Friday, 15 November 2013

133. Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Eurasian Spoonbills are a rare breeder in the UK, having bred several times in Norfolk in recent years. Their distribution through Europe is patchy and confined mostly to more southern parts, with some populations breeding then migrating elsewhere, either within Europe or to Africa in winter, and other populations being resident all year round. With that spatulate bill, specially adapted to their feeding habits, they are unmistakable at close range, although at a distance or in flight they could be confused with the similarly-sized Great Egret. However Spoonbills keep their necks extended in flight whereas Egrets retract them; also Spoonbills rest with their body in a horizontal posture, but Egrets keep theirs more vertical. Eurasian Spoonbills like shallow wetland habitats with either fresh or salt water, and reeds, bushes and trees.

I saw my first Spoonbills in Malta, an occasion which remains etched into my memory for less than happy reasons:
Times of Malta coverage of Spoonbills shooting, September 2010.
Read all about BirdLife Malta (who I was volunteering with when the above incident occurred) and their efforts to stop illegal hunting in Malta here. They are part of the Coalition for the Abolition of Spring Hunting, which is currently running a petition to put a stop to spring hunting, it's only open to anyone who can vote in Maltese elections though. Read this excellent article about the current situation! If however you don't like the idea of hundreds of thousands of birds being needlessly slaughtered (and why would you?) there are a couple of other petitions going at the moment, to try and stop hunting/trapping in Egypt and Cyprus - please sign them if you can!

Eurasian Spoonbill, ©Andreas Trepte, via Wikimedia Commons.
Eurasian Spoonbill painting.

Alas, things have been a bit quiet on the drawing/painting front for me this week due to factors both fun (going to see Public Service Broadcasting on Tuesday) and less fun (housework, internet connection problems). Hopefully I will be able to catch up a bit over the weekend. At least my Spoonbill painting came out quite well :o)

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