The eastern reef egret (Egretta sacra) sometimes comes off as the bird that can’t make up its mind. Not content with being one color, this bird comes in three shades – blue-gray, white, and a mottled somewhere-in-between. Based on the number of sightings, the dark morph appears to be more common in El Nido and Taytay.
Your best chances of seeing an eastern reef egret (locally called tagak) at the El Nido Resorts islands are during the low tides, where they stalk the tidal flat area looking for food. It eats mostly small fish and crabs, though it also eats insects, mollusks, and lizards. Feeding time depends on the time of the low tide, so it may hunt for food during the day and night. As a territorial species, don’t be surprised if you usually see this bird eating alone. It will also defend its patch of shore against other birds.
You can find eastern reef egrets in rocky coastal areas, sandy beaches, mangroves, and islets. Despite being a shorebird, they’re occasionally seen in marshy areas, lakes, and fields slightly further inland.
The eastern reef regret ranges from Japan to New Zealand and the west Pacific islands. It’s a fairly common to common resident of the Philippines.Photos by Jamie Dichaves, Environmental Officer for Lagen Island Resort. Photos taken in Lagen Island Resort.