Two Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) have connected The Netherlands with northern Morocco during the last few years, here are their stories. These spoonbills were ringed at two different Dutch islands and observed regularly wintering in the wetlands of northern Morocco during the autumns of 2011 and 2013 (and again in 2015 and 2016, see updates).
– Spoonbill 1 (ring code: aG[A]/GO, photos 2 and 3): ringed as a nestling at Terschelling on 8 June 1993. It most likely spent its first winter at the lower Loukkos marches (Larache, Morocco), and it has been sighted at several places in Spain and France over the years. This Spoonbill was seen at the wetland of Oued Martil near Tétouan on 16 October 2011. It has been recently seen again at Oued Martil on 1 November 2013.
– Spoonbill 2 (ring code: BaB/BYfR, photos 4 and 5): ringed as a nesting at Schiermonnikoog on 23 May 2008. Outside The Netherlands, it was sighted in Spain and at Smir lagoon on 23 October 2011. Recently it was seen and photographed (photo 1 and video) together with the Spoonbill 1 (aG[A]/GO) at the marches of Oued Martil on 1 November 2013.
It seems that both these spoonbills and other birds like the wetlands of northern Morocco despite that these wetlands are currently under severe human pressure (organic pollution in parts of Oued Martil and the “development”at Smir wetland). It’s most likely that Spoonbill 2 (BaB/BYfR) has switched its wintering site from Smir lagoon to Oued Martil marches due to the destruction of the lagoon by these “development” and increasing disturbance in the remaining of Smir marches.
Spoonbill 1 was ringed by Harrie Horn, while Spoonbill 2 was ringed by Otto Overdijk. Otto, from the Werkgroep Lepelaar (Spoonbill Working Group), has kindly provided the life histories of both birds earlier.
The Spoonbill 1 (aG[A]/GO) found wintering again in the region on 24 January 2015. This time the faithful bird was observed at Oued el Maleh which is less than 5 Km north of Oued Martil. All these wetlands function as one “feeding unit” for wintering birds as well as nesting birds such as Glossy Ibis breeding at the Smir heronry (during chick-rearing period we have observed the ibises fly back and forth several times between the breeding colony and the different feeding areas in the region of Tétouan). Said Lahrouz and Khalid Chikri were also with us during the last sighting.
The Spoonbill 2 (BaB/BYfR) observed again by Rachid at Smir marches on 18 November 2016 (photo 5).
Rachid el Khamlichi (all photos) & Mohamed Amezian