Posted by: mynaturaldiary | July 21, 2013

The Hunting of the Spoonbill

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”

Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark

Today’s Snark Spoonbill was reported at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme, arriving at midday. It kept itself behind a grassy bank as seen from the Saltholme hide, with just enough of its white head showing to convince yourself it was there.

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{Really? Yes, really!}

But it didn’t come out to be fully seen by those remaining tenacious birders until much, much later in the afternoon. Nature teaches us patience if nothing else…

Erect and sublime, for one moment of time,
In the next, that wild figure they saw

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(As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm,
While they waited and listened in awe.

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It had a graceful movement, and that elegant beak which gives it its name.

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Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

To the casual observer without binoculars, or a spotting scope, they look similar to Little Egrets. But the shape of the bill and their larger size is the difference. There were plenty of Little Egrets to test this.

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Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

And Grey Herons, to round off the birds that have the same rough shape.

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Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Black-tailed Godwits are beautiful birds. They are now on the reserve on the Bottom Tank overlooked by the Phil Stead Hide.

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Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

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Their long beaks are used for probing the mud for food.

On the water’s edge were Lapwings, a resident on the reserve.

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Great Crested Grebes were seen.

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Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

As were the unmistakable Mute Swans.

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Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

The Canadian Geese goslings have almost reached full size, and they move in large multifamily flocks.

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Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

It won’t be too long before they fly in a ‘V’ a harbinger of autumn. The Greylag Geese were close to this.

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Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

Common Terns still rule the roost at Paddy’s Pool.

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The fish these birds catch seem large compared to the bird themselves.

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Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

In the bushes were Reed Buntings

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Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

and Sedge Warblers.

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Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

In the air, a summer visitor; Swifts.

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Swift (Apus apus)

They feed on insects, and these were in abundance.

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Bumble Bee (Bombus terrestris)

A special delight were the Drangonflys and Damselflys.

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Northern Damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum)

And finally Butterflies.

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Large Heath (Coenonympha tullia)

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Small Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis urticae)


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