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Rare duck drops in to Slimbridge

3 February 10 18:43 GMT

A duck has been sighted at a wildlife centre in Gloucestershire for only the fourth time in the past 50 years.

Experts at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre believe the female ring-necked duck may have been blown off course during its migration across America.

The first recorded sighting of a ring-necked duck in Europe was made in 1955 by Lady Scott, who died last month.

It was spotted late on Sunday evening by wardens at Slimbridge and is said to be in good health.

'Mating display'

Martin McGill, senior reserve warden, said it was always exciting to see a rare visitor at Slimbridge.

"This time it has added significance for us here because of the link with Lady Scott - the wife of the late Sir Peter Scott who founded the Slimbridge facility.

"She made a remarkable discovery in 1955 - not many people can say they have discovered a first wildlife sighting for Europe.

"The name can seem a little misleading as only the males have a ring around their necks and even this is only seen during their mating displays," Mr McGill added.

The duck is common in North America where it breeds.

Each winter it migrates south, sometimes as far as Central and South America.

This one is believed to have lost its way in the strong south westerly winds seen in November.

The original find in 1955 was significant because it was the first species to prove conclusively that birds did journey across the Atlantic.

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