Ok, the identity of this bird isn’t, as far as I’m aware, in doubt – the ‘borderline’ refers to whether it’s sneaked into our home parishes of Beddingham, Glynde or Firle.
A Cattle Egret was first reported on Saturday, on the east side of the Ouse, viewed from Rodmell Brooks. Yesterday it was also seen just north of the A27 at Ranscombe Farm, before flying back onto the levels.
The bird forms part of a national influx this winter, which has seen unprecedented numbers mainly in the South West. At least one gathering in Cornwall outnumbers the record-equalling group of eight birds seen at Piddinghoe two years ago, and there are several small parties and rogue singletons in many other counties. After teasing us for a few years, I wonder if Cattle Egrets may be about to set up permanent base in the UK.
The Ouse has proved very productive for them in recent years – in addition to the long-staying group of eight in 2006, there was a single bird at Southease in 2005 and a brief visit by a party of three last spring.
Incidentally, I’ve just come across a useful map of a circular walk that can be taken around Lewes Brooks that I hadn’t seen before (credit to Sussex Ouse Conservation Society).
There is a digest of Sussex Cattle Egret sightings (up to 2006) at The Birds of Sussex, which includes links to some images of the 2006 Piddinghoe birds.
And if anyone sees our current local visitor fly towards Firle, do give me a shout. 🙂