Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Egret flying visit

cattle egret in flight (wikipedia gallery)

Range today 3-7 degrees C.
Last night much cloud cover but little more rain fell, a little disappointing because almost snow conditions. Stream flow already barely a trickle, some of that flowing under the streambed and then emerging again at look-out corner.

Heard from the garden and around: House sparrows, blackbird (alarm call), white spectacled bulbuls, hooded crows and some insistent sqeaky sunbird calls.

Today at about 4.25 p.m. when we set out: Temp. 8.7 degrees C, humidity 79% and rising, wind SW 15.7 kt.
Feral pigeons up on the roof edge and roof rail as usual.
Black redstarts very active today, one on bank seen on our shortcut down, seemed to be an immature male from his colouring, darker than a female on top, brownish, almost reddish brown chest. At the bunker ruins adult male active, others around calling.
Today 'Blackjack' was 'sharing' the rubble with his distant cousin the European robin again, and yet again taking blackjack's favourite rebar perch. That must rankle! Black redstarts also active and foraging over gazelle field. Stonechats and graceful warblers also heard in the field.
Several Eurasian jays seen flying over north gazelle field.
No gazelles again today but plenty fresh tracks along central trail.
Bird of the day was an egret flying over gazelle field from about NE to south just over the level of the tree canopy, came flying right over the pine behind the cistern. From what I could tell from underneath in the brief time we saw it, seemed to be a cattle egret though little and great egrets also occur in this country.

This is only my second record of a cattle egret on my patch. Last we saw (very early spring about a year ago) was foraging on the southern slopes of north valley not far below the buildings. Unlike most other herons they're known to feed in dryer grassy areas away from water and look for grasshoppers and other invertebrates. In season there's a regular large breeding colony of them on an island in the lake at the Biblical zoo about 5 miles south of us.

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