“I saw an unusual event today, more than 200 birds in a fish feeding frenzy.
“The above shows an overview of a small segment of birds feeding
“They were predominantly Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta garzetta, > 200), 7 Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea), and 2 Little Cormorants (Phalacrocorax niger). I could easily have missed a few Intermediate Egrets (Mesophoyx intermedia intermedia) or Great Egrets (Casmerodius albus modestus).
“The feeding was reminiscent of birds in a feeding frenzy on alate termites (see HERE).
“Above shows a composite of birds with fish.
“This large flock was picking off fish at a very fast rate from the surface of an ex-mining pool that was used for fish farming in a wetlands area. I saw Little Egrets feed on more than 6 fish within 60 seconds and Little Cormorants on 5 per minute. Most Little Egrets were hovering to catch fish (with some minor mid-air clashes) but some, including the Grey Herons, just floated on the surface and picked off fish with ease.
“I could not understand why this was happening. I am aware that this particular pond is rather deep so could not determine why the fish were on the surface. I could even see an occasional fish leaping out of the water.
“The fish were not being harvested, not being chased and the pond was not being drained to account for easy access. The fish were not dead (poisoned) and the large size and open nature of the pond did not allow for oxygen deprivation. There was no fish food or bait on the surface. It had been very wet night with intermittent rain.
“I arrived at the site around 7.30am and it was still very grey and blustery, like a UK morning, but this did not explain the phenomena. Judging from the Little Egret beaks, the fish were 4-6 cm in length. The above shows a variety of Little Egret fishing methods – floating to feed, hovering to feed and plunging in to get prey.
“The image above shows the smart floaters. I seldom see egrets or herons ‘swim’ but they can when there is a need. All the herons were fishing in this manner and about 20% of the Little Egrets. I was observing this from the only vantage point, some distance away on a very busy road and hence could only take a short video (below) and some quick images.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
20th December 2016
Location: Malim Nawar, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Ex-mining pools, fish farming, wetlands