Thursday, 2 February 2017

Cattle Egret at Huntspill

With this years influx of Cattle Egrets I have been looking out for one with the Little Egrets that roost around Huntspill since the autumn. Pete got lucky on our last visit with a flyover bird at Combwich in January after he found a bird in Devon late last year. I finally got lucky yesterday as an egret flew across the A38 at dawn and its mechanical, quick flaps and awkward shape attracted attention and as it came out of silhouette an obvious yellow beak was seen. Pete was in the passenger seat and we both jumped to the same conclusion after the I pointed the bird out.

Largely forgetting about the Egret I cracked on with my survey work near the Huntspill sluice and I was joined by a couple who were trying to get photos of the Avocet flock. After an hour in which they were only rewarded with Redshank and Dunlin on the closest bit of mud I heard some tinkling trills of a passerine which I instantly knew was the Snow Bunting which has been doing the rounds between Burnham and Huntspill. The bird dropped in 10 yards up the path onto the rock armour and posed briefly before crossing the track and foraging for over and hour in the margins.

On leaving we noted a load of egrets in pastures which prompted a quick scan and the second bird had a blunt yellow bill. Sadly we had a queue of cars behind us so no time for snaps but it was seen by a number of locals in the afternoon.

Paul and myself moved onto Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall hoping for a few new bits and pieces. In the car park I bumped into the photographers who I saw earlier in the day and mentioned the Cattle Egret to which the woman of the couple said she had some photos and promptly found the bird amongst the throng of its Little Egret relatives in the pictures. Kicking about the reserve we failed to connect with anything of interest aside from five Great White Egrets.

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive