Britain’s freezing New Year had hundreds of birdwatchers in a flurry today - after attracting this majestic snowy owl to a small village.
The beautiful white bird - usually only found only in China, Canada, Russia and Alaska - was spotted at Zennor near St Ives, Cornwall.
Snowy owls live in the coldest parts of the world and have only been seen in Britain before in the northernmost tip of Scotland.
This female snowy owl is thought to have hatched somewhere in the Arctic Circle before making the epic flight across the Atlantic.
Experts believe that despite being blown off course, the bird should feel at home with temperatures falling to below freezing.
Birdwatcher Jon Evans said: ‘I have seen snowy owls in zoos but nothing prepared me for what truly wonderful birds they are when you see them in the wild.
‘I had driven down through the night from Suffolk. I took a lot of shots of it sitting there with its big yellow eyes.
‘But only when it took off with those broad, white wings did I appreciate that the snowy owl is a truly majestic bird.’
The last time a snowy owl was spotted in the UK was near Britain’s second-highest mountain, the 4,296ft-high Ben Macdui in Scotland’s Cairngorms.
There have been other sightings in the remote islands of Shetland and the Outer Hebrides - but never in England.
Snowy owls grow to between 20in and 26 in long with a 50in to 60in wingspan.
The young snowy owl was first spotted in Cornwall on December 21 having made a short flight from the Isles of Scilly.
It was first seen off the coast of Cornwall on October 29 after it landed on a transatlantic cargo vessel.
Experts believe the bird was blown off course - possibly en route to Scotland - and landed on the ship for a rest.
She was originally seen perched on a granite wall in St Mary’s on Scilly - one of the warmest parts of Britain.
Eyewitness and birdwatcher Martin Goodey said: ‘Everyone was just amazed that such a rare bird turned up. I feel very lucky to have seen it.
‘Soon there were 40 people trying to catch a glimpse. It is a young bird and it must have been drastically blown off course.’
Another birdwatcher, John Chapple, a said: ‘I was exhilarated and excited when I heard about the owl and just had to go and see it.
‘It’s a fantastic record for Cornwall. The chance of a snowy owl landing here is once in a blue moon.
‘It seems happy and content there. It must be finding plenty of food.’
Alex McKechnie spotted the owl on moorland at Sperris Croft in Zennor near a ruined cottage December 28.
He said: ‘We met a guy with a camcorder who said he had just filmed a snowy owlb’ We were a little bit sceptical but had no reason to disbelieve him.
‘It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see it - just sitting there on a post, white against the green moorland.’
Adult male snowy owls are virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark patches.
With their thick plumage, heavily-feathered feet and colour, they are well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle