Rare Birds in Spain


The Western Reef Heron at cal Roc, Llobregat Delta, 18.9.2000

On Monday 18.9.2000, a phone call alerted us about the presence of a Western Reef Heron in the Llobregat Delta, about 5 km from where we were. After a quick drive, the area was reached and the bird quickly relocated. The egret had been found only an hour ago by Xavier Larruy and Juan Becarés who had given the alert. Guillem Siré and myself arrived afterwards, soon followed by Ferran Lopez, Emma Guinart, Armand Ramal and J.Diego González.

Left to right, top to bottom: A. Ramal, X. Larruy, J.Becarés, R.Gutiérrez, G.Siré, E.Guinart, F.López and J.D.González. Cal Roc,Lllobregat Delta 18.9.2000

The bird was not in a typical dark phase. Already bearing in mind the possibility of hybridisation between E.garzetta and E.gularis (as the logo of this web site demonstrates), careful notes and photos were taken. Comparison with nearby Little Egrets E.garzetta was also possible.

The bird showed a powerful bill, that unlike garzetta had a conical shape, slightly drooping profile and a whitish tip. Grey colored above, the lower mandible was almost yellowish. The greenish lores were also noteworthy. Structure appreciation was the vital clue to this bird ID, the bird being heavier, shorted legged (this particularly visible when walking and in flight), thicker necked, broader and longer winged and certainly not so gracile as the nearby garzetta. Leg colour was also a mixture of grey and green without well defined yellow feet as in garzetta.

Plumage showed an overall dirty-white background with different amounts of slate/ash-grey depending on feathers. A detailed description is being carried out.

For the moment we include a couple of photos of the bird in the photo page.

Ricard Gutiérrez

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