I had a rather frustrating encounter with what might have been a pair of Spoonbills on the Meadow on Friday evening. I was out for an evening stroll with my two daughters with just my bins and camera rather than my scope. In the distance I spied a couple of white Egret-like birds in the tiny pool that is all that's left of the flood waters there. They were too far away to make out what they were in the fading light but they looked rather "chunky" for Little Egrets and I thought that I could just make out rather large thick bills. However before I could get closer in order to check them out a runner came out of the Burgess Field gate and they took off. As they flew they again looked chunky and rather heavy for Little Egrets and they didn't appear to have yellow feet. I called Dai John at Farmoor to let him know that they were heading over the hill towards Farmoor and he mentioned that he'd seen a couple of Egret-type birds fly over the Farmoor car park that morning but he'd only seen them rear-on and therefore couldn't ID them so they may well have been the same birds. In a quick search of Farmoor though he failed to turn up anything.
Thinking about them today and playing over in my head what I'd seen I'm very inclined to think that they were Spoonbills rather than Great White Egrets: they didn't have the long necks or lankiness of that species nor the slim elegance of Little Egrets - instead they had a "stocky" feel to them. Unfortunately I never got a clinching ID so they will have to remain "probable" - very frustrating as they would have been a great way to round off the first half of the year.
What might have been! Here's one from the archives
that turned up early June 2011