Norfolk snowy owl attracts Harry Potter fans and birdwatchers

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    Snowy owlImage copyright Les Bunyan
    Image caption This rare female snowy owl was content to perch close to the ground during daylight hours

    A “Harry Potter” owl, of the same species as the post-carrying Hedwig in the wizard films, has made a rare appearance in Norfolk.

    Hundreds of bird watchers and Potter fans visited RSPB Titchwell Marsh and RSPB Snettisham to catch a glimpse of the Arctic snowy owl.

    It was first seen on Friday at Scolt Head island near Wells-next-the-Sea – the first in Norfolk since 1991.

    On Sunday, about 900 people turned up at Snettisham.

    The RSPB believed it had arrived from Canada or Scandinavia, and it has also been spotted at Thornham Point.

    Image copyright Les Bunyan
    Image caption Some of the people who flocked to the coast to spot and photograph the rare snowy owl

    The fictional Hedwig is an affectionate and loyal companion in the Potter books and films.

    “In reality, they are reclusive birds unused to human contact,” an RSPB spokesman said.

    The birds fly low and hunt small mammals, including rabbits, but are content to perch for long periods, which appeals to birdwatchers.

    Image copyright British Birds Rarity Committee
    Image caption There have only been 430 sightings of snowy owls since the late 19th Century

    The 1991 sighting was of a male which spent three days in the Blakeney Point, Stiffkey, Burnham Overy and Gunton areas.

    ‘Bucket lists’

    The Rare Bird Alert Trust said: “We have only one record of a sighting in the county in modern times [after 1950], so it is a mega rare bird for Norfolk.

    “Snowy owls are big powerful birds and with their striking plumage they are on many birders ‘bucket lists’.”

    Other snowy owl sightings on record in Norfolk in the 20th Century begin in April 1905 when a bird was trapped at Cockley Cley.

    A bird spent 13 days in the county in May 1922 and was spotted at Waxham, Horsey, Winterton and Sutton, while in 1938 one spent a day at Gunton.

    There have been 430 recorded sightings of the bird across Great Britain and Ireland since the late 19th Century, according to the trust.

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