independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Bird swaps African plains for Irish farm

A RARE bird usually found on the backs of herd animals in the savannahs of Africa has arrived in Co Donegal due to the mild weather.

The rarely seen cattle egret was spotted at a pig farm near the village of St Johnston.

The discovery has caused excitement among wildlife enthusiasts and ornithologists as the cattle egret is a migratory member of the heron family and is native to Africa and Asia.

It is often found riding on the backs of animals such as wildebeest on the plains and savannahs of the tropics and sub-tropics.

Birdwatch Ireland development officer Niall Hatch said our milder-than-usual winter and climate change generally were possible contributory factors in the bird's arrival. "This is a very rare bird generally for Ireland but getting one as far north as Donegal is an exceptional occurrence."

He added that sightings of the bird at a livestock farm would be typical, given that it was an opportunist feeder and followed large animals to catch insects disturbed by them in the earth.

A number of cattle egrets have previously been recorded by Birdwatch Ireland in southern counties including Cork, Waterford and Wexford.

Irish Independent

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