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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Twitchers flock to see rare bird
American Robin - credit Ian Skelton
The American Robin is the size of a blackbird
Birdwatchers have been gathering in south London after a rare sighting of an American Robin.

This is the first time the species, from north America, has been seen in London, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

It has been living in the Denman Road area, close to Peckham Rye station, for about two months.

An expert from the RSPB was due to visit the site on Tuesday to confirm the sighting.

Ian Skelton, who has regularly seen the robin, said he knew it was something special.

'Quite tame'

"We didn't know what it was... but it seemed like a very rare thing so we reported it to the RSPB," he said.

"You can see it in the street, sitting on a perch on the buildings taking in the sunshine.

"It's quite tame, but not as friendly as a robin, I'll miss it when it goes."

Resident Corinna Silk said up to 40 spotters with binoculars and cameras were staking out the area.

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Average size: 21.5 cm
Lives: North America
Eats: Insects, fruit, worms

"I asked them what was going on and they looked very excited and said an American Robin had been sighted.

"They are looking into different gardens and some have their binoculars trained on the chimney of a house."

A member of the thrush family, with oily-black wings and tail, the American Robin is as big as a blackbird.

They are known to migrate from Canada down to Guatemala, but an RSPB spokesman said it was "amazing to think that this bird may have flown here from the States."

During the breeding season, in autumn and winter, it can be found in large flocks in areas with lots of fruiting trees.

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