Ibis books into nature reserve

Ibis books into nature reserve

H W Atkins

Visitors to Sevenoaks wildlife reserve have had a real treat over the last couple of months.

On 19th November 2014 one of the regular visitors spotted what he initially thought was a strange looking curlew in the farmer’s field adjacent to the reserve.

After a second and third opinion, and with some internet research back in the visitor centre, it was agreed that the bird was in fact an American white ibis, currently a juvenile.

We know this due to the colour of the feathers, an adult is all white with black wing tips, whereas the juvenile has brownish grey feathers until adulthood.

An ibis

An American white ibis has been spotted at Sevenoaks wildlife reserve

The photos show it’s impressive long curved bill, which is perfect for digging through the soft ground for insects, as it has been doing whilst here.

In its natural habitat, the ibis is a wading bird that forages in shallow waters for small fish, crustaceans, frogs, insects and other aquatic organisms.

It is still unclear as to how or why this bird found itself at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, and it is certainly a long way from home! Although one local ornithologist believes it is a potential vagrant bird.

White ibises are native to the coastal regions of south eastern North America , however at the end of the summer months some can be found as far north as New York.

Due to its usual habitat and range there has been much speculation as to where this individual has come from, it was first thought to be an escapee form a private collection, but has no leg ring, so this is unlikely.

Visitors from all over the UK have flocked to come and see this bird, including several of the UK’s top birders, in the hope that it may be declared a ‘wild’ bird at some point in the future.