• Sim Elliott

A second trip to RSPB Pagham Harbour: the glory of Cattle Egrets and some Yellow Wagtails 25.09.21

On Saturday 25.09.21 I returned to Pagham Harbour as I so enjoyed seeing the Cattle Egrets on Tuesday 22.09.21. This time I took my spotting scope to get a closer look at them.


On the way to the North Wall to see the Cattle Egret, I stopped off at the Ferry Pool where there were Dunlin, Calidris alpina, and and Lapwings, Vanellus vanellus

and Black Tailed Godwits


On the way to north well I saw many dead crabs washed up on the saltmarsh mud flats


and this Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum


and a Mallard hybrid


The Cattle Egrets and Yellow Wagtails


14/09/21The cattle egrets began to congregate on the Selsey peninsula in large numbers in the winter a few years ago, before some started to nest and breed at Pagham Harbour in 2020 – the first time in Sussex. Cattle egrets first bred in Britain in 2008, in Somerset, and in Hampshire for the first time in 2019. This year, it is thought that seven pairs nested and at least 10 young fledged at Pagham. Country diary: clouds of chattering sand martins swirl above our heads | Birds | The Guardian



Yellow wagtails rise from the long grass, flicking their long tails, and drop back down again. They, too, are feasting on the insects being stirred up by the cattle. Some wagtails flit over our heads with the martins, tweeting sweetly, and then fly back to the field to feed before they head south. Country diary: clouds of chattering sand martins swirl above our heads | Birds | The Guardian


The yellow wagtail is a small, graceful, yellow and green bird, with a medium-length tail and slender black legs. It spends much time walking or running on the ground. As its name implies, it wags its tail from time to time.


It is a summer visitor, migrating to winter in Africa. It breeds in a variety of habitats in the UK, including arable farmland, wet pastures and upland hay meadows. Serious declines in breeding numbers across all of these habitats place the yellow wagtail on the red list of birds of conservation concern. Yellow Wagtail Bird Facts | Motacilla Flava - The RSPB


History of Cattle Egrets in the UK

16/07/2019

Western Cattle Egret nests in three new counties

Western Cattle Egret has bred in three counties for the first time this year, as the species' seemingly inevitable – yet somewhat drawn out – colonisation continues. Nesting birds have been confirmed in Essex, Hampshire and Northamptonshire for the first time, with the species only previously breeding in Cheshire and Somerset.

The species has increased significantly during the past decade. In winter 2007/8, an influx numbering some 200 individuals resulted in at least two pairs breeding on the Somerset Levels in summer 2008. Another large influx occurred in winter 2015/6 and, the following summer, at least one pair nested in Cheshire. Western Cattle Egret nests in three new counties - BirdGuides


28/05/2020


Western Cattle Egret breeds in Sussex for first time


Western Cattle Egret has bred in Sussex for the first time, with five pairs nesting in a Little Egret and Grey Heron colony at Pagham Harbour.

After an up-and-down decade since the first confirmed British breeding in 2008, the species enjoyed a best-ever nesting season in 2019. This included the first breeding record for Hampshire at Langstone Mill Pond – some 18 km from Pagham as the egret flies – where as many as seven nests were tallied in early July last year. Western Cattle Egret breeds in Sussex for first time - BirdGuides









This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) - BirdLife species factsheet




This is the 2011 BirdLife distribution map of Cattle Egrets, Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) - BirdLife species factsheet; showing no resident Cattle Egret in the UK!




Slightly smaller but much rarer than the little egret, cattle egrets are visiting the UK in increasing numbers. They often spend time close to livestock and grab insects and worms which their hooves disturb. Cattle egrets have yellow or greyish legs and a yellow beak, compared to the black legs (with yellow feet) and black beak of the little egret. Cattle Egret Bird Facts | Bubulcus Ibis - The RSPB


A very, very late Bramble blossom


Dusk scenes


A Grey Heron



Oystercatchers and Herring Gulls


A Black Headed Gulls and Redshanks



Common Sandpipers in flight


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