Sunday, 16 August 2009

Little Egret, Upton Warren

Little Egret

Spotted crake was top of the menu, but was off, for this morning’s visit to Upton. A couple of reports late yesterday had driven the early birders in at half-past-five but the crake hadn’t shown by the time I arrived at ten. (I've done my crack-of-dawn starts for a while.) Nor did it oblige later.

A little egret, however, did show to become my 119th species at the site, the only wonder being that I have missed it all this time. Upton has hosted the odd individual recently but the egret doesn't seem to have taken to the place despite becoming increasingly common in Worcestershire.

Little egrets officially became British breeders in the mid-90s on Brownsea Island and, since then, have established themselves widely. Even now their generally accepted UK headquarters is the Island but it seems that not all is well there. As far back as 2005, ravens predated all the nests and it’s hard to find any more recent information. I only went digging because a bloke in the hide today (yeah, the same one as down the pub) asserted that the egrets had failed for the same reason this year. Is it so?

As I was about to call it a morning a splendid kingfisher whirred up to perch for a minute in front of the hide. According to my Collins Bird Guide, it’s possible to separate the sexes when breeding by the colour of the lower bill – pale red for female; black for male. I didn't note that detail on this bird but wonder if it holds outside the breeding season.

So many questions!

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