Cornwall

Dalmatian pelican seen 'for first time' in UK at Land's End

Dalmatian Pelican Image copyright Mark Halliday
Image caption The pelican is thought to be the same bird recently spotted in Germany and Poland

A Dalmatian pelican has been seen in the UK for what is thought to be the first time in hundreds of years.

Bird enthusiasts thronged to the Land's End area in Cornwall to catch a glimpse of the bird.

The pelican is "one of the most beautiful and charismatic breeding birds in Europe" according to the RSPB.

Paul Freestone, from the Cornwall Birding website, said the experience was "the pinnacle" of his bird watching career.

Image copyright Josef Fitzgerald-Patrick
Image caption There are thought to be around 10,000-20,000 of the species left in the world

The same bird is thought to have been seen in Poland and Germany recently and to have been blown off course towards the UK.

Photographer Josef Fitzgerald-Patrick described the bird as "incredible".

He said: "When you see it take off out of the water it's like nothing you've ever seen before.

"This particular bird had a 1.6m (5ft 3in) wingspan, and a buzzard has a metre (3ft 4in) wingspan - this made them look tiny."

Image copyright Josef Fitzgerald-Patrick
Image caption The Dalmatian pelican has a wing span of around 1.6m (5ft 3in)

Tony Whitehead from the RSPB said: "It's a first for the UK."

He said remains have shown the birds used to breed in the Somerset area around 5,000 years ago.

There are thought to be around 10,000-20,000 Dalmatian pelicans in the world with the largest colony at at Lake Mikri Prespa in Greece.

Brian Egan from the Rare Bird Alert network said there was very strong evidence for the bird to be officially verified as the first one to visit the UK.

He said a final decision will be made by the British Ornithological Union Records Committee later in the year.

Image copyright Josef Fitzgerald-Patrick
Image caption The sighting attracted birdwatching enthusiasts to Cornwall

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