Pictures: Teus Luijendijk
Just after our discovery of a juvenile Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri at sea, some 190 nautical miles SW of South Georgia, 2 Cattle Egrets were found following the ship. Not much later, their number had grown to approximately 20 birds. And that was not it, yet. After nightfall we could see at least 80 individuals in the beams of the ship's headlights!
The next morning these numbers had gone down to about 20, and 13 more were recovered during the night from the ship's deck. These were taken into care and although they were very skinny, all birds were released the following morning at Gold Harbour, South Georgia. Immediately after release we counted 14 birds, so suspicions rose that 'ours' were not the only Cattle Egrets that had found their way to this island. This turned out to be true, as a total of at least 27 birds was later counted in this area.
Several of them fell victim to Brown Skuas Catharacta (antarctica) lonnbergi , and one could only wonder whether the rest had any chance of survival on this island, far away from the egrets' breeding grounds.....
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis ; videograbs (20x).
Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2003