In Salthouse today it was a matter of looking at the various groups of cows grazing the fields near the saltmarsh: This was because there were cattle egrets around. These are another of the heron-like birds that are gradually colonising the UK. Small egrets with bright orange bills, they are regular now over here but not yet anywhere near as widespread as little egrets. I’ve seen them before but – when I found this group of four in among one herd of cattle – these were my first for 2023. They were all in their plain white non-breeding plumage.
They really do associate with cattle, and I guess in earlier times with any native large herbivores in southern Europe, presumably because they churn up the ground with their hooves and produce plenty of “name of relevant herbivore”-pats, thereby encouraging hosts of insects for the egrets to feed on (they’ll also eat worms, small reptiles and frogs).
Very smart birds, and it was great to see four together.
Brenda writes: “There was a tremendous thunderstorm overnight and so it’s no wonder that there were many fewer moths in my extremely soggy egg boxes: 2 turnips, 3 setaceous Hebrew characters, 1 flounced rustic, 1 lesser yellow underwing and only 21 large yellow underwings. Keeping company with them were a number of what I call ‘daddy longlegs’.
Heading into Wells after the wind and rain, I picked up my first ‘conkers’, the fruits of the horse-chestnut tree. They’re not good to eat and I believe the only use they have ever been put to – apart from the well-known children’s game – is for making gunpowder.”**
New species for September 19th:
Birds: cattle egret
TOTALS TO DATE:
Birds = 218
Moths = 228
Wildflowers = 280
**See this article