Rare gull draws twitchers to Suffolk coastal reserve

BIRDWATCHERS have been flocking to a Suffolk reserve to view a rare species of gull.

An Audouin's gull was spotted t Minsmere, near Saxmundham, by eagle-eyed journalist John Grant.

The sighting of the gull, which has never previously been seen in Suffolk and which is normally restricted to the Mediterranean and the west African coast, has already proved a big draw among birdwatchers.

It follows recent sightings of other rare species such as a black kite, white-winged black tern, white stork and white-tailed eagle.

Robin Harvey, acting site manager for the RSPB-run reserve, said the sighting of the gull on Monday was a very exciting time at Minsmere.

He said: 'It's hugely exciting. May is always the best time to come to Minsmere because you never know what's going to turn up. Of course, all our breeding species are going strong at this time of year as well.

'We get several hundred (birdwatchers) on a good day.'

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The Audouin's gull is about the same size as a herring gull but has a distinctive red bill and dark legs.

Mr Harvey added: 'It's the first time we have seen one in Suffolk and only about the fourth or fifth time it's been seen in Britain.'

He said the sightings of so many rare birds could partly be down to the southerly winds blowing towards Britain from the south of Europe.

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