Today was a day for unexpected visitors.  When I returned home at lunch time today, I found a Spoonbill walking around the dam.  I actually stumbled across the bird when looking for orchids.  Luckily it didn’t fly away, and I rapidly backed away from it, raced inside and grabbed my camera.  By the time I got back outside, the spoonbill had taken up prime position on the jetty railing.   Zigzagging down to the water’s edge, I was able to get some clear shots of this beautiful young bird.

Consulting my copy of Pizzey and Knights ‘Field Guide to the Birds of Australia’ I was able to work out that this bird was an immature Royal Spoonbill.  Mature birds have a bright yellow patch above each eye, and when breeding, also have a feathered plume at the back of the head.  This bird has neither of these features.  Another clue to the immaturity of this bird is a glimpse of black on the end of the flight feathers, which are just visible in one of the photos, below.

After an hour or two sitting on the jetty, the Royal Spoonbill flew away.  I was sitting in my study as it flew over the house and was able to see the large wingspan of this bird with its beautifully glossy white feathers.  I hope it becomes one of our regularly visiting fishing birds.

Royal Spoonbill
A black bill and legs distinguish the Royal Spoonbill from the Yellow Billed Spoonbill (for obvious reasons).In this photo, the black tips of the flight feathers are just visible above the tail feathers of the bird. This is one of the features which identifies it as an immature Royal Spoonbill.
Royal Spoonbill
The elegant legs and feet are on show in this shot.
Royal Spoonbill
From the side, there is no hint of the distinctive spoon-shaped bill.