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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 12:43 GMT
Twitchers flock to see rare heron
Cattle egret
The birds usually prefer Mediterranean climes
Birdwatchers are flocking to a Greater Manchester beauty spot in the hope of catching a glimpse of a rare heron.

A cattle egret has been seen at Pennington Flash near Leigh in what is believed to be the first ever sighting of the bird in the Manchester area.

It has only been spotted in the north-west of England a few times.

The all-white cattle egret is native to parts of Asia, America and Europe and is usually spotted in warmer Mediterranean climes.

'Real rarity'

Peter Alker, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust senior ranger, said: "We are really excited at this find.

"It goes to show what a great environment Pennington Flash is for all kinds of birds, this is a real rarity and we are proud to have yet another first for Greater Manchester.

"We have recorded more than 230 species of birds at Pennington and the list continues to grow."

The Cattle egret is usually about 51cm (20in) long and has a short, thick bill. The adult bird has white plumage, a yellow bill and grey and yellow legs. The younger birds have black bills.

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