7th February – Sutton Bingham Resevoir   Leave a comment

I have made a number of attempts to see a Great White Egret (GWE) this year. For the last decade a GWE has wintered at the Blashford Lakes near Ringwood, but given the number of lakes in the area finding it can be quite problematic, also this colour-ringed bird departs in mid January for its breeding colony in central France, so it needs to found soon after the turn of the year, something I have failed to do. I also tried for a GWE on Thorney Island at the weekend and two at Radipole in Weymouth on the 2nd of February, all unsuccessfully.

I was therefore pleased to hear that two GWEs (probably the Radipole birds) had taken up residence at Sutton Bingham Resevoir on the Dorset / Somerset border. These birds were very easy to see, they were clearly visible from the road, indeed a local bus driver stopped and asked what those really big egrets were.

GWEs differ from Little Egrets by their larger size, longer necks, yellow bill, neck with a distinct kink, and lack of yellow feet.



Although you tend to take them for granted in the world's tropical areas, in the UK a GWE in flight is a magnificent sight. For any county listers who may be reading this, I was in Somerset when I took this photo but the birds were in Dorset!



GWEs were once really rare in the UK, for example there are only 10 records prior to 1974, but in the late seventies the species colonised the Netherlands and now breeds in France. This winter a group of eight GWEs can be seen in Somerset Levels and it only seems a matter of time before they breed.

GWEs have an almost cosmopolitan range, being commonly found throughout the tropics and many temperate regions of the world. However differences in bare part colouration during the breeding season, display and genetic distance indicates that several species may be involved.


GWE is now placed in the genus Ardea, the same as the Grey Heron in this photo. All other egrets are placed in Egretta.






Posted February 7, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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