Friday, 2 January 2015

Cattle Egret

New Year's Day

A traditional start to another birding year, again we visited "Waldo" the Ring-billed Gull that faithfully returns to Walpole Park in Gosport. This is his thirteenth year and my third at this venue. The weather was awful, thick cloud, it hardly got light all day and to cap it all it finally rained on us. We journeyed along the coast towards Lee on the Solent and Hill Head but there was nothing to raise the spirits. A cool and strong breeze was coming off the sea and it was a good time to head inland.

Visits to Ivy and Drayton Lakes gave us the usual suspects - really nothing to write home about. A visit to the Burgh is always worthwhile and today was no exception, Red Kites, Buzzards and Kestrel on the raptor front and it was good to see Bewick's Swans from the viewpoint at the church in Burpham. Finally, in miserable conditions, we gave up and headed home, the conversation in the car turning to what we might see and do this coming year. If I was keeping a list this year, which I am not, it would have totalled 42. Things were a tad slow.

Today I was determined to get some better shots of a Cattle Egret, there have been two long stayers at Denge Marsh and Mick Davis had recently posted some excellent shots. Last year's Pagham bird had been a bit of a failure for me, Martin had got close but I never did. So I set off east, somewhat later than intended but traffic was light and I made good progress. As always, "mission creep" set in and I took a detour via Pett Level; just a possibility that the Lesser Yellowlegs was still about - it wasn't  and all I managed to photograph was a strange looking goose hidden amongst a vast number of Canada Geese that arrived on the pools. A good candidate for Greylag x Canada Goose hybrid, perhaps one of the pair should have gone to Specsavers!

I tried to ignore Scotney Pit as I made my way towards Denge Marsh, the place was buzzing with wildfowl, I succeeded in getting past but I made a mental note to return later.

Sure enough as I drove down Dengemarsh Road I spied two Cattle Egrets close to the fence, I hastily set up the camera and managed three shots before some local idiot flashed up a portable generator and the birds decamped to the end of the long field. I hung around for two hours until the local farmer visited the field on his tractor with feed for the cattle; just what was needed, both birds flew in close to the road and one posed perfectly. Not the easiest of birds to photograph in the sunlight, a devil of a job to get the exposure right, but I left very happy indeed.


On the way back I revisited Scotney and photographed the ever present Barnacle Geese along with the Emperor hybrids. They are getting to be as traditional and as reliable as Waldo, but not half as charming.

1 comment:

  1. Great shots of the Cattle Egret! I spent three and a half hours at Jevington waiting for the RLB to fly from his distant tree perch. It didn't.
    The joys of birding!