Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Observations of a spoonbill nest in Yorkshire

Spoonbills have bred again in West Yorkshire this year, little more than an hours drive from home. It still feels very strange to be saying that, to the extent that I am still very uncomfortable about giving the exact location, even though it's not a secret and the bird information services and even the RSPB openly report on the event. Two days ago there were apparently 18 adults in total and one fledged young, but today I could only find about five adults and one chick, though the rest were probably roosting in the adjacent willow trees.

I've called in twice this year, the first time on 6th April when I was fortunate enough to see them copulating, and again today when I saw the resultant chick.

The moment of conception.......

.......results in this annoying little so and so. What a pain in the backside. Actually does this count as a fledged bird? It doesn't look as though it's got flight feathers yet to me. I'm not sure how many pairs breed here, there was certainly at least one other sitting bird near to this nest and if there is another chick more advanced than this then perhaps there are three nests. The birds in the two videos are clearly the same family, the willow trees look very different now that they are in leaf but you can see from the shapes of the branches that the youngster in the second video is in exactly the same position as the pair in the first video above.

I remember the excitement of seeing my first spoonbill with my Dad at Minsmere in June 1980, it was a species which I'd never dreamt of seeing, and 13 years later in 1993 I'd still only seen nine spoonbills in the UK. Since then their population has exploded, perhaps not to the levels of little egret, but enough to now have them breeding in West Yorkshire.

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