdwatchers.



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