Small Landscapes: Eurasian Spoonbills baltz and mating

Every year I give myself themes to focus my activities and build my portfolio. Last year it was the Common Kingfishers and the Grey Seal pups. This year the overall theme is what I call small landscapes. With that I try to capture common or regular animals in our direct environment.

One of the objectives is to try show how amazing our direct natural environment, unknown is often uncared for. I will walk you trough the process that comes with making images through a series of articles like this. The second one of 2017 is Eurasian Spoonbills

Small Landscapes-Eurasian Spoonbills
Every year I give myself themes to focus my activities and build my portfolio. Last year it was the Common Kingfishers and the Grey Seal pups. This year the overall theme is what I call small landscapes. With that I try to capture common or regular animals in our direct environment. One of the objectives is to try show how amazing your “back yard” can be. Unknown is often uncared. I will walk you trough the process that comes with making images through a series of blogs. Sometimes as with the European Hares it is a very long planned process but it can be completely spontaneous. This one about the Spoonbills was the latter:

Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia):
The Eurasian Spoonbill is a large (up to 90 cm’s tall) white wading bird. It feeds on mollusks, amphibians, shrimps and small fish in wet meadows, deltas and coastal zones. They filter out these small animals with the spoonbill by walking slowly through the water while sweeping sideways through the water. That bill is the easiest way to recognize a Spoonbill. Legs and bill are black and in spring the colors deepen and it gets a distinctive crest and yellow patches on the bill, throat, and breast and in its “arm” pits. The colonies normally are in reed fields but always close to feeding grounds. The particular one I visited is out of the norm as the Spoonbills nest in the trees, actually driving of Herons from already built nests.

This is a species that benefits from the warmer climates as it is spreading its territory northward. Holland used to be the most northern country they breed but these days they have spread to the UK, Germany, Poland and Denmark. The Dutch population grew from about 170 breeding pairs a couple of decades ago to over 2500 these days.

Location search/Stake-out;
With more regular sightings in recent years I noticed the rise in the population myself but it never occurred to me that the species was doing so well till last summer on the Waddenzee. So when someone tipped me that there was a nesting colony very close to a busy road in Haarlem I decided to check it out. As the trees have not budded yet the chances on free sightlines on the nests where high. On location it turned out you where very, very close to the nests themselves. Giving the main challenge on not “shooting” upwards too much. So I walked around a bit till I found a nest with a pair that was bit further away. Thus giving me a clear sight line as well as a reasonable angle. And then it was just waiting for them to do stuff. As well as trying to figure out what the sequence was to ensure the best images.

Behaviour:
It was interesting to discover the  mating ritual. The male starts it all off by gently rubbing his bill on the females neck, head and bill. After a while he hops on and the actual mating is done. This is a very awkward process as they are not by nature tree dwelling birds and maintaining balance can be challenging for them. After the mating they actually cuddle and groom each other rather gently. To end it all with what I can only describe as a domestic squabble over where certain sticks where placed in the nest.

I was there for about 3 hours and this one pair mated about 3 times so I assume they do this for a couple of days before laying a clutch of 3 to 5 eggs and start the actual breeding and raising of the chicks.

I hope you enjoyed the blog and images. Leaving a comment and sharing is appreciated!

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