A Congregation of Little Egrets

When I saw the heronry of Cattle Egrets I completely forgot to take a photograph of them all, last Friday I more than made up for it when we saw these Little Egrets (Garça-branca-pequena in Portuguese) it was all I could do. This congregation was wonderful to observe, squawking away.


They are a sociable bird, well apart from when they directly intrude on another’s feeding spot. This was obviously a great feeding spot on Friday. They won’t have been eating their usual diet of fish as they were in a saltpan, but by the looks of it they were finding multiple insects, crustaceans, worms and/or molluscs.

As you can see from these photographs they are not that big, their bodies about the same size as a gull. They have quite long legs but not as long as a stilt. The easiest way to identify a Little Egret is by their heron like behaviour, black beaks and yellow feet. Although having said that their feet are usually either in water or covered in mud!

That's a yellow foot!

There is a much larger Egret in mainland Portugal. It is less common than the Little Egrets, as it only winters here and was a rarity in Portugal until the mid 1990s. It is the Great Egret (Garça-branca-grande); standing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, with a wingspan of 131 to 170 cm (52 to 67 in). On Friday (after more than 5 Algarvian winters) we saw our very first one. My pictures are not brilliant as it was some distance away, but there was no mistaking it thanks to its yellow beak and size.

The Great Egret was not the only excitement last Friday. It was also a good day for birding collective nouns since as well as our Congregation of Egrets we also saw a cutlery of spoonbills, a mustering of storks, a prayer of godwits, a colony of stilts, an orchestra of avocets, both a swim and flight of cormorants and if you look very carefully in the photograph below a flamboyance of flamingos!


Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

32 thoughts

  1. Great photos, I love how you say the egrets were singing, and the collective nouns are brilliant – I really must look them up sometime πŸ™‚

  2. The collective nouns are so funny! A cutlery of spoonbills! You have to be making these up πŸ˜‰
    I am rather jealous as I only see Little Egrets on their own.

    1. Hee hee, promise I’m not!! Someone did though πŸ˜ƒ I’ve got a couple of excellent books on them, both based on the original 15th century terms of venery. I’m convinced the hunters were somewhat inebriated when they came up with some of them!

  3. Such a wonderful post full of so much knowledge on collections of collections. Egrets are the same the world over it seems..I had to laugh at a cutlery of spoonbills. Top drawer stuff Becky πŸ™‚

    1. I know the cutlery is brilliant isn’t it. I have a book on collective nouns πŸ˜€ hence the knowledge. Do check out the Wikipedia entry on them as it’s an excellent list.

  4. Love the collective nouns. I have a little book by Matt Sewell called A charm of Goldfinches all about collective nouns in the animal world. How about a Deceit of Lapwings, a Parliament of Owls and a Kettle of Hawks too. πŸ™‚

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