Eastern Reef Egrets
After the last three weeks of introducing you to our closest river, which is the Fitzroy River at Langi Crossing I thought it was time to return you to our coastline around Broome. There is a lot of reef around the Broome coastline, but often it is submerged at high tide and the local Eastern Reef Egrets stand up high on the surrounding cliffs and rocks. Eastern Reef Egrets are easily observed at the port of Broome on the surrounding reef and also at Gantheaume Point. There are two morphs of Eastern Reef Egret around Broome and the more common is the grey morph. They do not hide during high tide, but perch high up on the red pindan rocks at Gantheaume Point as in the photo above. Once the tide drops off the reef the Eastern Reef Egret is soon down off the cliffs and it comes down onto the wet rocks and uses stealth to catch small fish. One very clever tactic that it uses is to spread its wings causing a shadow where unsuspecting fish will enter believing it is a safe spot. At this moment the Eastern Reef Egret grabs the small fish and eats it. The Eastern Reef Egret will also position itself in shallow pools of water and watch unsuspecting fish enter the pools as the tide comes in and once again they become a meal. The only slightly similar species to the Eastern Reef Egret grey morph is the White-faced Heron, which can also sometimes be on the local reefs. The White-faced Heron is easily distinguished by its very white face, so should not be easily confused.
Eastern Reef Egret-grey morph-using stealth and shadows
The white morph of the Eastern Reef Egret is found around Broome also, but you need to head to the reef at the northern end of Cable Beach to find them easily. They are usually on the reef alongside the grey morph Eastern Reef Egret and use the same stealth and casting shadows to trick fish into their surroundings. The white morph Eastern Reef Egrets also have a yellow eye, with a pale bill and yellowy grey legs. Often you will see both morphs in this area and they will feed on the reef alongside each other.
Eastern Reef Egret-white morph-feeding on the reef
At high tide at the northern end of Cable Beach the Eastern Reef Egrets move onto the white sandstone rocks above the beach and they actually blend in quite well. They will roost alongside the Striated Herons that are also displaced from the reef once the tide comes in.
Eastern Reef Egret-white morph
If you happen to find yourself in Broome you have the chance to see both morphs of Eastern Reef Egret all year round, but heading to the northern end of Cable Beach gives you a better chance of seeing them side by side.