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Saturday 23 August 2014

Flying in . . . to make new friends down on the farm

Anne Barrett

Published 15/01/2008 | 00:00

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A Cattle Egret bird, never before seen in Ireland, makes friends with local residents in Co Kerry
Cattle Egret

A new species of bird is making friends down on the farms in Co Kerry.

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Birdwatchers are on high alert after the Cattle Egret never before seen in Ireland, and a number of other new species started arriving in the country in recent weeks.

The first sightings of the Cattle Egret, a farmland bird that likes to associate with cattle, were in Co Kerry. They feed on insects and grubs in the soil.

Birdwatch Ireland, who report sightings from around the country, say this new bird started arriving in Ireland around December 21.

"There are currently three confirmed Cattle Egrets in Kerry but this is likely to rise," says Jill Crosher of the West Kerry branch of Birdwatch Ireland.

"Upwards of 40 sightings have been reported from counties Cork, Wexford, Waterford and Clare and 80 sightings in the UK."

Birdwatch groups say that Cattle Egrets are expanding their range, having spread from the Mediterranean and Africa and are now found as far north as Canada.

"The yellow bill makes the Cattle Egret immediately distinguishable from the more widely known black billed Little Egret, which prefers wetlands and water. We would expect to see more of the Cattle Egret in the future".

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