With its dozens of miles of coastline, the Broads and the largest old-growth forest in the country, Norfolk has found itself home to more than a few unusual visitors over the years. 

We take a look at five of the rarest species spotted in the county in recent memory. 

1. Hoopoes

Eastern Daily Press: A hoopoe photographed in Wells, North NorfolkA hoopoe photographed in Wells, North Norfolk (Image: Archant)

Birdwatching heads were turned when the exotic Hoopoe, more commonly found in South Africa than the UK, was spotted in Beeston earlier this month.

Hoopoes are medium-sized with long, broad, rounded wings, slightly curved bills and unique fan-like crests that open over the top of the head.

Sophie Barker, warden of the Norfolk Ornithologists Association said: "It's definitely an exciting spot for a birdwatcher, they're quite unusual and they are only seen occasionally in Norfolk."

2. Rove beetle

Eastern Daily Press: A university student found a beetle never before recorded in NorwichA university student found a beetle never before recorded in Norwich (Image: Steve Lane)

This little creature caused quite a stir when it was discovered by a university student at Dickleburgh Moor Nature Reserve purely by accident. 

Ben Greif, director of conservation and education at Dickleburgh Moor, said due to the beetle's small size it is hardly a surprise it is 'seldom seen'.

This species of rove beetle has been recorded at sites in Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Surrey, Berkshire, Suffolk and East Sussex but it has never before been recorded in Norfolk.

3. Albino pheasant

Eastern Daily Press: The white pheasant - believed to be albino The white pheasant - believed to be albino (Image: Robert Leeder)

An exceedingly rare albino pheasant was spotted by Bonnie and Robert on a trip through the Broads. 

True albino pheasants are rare - their colour is the result of a genetic mutation that inhibits the dark pigmentation of their feathers - but not unheard of.

It might have also been a leucistic pheasant which are also white and can often be mistaken for albinos.

4. European eel

Eastern Daily Press: The first European eel spotted this year was seen in Blakeney The first European eel spotted this year was seen in Blakeney (Image: National Trust)

Having travelled more than 5000km, the National Trust was pleased to find the first European eel having made it to Norfolk's shores from the Sargasso Sea.

From May to June the Trust expects to find around 20 eels a day but since the 1980s there has been a more than 90pc decline in the species due to an increase in ocean pollution among other factors.

5. Puffin

Eastern Daily Press: The puffin was found on Cley BeachThe puffin was found on Cley Beach (Image: Supplied)

Described by experts as an "unusual discovery" for the county, members of the Norfolk Wildlife Rescue were shocked to find a red-listed puffin with an injured wing on Cley beach last year. 

It is a red-listed species given half of the UK population can be found at only a few sites.

The rescue service said it would care for the puffin until it could find someone who specialises in the animal to help.