Friday, May 16, 2008

Ornithology corner volume 96

Every now and again I'm happy enough with a shot of a bird (or, indeed, birds) to stick it up here on the blog; birding is probably a pretty stupid hobby for a bloke with a white stick, but it keeps me happy.

Anyway, I took this one on the Plym estuary a while back and I've been saving it for a slow news day so I can bore readers rigid with it.

Three little egrets out hunting for small crustaceans to have for lunch.

It's hard to believe but little egrets, now so common on estuaries throughout southern England and Cornwall, were a very rare sight indeed only a short time ago. Twitchers would mobilise if one was reported. I remember my mum and dad (who were not twitchers, just interested in birds) getting very excited when they spotted one at Slapton Sands on a family camping holiday in the late 1970s; despite being keen birders for many years they'd never seen one.

They're easy birds to identify; nothing else in this country looks quite like them; great white egrets don't make it this far north as a rule and cattle egrets are very rarely seen on these shores. For definite ID, check out their feet. They're the only wading bird to have black legs and yellow feet, looking as if they've been walking through a bowl of custard.

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