A glossy ibis drifts off course to a Nova Scotia marsh and draws a crowd

BROOKFIELD, N.S. — Nature photographers are gathering in a marsh in the centre of Nova Scotia this weekend to capture images of the latest species of bird to fly off course and find itself in a foreign — but nourishing — location.

The glossy ibis is a wading bird with a long, sickle-shaped beak that feeds on larval insects, tadpoles, amphibians and other creatures of the wetlands it can snag with its bill.

A sole member of the species, rarely seen in the province, has been spotted in wetlands in Brookfield, N.S., about 80 kilometres north of Halifax.

David Currie, the president of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, says the bird is among the growing number of nomadic species being found further north as climate change drives up global temperatures.

He says the glossy ibis’s northern limit is usually near Portland, Maine, and it is only occasionally seen in the Maritimes — usually after storms or when the bird loses its way during migration.

Over the past week, birders have been posting images of the ibis flying and feeding, seemingly oblivious to the large group of people observing its every movement.

Some photos show in detail the reddish-brown colours on the bird’s outstretched neck as it glides in graceful flight.

Currie says the sightings of vagrant birds blown off course to Nova Scotia are bittersweet, in that while it may be thrilling for birders, it’s also a reminder that the creatures are far from potential mates.

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