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Escaped flamingo Fiona pays flying visit to reserves

An escaped flamingo which has been flying free for nearly five months has turned up at nature reserves in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The female bird, named Fiona, landed at the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen, near Norwich, on Wednesday morning.

The escapee from a zoo in Hampshire then turned up at RSPB Minsmere on the Suffolk coast on Thursday morning.

She has also been spotted in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Berkshire in recent weeks.

Fiona visited RSPB Titchwell Marsh, near Hunstanton, early in April and has also been spotted at its Ouse Washes reserve in Cambridgeshire.

Ben Lewis, a warden at Strumpshaw Fen, said he initially thought the sighting of Fiona at the reserve was a joke.

"But when I rushed over to our tower hide it was there in full view, mingling with the geese, paddling in the water and flying over the reedbeds," he said.

A numbered ring on the flamingo's leg identified her as Fiona - a greater flamingo, a species native to parts of Africa, southern Asia and southern Europe.

She escaped from Marwell Wildlife, near Winchester, last year.

Image caption The flamingo has been on a tour of RSPB reserves

Gordon Campbell, curator of birds and vertebrates at Marwell Wildlife, said: "She flew away from Marwell just before Christmas 2010.

"She spent Christmas and New Year on the fishing lake at Sparsholt College before moving on to a waterworks plant just north of Dunstable where she stayed for over a month."

He said Fiona had then spent several weeks in Norfolk and Suffolk and had also been seen in Newbury, Berkshire.

"From the pictures, she appears to be in a very good condition. She is very wild so will be feeding herself well," he said.

"Our best hope of catching her is for her to join another captive flamingo colony.

"In the meantime, we are tracking her travels and hoping for a good result."

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