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Identification 

 
Rare Birds in Spain

Identification

Modesta Great White Egret Egretta alba modesta at Llobregat Delta, Barcelona on 7th November 2003?

Text by Ricard Gutiérrez
Vidcaps from original video-tape by Juan Bescós. 

Introduction
Description
Photos
 


Introduction

On 7.11.2003 I was in a hurry as always by 14:45, about to leave the reserve and head home. However, after a day of meetings, a brief visit to the marsh hide was better than nothing. Just to see what was about. There were, as noticeable, three Great White Egrets in the marsh, the highest number this autumn 2003 so far. However, one was in what I thought it was breeding plumage! A bit late for a bird that, at least in the birds that breed in the Ebro delta, is only in this breeding 'suite' for a few days... I phoned the Biological Station for if any interested and Xavier Santaeufemia just told me that one of our most regular visitors, Juan Bescós, had just seen the three egrets including the 'breeding plumaged' individual.

Juan Bescós and Ricard Gutiérrez were the only observers since the three birds departed that day not being visible during the weekend. They had been in the reserve only for the friday 7.11.2003 afternoon. The record was included in the database of the reserve and afterwards featured in the recent reports section of this website. And nothing had happened if the AERC website had not been updated and the existance of a gallery on the presence of this form reminded. 
Was our bird one of those? When seeing the photos I recalled the presence of Juan Bescós. Next morning we learned he had fortunately taken a video of the bird!! So the images and footage could be assessed. This page deals with that material so we can collect information and ideas on this bird and if it could have been a modesta Great White Egret.


Description

Basically as a winter plumaged  Egretta alba alba but diferring in:
1,. Bare part coloration. Bill black, legs orange-pinkish. Lores and eye yellowish-green.
2.- Subtle differences in structure: a bit smaller individual, the bill looked finer though scope and in the video but some vidcaps shown below do not seem to show a so thiner bill...

According to Voisin, C. 1991 The Herons of Europe, the complete reddish legs would not be present in the nominate ssp even in the highest peak of breeding season. None of the c.200 overwintering birds in NE Spain has ever shown this plumage.


Videocaptures

You can download the full 5,1 Mb video in Windows Media Video (*.wmv) format from this link (hosted in the Llobregat Delta Nature Reserves website)

All videocaptures copyrighted by Juán Bescós





The photo above shows a typical Egretta alba alba in winter plumage and it appears at the end of the video, It was taken at exactly the same place and at the same distance. It is included for comparison purposes. Id' say the size is a bit bigger, neck is thicker and bill appears (better seen in the video) thicker, but black colour can influence this.

La foto de arriba muestra una típica garceta grande nominal en plumaje de invierno tal y como aparece al final 
del video. Estaba en el mismo sitio y a la misma distancia que la otra. Se incluye a efectos de comparación. Yo diría que el tamaño era algo mayor, con el cuello algo más ancho y el pico (se ve mejor en el video) algo más robusto si bien el color negro ya se sabe que tiende a hacer más delgadas las cosas.

La foto de dalt mostra un típic agró blanc en plomatge d'hivern tal i com apareix al final del video. Estaba al mateix lloc que l'altre i a la mateixa distància. S'inclou a efectes comparatius. Jo diria que era de tamany una mica més gran, amb el coll un pel més ample i el bec (millor mireu el video) una mica més robust, per bé què el color negre ja se sap que tendeix a aprimar.

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All comments received on this bird are strongly suggesting the modesta spp with no alba bird ever known to see such an extent of red in the legs.







Modesta Great White Egret Egretta alba modesta at Llobregat Delta, Barcelona on 7th November 2003?
 

Introduction
Description
Videocaptures

 

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24.11.2003