Whilst it is not unusual to see one or two Spoonbills on our evening strolls, we are not usually blessed with a whole runcible in the saltpans to the west of Olhão. Just occasionally though one becomes two, then four and then a canteen or as I prefer for their group description ‘a runcible’!
Their Latin name is Platalea leucorodia, and whilst their numbers are holding steady in this part of Europe I’ve read somewhere they are in slow decline elsewhere in Europe thanks to wetland reclamation, human disturbance and pollution. However they are not considered to be at risk, well not yet anyway.
As might be expected with its highly unusual and distinctive beak it is a specialised eater, mainly feeding in shallow waters of fairly even depth, and they apparently prefer a slow current or gentle tidal change. They sweep their beak from side to side as they move through the water enjoying insects, crustaceans and even small fish. Although occasionally you will see one dart after something.
They captivated me for quite a while as these are only a tiny selection of the photographs I took of them that evening. Fortunately I wasn’t too focused on them as otherwise I would have missed the spectacle in the sky right behind me. Not only is patience and quiet a virtue when birding, you also need eyes everywhere!