I got home expecting to sit around, with a possible excursion to Bass Lake to try for a few migrants. My plans changed after checking eBird's Rare Bird Alert for North Carolina. A Cattle Egret, a rare bird for Wake County with only a handful of records, had been spotted 30 minutes away at Lake Crabtree. I somehow convinced my mom (not a birder) to let me go up there, and she decided to go with me. We wandered around the park for a good thirty minutes with no luck. On the way back to our car, we decided to double-check the field it was initially spotted in earlier that morning. I was talking about how the bird had already high-tailed it out of there when a white object caught my eye. It was the egret!
Cattle Egrets have a strange history. Originally a native of the Old World, they flew across the Atlantic from Africa and "invaded" South America in the mid-20th Century. Since then, they have been expanding their breeding range northward into the United States. These birds seem like they are straight from the African savannah, with their buff-colored crest and stocky figure, and in a sense they are. Cattle Egret is life list #260 and year list #194 - a great way to close out the month of April.
This Saturday, my friends and I will embark on a Big Day for Wake County - trying to see as many species in 24 hours as possible. The summary of this adventure will likely be my next post.