Though seeing the Sand Hill Cranes was the highlight of our trip to Merced National Wildlife Refuge, I was delighted that I got to photograph a Cattle Egret for the first time.
In the distance, they look like Snowy Egret, but up close are quite distinct.
Closer in size to the Snowy Egret than the Great Egret, they look like a Great Egret
with a shorter, stockier neck.
Even the orange beak
and black legs
are similar to the Great Egret.
When they take flight, they are “egret”
head tucked in, legs straight back; I’d be hard pressed to distinguish them from other egrets, which makes me wonder if I haven’t seen them before but just didn’t recognize them as Cattle Egret.
It’s probably silly to be so excited over a “first,” particularly when it isn’t as “beautiful” as a closely related bird, but seeing the Cattle Egret made a special day even more special.