Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Bigger Spoon

Guess I'm easily attracted by birds with spoon shaped bill, but isn't that the same with any other birders. These photos were taken on March 20, just few days before I left Japan. After finding a pair of Eurasian Oystercatchers at Wajiro, I went to Imazu which is on the opposite side of Hakata Bay. Deep in my heart, I wished that I'd be able to get photos of the Black-faced Spoonbills up close, since even after 2 visits I still haven't got any photo of them at close range. After my arrival at the train station, I quickly took the bus to the birding area. I then walked to the river where the spoonbills roosted and as I arrived, I was completely speechless when I saw that the tide was extremely low and the spoonbills were walking right before my eyes!

Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) in breeding plumage


An immature bird; notice black primaries tip

Probably an even younger bird; note smooth upper mandible

Bill looks pinkish from below

The total number of the spoonbills seemed to drop a little bit compared to the last time I visited in January. I also didn't see any Eurasian Spoonbill, the species I photographed up close last time. This time, even though Black-faced Spoonbills were all over the place, it was not too easy to get decent photos of them. They seemed to be a bit shyer than the Eurasian Spoonbill I found. However, by hiding behind the sea wall and slowly approaching, I could get some pretty good shots that at least could satisfy me well.

Feeding in flock with Great Cormorants

Note different amount of yellow on facial skin

This one looks pretty typical for breeding Black-faced Spoonbill

The birds seemed to favour feeding near the river mouth where I photographed a flock of Falcated Ducks. They gathered and fed in group along with a large number of Great Cormorants and some Great Egrets. Unfortunately, the birds flew out as I tried to get closer since the cormorants were really wary and flew out as soon as they saw me, so the spoonbills also followed them. They landed some hundreds metres away and started feeding again.

Birdscaping with an immature bird

An obliging individual with large yellow spot on the face

Wading through the mud searching for preys

I enjoyed taking photos of them all through the afternoon and as the sun was about to set, a bird in almost full breeding plumage came walking towards me. This individual seemed to be the most obliging one. It shows unusually large yellow spot on the lores making it look somewhat unlike Black-faced Spoonbill. However, after going through archives of images of Black-faced Spoonbills, I found that it's not too unusual for them to have this characteristic.

Feeding on a small crab

It took almost 3 minutes for this bird to finish its meal.

Finally swallowed!


  1. A beautiful series of images. It is unfortunate we don't have any spoonbills here in Malaysia because they are quite fascinating.

  2. Yes looks like you are a spoonbirdies man... Exellent set! Lucky to see so many spoon, that's not gonna happen to me!

  3. Nice pics as usual. We don't have Eurasian Spoonbill here apart from odd pairs breeding intermittently but its a species that may colonise more in the next few years.

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  5. BFS - great birds.... few of the ones we see here in HK have quite as much yellow near the eye as the one you highlighted.... but just a few do.