Royal Spoonbills

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On my last trip to Miranda on the Firth of Thames I counted 32 Royal spoonbills. They were grouped on the shellbank when we arrived but soon spread out, seeming to feed their way along a stream that cut into the mud flat. I thought of them again recently when I saw four spoonbills on the estuary at Sandspit north of Auckland. Possibly best known for nesting alongside the white heron colony at Okarito, they have only been breeding in New Zealand since 1949, and until recently have been a real novelty. Now breeding more widely their population has crept up to perhaps a thousand birds and it is not uncommon even to see them on the Weiti River where I live at Whangaparaoa. It can only be a matter of time before they begin breeding somewhere in the region.

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