UK - some rarities

  • nkgray
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3 years 9 months ago #86652 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: UK - some rarities
There are several species which have staged remarkable comebacks in the UK after being wiped out by the trade in feathers and stuffed birds in the 19th century, and others that although reported every year as vagrants are starting to attempt breeding in the UK.

In the latter category is the Eurasian Spoonbill, only 80-100 of which are reported annually, mainly in south-eastern England. At least 4 pairs are known to have bred successfully in the past few years and the Spoonbill is now a Protected Species. I was lucky enough to see this adult on a visit to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex.

A familiar face to SA and apparently once so in the UK until wiped out due to the historical trade in feathers is the Little Egret. Only reported as vagrants as recently as 1996 the Little Egret first bred again in the UK in 1997 and there are now as many as 1600 individuals in Britain and Ireland annually with as many as 200 breeding pairs. This bird was seen at the WWT reserve at Welney in the Norfolk fens.

Another remarkable comeback is by the Pied Avocet, also a Protected Species. It was also wiped out by the Victorian penchant for stuffed specimens, feathers and eggs. While birders had other things on their minds during WW2 the Avocet amazingly re-established itself as a UK breeding species and numbers have climbed dramatically since. There are estimated to be around 800 breeding pairs in the UK, with one of the largest colonies (around 35 pairs) being at WWT Welney.

These are just some of them, with some of the young, which of course we'd never see in SA.

The adult birds are very protective of their young and respond aggressively to the approach of other species. On my visit one particular adult (male?) was launching successful "pre-emptive strikes" against Mallards, Shovelers and Wigeons that seemed to be approaching. Then he decided to go on an all-out attack to chase off all other birds from the avocets' breeding pond. He bit off a little more than he could chew when he went after the Little Egret above....

...coming in to land for the attack

...beating a retreat when the egret responded in kind

..flying off to safety calling noisily

...and then deciding to pick on something more his own size, an unsuspecting coot


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  • mossie
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3 years 8 months ago #86659 by mossie
mossie replied the topic: Re: UK - some rarities
Wonderful stuff Neil, and some very interesting information.


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