Up here on the Gold Coast I have been photographing a colony of Egrets from across the water to a small island, the rookery consists of Eastern Great Egrets, Plumed Egrets , Little Egrets and now many Eastern Cattle Egrets have moved in.
They are not disturbed by my presence as I’m in cover and they come and land within three mts of me to pick up sticks for their nest building.
There is a single male Eastern Great Egret who sits and stands in the same spot on a platform he has made by bending down branches and leaves in a Rubber Tree
and performs its courtship ritual day after day.
He stretches his neck straight as far as he can go, pointing his beak high to the sky standing as high as he can to make himself look big.
He then bends his neck and runs his beak down his breast right down between his legs.
He then straightens his neck and points his beak into the leaves low down from the position he is standing in the Rubber Tree and pulls at the leaves.
Then he squats and ruffles his feathers and plumes, opens his wings half way but does not flap them and does a shimmy while squatting up and down and then does it allover again.
This has gone on continuously for days with preening and sleeps in-between.
I can see it is getting very frustrated and agitated, not being able to attract a mate.
Several other males standing on unfinished nests often do the same courtship ritual.
He watches all the others males gathering sticks and bringing them back to their mates for her to build the nest.
He eventually went and got a stick and stood on his platform for a long time playing with the stick until he decided to present it to a female making a nest nearby that he had been watching , she resented his presence and a fight broke out and he gave her a terrible belting so much she took off until her mate came back.
A couple of days later there was great commotion as he had approached the nest again while both birds were present and a fight broke out that was that vigorous that both males ended up falling and landed in the water below.
The nest building continued and there were about twelve pairs of Eastern Great Egrets nesting within ten mts of the bachelor.
I was watching one particular male taking off and going to the bank of the pond to pick up sticks and it was on my left and as he came back each time he went behind some trees out of sight and as I was getting some good shots I would focus on the female and as he appeared I would catch him approaching and handing over the stick to his mate for her to place in the nest.
This went on for nearly an hour and I noticed the bachelor had moved to a position where he could see the male come and go and was watching closely.
I didn’t think much of it until looking through the camera I saw the male leave his nest and when he went behind the tree the bachelor flew in pinned the female down so she could not move and mated with her ( RAPED HER ) getting off just before he mate arrived back, none the wiser !!!
My question. Is this a normal thing for Egrets ?
I have photographed gangs of Australian White Ibis strutting around under the rookery and when a pair of Ibis try to mate they rush and push in and gang rape the female.
I have photographed all these goings on and would like to hear your thoughts .