Sunday, 8 July 2012

Spoonbill returns

The fact that Eurasian Spoonbill is breeding again in numbers in Britain is doubtless a factor in its more frequent summer appearances in the south of the country. The latest report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, published this week in British Birds (105: 352-416), confirms that after a handful of breeding attempts by single pairs in recent years, a colony of six pairs became established in Norfolk in 2010, with other summering birds elsewhere in East Anglia, and in Kent and Sussex.
Adult Eurasian Spoonbill at Rainham RSPB, 7 July 2012. Unusually for the species, it was awake for long periods.
It was for many years a difficult species to see in the London recording area, but yesterday's bird at Rainham was my third in six years (the first of those, at Walthamstow Reservoirs in 2006, being a colour-ringed Dutch individual). The latest bird was found at Rainham three days ago before reportedly being flushed, whereupon it relocated to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes - having presumably followed the Thames right through central London to do so. It seems to have preferred the RSPB to the WWT, however, departing the latter's showcase reserve and returning to the former's, where it remained on Aveley Pools and still does so this morning.
Spoonbill and Tuftie go head-to-head in an impromptu preen-off.
My visit to the site was brief, but also noted were an unseasonal Eurasian Wigeon, my first Eurasian Whimbrel of the autumn and two Green Sandpipers, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull flying upriver on the incoming tide, an adult Common Gull heading in the opposite direction (another post-breeding season first) and numerous warblers still in song, including Cetti's.
Disturbed by a passing Carrion Crow, the bird relocated to a quiet corner of the marsh ... and went to sleep.

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