This afternoon we spent a couple of hours at the WWT site on the outskirts of Llanelli and found ourselves surrounded by hordes of new arrivals. It wasn’t hard to miss the hundred strong flock of Jackdaws that were hanging around the entrance making an almighty racket, the majority of which was emanating from the many recent fledglings that were dotted throughout the group. At the first pond we encountered surely one of the duck worlds cutest offspring in the shape of ten floating humbugs, or should that be Shellduck ducklings. My attention though was drawn to the far less attractive family of Moorhens who were nearby. The progression of a Moorhen from birth to its final form fascinates me. They start off looking almost prehistoric and despite initial impressions they contain an amazing amount of detail and colour when viewed up close. I was fortunate to find several individuals around the site that were more than happy to pose for me, although I did get a bit of a surprise when one of the adults walked right up to me and gave my knee a good peck. It would appear that despite their size they aren’t to be messed with!

24499 - Moorhen Fledgling, WWT Llanelli
24497 - Moorhen Fledgling, WWT Llanelli
24488 - Moorhen Fledgling, WWT Llanelli

Not all of the Moorhens were as young as those above. There were several individuals that were far more advanced having been born from earlier broods.

24501 - Moorhen Fledgling, WWT Llanelli

Other fledglings seen during our wanderings included Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot, Greylag Goose, Black Headed Gull (in their droves) and a couple of Wood Pigeons that had not yet mastered the art of escaping in a flurry of flapping wings at the first sight of people.

24493 - Woodpigeon, WWT Llanelli

The most surprising sighting of the day was a young Fox cub that was patrolling the perimeter of the pool in front of the Michael Powell Hide. It was taking great interest in the thickets of reeds that lined the waters edge and would often pull its head from them with a mouth full of something that was soon wolfed down. I imagine the most likely candidates for meeting their maker would have been eggs or small birds still in the nest. Even a flock of Crows that arrived from nowhere with seemingly the sole ambition of harassing the Fox couldn’t put it off. We waited a good while to see if it would come any closer but it always stayed well away from the hide. I did however manage to get a record shot which is more than I have managed to do with my locals Foxes to date.

24490  - Fox, WWT Llanelli

And what of the old friend I hear you ask? Well I can’t be sure that it is the exact same bird that we have seen at the reserve in the past, but for the last couple of days a stunning Spoonbill has been hanging out on the lagoons. This species is a fairly regular visitor to the area now but I will never get tired of seeing them or their fantastic bills. Amazingly we caught up with it just as a break in the clouds coincided with a bit of preening on the part of the Spoonbill. So often I have been forced to just watch these birds sleeping, but this time we were treated to a superb display.

24505 - Spoonbill, WWT Llanelli
24504 - Spoonbill, WWT Llanelli

The only negative to all this was that the Spoonbill did appear to have a limp in one of its legs. Although the bird looks in good shape at the moment it did stumble on occasion during its preening. Hopefully it is just something that it can shake off, but if not it probably couldn’t be in a better place than where it is at the moment.


theconstantwalker · June 18, 2011 at 10:22 pm

A lovely bird to see…the Spoonbill
A bird I have never seen in the wild.

TexWisGirl · June 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm

those moorhen young ones just crack me up! at least your young ones had head feathers rather than that ugly red bald head. 🙂 and their big FEET! 🙂

holdingmoments · June 19, 2011 at 4:20 am

Great written account of your visit Adam. Great to see so much new life too; despite the efforts of the fox.
Lovely shots of the Spoonbill too. I'd love to see one of those.

Caroline Gill · June 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

What a fruitful expedition. I would love to see a Spoonbill …

Adam Tilt · June 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Thanks Andrew. It's a stunner.

They are definitely quite comical texwsgirl, and that's why I like them.

Thanks Keith.

Thanks Caroline. The WWT site is probably one of the best places to see a Spoonbill. Just keep track of their sightings page to see when one turns up.

Kim, USA · June 22, 2011 at 2:03 am

I like your story made me smile. And yes though they are small but they knew how to fight too hehe. And the fox geez do they attacked people? Great shots you've got and thanks for sharing!

Duck photo shoot

Springman · June 22, 2011 at 3:08 am

Goodness Adam, your moorhens are exquisite. Is there anything more helpless and awkward looking than a baby bird? Fantastic take on the spoonbill and fox too, I sure wasn't expecting that! A great multifaceted post Sir!

Bob Bushell · June 22, 2011 at 10:11 am

Really great shots of the Spoonbill, and splendid photos of the Moorhen.

Unknown · June 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Grand series Adam. Boom &Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

jeanlivingsimple · June 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

The Moorhen chicks may not win a beauty contest but they sure are cute.
Good photos and read!!!

mick · June 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm

All nice photos but the young moorhens are especially cute.

Sondra · June 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm

i hope your spoonbill doesnt have fishing line entangled on a leg..its such a horrible thing!! THose moorhen chicks will def become better looking with age–They are still very sweet!!

Anonymous · June 24, 2011 at 12:40 am

Spectacular shots of the young Moorhens! Do they ever grow into their feet? The Wood Pigeon looks lovely in a setting of wildflowers and what a lucky sighting of the fox! Your Spoonbill captures are superb!

Pat Ulrich · June 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm

The little one is so cute, and that spoonbill is magnificent! Great shots!

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