PICTURE: Rare bird, first for Norfolk, spotted at Cley Marshes

An exceedingly rare bird, never before seen in Norfolk, is attracting flocks of excited wildlife lovers to Cley, on the north Norfolk coast.

The western sandpiper (Calidris mauri) is a first for Norfolk, and one of extremely few ever to be seen in the UK.

Hundreds of birdwatchers have been heading for Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Cley Marshes Nature Reserve hoping to catch a glimpse of the north American bird.

The small wader was spotted by Cley resident, and trust member, Mark Golley and initially identified as another rarity, a semi-palmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla).

A spokesman from the trust's Cley visitor centre said: 'After much interest from birdwatchers, scrutiny of photographs taken, and discussions across the Atlantic, the bird was identified as a western sandpiper – a first for Cley Marshes and for Norfolk.

'The bird remains on the marshes, occasionally flying out to rest on Cricket Marsh but flighing in with Dunlin to feed on the muddy margins on Simmonds Scrape.'

The visitor centre opened early over the weekend to cater for the eager arrivals and it is estimated that, since the bird was first seen, nearly 1,000 people, including birdwatchers from as far as France and Germany, have come to Cley to see the juvenile wader.

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Also at Cley Marshes at present is a green-winged teal – the American version of our teal.

The spokesman added that it was possibly the only one in Britain at the moment, meaning Cley Marshes was enjoying a very rare American double whammy.

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