Sunday, 1 October 2017

Cattle Egret - New lifer and tick for the patch.

Busy weekends have meant that I've missed the large influx of Sandpipers that have been knocking around Dorset this last few weeks. Still, there's always next year...

I visited Longham Lakes on 30th Sep as they were having an open day. It was amazingly bush, with a rammed car park and lots of friendly faces and it was my first chance to catch up with Dominic Cousins, who has been recording birds at Longham since 2002. He was there to take birders around and sell signed copies of his book, A Patch Made In Heaven, which I can recommend.

Just some of the Lapwings resting at Longham. I saw 28 birds, the most I've seen there.
I also met up with George Green who is one of the regular contributors to Longham's bird listings and Martin Wood who had annoyingly seen a Cattle Egret earlier that morning. It's only the third record of the bird since 2002 so it's a real rarity and I hustled off with Alice to find it.

It had been spotted in the rear fields at the back of the causeway but it had long departed when I got there. Crestfallen I headed off with Alice around South Lake, marvelling at the insane amount of birds that were congregating there. I counted close to 30 lapwings and about 50 Canada Geese, along with countless coots and mallards and a fair number of Shoveler. My first sighting of these handsome ducks for the year.

A fair few Shovelers as well as returning Wigeon.
Upon reaching the visitor's centre, Dominic mentioned he needed to take some birders out but was still waiting for Martin to return. I offered to look after his books and gear and chatted to a few other people who were eager to learn more about birds.

Martin returned and within five minutes had a text from Dominic stating the Cattle Egret had returned. Grabbing Alice were virtually ran up the causeway and desperately started scanning the fields. When I couldn't find it Dominic kindly lent me his scope and put me onto the bird.

A record shot of the Cattle Egret. My first ever sighting.
It's a fantastic looking creature with a somewhat stocky build for a small heron and a bright yellow bill. It was picking up food around a small group of cattle and began to attract a small crowd of admirers. Sadly, the bird was extremely far away so I have only strict record shots. It was a delight to see though and I believe it's my first three-pointer for the year.

I'm now on 85 birds for the year.
The Cattle Egret puts my photographed birds for the blog up to 154.
This crop isn't too bad.

A rather harsh crop.
And another of it foraging.

A final shot to highlight just how far away it was.