Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The urbanised egret

Since 2008 a dark morph Pacific Reef Egret has been seen fishing in a canal on the east coast. It recently became the subject of much interest to photographers who been following the bird up and down the canal to try to catch shots of it fishing. 
This shoreline egret comes in two colors. One form (or morph) is completely white, with a pale yellow bill and yellow-gray legs. The other morph has a similarly colored bill and legs, but its plumage is dark gray. Pacific Reef Egrets hunt alone or in small groups, feeding on small fish, crabs, and mollusks. When hunting, they hold their heads and bodies almost horizontally and often shade the water with their half-spread wings.
Typically this uncommon Singapore resident is be found on our rocky shores, exposed reef flats and sometimes along sandy shore and low-tide mud around mangroves. However, this individual seems to have found itself a niche in a concrete waterway that still ebb and flow with the tides. You can't miss the bird as it is a solitary individual in the canal with a couple of Little Herons for company. When I was there during the weekend, it was hunting as the tide flowed in. It was hard to see with the glare of the sun on the water but small fish were coming in with the tide and the bird was having a feast chasing these fish.
Here it was seen skimming over the water chasing its prey before landing to try to catch its meal.

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