Page last updated at 08:16 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 09:16 UK

Rare bird gets twitchers flocking

Tufted puffin at Oare Marshes nature reserve [pic: Murray Wright]
The tufted puffin landed on the water in front of birdwatcher Murray Wright

Birdwatchers are flocking to the Kent coast following reports of a sighting of a Pacific seabird never seen before in Britain.

A tufted puffin was sighted at the Oare Marshes nature reserve, near Faversham, according to the Birdguides website.

Fiona Barclay, of Birdguides, said the creature was seen flying up and down the Swale on Wednesday.

If verified it will be the first time the bird, found in the North Pacific Ocean, has been sighted in the UK.

Grahame Madge, of the RSPB, said: "If it's accepted it will be a first for Britain and will obviously attract a great deal of attention.

Yellow tufts

"It's something that's clearly significant, to get a seabird from another ocean in the north Atlantic."

If it is confirmed, the bird's arrival would be the latest in a run of such seabirds turning up in the Atlantic, Mr Madge said.

Jason Mitchell, reserve warden for Kent Wildlife Trust, added: "The nature reserve is no stranger to rare birds and each year we seem to turn up something special but a first for the UK is just astonishing.

"This is the first time the puffin, which is normally found in the Pacific and is recognisable by its thick red bill and yellow tufts, has been seen in the UK and only the second time in Europe."

The tufted puffin is a similar size to the puffin found in the UK.

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