Spoonbill – 1894

Platalea leucorodia

An occasional visitor in the winter; not very rare, sometimes arriving in considerable flocks.

The direction from which the Pembrokeshire Spoonbills reach us is somewhat of a puzzle. The bird is a common species in Holland, and, therefore, as might naturally be expected, a regular visitor to the eastern counties of England. But birds crossing the German Ocean do not penetrate so far to the west as the Principality, save in a very few exceptional instances. We must, therefore, look to some other quarter for our Spoonbills, and are inclined to believe that they come to us from the south of Spain via the Bay of Biscay. Flocks of Spoonbills have been observed in the winter-time on the north coast of Cornwall, and this would seem to favour the route we have suggested.

We learn from Mr. H. Mathias that, in the years 1854 and 1855, as many as eleven Spoonbills were shot on the shores of Milford Haven. The specimen in Mr. Mathias’ collection at the Tenby Museum was killed near Mallock Bridge in 1854. In 1885, five or seven were shot in one day near the same bridge. Mr. Mathias saw all these birds in Tracy’s shop, in Pembroke, soon after they were set up. Several of them were young birds, and one of them was so small and so ill-fledged that it seemed wonderful how it could have reached the Pembrokeshire coast.

Sir Hugh Owen has told us that a flock of seven Spoonbills was seen on Goodwick Sands in 1856. Mr. Dix saw an immature Spoonbill in Tracy’s shop in 1867, and was informed that two or three are seen about Pembroke almost every year. One was killed near St. David’s, on October 31st, 1890, as we learn from Mr. Mortimer Propert, who saw the bird when he was out with the hounds on a stubble field, in company with some farm-yard Geese a few days before it was shot. It was finally killed on a farm called Arglof, midway between St. David’s and Solva, and was, as we heard from Jeffreys, the bird-stuffer, a very fine, white bird, but without a crest.

In most of the instances we have given above, of the visits of the Spoonbill to Pembrokeshire the dates were not supplied to us, but we believe that, as in the south-western counties of England, they were all during the winter, in this differing from the appearances of the bird in the eastern counties, where it is in general seen in the spring.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Spoonbill in Pembrokeshire