“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