30 Sept 2014

30 Sep 14 - The New Studland Great White Egret

Just when the Studland Great White Egret & story was looking settled, a pager message on the 28th said 2 Great White Egrets on Littlesea. But there was nothing on the local email group about the second individual, so there was no clue as to the observer. Given this is the most frequently misidentified species in Poole Harbour, then I was interested, but cautious. But the caution was removed by a call 30 minutes later from my mate, Richard Webb, to say he was watching 2 GWEs on Littlesea. This confirmed there was a new individual in town, but he hadn't phoned the original news out. Having just got used to the news we finally had a showy GWE in Poole Harbour, then to have a second individual at Studland was even more remarkable. I was on the end of Old Harry at the time & by the time I had finished Birding there & got to Littlesea & Brands Bay, both GWEs had departed. I did managed to see both late on the follow afternoon at Littlesea, but no chance of any photos. So a couple of return visits were scheduled to look for them. This mornings visit on the rising morning tide to Brands Bay was unsuccessful, but a distant Osprey in the bay was good to see as were the first returning Grey Plovers that flew into the bay. A quick look at Littlesea, failed to find any GWEs, but it wasn't a thorough look as I was keen to get onto Middlebere (but more on that in a future post).
Teal: The only bird close enough to be photographed on this visit & a new species for the blog
Teal: Great to see them back in numbers
By the time I was finally leaving Middlebere, I decided to give Brands Bay another look as the tide should be starting to drop. I arrived to find a couple who I had met earlier at Middlebere by their car. They were just giving up & heading home. Before they left, they confirmed the water was still high & there were no GWEs in the bay. Oh well, it was a bit of a long shot. I then got a non birding phone call before I had had chance to get the scope & camera out of the car. While I was on the phone about 6 Egrets went up from the bay including a GWE: must have been in the side creek & out of sight of the hide after all. Finally, the call ended & I could grab everything & get to hide to see if it was still there.
Great White Egret: Here I am. Before I could get a decent shot it flew to the middle of the bay
The light in Brands Bay at this time of the day is always grim, as checking the best parts of the bay means looking straight into the sun. When it gets really bad, Redshanks can be almost as contrasty as Oystercatchers in some parts of the bay. So the photos aren't great, but even so, I can't see any sign of buff edgings to the coverts in the photos or with the scope. As such, it looks like we should be able to separate these two individuals (if good views or photos are obtained).
Great White Egret: The new individual
Great White Egret: The new individual
Hopefully some better photos will follow in the next few days. Photos of the first GWE can be found here.