Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 11:46 UK

Breeding 'first' for birds on bay

Spoonbill
It is believed the spoonbills are the first pair to breed in Scotland

Conservationists believe a wading bird rarely spotted in the UK has bred in Scotland for the first time.

Two spoonbills arrived on the Dee Estuary in Kirkcudbright earlier this year and three younger birds have been seen in the past few days.

The RSPB said the species was of European conservation concern and a very rare breeding bird in the UK.

Countryside ranger Keith Kirk said the spoonbills appeared to be flourishing in the conditions in southern Scotland.

It has got this striking long beak with a big broad bit at the end which basically just looks like a giant soup spoon
Keith Kirk
Countryside ranger

He said that all the evidence suggested that the two birds had successfully bred in the area.

He said: "The three which looked to be juveniles were feeding behind the adults and begging to be fed.

"We can only assume that they are their offspring and that they must have nested nearby.

"Spoonbills turn up in various places from time to time but, from what I am told, this would be the first known pair to breed in Scotland."

Mr Kirk said the birds cut a distinctive figure in the Kirkcudbright bay.

Warmer summers

"It is a large white wading bird, slightly smaller than a heron," he explained.

"It has got this striking long beak with a big broad bit at the end which basically just looks like a giant soup spoon.

"It just sieves as it walks through the waters quite fast."

The bird usually breeds in mainland Europe and migrates to Africa in the winter.

However, warmer summers and an improving habitat have seen a rise in numbers in the UK.

Last year six spoonbills were spotted at Rainham Marshes in East London - twice the number recorded in the previous 10 years.


SEE ALSO
Protected bird homes in on park
01 Aug 07 |  London
Rare bird back in Britain
15 Jul 00 |  Scotland

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