Date: 11/7/18 11:13 am
From: <badgerboy...>
Subject: Re: Watauga County egret
I am sorry to say there is no sign of the bird today at this small pond.
I initially reacted to the suggestion of an African/Asian species with
great skepticism and tried to find anything about this bird which could
rule out Intermediate Egret. After going through all the 61 pictures
that I had on my camera, all the marks I could see actually seemed to
favor Intermediate over either Great or Cattle Egret.

So I'm posting a link here to a google drive folder with ALL the
pictures and I hope someone can find a way to eliminate what sounds like
a bizarre possibility. Here's the link:

Before the suggestion of Intermediate came up (I had never before heard
of the species), Al Olson and I were fairly perplexed by the features of
this bird as we studied it carefully in the scope from about 200 feet
away. We carefully looked at the gape area of the bill and the structure
of the head and bill while holding the sibley book in our hands, and we
kept on going back and forth on whether the bird was a Great or Cattle
Egret. We had very good looks for long periods from different angles of
the rearward extent of the bill, and it never in any view protruded
behind the eye. After long viewing the bird with its head tucked, Al
finally saw it stretch its neck and preen fro a short time and he said
it looked too long to be a Cattle Egret. I didn't see that however as I
was distracted by something else at the time.

Sorry for the long post, Guy McGrane, Deep Gap, NC

On 11/7/2018 11:41 AM, Derb Carter wrote:
> Some of us have been discussing the white egret found and
> well-photographed yesterday in Watauga County by Guy McGrane (photos
> on ebird checklist). It was initially identified as a Cattle Egret
> and then a Great Egret. After the photos were posted, Jeff Pippen
> first asked how to eliminate Intermediate Egret, other than it would
> be an extraordinary record for this South Asia/African species
> (although it is migratory and it is also out of place especially
> this time of year in Watauga County). Some, including me, who have
> looked at the photos carefully, note that it just does not look right
> for a Great Egret: bill is stout and wrong shape for Great, bill color
> not exactly right for Great, legs gray instead of black, and another
> important field mark I will get to in a minute. You cannot tell size
> from the photos with nothing to compare, but the observer initially
> described it as small thinking it was a Cattle Egret. Intermediate
> Egrets, as the name implies, are between Great and Little/Snowy in
> size. I have seen many in Asia where it is common and identifiable by
> size alone. Field guides discuss a key field mark to distinguish Great
> from Intermediate, and Guy has provided good photos to work with. The
> gape of the bill of Intermediate Egret extends back to below the eye,
> while the gape of Great Egret extends well beyond the eye. This is a
> very obvious and consistent field mark in searching photos of both
> species, and diagramed in the Wikipedia entry on Intermediate Egret if
> you are interested in checking this out. To my eye, the gape of the
> bill in the Watauga egret in all the photos in the series stops below
> the eye, suggesting it may be an Intermediate Egret. But the posture
> of the bird in the photos and feathering may obscure the gape, but I
> lean to it not being obscured and extending only to below the eye.
> Intermediate Egret would of course be an extraordinary record for NC
> and the eastern US. I have not even had a chance to look at North
> American records, but I seem to recall there are records for Alaska.
> At this point, I just wanted to get this information out while we
> continue to puzzle over the photos, and especially invite any with
> experience with Intermediate Egret to weigh in. And thanks to Guy for
> the excellent photos.
> Derb Carter

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