Rare bird found in St Johnston

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A cattle egret, the only one of its kind in Ireland, has been discovered on a farm in north-east Donegal. But Declan Murphy, of Birdwatch Ireland says there’s no real explanation why it’s here.

The rare bird, usually found on the backs of herd animals in the savannahs of Africa, was spotted at a pig farm near the village of St Johnston.

The discovery has caused excitement among wildlife enthusiasts as the cattle egret is a migratory member of the heron family and is native to Africa and Asia.

It is often found riding on the backs of animals such as wildebeest on the plains of the tropics and sub-tropics.

Speaking with the ‘Journal’ yesterday Mr. Murphy said as this bird was just one of millions of cattle egrets how it came to St Johnston could not be easily explained.

“Maybe it is ill. Maybe it decided that when it got as far as St Johnston it considered there was enough feeding to keep it alive and decided to stay. Who knows?

“One thing is certain -when the spring comes it will definitely be gone.”

The Birdwatch Ireland staff member said there was no proof either that global warming was a factor.

“The Little Egret, another member of the egret family, first came to Ireland in the 1990’s. It sort of colonised here and is now a regular visitor.

Why it first came is hard to say.

“The cattle egret in St Johnston is, as far as we are aware, the only one of its type in Ireland.

“We are aware of its existence. It has been in Donegal for about three months.

“As I said it’s one of maybe a million of its species and how it ended up on a farm in St Johnston is beyond me. There really is no explanation as such.”