As I started my first weekend working at Loch of Strathbeg I was expecting a fairly uneventful two days. The weather forecast was terrible for Saturday morning, with few visitors expected to brave the rain and apparently little chance of any new birds flying about.
Imagine the surprise when at about 2pm yesterday a group of our regular birders suddenly saw a large, white, wading bird walking out of the reeds. It was immediately clear that this was a Spoonbill- the first yearly sighting for the reserve and number 119 on our year list. Despite the size of the bird nobody had seen it fly in. Had it just arrived or had it perhaps been brought down by the bad weather and been hiding in the reedbed all day? The bird was a little too far away for my camera but with a bit of help from the telescope it zoomed in enough to get a record shot!
Spoonbills are an almost annual record on the reserve but this is by far the earliest one has ever turned up (the previous earliest record was April 19th!). The Spoonbill was still on the reserve this morning, and with Marsh Harrier, Garganey, Sand Martin and Swallow all reported it's clear that migration here is well underway. I wonder what could turn up next...
Your theories seem perfectly feasible! I am not sure which of the two was most likely, but somehow I feel that it could have flown in whilst we were watching. Just prior to discovering it the lot of us were chatting rather busily with one another and it is perfectly possible that it flew in unnoticed. However, it does seem a bit odd that we didn't see it immediately as it appeared! We had all been staring very intently at the area which it was found in just before, trying to suss out if the one of female Garganeys was roosting with the two drakes (it was)! That mystery will never be solved, but a lovely bird with delightful views had of it from Tower Pool yesterday evening. I hope it stays around!
Apologies Diana, I did not notice it was you that had posted this up! It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday and I hope to see you around in the future.
All the Best,
what a great first proper day as strathbeg VPO!