The Western Reef Heron, Egretta gularis, also known as the Western Reef Egret, is a medium-sized heron. It occurs mainly on the coasts in tropical west Africa, the Red Sea, thePersian Gulf and east to India. It has been recorded as a vagrant in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory in the eastern Indian Ocean. Western Reef Heron has occurred as a vagrant twice in Canada and four times in the United States of America, first on Nantucket in April, 1983 and several times between 2005 and 2007.
Behavior, feeding and habitat
The Western Reef Heron's breeding habitat is coastal wetlands. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. The normal clutch is two or three eggs (although Ahmed Al Ali from UAE recorded a 4 eggs).This bird has two plumage colour forms.
There is an all-white morph and a dark grey morph; intermediate morphs also occur. The white morph is similar in general appearance to theLittle Egret, but has a thicker bill, duller legs, and a less elegant appearance. The grey morph is unlikely to be confused with any other species within the range of this egret.
These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. They eat fish, crustaceans, and molluscs.
The taxonomy of this species is being seriously questioned. There are three subspecies; E. g. gularis, schistacea, and dimorpha; all of which seem to be less related than formerly believed.
Western Reef Heron was a beautiful grey-ish toned bird, waiting in the estuary silently, without any movements. We could get quite a lot of nice poses from this beauty as it was around us almost all the time, untill we dispersed due to low lights. Amazing big-bird to watch and understand its behavior, sparked by a slightest suspicion it would take off. I have almost lost sharp focus on take off of this bird, as I had stopped down my aperture much, due to nice evening lights, but managed to get the above picture. I am extremely thankful to Mr.RK Pai and Mr.Deepak Sibal, my birding friends, infact this is my first birding experience with Mr.Pai, which was quite good one. I was on my Canon 300mm F4L IS USM Lens with a Tamron 1.4x Extender, mounted on my Canon EOS 7D, a remarkable combination which I love again and again, which helps me deliver amazing shots of birds.