One of the UK’s rarest breeding birds, the spoonbill, has been spotted nesting at RSPB Fairburn Ings.
“To see the long spatulate bill and gangling legs of a spoonbill in the UK is a magnificent sight but to have a pair successfully nest on our site is extra special,” said Darren Starkley, senior site manager at the reserve.
In recent years, there has been an increase in sightings of the species along the east coast of England and one breeding colony has been established in East Anglia.
“The weird and wonderful spoonbill looks like something you’d see on safari in Africa or on a cruise of the Nile – not off the A1 on the outskirts of Leeds,” said David Morris, senior reserves ecologist at the RSPB. “We hope this is the start of a successful future for this bird in Britain.”
The distribution of spoonbills and other wading birds such as great white egrets, cattle egrets and black-winged stilts represents a trend of long-legged water birds moving north.
It is thought this is due to climate change drying out their traditional nesting habitats in southern Europe.
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