A pair of the country’s rarest birds have been spotted nesting at RSPB Frampton Marsh - in what could be a first for the UK.
The large heron-like birds are called glossy ibis and are identified by their rich bronze feathers and a slender, curved bill. They usually live in the Mediterranean.
Although sightings of the birds across the UK are increasing, this is believed to be the first recorded nesting attempt.
RSPB Senior Sites Manager John Badley said: “We’ve done a lot of work at Frampton Marsh to bring the wildlife of the Wash closer for people to see and enjoy by creating lots of new wetland habitats. We’ve been pretty successful, but this wasn’t on our radar at all!
“The birds built up a nest platform out of the water in just a few days, but despite being seen courting and displaying they didn’t lay any eggs. This could be the behaviour of immature birds practicing before they are mature enough to breed.”
The closest glossy ibis nesting site to the UK is in the south of France, with more in southern Spain and in south-east Europe. It’s believed that drier conditions in Spain may have pushed some birds further north this summer in the search for favourable nesting sites.
Gwyn Williams, the RSPB’s Head of Reserves and Protected Areas, said: “With a changing climate we’re anticipating that several more southern European bird species may colonise southern England in the next few years, following on from the already established little egret and more recently great white egret. So we’re planning for their arrival by creating and managing the ideal conditions on our nature reserves, especially wetlands, with these potential colonists in mind.”
Pictures and video by Neil Smith.