Great Egret Eating Skink and Lizard

Last week when Tom and I were eating lunch, Tom mentioned there was a great egret in our front yard.  I looked out the window and was surprised to see one so close to the RVs.  Usually the great egrets stick to the marsh, where they hunt for fish.  But this egret, being an opportunist, had noticed all the skinks and lizards that hang around outside the marsh, and he decided to have them for his lunch.

Skink in bill

Because he was intent on hunting, I was able to get out my camera with the zoom lens, get out of the RV, and take some great pictures.  It is usually very hard to get bird pictures, because they move so fast and fly away at the least noise.  But this great egret was intent on stalking his prey and ignored me as I clicked away.

I watched as he lowered his head and moved it slowly back and forth in a snake-like motion.  Then suddenly, he shot his head forward and speared the skink with the dark, dagger-like portion of his bill.  The skink fought valiantly, hoping to loosen the egret’s hold and drop to the ground.  But the egret held on, eventually getting the head of the skink in the bill and swallowing it whole.

Great egret with lizard

After swallowing the skink, the great egret continued his stroll around the RV area.  He slowly meandered over to a concrete pad and then, very suddenly, struck again.  This time he had a little lizard in his bill.  The lizard succumbed more easily than the skink, but it was less than half the skink’s size.  I took my eye off the egret for just a minute, which was when it decided to fly away.   It moved into the trees very quickly and I wasn’t able to get any pictures of it flying.

Since that day we have seen the same egret several times around the parking lot and the RV spots.  I think he has decided the hunting is easier on land than in the water.  He is a thing of beauty.