If you read my blog yesterday, then you'll know that I managed to miss the glossy ibis that flew over the car park - the second day of it's current visit. So, having heard that it was feeding just off the reserve at Eastbridge, I popped down this afternoon for a quick look.

Glossy ibises are common birds in Spain and Portugal, with a huge global range that also takes in Africa, Southern Asia, Australia and tropical areas of the Americas. They regularly disperse away from their breeding areas in winter, with a few birds reaching as far north as the UK. In fact, they are increasingly frequent visitors to the UK, and can be seen in any month, although winter and spring sightings are most likely.

While glossy ibises are certainly not regular enough to be expected on a trip to a UK wetland, any sightings are not entirely unexpected. Luckily, they will often stay in their adopted area for several days, or even weeks, too, allowing many birdwatchers the chance to see them.

Glossy ibises are relatively large birds, similar in size to a curlew. Like curlews, and all ibises worldwide, they also have down-curved beaks that they use for probing for invertebrates such as worms and beetles, plus amphibians and small mammals. At first glance they appear black, but when seen well, especially in good light, they are well named as their plumage is glossed with green, purple and bronze, as you can see in the pictures below.

Glossy ibis at Eastbridge today

This wasn't the only notable bird seen today. The glaucous gull was seen along the beach this morning and ten Bewick's swans paid a brief visit to Island Mere this afternoon. While at Island Mere I also managed to take a picture of the pale-phase common buzzard that we've referred to a few times in blogs this winter. Even for such a variable species, this is certainly one of the palest buzzards I've seen in the UK.


Finally, a bit of news for our regular photographers. Our wardens have recently installed a new "kingfisher perch" at Island Mere, much closer to the hide than other perches, as you can see from the photo below. It's sure to offer amazing photographic opportunities - if only the kingfishers will land there!

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