Little Egrets

To: <>, <>
Subject: Little Egrets
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:50:54 +1100
Yes Paul, you're quite right about yellow-footed Little Egrets being of the nominate Asian race - that is if there is yellow on the upperside of the toes as well as the underside because as I'm sure you well know, adults of the Australian race have greenish-yellow soles. In more extreme examples, the birds appear to be wearing yellow booties on or to have walked in 2 cm deep bright yellow paint! This subspecies has previously been seen at the WTP Werribee, Victoria, and at Darwin in the Northern Territory where they maintained a presence for several years but I don't know the current situation there. For the first records, see: Carter, M. & Menkhorst, P. (2006), 'Nominate Subspecies of the Little Egret Egretta garzetta garzetta in Australian Territory', Australian Field Ornithology, 23: 104-108. Unfortunately I don't have a pdf of this paper. That paper has photographs that show the diagnostic features. Note that these subspecies also differ in the loral pattern whilst both have mostly black bills in adult plumage. In the Australian subspecies, the bare skin of the lores extends from the eye to the forehead and is bright yellow or orange. In the nominate race the loral pattern is less conspicuous because the pale area is restricted to the upper loral region with the black of the bill continuous through the gape almost to the eye. You should check this to confirm that your bird is of the Asian form.

On the other side of Port Phillip Bay we too have been having an interesting time with Egrets at the Eastern Treatment Plant. On 6 March we had our first Intermediate Egret since March 2001 with the only other recent record nearby being one in March 2006 at Edithvale. On that day we had two other Egrets greatly different in size that confused us for a long while but which I now believe were BOTH juvenile Little Egrets in spite of the size difference. Furthermore, we had similar birds on two other nearby wetlands on Saturday 19 March. The bills on these birds are black distally but yellow on basal half and some have black, not greenish-yellow soles. All the birds were photographed and I have written detailed reports which will be sent to Dave Torr with a view to placing them on the BOCA website. I suspect that they may have bred locally so we are seeing unfamiliar, very young, birds.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC 3930
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

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