A Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (L., 1766) (Ciconiiformes: Threskiornithidae) in flight over Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

P.F. Whitehead

Paul F. Whitehead, Moor Leys, Little Comberton, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3EH. email: paul@thewhiteheads.eu

At 1209 hrs on 4 October 2012 a Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) passed over Winchcombe town, Gloucestershire (SP 02). Flying at a height of only some 70 m it was possible to discern the uniformly vinous plumage against a clear blue sky and the extended neck, long beak and trailing legs, a unique and unmistakeable combination.

The Glossy Ibis flies in a distinctive fashion. The wings appear to be rigid, flexing at the axilla rather than the carpus, with a slight flicking action. Migrating birds, of which the largest flock I have seen numbered 117, have a peculiar and distinctive flight action with sequential down-glides, creating a strange effect of rise and fall in a flock. The Winchcombe bird did not glide at all.

The appearance of this bird, which in all probability passed into Worcestershire, immediately preceded a significant influx of Glossy Ibises into southern England which then penetrated northwards.