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Great or Intermediate Egret? Borneo (1 Viewer)

dixonlau

Well-known member
Malaysia
Taken last December 2020 at wetland, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.

I'm not sure if it is Great or Intermediate Egret. It sure looks too big to be Little.

Many thanks for any help.


PIC-20201217-131245-DSC06970-A7R3a-sharpen-denoise.jpg
 

Butty

Well-known member
Great egret. Bare skin of the gape extends beyond a point level with the rear of the eye. In pics 1-2 the skin at its rearmost point is difficult to see because it's in the shadow cast by the eye, but it's clearly visible in pic 3. It's interesting that in pic 1 the rear of the skin is so well hidden by the shadow that I would probably have misidentified that photo on its own as intermediate egret, especially given the way that foreshortening misleads on the length of the bill (pitfall photo!).
 

johnallcock

Well-known member
With the two extra photos I now think this is an Intermediate. As Andy has pointed out the breast plumes are visible on Pic 3 (which wasn't posted when I commented earlier), and the bill shape and neck length on that profile photo also look better for Intermediate.
Personally I find the gape line to be a confusing and hard to judge feature that is very dependent on the angle of observation and individual variation, and I rarely use it for these two species.
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Hmm what fun. It's a great I think. Key for me in this case is how long the legs are, coupled with gape. Legs extend further than here, which is a correctly id'd intermediate (IMHO):

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/143480821#_ga=2.82531730.52331952.1617671772-1453856678.1559597776

In contrast, compare this, an incorrectly id'd great (e.g. Note gape) which matches:

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/128736961

I also think the bill thinness better accords with great, as does the neck crick. My thumbs up against JohnA's post above was an accident (sorry John). I actually find gape the most useful feature. There are marginal birds like this one... In general, intermediate's clearly falls short of end of eye
 

dixonlau

Well-known member
Malaysia
Thank you everyone for the feedback.

Will it help for better comparison if I post shots of Great Egret taken few days before this day at different location?

Based on my observation, when its wings were fully expanded, it doesn't looks as big as Great.

Oh and I have just recalled, I have a video recorded in GoPro exact same bird, same moment of the above shots taken. Will update here once finish upload to my Youtube. Tried to upload here but somehow it failed.
 

dixonlau

Well-known member
Malaysia
This is for your reference if it could help in anyway. This video captured in GoPro mounted on my camera. It is exact moment of the shots I posted above.


Also, do let me know if any of you still want me to post Great Egret shots for better comparison. I not post now just to avoid any confusion.

Thanks.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
It’s an Intermediate imo - with the proviso below*

I see a bill too short/stout and a bird too stocky for GW, the retracted neck does not seem to have a sharp enough angle or deep enough drop on the β€˜u’ bend either imo - thus, the neck looks thick/stocky rather than the long thin retracted shape of a GW. Size is very difficult to judge in the field when in isolation so not really very helpful, esp in a photo and some GW females can seem on the small side (also see proviso below) The head looks fairly rounded to me not the triangular shaped head and long sloping forehead of a GW. Gape line is pretty hard to use as a criteria, shadow/fluffed up plumage/viewing angle can really distort the length as JA notes above. I have always struggled with this feature as a criteria in eg Tawny v Steppe Eagle!

Re. the video - the flight looks too shallow and fast to me to be a GW (which have a deeper and more relaxed flight more like a Grey Heron)

*The proviso is that GW modesta are supposed to be smaller than GW alba
 

dixonlau

Well-known member
Malaysia
It’s an Intermediate imo - with the proviso below*

I see a bill too short/stout and a bird too stocky for GW, the retracted neck does not seem to have a sharp enough angle or deep enough drop on the β€˜u’ bend either imo - thus, the neck looks thick/stocky rather than the long thin retracted shape of a GW. Size is very difficult to judge in the field when in isolation so not really very helpful, esp in a photo and some GW females can seem on the small side (also see proviso below) The head looks fairly rounded to me not the triangular shaped head and long sloping forehead of a GW. Gape line is pretty hard to use as a criteria, shadow/fluffed up plumage/viewing angle can really distort the length as JA notes above. I have always struggled with this feature as a criteria in eg Tawny v Steppe Eagle!

Re. the video - the flight looks too shallow and fast to me to be a GW (which have a deeper and more relaxed flight more like a Grey Heron)

*The proviso is that GW modesta are supposed to be smaller than GW alba
Thanks Deb. That was details explaination. Appreciated the help.
 

sicklebill

well-known Cretaceous relic
Australia
I agree it's an Intermediate, though some can be quite tricky; here in Queensland the gape line is a very good feature, but ours are Plumed Egrets, though I've also found it helpful with both the other Intermediate Egret taxa. Oddly enough Cattle Egret can be a confusion at times with a lone distant bird!
 

James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
Intermediate Egret for me too - gape line, which can be difficult due to the angle of the bird, but the bill appears short (tipped black which is shown far less frequently in Great), as do the wings. The video nails it for me, as DB points out, shallow, fast wingbeats, very un-Great like.

James
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
I would be interested to know how the Eastern Great Egret (modesta) compares in size to Intermediate in the field, whether the differences are as acute as they would be between an Alba and intermedia? It is hard to find literature on the comparative descriptions of sub-species of either species.
 

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