Migrant visitor seen at the Patches

Great Egret sighted on Tristan

Report and photos from Rachel Green
with additional images from Caryn Green

Rachel Green's April 2022 photograph of a Great Egret in a Potato Patch
before digging for the next season's potatoes begins.
Normally these magnificent birds are seen poised above wetlands waiting to pounce on fish.
It is indeed extraordinary that this bird was instead hunting mice!

Recent interest in vagrant species discovered around the Tristan islands has prompted Rachel to send a photo
of a Great Egret she took over the 2022 Easter weekend together with other images taken of a Great Egret in 2021. These majestic birds breed in both South America and Africa. Peter Ryan thinks it much more likely that this bird flew eastwards from South America to Africa, calling at Tristan da Cunha for a feeding stop! This would entail a flight, in a straight line, of over 5000 kilometres. More common visitors to Tristan are Cattle Egrets, also called Tick Birds on the island and also astonishing migrants as they feed on the island on their inter-continental migration.

Rachel reports:

Last year a bird was spotted in May out at the Potato Patches. Many of the islanders thought it was a stork. I managed to see the bird and get a not so good photo, but with some research it was found to be a ‘Great Egret’. Surprising a few days ago the same species of bird was spotted out at the Potato Patches, eating mice from the potato patches walls. We normally have ‘Cattle Egrets’ but never ‘Great Egrets’. I thought it was quite interesting that they are only seen around this time of the year in April or May.

May 2021 Great Egret photos - from Caryn Green unless stated.

The Great Egret flying above a Patches camping hut with the slopes of Hillpiece behind

The Great Egret believed to be hunting mice in one of the potato patches,
fallow at this time of year during winter.

The Great Egret perched on a Patches wall (Photo: Rachel Green)

Another view of the Great Egret in flight