Chinese Pond Heron or not?

Still in Kent

Martin G.

pond Heron Kent 10 feb 2014Thanks to Ian Roberts who sent this latest image yesterday of the Mystery Pond Heron. This was taken 2 days ago (9th Feb.) apparently in a different garden by a different chap who does not wish to be named. Look! No bling!

The photo still doesn’t fully resolve the identification, but it is tantalising! To my eyes the extensively dark feathering on the breast sides and the quiet broad streaks in the breast centre look too much for Squacco. There does appear to be the ‘feel’ of dark curtain across lower breast- unless some kind of photo artifact. The bill base still looks orangey and the lores have a dark mark. It all points away from Squacco Heron for me.
It does appear, at least from the photo to have a more open pale patch in the centre of the breast and weaker streaking pattern (compared to Indian Pond Heron) thus closer to the underparts of Chinese Pond Heron. All that is discussed and illustrated >>> HERE <<<.

Escape of Vagrant?

The identity is not yet established 100%. For my money from the photos it’s not a Squacco Heron. If it proves to be a Chinese Pond Heron, bacchus,  as the photo hints at then it could be argued as a potential vagrant. There are no rings or other escape related paraphernalia visible in the photo above.  Recent investigations found Chinese Pond Heron to be very rare/ absent from Zoos in Europe (though private collections cannot be accounted for). Do you know of any kept in captivity?
There are three accepted records of Chinese Pond Heron from Alaska, spring-late summer. The species is apparently increasing over much of its range in E. Asia and is strongly migratory. I think it’s potentially a very exciting record indeed…
Be interesting to see photos of Chinese Pond Heron from mid February in normal wintering range.
Thanks to Ian Roberts of this website for keeping us posted and Grahame Walbridge for comments on escape potential.



7 thoughts on “Chinese Pond Heron or not?

  1. Tim Allwood

    Given the record in Eccles 2004, I would also be very interested in hearing of any examples of captive birds from either zoos or private collections. There have been records from Hungary and Norway?

    The bird arrived at the time Chestnut-eared Bunting and Rufous-tailed Robin also arrived in Britain…it behaved in a similar fashion to the Kent bird by the sound of it, and was later seen in the south of England.

    The Eccles bird was in breeding plumage and this has been used as an argument for it not being a genuine vagrant but how much importance can be attached to moult in a vagrant anyway? Despite this, captive birds seem to be genuinely very rare and “Vagrant” Chinese Pond Herons are clearly very rare indeed – whatever their origin…

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Thanks for this Tim. I think I have heard so many folk give great definitive explanations over 40 year (all Blue-winged Teals were escapes) so why x or y was definitely an escape, only to look back at think. ” Well we got that wrong… again”. I just wait and watch and see what happens- Birds fly- that seems important- and can mess with human theories 🙂 and even now, not every year but every few weeks I seem to hear of some extraordinary of bird movement that explodes previous carefully constructed conceptions. How can anyone ‘know’. Be aware of what we keep in captivity but at least as much- “be prepared to be amazed” seems better motto.

  2. Pingback: Identification of Chinese Pond Heron | Birding Frontiers

  3. Pingback: Breeding Biology of Squacco Herons (Ardeola ralloides) in Northern Tunisia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply