Yesterday on facebook I saw that someone had posted a photo of a white bird that they had seen on the river Aire at Roberts Park the day before. Because of its yellow beak, the shape of its neck and apparent size I suggested that it was a Cattle Egret – this would be very surprising if I was right, we don’t get them round here and even where we do (down South) they are Winter visitors. So I went out in the rain to have a look.
I started by looking at the weir at Baildon Bridge and then walked along the Shipley side of the river bank. A Kingfisher kept coming out of the trees in front of me and flying along the river. It was seeing me before I saw it. After getting up onto the canal side between Salts Mill and New Mill I decided to head towards Roberts Park since that is where the bird had been reported. As I got towards the Victoria Road bridge I saw a couple with umbrellas walking towards me and just behind them the flutter of large white wings.
And there it was, on the canal side, partly under the bridge. Now I had got a clear sight of it I could see that It was larger than I thought, had a longer neck and was a Great White Egret. That is always assuming that it was the same bird that was reported on facebook. In the photo the larger red, cream and black boat is Are Jay Bargie and the green, cream and red boat is the narrow boat, Titus, that is used for the canal trips. The Egret seemed comfortable as the man carried on with his work of preparing the boat for the night.
The bird then flew across to the other side of the canal, still under the bridge and began slowly walking along, hunting.
It also seemed comfortable with me on the canal side taking photos of it. It seemed to ignore people as they walked past but I am sure it was well aware of them.
I watched it catch several fish, most of them a lot smaller than the one above.
Several times it came onto the same side of the canal as the path but from there could only stare down into the water. It couldn’t reach any fish.
So back to the other side of the canal it went.
At one point it came onto the canal side between Are Jay Bargie and Titus but that didn’t give it any space when people came along the canal. It then flew beyond Are Jay Bargie and onto the other side again where it continued catching fish. By this time the light was fading and the Egret was in shade on the other side so I went down to the Boathouse for a drink and to wipe my camera down before walking back to Baildon Bridge and home.