A BIRD more commonly seen in Africa has made a rare appearance in Ringwood.

Twitchers are flocking to the water meadows at the Bickerley to catch a glimpse of the glossy ibis, believed to be one of just a handful in the country.

Groups of up to 12 bird watchers, have been out on the old bridge with their telescopes to get a close-up view of the tall black bird, which is believed to have flown off course.

A small camouflage tent was spotted on a small green island among the wet meadows on Monday morning Twitcher Nigel Rampton travelled from Reading on Sunday.

He said: "This is the only ibis in the country at the moment I believe and we are very excited that it is here. I believe this is the first time this wader has been in Ringwood.

"There are many unusual birds here, including the great egret and little egret but these are not as rare as the glossy ibis. It is remarkable."

According to the RSPB, the glossy ibis appears in some years as a stray from Africa or southern Europe.

A spokesman said: "Ibises are some what heron-like but have shorter necks, rounder (often bare) heads and more slender, curved bills. The sacred ibis, common in Africa, is the emblem of the British Ornithologists’ Union.

"Other ibises are found around the world, including the scarlet ibis of Central America and the very rare and threatened bald ibis of North Africa and the Middle East."

The glossy ibis roosts communally at night in large flocks, with other species and occasionally in trees.

It feeds in very shallow water and shows a preference for marshes at the margins of lakes and rivers and flood plains and wet meadows. Prey includes insects, snails, fish and amphibians.