July 2011 - Little Egret
Jenny Press spotted a little egret in the water by Bawburgh mill on 13th May. She managed to take some photos of this lovely bird, one of which reproduced here.
The little egret is a small snowy white delicate looking member of the heron family, with white plumes trailing down its crest and back. (The neck plumes on a little egret were once more valuable than gold! They were taken for use in the hat trade and actually caused extinction of some populations of the bird!). The little egret has black legs and a long pointed black bill. Its feet are yellow. The little egret first appeared in Britain in significant numbers in 1989 and was first sighted in Norfolk in 1952 at Cley Marshes. The little egret was extremely rare in Norfolk until the 1990s. Now they are becoming increasingly common and can be found breeding on the Broads and on the coast and are becoming increasingly common in inland areas too. They are frequently seen at Cley, Holkham and Titchwell.
Little egrets are usually seen as solitary birds except when flying to roost or roosting in trees. They are silent birds except when alarmed when they emit harsh calls. They are to be found in marshy or flooded grassy areas, lakes and estuaries. They feed by walking through the water and snapping at prey (fish or crustaceans), sometimes running through the water and agitating the water with their feet to disturb prey. It is said that they can lure fish by waving their yellow feet around in shallow water! They are certainly one of the liveliest hunters among the herons! They are colonial nesters, building near water, in trees and bushes or sometimes rocks or cliffs. They may merge their colonies with grey herons.
They are reported to be on the Amber list in conservation terms being only a localised breeding species. In the UK there are estimated to be 146-162 breeding pairs, and between October and March estimated numbers are 1,600 birds (RSPB website). They can be seen all year round but numbers increase in autumn and winter as birds arrive from the continent.
Please let me know if you see any wildlife which is a bit unusual in and around Bawburgh, or if you have taken photos of wildlife you would like to share on Bawburgh Village website. I would love to hear from you.
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