Feeding behaviour of herons: 2. Intermediate Egret

Part 1 dealing with the feeding behaviour of the Chinese Pond Heron can be accessed HERE.

“I am not always confident of differentiating non-breeding Great from Intermediate Egrets but am of the opinion these are Intermediate Egrets (above).

“Intermediate Egrets were not numerous at this site (>12) and were hard to photograph actually fishing. Never actually let me come close.

“Their foraging behaviour limited (see Dr David R Wells 1999). Saw them fishing very much like the Little Egrets but less elegent in flight. Made short sallies (not as long as Little Egrets) out from a perch and came back successful numerous times. They chose less deep water areas to fish.

“My ‘window’ of view limited ‘data capture’ and a few usable frames attached.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Tambun Interior, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Ex-mining pool adjacent to limestone hills and secondary growth
December 2010

Tou Jing Yi wrote in support Amar’s identification…

“You are right, your close up shots on the face is very helpful for ID, the best clear cut characteristic is the bill gape, it DOES NOT extend beyond the eyes, indicating an Intermediate, Great should have that extended well beyond their eyes.

“Other characteristics are harder to observe:
1. Size: Intermediate is only slightly bigger than the Little Egret in terms of body but longer neck, best tell only when you have a Little beside it. Greats are as big as Ardea herons, but beware of the depth of vision, they can easily fool you, so if they are on the same depth, is easier to estimate the size.

2. Face Jizz: The Intermediate has a rounder crown, shorter ratio of bill (I find this variable, very stout and short in some but quite long as well in some others), giving it a warmer and gentle look. Greats have pretty long big bills, much like the Ardeas (in fact it is likely more closely related to Ardeas), the eyes seemed to be like less wide open, making it looked a bit like very fierce looking when you get a good look on the face, the crown often flatter.

3. Neck: Intermediate has less kink in the neck Great had a stronger kink, I find this almost not very useful, to hard to judge how kink the neck is

“Intermediate seems to have a broader base at the neck and extended up to be smaller, making it seems to have a smaller head. Greats seemed to have pretty slim looking long neck and a bigger looking head

“Due to these difficulties, I think Intermediate is greatly ignored by many birders and were generally overlooked, the ‘Birds of Perak’ book for example, the bird is only recorded in Ulu Dedap, but then when I first visit Malim Nawar, I find it there quite easily, it had also been identified at KNP as well recently. Thanks.”

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