5 Oct 2014

5 Oct 14 - The 'Lush' Great White Egret In Brands Bay

A week ago, the pager was buzzing about the appearance of a second Great White Egret at Littlesea, Studland. I managed to see both at Littlesea the following day, but too far for photos. They seem to have their own routines & since that time I've only run into the second individual. On 30 Sep, I managed to get some distant shots of the new GWE at Brands Bay, Studland, which were good enough to be able to see this bird has white wing coverts & doesn't have the buff edges to the secondary & median wing coverts that the first GWE showed. I been hoping to bump into the new GWE to get some better pictures. This bird seems to have a routine which involves a morning before moving to Brownsea for a few hours. With the pagers stating it was on Brownsea, then I didn't hold out much hope for seeing it as I left the house to check out Brands Bay for the dropping tide. The bay was pretty typical with a Grey Plover, around 230 Black-wits, 100 or so Redshanks & a few Dunlin. The highlight was the Osprey was still sitting on its distant perch & occasionally flying around at the back of the bay, but no repeat of its oscar-wining performance of fishing close to the hide from the previous day. Still the other visitors to the hide were pleased to see it when I pointed out it where it was roosting. I was just getting ready to leave, when the favour was returned when one of the others pointed out there was a Great White Egret about 50 metres in front of the hide. The joys of scanning the back of the bay with the scope, is you can miss the bleeding obvious arriving.
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual
Fortunately, it quickly flew, but only a few metres before dropping in again. This was the opportunity I was hoping for as it would allow me to see if there were any buff edgings to the wing coverts. In the first set photos of this  new GWE in Brands Bay on 30 Sep, it looked like it had white wing coverts, but there was the chance this was missed as the photos were a little over exposed & it was quite distant. But as this better set of photos confirms, the wing coverts are the expected gleaming white. Perhaps this individual is sponsored by Lush Cosmetics, given its gleaming white looks & its appearance at Brands Bay was timed for the imminent arrival of the Mark & Mo Costantine (owners of Lush) for the monthly Wetlands Bird Survey, WeBS: which was timed to start in the next 45 minutes.
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. Note, the clean white wing coverts: perhaps this GWE has taken part in a Lush soap commercial
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. It's clear that both wings have fresh primaries & secondaries with no gaps, which would imply this was a 1st Winter bird
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual
I was wanting to get a clear shot of the wings to see if the bird was in moult, as juvenile/first Winter birds won't be in moult as their feathers are all fresh, but GWEs that are one year or more old should be in moult at this time of the year. This GWE looks like a typical 1st Winter with pure white wing coverts, which is what the books indicate they should look like (unlike the initial individual). It has also got a black tipped bill which again seems to be shown by most juvenile/first Winter birds.
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. Fortunately, it quickly dropped back down & landed whilst it was still in front of the hide
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. Finally, the feathers are all in the right place
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. There is no sign of buff in the closed wing
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. This individual has a stronger black tip to the bill & brighter bare skin area
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. Check out this impressive feet
To allow comparison between the two individuals, here are the photos of the first GWE in Brands Bay on 16 Sep. I later saw both GWEs on Littlesea, so this individual is still around around, although I haven't seen it in Brands Bay for a few days.
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. First individual. Note, the buffy edge to the lower end of the wing. Brands Bay (16 Sep 14)
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. Second individual. The black tip is less obvious than on the second individual. Brands Bay (16 Sep 14)
Great White Egret: 1st Winter. First individual. The buff edgings to the secondary coverts are fairly obvious on a good, slightly under-exposed photo. The buff is also visible on the underside of the inner secondaries in the closed wing. Brands Bay (16 Sep 14)

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