Spoonbills haven't nested regularly in the UK since the 1700s, but in recent years they have slowly been expanding their range north and returning to Britain once again. These birds are regularly seen along the east coast of England, and there is a breeding colony in East Anglia. However this year has seen them breed in Yorkshire for the first time in 400 years with three chicks fledging at the RSPB site Fairburn Ings. As they generally tend to only lay 3 eggs all three hatching is a real success.
Due to their rarity the spoonbill is a protected species in the UK, and the successful breeding at Fairburn Ings had been kept secret until earlier this week. This success can be put down to the excellent work of everyone on the reserve who have created a suitable habitat for what will hopefully become a new Yorkshire resident.
I'd never seen a spoonbill till this morning when I went to another Yorkshire wetland site half hoping to see one of these enigmatic creatures. They are regularly seen at Blacktoft Sands but I was told I was unlikely to see one as they generally feed here in the afternoon. So I was amazed to see this one right in front of the first hide I ventured into. No time to check the camera setting just fire away before it departed.
They use their distinctive beak to sweep through the water filtering up any shrimp, fish or crustaceans they disturb. the beak snaps shut as soon as suitable food hits the inside.
Great to see these birds beginning to spread throughout the UK but it is probably a result of global warming as their more usual sites in Southern Europe dry out.