Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cattle Egrets Nesting at Murphy Park

Whereas the Great Egrets started nest building earlier in the year and are now caring for chicks, the Cattle Egrets still appear to be building their nests and beginning to incubate eggs. They are certainly now in full breeding plumage including the red-orange bills.  As we observed earlier in the year, the Cattle Egrets stake our the lower branches of the trees as well as much of the cane.

Canon SX-50 HS - f/6.5, 1/400sec, ISO-200
Large flocks of them also settle on the east shore of the pond, where there are less people.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L - 400mm,  f/9, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800
Much of the group activity on shore seems to be stick hunting. I saw several egrets pulling on the twigs poking out from the ground cover. Others were able to find a quiet perch in the bare tree branches for some preening.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L - 400mm, f/9, 1/1000 sec, ISO-400

Not sure if this egret is looking for food or the perfect stick but it looks pretty intense. I did not see any cattle egret fishing in the pond but did see them drinking at the water's edge. Unlike the Great Egrets, I believe that these mostly eat insects they gather on pasture land.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L - 400mm, f/9, 1/1000 sec, ISO-400, EC -0.3
Occasionally one of the twigs comes free and the lucky bird flys back to the island with its prize.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L - 250mm, f/9, 1/3200 sec, ISO-800, EC -0.3

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