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Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Rare bird back in Britain
Spoonbill
A lack of marsh land drove the spoonbill away
A rare spoon-shaped beaked bird has set up home on the east coast of Scotland - after a 400 year absence from Britain.

The spoonbill, a relative of the heron, was last seen nesting in Britain in the mid-17th century.

However, it died out because of persecution and the marshy land where it lived began to drain.


The arrival of these spoonbills is much more than we could have hoped for

David Sexton, RSPB
Now a pair have been spotted at a nature reserve in Mersehead, Dumfriesshire, which is owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It is thought to the first time the birds have been seen trying to settle in Scotland.

Spoonbills are occasionally seen in the south of England, having flown from the Netherlands, but none has settled in Britain in more than 400 years.

Building nest

One of the birds at the reserve has a ring on its legs which was put on by scientists in the Netherlands.

Experts say the pair are set to start a family - they have been spotted building a nest and have performed their elaborate courtship displays.

David Sexton, head of the reserve, said: "This really is a remarkable event.

"Mersehead was an arable farm when the RSPB took over the management seven years ago.

"Using farming techniques and grazing animals we are managing the land for the benefit of wildlife, creating wet areas, meadows and other key habitats.

"The farmland wildlife has responded extremely well, but the arrival of these spoonbills is much more than we could have hoped for."

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See also:

06 Sep 99 | Wales
New home for displaced wildlife
11 Mar 99 | South Asia
Migrating towards extinction
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