Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Little Egret at Spaniard's Bay, Newfoundland - July 2018

Word reached the birding community of an unidentified egret at Spaniard's Bay on 30 June.  Lois Trickett was walking her dog on the Trailway when the egret flushed.  She posted blurry cell phone pictures on the Newfoundland Birdwatching Facebook. The bird looked like it might have a dark bill so then not a Great Egret left over from the record spring influx.  On 1 July I went to the site which I was thinking of visiting anyway and found the bird perched in a tree on a cold foggy morning.  Within seconds the the two spaghetti head plumes blew up over its head. It was a LITTLE EGRET - 11th record for Newfoundland.  The rest is history as birders and locals enjoyed the celebrity bird. It was also learned that Cathy Johnstone had a cell phone photo showing the Little Egret complete with two head plumes from back on 18 June.  So the bird had already been around for two weeks at least before we found out about it. Being summer time and low migration period it could stick around all summer. The habitat is excellent.  Below are some of my photos from 1 & 2 July 2018.

The very first picture on 1 July. It doesn't show much, but an hour standing here as the bird alternated between sleeping and preening revealed the detail needed to nail the ID. 

This picture shows the classic two spaghetti head plumes and the bluish-gray lores.  Snowy Egret, its North American cousin, has bushy head plumes and yellow lores.  

It made use of the down time at high tide to give itself a full body preen job.  

All the rest of the pictures were taken on 2 July as it fed in the tidal flats by the Trailway (abandoned rail bed made into walking trail). Note the two white spaghetti noodle head plumes and bluish-gray lores.  At least one of these features is visible in every photo separating it from a Snowy Egret. The lack of yellow running up the back of legs and the impression of a larger bill are lesser features to look for.

The Little Egret in a little tidal cove at Spaniard's Bay on 2 July 2018


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