Sunday, 4 October 2009

Great (White) Egret, nr Pershore

Great Egret

Egretta alba according to the Collins Bird Guide; Ardea alba to Wildlife Recorder (WR) and BirdGuides, which includes the “White” in its name. WR only includes “White” for its alternative Egretta alba scientific name. Sibley in the US and Morcombe in Aus both agree on great egret Ardea alba but Robertson & Heather in New Zealand call it white heron Egretta alba. And Robson for South-East Asia throws a complete spanner in the scientific works with Casmerodius albus.

Is this the same bird around the world? To which genus does it belong? Ardea tends to be the herons and Egretta, the egrets. I've had trouble with consolidating worldwide records for this species since I first started seeing it. The confusion seems to be historic and Wikipedia suggests that the egret is in fact a heron, with the possibility that the down-under race is a separate species.

Got that straight? The visitor to Worcestershire showed for all of three seconds this afternoon, less than 1% of the time it took to sort out its taxonomy. Still, the glimpse was long enough to identify black feet, which in the absence of an accurate size is the best distinction from little egret. I was happy enough with it anyway.

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