A CATTLE EGRET was in Kelk on 18th and 19th December. This is the rarest bird to have been recorded in the area by myself. Formely considered a national rarity it has become a more regular visitor to southern England over recent year. However it is still a rarity in Yorkshire with less than 20 ever recorded. Stunned was not the word when it appeared at the end of an otherwise mediocre day.
More about the rest of the weekend later but here's a little detail about the bird (sadly no photos).
We first saw the bird flying north toward the pastures in Little Kelk. It was obiously an egret (first though was, naturally, Little Egret) but the view from behind as it flew meant that was all I could say. Toward the end of the pasture the bird came down among the grazing cattle and started to feed with short dashes. Overall the bird looked more compact, with a shorter neck/legs and bigger head that a Little Egret would show - we were almost certainly looking at a Cattle Egret. A closer look to confirm the bill shape/colour and leg colour would have been nice.
After a couple of minutes the bird got up and flew on north but appeared to come down again somewhere near Kelk Lake or the farm. There was little option but to divert and head around to the lake. An hour or so later we had walked along the length of the road to the end of the lake and were heading back having had no sign of the bird. Suddenly the egret appeared about 20m in front of us flying north-east over the road. It went almost overhead at about 10m distance - at which it the short and relatively thick yellow bill was obvious, as were the shorter dark legs. Definitely a Cattle Egret. The bird carried on only to land in the grounds of Little Kelk Farm for a couple of minutes before heading off along Gransmoor Drain and out of sight. It was dusk by now and with the identification sorted it was time for home.
In the morning the obvious thing to do was to see if the bird had returned to the pasture field. No sign. However as we walked away toward Gransmoor Lane we picked up the bird in flight heading south from the pasture. Had it been there all along? Anyway it flew purposefully south and tracking it into the distance it was heading toward Foston before becoming a tiny dot.
The news was put out on Sunday but as far as I can tell it has not been relocated. A fuller account has been submitted to the county bird recorder and hopefully it will be accepted as part of the scientific record for rare birds in Yorkshire.
Whatever next, eh?