Saturday, June 25, 2011

Egrets Near Trafalgar

While ibis are a common sight in Gippsland, egrets are less often seen and generally appear in small numbers rather than large flocks, as they sometimes do in the north. Four of the five Australian species occur in our region: three are classified just by size (the Little, Intermediate and Great Egrets) and then there is the Cattle Egret, recognizable by the orange plumage on its head and throat during the breeding season in summer. The others are rather difficult to tell apart in the field unless you can get close or see them during the breeding season, when the Little Egret often has a couple of long ‘head-ribbon’ feathers from the back of its head and the Intermediate Egret’s bill turns red. Also the combined length of the Great Egret’s neck and head when outstretched is notably longer than the length of its body. The three smaller species are quite common in eastern Australia and can be found in other countries of the Indian Ocean and Australasian regions. Being water birds they are sure to enjoy our wet winter. These two, which are either the Little or the Intermediate, were on Willow Grove Road near Trafalgar.

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