Reddish Egret
San Diego River Mouth
Robb Field, San Diego, CA
10 January 2002
Joseph Morlan

Photo © 5 January 2002 by Dave Furseth
After good luck with the Masked Booby at LaJolla Cove and the Harlequin Duck in Mission Bay, Robbie Fischer and I decided to try Robb Field for the Reddish Egrets which had been reported there.

We arrived late morning where two birders were scoping the mouth of the river. We learned a Reddish Egret had flown down river earlier. Scoping to the west I quickly located the egret at the far west end of the salt marsh associating with a Snowy Egret and an adult Little Blue Heron. This is just east of an area signed "Dog Beach." Indeed many people had off-leash dogs running around in the area just behind where the egret was foraging.

The accompanying photo by Dave Furseth is of the individual we saw. Dave also photographed an older bird there on 5 January, which you can view on our photo gallery.

The following notes were made while watching the bird. The light was excellent and the bird very close and cooperative:

An all dark heron, slightly larger than adjacent Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron.

The bill was mostly dark with poorly defined pinkish at the base,
particularly on the lower mandible. A narrow white border was visible across the forehead, and a narrow whitish border to the gape was visible through the scope at close range, but not obvious otherwise.

The iris was white. Shaggy plumes on the crown, nape and hanging from the bottom of the foreneck were a purplish-red color (mauve?). The rest of the bird was a uniformly slaty-gray color, except for pale brown lesser coverts and scapulars. There was an obvious molt limit with a mix of old and new wing coverts. The tertials were old, and quite warn at the tip giving the impression of pale feather tips.

Underwings were shiny, with light brown axillars and underwing coverts, visible while the bird canopy fed, staggering about in an exaggerated manner typical of this species. The wings appeared quite rounded when feeding and in flight.

The long legs were gray.