Still in Kent
Thanks 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.