Friday, 5 August 2011

Chinese Pond Herons

It's a shame that we don't have Pond Herons in the UK, except for the odd vagrant Squacco. I must say that wherever I go on in SE Asia, I always look forward to seeing them - whether they're Chinese Pond, Indian Pond or Javan Pond; to complete the genus Ardeola there are a further two in Africa (Madagascar Pond and Rufous-bellied Heron) plus Squacco.

Chinese Pond Heron - a bit peckish and ready for aerial assault
Ok, so this post is two fold. Firstly in WRP Bourne style, one for those bird behaviour folk. I've never seen a heron fishing from the air in such Osprey-like, talismanic fashion. Look at this masterclass from an adult Chinese Pond Heron that I took at Mai Po: -
Got it!
Secondly, is CPH one for the UK someday? Personally, I still quite like the adult back in 2004 (on the back of a Rufous-tailed Robin and Chestnut-eared Bunting) but, back to my HK experience, I was actually taken aback at how noticeably different non-breeding/1st-winter Chinese Pond Herons are compared to Squaccos. And that'll be the plumage you want for a pucker UK October/November record. You're obviously seeing these birds below in fresh plumage given the time of year, but look at the strong black streaking on the ear-coverts, crown and nape. The flight shots also show the large breast streaks that are clearly demarcated onto a white belly. Also, just a little like Indian Pond, the yellow lores are bordered at the top by a nice horizontal black line. The mantle too appears relatively dark in colour. Reckon we wouldn't mess one of these boys up in Britain? Hang on... Amur Falcon. Perhaps we would.

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