1 Apr 2015

Little Egrets fishing

Who'd have believed that over 30 years ago when I twitched a Little Egret that they'd become a successful colonist and so common that I regularly get one feeding in the grounds of a special school a few minutes walk from my house! They're even on my garden list as its presumably the same bird feeding near by that first flew over the garden on the 24th December 2013.

They've become regular visitors to the tidal channels around Hilbre at low tide and I had the chance to view one close up recently and watch its fishing technique. I'm assuming they are feeding on shrimps that they disturb from the sandy bottom by 'paddling' in the way gulls do on land to bring worms to the surface.

I could  see the water surface vibrate as they 'puddled the bottom. Once a prey item had been disturbed they made a sudden dart to catch it before resuming the stirring up of the bottom again. Occasionally they'd make a dash across the water to try and catch a small fish or shrimp that had fled.

 In the photo below the bird is puddling the bottom wit hits feet to disturb prey. You can see the vibrations on the water surface.
 There it goes! The chase is on.

 Got it.

Another successful technique is peering around the edges of rocks, presumably for small crabs or fish.

They're opportunistic feeders and the one by my house must be feeding on amphibians or small fish in the stream that runs through the school grounds. Who'd have thought 30 years that Little Egrets would have become so common in some areas they barely warrant a second glance. But, somewhere out there, there must be another vagrant Snowy Egret so I'll keep looking....................

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