Posts Tagged ‘Cattle Egret’

I was reminded the other day of just how much our bird life has changed over the course of my birdwatching life (c40 years). Many of the species I regarded as regulars even 20 years ago have now become rare in, or indeed disappeared from, the UK and some species which we regarded as Mediteranean then are now common. Predominant amongst those are the white ‘Herons’ – Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Egret and Spoonbill. I remember it taking me around 10 years till I saw my first Little Egret. It became a species I kept missing, always arriving after it had moved on. Now I see them in my local park and more often than not, I see more of them than Grey Herons on trips to estuaries. They even breed in London now. The other 3 species also now breed in the UK and are found in increasing numbers and are no longer considered rarities. A sign of the changing time and climate.

Cattle Egret

Posted: December 29, 2017 in Birds, Natural History


A small Egret which used to be very rare in Britain, but whose numbers have increased over recent years along with other members of the Egret family. It is estimated that the Uk wintering population is around 100 birds and a pair bred in the UK in 2008 and individual pairs have nested since then.

The name comes from the bird’s habit of feeding on insects and worms disturbed by the hooves of cattle and other livestock in fields.

Arrived in Aberystwyth, West Wales at Lunchtime to meet up with local birder John Davis, who is my guide for the next few days and two other visitors, Jen and Karen. Our first stop is Ynyslas at the mouth of the Dyfii estuary.

Ynyslas. Photo by Alex Jane (

As we walk down to the estuary we survey the surrounding fields as there have been a number of good birds found here in the past few days. There is a large group of Canada Geese but nothing else and then I see two white birds making their way through the undergrowth in a distant field – it is 2 of the group of Cattle Egrets that have been around. Even at this distance, we can see the beautiful breeding plumage.

Cattle Egrets -Ynyslas

After watching them for a period we make our way down to the estuary, but there is quite a lot of disturbance and not many birds are seen apart from a Red Kite, a Little Egret and a single Oystercatcher.

Red Kite

We make our way back the way we have come and were delighted to see 4 Cattle Egrets in a much nearer field and giving much better views than before.

Cattle Egrets -Ynyslas

Our attention is drawn away by a white-headed gull in the field as an American Ring-billed Gull has been seen in the area, but this turns out to be a Common Gull (not a common summer sighting in this area).

Clarach Bay

Our next stop was at Clarach Bay where as we climbed onto the cliff-top we found a pair of Wheatear along with Red Kite, Meadow Pipit and Linnet.

Northern Wheatear. Photo by Michael Bamford (

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)