Spoonbill – 2011

Platalea leucorodia – LLWYBIG – Near annual visitor in small numbers.

The Spoonbill has a wide breeding range in the Palearctic, those from northern Europe tending to winter in the west of Africa.

George Owen (1603) noted that the Spoonbill bred in Pembrokeshire during the Elizabethan era, but by Mathew’s (1894) time it was “an occasional visitor in the winter; not very rare, sometimes arriving in flocks”, of up to seven at a time. Lockley et al (1949) added four additional records of up to three birds. Donovan and Rees (1994) noted occurrences of one or two birds at a time in 12 years between 1949 and 1993.

Plotting the number of dated individuals present each month seems to indicate passage from March to June and from September to December, but some birds staying through the winter and to a lesser degree through the summer results in no sharp seasonal divisions.

Occurrences post Donovan and Rees (1994) have involved either single birds or two together, except in 2005, when a group of 11 juvenile birds were seen resting on the salt marsh at Uzmaston on the morning of the 18th September. They departed northwards half an hour later and presumably the same birds were involved when 12 settled in the Nevern Estuary that afternoon. This group included two which had been colour ringed as nestlings in Holland, were seen in Gwent prior to arrival in Pembrokeshire and by October had moved on to County Mayo in Ireland.

Spoonbill – habitat

The Spoonbill frequents wet areas such as flooded lands, marshes and water bodies. In Pembrokeshire this has included ponds at Skokholm, Skomer, Marloes Mere, Mullock Marsh and Dowrog,

In the winter it also occurs in sheltered coastal habitats, tidal creeks, estuaries and coastal lagoons, locally at Fishguard Harbour, the Teifi and Nevern estuaries and within the extensive Cleddau Estuary at the Gann, Sandy Haven, Angle Bay, Pembroke River, Castle Pill, Llanstadwell, Pembroke Dock, Carew/Cresswell, Uzmaston, Picton Ferry and Slebech.

Spoonbill – origins

A total of seven nestlings colour ringed in Holland were recorded in Pembrokeshire during their first autumn, between the years 1974 and 2007. A Dutch colour ringed bird in adult plumage was seen at Skomer on the 11th May 1992.

Over 2,000 pairs were breeding in Holland by 2011 and this population might well account for all modern Pembrokeshire records.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Spoonbill in Pembrokeshire