Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Andy Field dragged himself away from household chores and was rewarded with finding this very obliging juvenile spoonbill at the St Peters marsh in West Mersea on Tuesday 7th. Having met someone on the beach who'd said that he'd seen a spoonbill a short while earlier, Andy found the bird still feeding in the small freshwater ditch near the St Peters well.

I had got the call at lunchtime and dashed down to join Andy as we got excellent views of the bird especially once it landed on this bush at the back of the marsh. These first 2 photos above were taken by Andy, with the following shots below my attempt at hand-held digiscoping.

This spoonbill has been doing the circuit of north Essex since last autumn as the big colour rings on the legs have enabled it to be tracked by birdwatchers. It was born in Germany last summer and was ringed there in July, after which it was seen in Suffolk in September followed by Holland Haven Country Park in Essex in October. This juvenile bird has been seen in a number of locations in recent weeks such as Old Hall marshes, Colne Point and also a brief stopover at East Mersea.

After seeing the bird partially obscured whilst it fed inside the reed-lined ditch, it was next watched flying overhead providing brilliant-white views of the wings with the black tips. It was a memorable fly-past with the snow reflecting brightly up against the white body and set against a clear blue sky backdrop. The bird landed on this big bramble bush where it struggled to balance itself. A couple of metres beneath the spoonbill was a little egret also perched on the bush.

Not wanting to be upstaged by the exotic interloper, this kingfisher zipped back and forwards along the short section of ditch. It was spoilt for choice for willow bushes to perch in whilst looking down at the water. For once my camera just happened to be pointing in the direction of the bushes and the kingfisher obliged by posing in the sunshine.

The view of the bush with the spoonbill and little egret appearing as tiny white specks. This is the seemingly distant view without a zoomed-in image although the spoonbill shots above were digiscoped from exactly the same spot.

Also noted here were a couple of snipe dropping down onto the marsh, while 3 lapwing and 4 golden plover made the most of the snow-free meadow to feed. A water rail called from under the spoonbill bush and a mallard also dropped into the ditch, while a rock pipit was also noted.

Andy's visit to the area started well when he found 6 snow buntings feeding on the beach at the Point. They flew over the channel to Cobmarsh Island. Earlier in the morning there was the unsual sight of a snipe feeding in his back-garden in High Street North.


Seymour Birdies said...

Pity about the bling.

Dougal Urquhart said...

Yes its a shame about the big rings but I suppose we wouldn't have been able to tell what kind of journey this bird had undertaken without them.