Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cattle Egret Chase

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.

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