Glossy Ibis – Fishlake Meadows, Hampshire

On the evening of March 24th a Glossy Ibis was seen circling over Fishlake Meadows near Romsey. Over the next two weeks it was seen again, on and off most days but usually only early or late in the day in flight as it left or returned to its roost site deep in the reed beds. It never seemed to be seen well.

I decided not to visit until it appeared to be showing better. This happened on the 8th April when Bird Guides reported that it was “in horse field by green barn near canal mid-morning”. This sounded much better than the views it had been giving to date and so I texted Dad and arranged to pick him up as soon as I’d walked the dogs.

We parked and walked the several hundred yards north along the canal path and joined a group of birders who, just as we were arriving, started to pack up, my heart sank as I felt sure that this meant the ibis had flown off, thankfully not. It showed well although too far away for Dad to get some photos and so he headed off to photograph a pair of Garganey from the central screen, I remained to sketch the Glossy Ibis.

It seemed well settled feeding on worms towards the back of the horse paddock. Overall it was dark brown but with a glossy sheen in some lights. The bill was long and curlew-like. It looked relatively large-headed and thick-necked. There was a lovely white flecking on the head indicating winter plumage.

Glossy Ibis leave Africa in the winter and should be heading to breed around the Mediterranean, this individual was an overshooting spring migrant which arrived at a similar time to the Great Spotted Cuckoo. There have been around 50 previous records in Hampshire.  

There was also a lovely colourful male Wheatear in the paddock and on the way back to the car I scoped a perched Great White Egret and a singing male Sedge Warbler. Along with the Ibis the Sedge Warbler takes my year list to 172.

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