Glossy visitor thrills birdwatchers

A RARE visitor to Suffolk has set birdwatchers twitching after turning up on the Boyton Marshes near Orford.

A RARE visitor to Suffolk has set birdwatchers twitching after turning up on the Boyton Marshes near Orford.

The glossy ibis usually lives in the Mediterranean - mainly between Italy and the Balkans - but a few usually turn up in Britain every year.

This one has been finding food on the Suffolk marshes for about a week and was pictured by keen amateur photographer and regular Star contributor Steve Plume.

He said several of the birds had also been reported in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire over the last few weeks.

“Some people think they may become established in this country like little egrets - we will have to wait and see,” he said. Mr Plume has added picture of the birds to his website: www.plume.me.uk

The glossy ibis nests in tress and is 55-65 cm long with an 88-105 cm wingspan. It is also gregarious when feeding in marshy wetlands; it eats fish, frogs and other water creatures, as well as occasional insects.

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Grahame Madge from the RSPB said there was concern about the numbers of glossy ibis because their natural habitats were under threat in the Mediterranean.

He said: “We usually get about four turn up in Britain every year, but it is quite a long way off their usual range. They usually appear in the south east or south west, but if any do reach the Suffolk coast they are likely to be spotted because there are a lot of birdwatchers in the area.”

Although glossy ibises have been seen in Britain on an annual basis, Mr Madge thought it unlikely they would follow the example of the little egret and become established in this country.

“There is no evidence of that at present, it is too cold for them here at this time - although if global warming continues, who knows?”

Mr Madge said some scientist believe that both little egrets and some species of ibis could have lived in Britain during the Middle Ages when the climate was warmer than it is today.

“There are references to white herons in the middle ages - and some scientists believe they could have been egrets,” he said.

Little egrets have become well-established in Britain over the last 10 years. There is now a colony on the River Orwell and they are regularly seen flying along the river in the heart of the town.

New or increased species of birds in Britain:

Collared doves first arrived in Britain in the 1950s. They are now one of the country's most common birds.

Both Dartford and Cetti's Warblers have flourished over recent years as the climate has become milder - from being very rare they are now quite common in the right habitats like Minsmere nature reserve.

Little egrets were a rarity until about 10 years ago - since then they have become quite common in coastal or estuary sites in the south of England. There is a large colony on the River Orwell.

A planned reintroduction of the white-tailed sea eagle has been so successful in Scotland there were plans to bring it back to East Anglia - but these have now been shelved.

Click here to visit Steve Plume's websiteClick here to visit Steve Plume's website

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