Birding

A Runcible of Spoonbills

Isn't that a wonderful collective noun

Lear_Runcible_spoonUnlike the Owl and Pussycat though they do not dine on ‘mince and slices of quince’ nor do they catch Spotted Frogs for their dinner like the Dolomphious Duck! However Edward Lear’s poetry is clearly the inspiration behind the creation of this collective noun for describing a group of Spoonbills. Not only did he invent the word but his sketch of the Dolomphious Duck with her runcible spoon looks remarkably similar to a Spoonbill. Other terms that are in use include a canteen, a service and a sedge but after seeing this sketch I think my favourite has to be runcible.Probably my favourite shot

Occasionally I have confused them with Egrets because of their size and white plumage, but only when they are at a distance! Egrets also have a habit of following Spoonbills as they feed which is my other excuse for the occasional confusion. However when a Spoonbill is close-up or facing you their incredible ‘spatula’ or should I say ‘runcible spoon’ bill makes them unmistakable.

They feed by sweeping that amazing bill from side to side as they wade through water, usually shallow although we have seen them in deeper waters. The moment any small aquatic creature  – insect, crustacean or even small fish – touches the inside of the bill it is snapped shut. Although as you will see from my husband’s video sometimes it takes a while to swallow, I think it must have been quite a large something this one had captured.

There are six species of Spoonbill and it is the European Spoonbill we see in Portugal and you might occasionally see in the UK. Spoonbill pre flight

Their Portuguese name is Colhereiro, and whilst some are resident year round the numbers increase significantly in the winter when they are joined by migratory Spoonbills from eastern Europe. The Algarve is considered one of the best places to observe them and we certainly have seen them quite a bit. However we can go days without seeing them, and then suddenly after wondering where they have all gone there is a whole runcible in the lagoon. They are fun to watch, but must admit it is their south american counterpart I would love to see – the Roseate Spoonbill. Just imagine that beak attached to a pink body!

15 comments on “A Runcible of Spoonbills

  1. Pingback: I thought this might be the grubbiest Colhereiro yet | It caught my eye in Portugal

  2. A fascinating bird. Thank you for sharing the info and the drawing, very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Claire @ bletheringbylinley

    That is the best collective noun ever – even better than a murder of crows!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful collective, and fabulous photos, Becky! Especially that first one 🙂 Aren’t they gorgeous? Happy weekend! Big city visit a success? Nice in small doses. I’m in Edinburgh on Thursday (and meeting Jude 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your photographs of these beautiful and somewhat quirky birds are gorgeous, you clearly had some great sightings. I agree that ‘runcible’ is the perfect collective noun!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a perfect collective name and your second photo is wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think this may be the first time I’ve seen a spoonbill, Becky, and here you present a runcible of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love that collective noun!

    Liked by 1 person

Spark a great conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: