on 1st May 2011

“On the evening of 19th April 2011, I was observing the Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) preening itself as it was perched upon overhead cables along the Telok Kurau canal (far left). At one point, it paused briefly and squatted down deliberately to ease itself in a long jet of faeces propelled earthwards (near left). I immediately took a quick scan to check if there was anybody standing or walking beneath this egret and was relieved to see that there was no passerby below.

“Shortly after, the Pacific Reef Egret scanned the sky attentively and spotted a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) coming into view. Without hesitation, it launched itself into a frantic chase, hot on the heels of the Little Egret, squawking away as it flew close behind (below).

“Both egrets then landed on the cables, but were separated by a respectable distance from each other. They were perched in their own ‘corners’ in a silent stand-off that lasted almost ten minutes. With the impending setting of the sun, the egrets soon went their separate ways to seek out their respective refuges for the night.

“Such apparent aggressive behaviour demonstrated by the Pacific Reef Egret has been witnessed previously on a number of occasions, but I was thrilled to have been able to capture a snapshot of this brief encounter. This display of aggression could probably be the Pacific Reef Egret’s way of asserting its dominance and staking claim over particular stretches of the canal that may be more productive in terms of fishing. Alternatively, it might even be a form of inter-specific affection that has yet to be reciprocated.”

Dr Leong Tzi Ming
26th April 2011

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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