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Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 16:17 UK
Unidentified flying object spotted at Northam Burrows
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

The bird
The mystery bird of prey has baffled reserve rangers

Rangers at Northam Burrows in north Devon have spotted an unidentified flying object - a mystery bird of prey.

The bird was photographed by Shawn Corin, a ranger at the designated United Nations Biosphere Reserve.

Shawn has worked at Northam Burrows for 23 years, but admits this latest arrival in May 2010 has ruffled a few feathers.

"It looks like it has been ringed so perhaps it has escaped from somewhere," said Shawn.

"I'd love to know exactly what kind of bird of prey it is."

The bird
Bird experts believe it is probably a falcon cross

Shawn has consulted experts from the Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society and local wildlife artists.

"Its most unusual colouring and features makes me think it's a cross falcon, could be part gyr and part lanner but it's very difficult to tell," said Shawn.

This theory is backed by wildlife artist Warren Collum: "I think the bird is a hybrid gyrfalcon and somebody has lost it.

"No wild bird allows you to take its portrait like Shawn did."

The reserve has rich habitats including sand dunes and is home to important species.

Leader of Torridge District Council, James Morrish, said: "It is about 253 hectares of grassy coastal plain with salt marsh, sand dunes and generally unimproved grasslands.

"As such it attracts a wide diversity of wildlife and birds all year round, and this most recent sighting proves just that."

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