jueves, 20 de octubre de 2011

Spoonbills, October 2011

Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia)

The above image shows two Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) found resting at the saltpans in Fuencaliente, presumably after a long migratory flight, on the morning of October 19. They have chosen one of the centrally-located pans, well away from the sign-posted path running round the perimeter of the complex, and strictly out of bounds to the general public. The same spot is also commonly used by Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis) as a daytime refuge.

Described in Birds of the Atlantic Islands (Tony Clarke, Helm, 2006) as being "scarce in winter and on passage in the Canary Islands", several small groups of this species have nevertheless been recorded on Tenerife in the last few years. See avescanarias.blogspot, the blog of SEO/Birdlife on the Canaries for more details.

The same two birds in flight

As regards La Palma, 3 Spoonbills were discovered at the Fuencaliente saltpans (Las Salinas) in mid-October 2008, a single individual at a freshwater irrigation basin in Las Martelas in November 2008, and another solitary bird in the Tazacorte area in September 2009, photos and details of which have appeared in this blog.

Thanks to scientific ringing, it is now known that most of the Spoonbills visiting the Canaries come from Dutch breeding colonies, and have their winter quarters in the Arguin Bank, off the coast of Mauritania. Although some of these migratory birds simply pass through the Canaries on their outbound journey, others overwinter in the archipelago. Martin and Lorenzo (2001, Aves del Archipiélago Canario) present data on thirty-odd ringed birds, many originating from the Netherlands, including cases of some birds returning to the same Canary Island locality over a number of consecutive winters. Nevertheless, some birds of different origin have also been recorded, for example from France, although in much smaller numbers.

The two birds shown leaving the saltpans to continue their journey...

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