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Beautiful ibis spotted outside Bready

MORE commonly spotted around warmer climes like the Mediterranean and North Africa, this Glossy Ibis (pictured) has currently made its home at Grangefoyle near Bready.

The image, captured by local bird-watcher and wildlife photographer, Christine Cassidy, shows the bird to be a juvenile – or at least Christine thinks so.

“It’s difficult to say with any great accuracy but it looks to be a juvenile, which would make this its first trip to Ireland,” Christine remarked.
Christine, who lives in Derry said she jumped at the chance to photograph the ibis, after seeing the report of the bird at Grangefoyle from the NI Birds Blog.

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But whether the species is expanding to Winter in Tyrone or whether this particular bird was blown off course during the recent stormy weather, it isn’t clear.

“Grangefoyle is only ten minutes from my doorstep so I set off to see and photograph it,” she continued. “These birds are drawn to shallow lakes, rivers and flooded fields, so it found the perfect location there for feeding in the shallows after all the rain we have had recently. They have a varied diet including worms, frogs, aquatic insects and larvae.

“The Glossy Ibis is a wading bird in the ibis family, a cousin to species such as Spoonbills, Storks and Herons. It is a very striking bird, with dark feathers on the lower back and wings that show a green, purple and bronze metallic sheen. Its slender downcurved bill resembles an old fashioned scythe, which explains its Latin name (Plegadis falcinellus – ‘falcis’ meaning sickle). The RSPB advise that a Glossy Ibis such as this one is likely to be a stray bird from southern Europe.

“While once an absolute rarity to Irish shores, the Glossy Ibis is now a visitor that has kept appearing in various locations in recent years.”

If spotting and photographing this uncommon visitor to these shores wasn’t enough, Christine says she was stunned to witness an attack on the Ibis by a Sparrowhawk.

“I sat in the car watching and photographing it for well over an hour until a female Sparrowhawk arrived, dive-bombing the Ibis right in front of me, sending the bird scurrying to the hedgerow for cover,”

She concluded, “I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen anything like it.”

• To see more of Christine’s photos check out her Facebook page, In Touch With the Wild Photography.
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