Dutch-ringed Spoonbills in northern Morocco (one is over 20-years old)

Two Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) have connected the Netherlands with northern Morocco during the last years, here is their story.

These spoonbills were ringed as nestlings at two different Dutch islands (Terschelling and Schiermonnikoog) and observed regularly wintering in the wetlands of northern Morocco (Smir lagoon and Oued Martil which are about 15 Km apart from each other) during the autumns of 2011 and 2013 and in winter 2015.

- Spoonbill 1 (ring code: aG[A]/GO, pictures 2 and 3): ringed as a nestling at Terschelling on 08 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, France and the Netherlands 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. Its age at the time of the last sighting was 20 years, 4 mouths and 23 days (pictures 2 and 3). See updates below.

- Spoonbill 2 (ring code: BaB/BYfR, picture 4): ringed as a nesting at Schiermonnikoog on 23 May 2008. It was sighted in Spain and the Netherlands and at Smir lagoon on 23 October 2011. Recently it has been seen together with the Spoonbill 1 (aG[A]/GO) at the marches of Oued Martil on 1 November 2013 (and photographed together, see picture 1 and the video at the end).

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 wetland 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.

Acknowledgements:

Spoonbill 1 was ringed by Harrie Horn, second bird ringed by Otto Overdijk.
Otto Overdijk from the Working group Spoonbills International has kindly provided the life histories of both birds earlier.

Updates: on 24 January 2015, the Spoonbill 1 found wintering again in the region (it's now more than 22.5 years old) by R.eK and M.A. with our friends Said Lahrouz and Khalid Chikri. This time the faithful bird was observed at Oued el Maleh which is less than 5 Km north of Oued Martil. All these wetlands functions as one "feeding unit" for wintering birds as well as nesting birds such as Glossy Ibis nesting at the Smir heronry (during chick-rearing period we have observed the Ibises fly back and forth between the breeding colony and the different feeding areas in the region of Tétouan including these wadis). 


2 Eurasian Spoonbills colour-ringed in the Netherlands and seen together at Oued Martil
Both Eurasian Spoonbills colour-ringed in the Netherlands, seen together at Oued Martil on 1 November 2013.

Eurasian Spoonbill colour-ringed in the Netherlands, seen at Oued Martil
Eurasian Spoonbill colour-ringed (aG[A]/GO) in the Netherlands, seen here at Oued Martil on 16 October 2011.
Eurasian Spoonbill colour-ringed in the Netherlands, seen at Oued Martil
The same Eurasian Spoonbill as above (aG[A]/GO)
Eurasian Spoonbill colour-ringed in the Netherlands, seen at Smir lagoon
Eurasian Spoonbill colour-ringed (BaB/BYfR) in the Netherlands, seen at Smir lagoon on 23 October 2011.



Video of both Dutch-ringed Spoonbills, seen together at Oued Martil on 1 November 2013. The colour-rings of the one bird (BaB/BYfR) are well visible, the other ringed bird (aG[A]/GO) is standing with him but its rings are hardly visible in this video. (if you watch it in Youtube and you choose 'large player', you can see the rings). 


Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian

The photographs and the video by Rachid as usual.

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