Sunday, 11 January 2009

Thursday 8th January 2009

Cattle Egret

At lunchtime today, I nipped round to Exminster Marshes, and wandered along the new trail behind the Swans Nest pub. It was overcast, dull and coldish with a slight north-easterly breeze, with some of the ice now thawing out a bit. My mission was to try and see the Cattle Egrets that were reported from the viewing platform at the end of the trail yesterday. I eventually reached the spot, having to follow several kinks in the trail which seemed to be manufactured to take you the longest possible way round the edge of each field across Powderham Marshes (ie. 3 sides of each one!). As there was practically no birdlife to be seen, I failed to see the point of this. My highlights were a few Mute Swans and a couple of Curlews. Why they should be called Powderham Marshes is also a big puzzle as they are nowhere near Powderham! In fact they are closer to Exminster than anywhere. Oh well! On reaching the platform, I scanned the whole area and saw.........nothing! Feeling somewhat cheated (I had trudged out 1200m to view this after all!), I scoped back towards the lagoon and the end of Swans Nest Lane before leaving. It was then that I spotted this white speck sat on a fence the other side of the lagoon. On focusing my scope and my eye as well as I could, I definitely knew it was a small, white egret. The longer I looked at it, the more I thought it was one of the Cattle Egrets. Not wishing to yeartick such distant views, I trudged back to the car and drove down to the end of Swans Nest Lane, turned the car round and pulled up in the pull-in by the scrapes at the end. There, in all its glory was the Cattle Egret sat on the fence. Just to make sure it was going to be yearticked, it conveniently flew up and landed a lot closer to me! It received rather an unpleasant welcome from 3 Grey Herons, but stood its ground. With there being no other birds around to be seen, and no sign of the reported second bird, I drove off, had a brief fruitless look out over the Exe estuary from Exton station and returned to work.
Later this afternoon, with the last vestiges of light fading, I paid a brief visit to Orcombe Point in Exmouth. There was nothing to be seen of note, apart from my first Gannet of the year, an adult.

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