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Protected bird homes in on park

1 August 07 10:45 GMT

A protected European water bird rarely spotted in the UK has set up camp in a nature reserve in east London.

Six spoonbills have been sighted at Rainham Marshes this year - twice the number recorded in the past 10 years.

The bird usually breeds in Holland and migrates to Africa in the winter, said the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

An RSPB spokesman said warmer summers and an improving habitat at the reserve explained the rise in numbers.

He said spoonbills visited Britain or Ireland in small numbers each year but it was hoped "colonisation" may be just around the corner.

"Breeding colonies in Eastern Europe are severely threatened where there has been a marked decline in recent years," he said.

"The number of spoonbills visiting Rainham Marshes this year is hopefully an indication that the species is expanding west from Europe into East Anglia and the South East."

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