Tens of thousands of people are flocking to the Grafham Water reservoir in England, about two hours north of London, in the hopes of spotting a Cape gull, a subspecies that is typically seen in Cape Town.

Birdwatchers point out that the reservoir is more than 100 kilometres from the coast, whereas gulls are usually found near or on the coast.

Larus vetula is a protected species in South Africa, but farmers are advised to use scarecrows and reflectors to keep the birds away from their livestock due to their habit of stealing lambs and calves.

In the United Kingdom, the bird has been described as “phenomenal” and “remarkable.”

Although it is widely assumed that birders are uninterested in seagulls, the visitor has seen enthusiasts travel hours out of their way, many of whom were on summer vacation, to catch a glimpse of it.

One of the birds, also known as the Kelp gull, was discovered in a Paris zoo in 1995, leaving experts perplexed as to how far it had travelled. The bird was thought to have escaped captivity at first.

However, it had been spreading ever further up the African coast since the 1980s, and as sightings in southern Europe became more common in 2013, it was predicted that they would occur in the United Kingdom by 2019.

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