Thursday, December 7, 2017

An Egret Or Two

Stumbling across rare birds, scarce birds or “good” birds is often just that, an accident; being in the right place at the right time. 

That’s what happened this morning when driving through Cockerham where a sideways glance made the car screech to a halt. There it was, a Cattle Egret feeding on the grass verge, almost under a hedgerow and not searching the ground under cattle hooves as it’s supposed to do. Mind you, and this is partially the secret of the Cattle Egrets’ success, its ability to survive and thrive in a whole set of different environments. I’ve seen Cattle Egrets in the Lanzarote desert, amongst Egyptian gardens, stalking the Plains of Africa, nesting in Menorcan conifer trees and now plodding through the wet fields of a Lancashire winter. 

At least the egret is just scarce nowadays rather than a “mega”. Not even a “tick” for many, so it might have a chance to feed and stay reasonably safe from the parade of weekend birders and their year lists. 

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

I was around Moss Edge and counted eleven or more Little Egrets, and although a pleasant surprise I didn’t expect to see its close relative. Our Little Egrets have learned to exploit the puddled and ditched winter landscape to their advantage and they are often found on farmland as well as the shore. 

Little Egret

The fields here are very wet and further round the windy moss road were a couple of dozen Curlew, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Shelduck, 8 Redshank, 3 Whooper Swans and countless Starlings. It’s good to see numbers of Shelduck back along the coast after their summer absence. They bring a splash of real colour to the grey winter landscape. 

Further round the moss road were 15+ Tree Sparrow, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Kestrel, several Chaffinch and a somewhat unusual sighting of 2 Jays. Rather uncommon because the Jay is far from numerous in these parts and also because the two birds were in flight across the windswept moss. There is a good stretch of woodland not too far away and their likely destination. 


A quick look at look at Conder Green found the drake Goosander again, 22 Tufted Duck, 40 Wigeon and 4 Shelduck. Hidden at the back of the pool a single Little Egret and 2 Little Grebe hidden in the tidal creeks.

At Gulf Lane the Linnet flock is holding up well at 200+ birds with 6 Stock Dove in attendance until the car drew up and off they flew. The Linnets stayed around and seemed to head for our seed mix. Now all we need is a calm morning.  While our UK Woodpigeon is very common, it is actually very photogenic and no one should turn up a chance for a photo.

It was pretty breezy this morning and the sky soon turned grey. We’re told Storm Caroline and 80mph winds are headed this way. Stay tuned, there’s birding to be had on Another Bird Blog in all but the most extreme weather.

Linking today to  Eileen's Saturday Blog.


Steve Gale said...

Phil, twenty-five years ago, If I were to have told you that you would be watching a double-figure count of egrets (and of two species) in your home area, you'd have thought me mad!

Bob Bushell said...

Lovely bird the Cattle Egret, you caught it superb Phil.

David Gascoigne said...

Good evening Phil: I think this sighting really begs the question as to whether the UK is the next country Cattle Egrets will colonize. Little Egret has become very well established, Great Egret seems to be more common than it ever was. Can Cattle Egrets be far behind?

Stuart Price said...

Scarce in Hokkaido too (but never in winter). Nice find and nice pics.......

Prunella Pepperpot said...

The Cattle Egret looks far more photogenic than the Little Egret. You captured some great shots of it. My favourite bird in this post has to be the Shelduck, very handsome indeed as of course is your woodpigeon!!
Have a great weekend with hopefully very little snow!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, first I must say I love your Lapwing header photo. It is great that there is a success there with the Cattle Egrets. They are beautiful birds. The SHelduck is lovely too, I like it's colors. Cute capture of the Woodpigeon. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

A Colorful World said...

Lots of lovely egrets...and I love that Shelduck. Such pretty coloring! I opened your blog and saw the header and in my mind I said "That's a Lapwing." I scrolled down to find that I was right. You are teaching me much! Great picture of that pretty bird too, by the way!

GreenComotion said...

In the 'most colorful' category, the duck wins the grand prize :)
Superb birds and photos.
Have a Happy Weekend, Phil!
Peace :)

Mary Cromer said...

Oh how much I have missed..just feeling down about the outcome of surgery last October and more on the way in three weeks. I have almost forgotten to awaken on some days. I have to muster the strength...huge sigh, how pathetic I am. Surely I shall snap out of this soon.
So that I have gotten that behind me.
I LOVE LOVE your Lapwing header image. Absolutely stunning. Now to catch up a bit.

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