Thursday, 30 December 2010
A pair of Little Egrets has established themselves around the streams which serve the village this winter. They're easy to spot, as they often rest on the field verges, or are seen flying over the village. Many people (mostly our village dog walkers) must have seen them in recent weeks.
Despite the cold weather, frequent disturbance and the stream seemingly choked in weed, the birds have not abandoned the village. This is because the stream has never frozen-up and must hold sufficient numbers of Sticklebacks, (their favourite prey) to make the feeding territory worthwhile. I wonder if it also means that there are more Little Egrets around, and therefore scarcer feeding territories to to move to - (better to stay put than fight?).
Driving out of the village this morning, I spotted this bird 'walking' in the field behind the Scout hut. I pulled-up the car, and then, hidden behind the road-side hedge, I watched it quarrying insects out of patches of horse dung - (isn't that what Cattle Egrets are supposed to do?). The bird walked past me surprisingly close, enabling some close quarter pictures.
What's interesting about this Egret is that it appears to have acquired its summer plume feathers on its chest and back already for spring 2011. The bird will presumably depart in spring to one of the Kent Heronries to breed far away from Shadoxhurst.
I have wondered for some weeks now, how I'd get close enough to the birds to get a decent picture, but it came to be that luck would once again give me a helping hand! So despite a very damp and murky day, our village Little Egret has provided an elegant ornithological highlight to end the year.
Posted by Nick Green at 6:19 pm