We have recorded the nominate subspecies at Leanyer Sewage Ponds in
Darwin on 20/09/2009 (1 bird) and 28/11/2009 (2 birds).
Cheers, Pete Kyne and Micha Jackson
On Behalf Of Mike
Sent: Monday, 21 March 2011 3:21 PM
Subject: Little Egrets
Yes Paul, you're quite right about yellow-footed Little Egrets being of
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
the Australian race have greenish-yellow soles. In more extreme
the birds appear to be wearing yellow booties on or to have walked in 2
deep bright yellow paint!
This subspecies has previously been seen at the WTP Werribee, Victoria,
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
Carter, M. & Menkhorst, P. (2006), 'Nominate Subspecies of the Little
Egretta garzetta garzetta in Australian Territory', Australian Field
Ornithology, 23: 104-108. Unfortunately I don't have a pdf of this
That paper has photographs that show the diagnostic features.
Note that these subspecies also differ in the loral pattern whilst both
mostly black bills in adult plumage. In the Australian subspecies, the
skin of the lores extends from the eye to the forehead and is bright
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
of the bill continuous through the gape almost to the eye. You should
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
time with Egrets at the Eastern Treatment Plant. On 6 March we had our
Intermediate Egret since March 2001 with the only other recent record
being one in March 2006 at Edithvale. On that day we had two other
greatly different in size that confused us for a long while but which I
believe were BOTH juvenile Little Egrets in spite of the size
Furthermore, we had similar birds on two other nearby wetlands on
19 March. The bills on these birds are black distally but yellow on
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
Torr with a view to placing them on the BOCA website. I suspect that
may have bred locally so we are seeing unfamiliar, very young, birds.
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