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Adult Western Reef Heron at Punta de la Banya, Ebre Delta, August 2002. 

David Bigas, Ferran Blanch, Oriol Clarabuch, Emma Guinart & Ricard Gutiérrez
Photos  by Ricard Gutiérrez

Introduction

The last report of the Spanish Rarities Committee, CR/SEO, (Ardeola 49(1),2002: 141-171): deals with a review of all known records of dark egrets, either pure Western Reef Herons (or egrets) Egretta gularis or presumed hybrids between this and Little egret Egretta gularis x garzetta. The process of avaluation of the 49 records submitted up to year 2000 was carried out mainly by a working group within CR/SEO in which DB and RG, plus our friend J.I.Díes, from Valencia, took part. One of the conclusions we obtained is that much attention is needed to structure and plumage characteristics of any claimed bird. There seems to be quite a high variation in possible hybrids shape and immature plumages of gularis are not as well known as those of adults. Hence, any photographic documentation of any claim would be very interesting to make decissions easier and helping in achieving an information background enough important to deal with difficult cases. 

On 18.7.2002, a dark phase adult Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis gularis appeared at Punta de la Banya, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona (F.Blanch, D.Bigas). The bird remained at least until 5.8 when several photos were taken by DB and RG in a visit done by the above authors. The bird was an adult due to the presence of ornamental feathers and lack of any contrast in plumage, being all feathers of the same generation. Besides, it was a typical dark bird with white restricted to the chin-throat area. 

We think this bird can be the same adult that lingered in the area in 2001, when it was also photographed exactly in the same part of Punta de la Banya reserve (see photos here, opens in another window). Besides similar behaviour and shape, the bird showed the same iris grey/greenish tone and the same face pattern, with one side of head with a better defined pattern than the other.

The 2001 record was submitted to the CR/SEO and was  and we look forward to have this 2002 record accepted as well.

Photographs

All photos depicting adult Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis gularis at Punta de la Banya, Ebre Delta, Tarragona, 5.8.2002, taken through Kowa TSN824 at 60x using Agfa e-photo 1680 by Ricard Gutiérrez. 


Western Reef Heron (or Egret) Egretta gularis gularis. Adult breeding plumage. Punta de la Banya,          Ebre Delta, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Note overall structure, with dagger-llike bill shape, relatively short legs and long neck giving a rather hunchback looking. 
Garceta dimorfa Egretta gularis gularis. Adulto en plumaje nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta del Ebro, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Notad la estructura general, con el pico en forma de daga, patas relativamente cortas y cuello largo que de un cierto aspecto de jorobado al ave.
Martinet dels Esculls de la ssp. occidental Egretta gularis gularis. Adult en plomatge nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Noteu l'estructura general, amb el bec en forma de daga, potes relativament curtes y el coll bastant llarg que li dona un cert aspecte de geperut.


Western Reef Heron (or Egret) Egretta gularis gularis. Adult breeding plumage. Punta de la Banya,          Ebre Delta, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). In this bird there was no white in wing feathering.
Garceta dimorfa Egretta gularis gularis. Adulto en plumaje nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta del Ebro, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). En este ejemplar no había nada de blanco en las alas.
Martinet dels Esculls de la ssp. occidental Egretta gularis gularis. Adult en plomatge nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Aquest ocell no presentava blanc a les ales.


Western Reef Heron (or Egret) Egretta gularis gularis. Adult breeding plumage. Punta de la Banya,          Ebre Delta, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Compared to the first photo, note differences in face pattern, with one side showing a more defined dark line on white background than the other. The iris was greyish-green and bill not entirely black but greyish-horn.
Garceta dimorfa Egretta gularis gularis. Adulto en plumaje nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta del Ebro, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Comparando con la primera foto, se pueden apreciar diferencias en el patrón de la cara, con un lado que presenta una línea oscura más definida sobre fondo blanco que el otro. El iris era verdoso gris y el pico no enteramente negro sino gris-'cuerno'.
Martinet dels Esculls de la ssp. occidental Egretta gularis gularis. Adult en plomatge nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Compareu amb la primera foto per veure que la cara té una línia fosca ben definida en un costat i a l'altre no tant. A més, l'iris és verdós grisós i el bec no és negre sinó d'un to gris-banya.


Western Reef Heron (or Egret) Egretta gularis gularis. Adult breeding plumage. Punta de la Banya,          Ebre Delta, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). The bird was keeping both head and mantle ornamental feathering. Note bill shape.
Garceta dimorfa Egretta gularis gularis. Adulto en plumaje nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta del Ebro, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). El ave presentaba plumas ornamentales en manto y cabeza. Notad la forma del pico.
Martinet dels Esculls de la ssp. occidental Egretta gularis gularis. Adult en plomatge nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). L'ocell presentava plomes ornamentals al cap i mantell. Noteu també l'estructura del bec.


Western Reef Heron (or Egret) Egretta gularis gularis. Adult breeding plumage. Punta de la Banya,          Ebre Delta, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez).The feet were yellow and the transition with legs was rather well defined, unlike in other individuals of this species. 
Garceta dimorfa Egretta gularis gularis. Adulto en plumaje nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta del Ebro, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Los pies eran amarillos y la transición con las patas era bastante definida, a diferencia de otros individuos de esta especie.
Martinet dels Esculls de la ssp. occidental Egretta gularis gularis. Adult en plomatge nupcial. Punta de la Banya, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona. 5.8.2002 (© Ricard Gutiérrez). Els peus eren grocs i la transició amb les potes erea bastant definida, a diferència d'altres exemplars d'aquesta espècie.



RG wants to thank all those who made possible this sighting, especially DB ab FB plus all the authors submitting records to CR/SEO which help to clarify the difficulties in identification of this species and their hybrids. RG quiere agradecer a todos los que hicieron posible esta cita, especialmente a DB y FB además de a todos los autores que envian citas al CR/SEO y que ayudan a clarificar las dificultades de identificación de esta especie y sus híbridos. RG vol donar les gràcies  a tots els que van fer possible aquesta cita, en especial a DB i FB a més d'agrair a tots els autors que envïin cites al CR/SEO per ajudar a clarificar l'estatut d'aquesta espècie i dels seus híbrids.

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Els Ocells del Delta del Llobregat
Ricard Gutiérrez, P.Esteban, F.X. Santaeufemia. Lynx eds.,173 pages, 1995
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Adult Western Reef Heron at Punta de la Banya, Ebre delta, August 2002.

Summary:
Introduction
Photographs
Acknowledgements


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