Friday, October 23, 2009

"Late" Cattle Egrets

En route to Orielton Lagoon for a change of birding venue, I chanced upon a small flock of Cattle Egrets on the northern side of the lagoon. Totaling 9 in all, they were feeding among a small flock of sheep, fairly close to the road. A quick U-turn and I was alongside the paddock, which made the egrets understandably nervous. I scrambled a few shots out of the car window before they edged further up the paddock.
In recent years, no doubt due to the lack of rain, I've found few Cattle Egrets in southern Tasmania. So the recent prolonged rain may have caused these egrets to hang on longer than usual, before migrating back to the Mainland. The individual pictured at right is sporting almost? the full breeding plumage, the first that I can recall seeing in Tasmania. A few others in the flock had partial breeding plumage, but most exhibited none.
As I drove the short distance to the bridge over Orielton Creek, a Little Egret flew over. Added to the 6 Crested Grebe I 'd seen from the Sorell Causeway, it made for an excellent start to my visit to the lagoon. More of that later.


Mosura said...

I was at Forth today here in NW Tassie and spotted 27 Cattle Egrets, some going into breeding plumage.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Mosura,
Thanks for your comments. The North and North West do regularly get many more Cattle Egrets than the South, some flocks numbering 100+. I've seen flocks near Smithton numbering c.400. I've seen partial breeding plumages in these egrets many times before, but the one pictured appears as far advanced as any that I can recall seeing in Tassie, and is nearly complete (except for the breeding "flush"). Going back to the the '70s and early '80s, it was widely expected that these egrets would start breeding in Tasmania, in particular King Island, but I'm not aware that they have done so yet. Something to look forward to?

Snail said...

Not a bad haul! Plenty of cattle egrets up here, of course, but they're not very co-operative when it comes to photos. Love that portrait of the egret with its henna rinse.

BirdingTas said...

Thanks Snail. It looks as if good numbers of egrets are hanging on around Tasmania at the moment. My best efforts at photographing these egrets have all been from a vehicle, but you still need luck. On one occasion I moved the car to a "better" position to no avail. Returning to my original position I found an egret had taken my "spot" on the roadside, but in a totally impossible position to photograph. Very frustrating.