06
Jun
12

Moving North

Last month Natural England confirmed that Great White Egrets have bred in Somerset this year. This is the first time the species has bred in the UK.

This mainland European species has been seen with increasing regularity in the UK during recent years. It is only in the last 20 years Great White Egrets hae fully colonised the Camargue in southern France where they are now regular and the photograph below was taken.

The species is known to return to the same nest site year upon year and it hoped that the pair at Avalon Marsh will be the forerunners of a new British colony. The female of the pair was ringed as a nestling in France and visited Lancashire, Wales and Gloucestershire before settling on the Somerset Levels as her home.

Yet another heron has joined others as a breeding species indicating global warming is pushing the species contour farther north.

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2 Responses to “Moving North”


  1. June 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I regularly see these eloquent creatures where I live on the East Coast USA. Of course global climate changes have forced many species to relocate and find new areas with the food they need and suitable breeding grounds. It’s the plus and minus of human interference with their wildlife habitats. Nice shot, Sally

    • June 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Thanks Sally. The ones you are seeing are classified as Ardea alba or Great Egret as opposed to the European Egretta alba or Great White Egret as it is known over here. I’m not so sure they are in fact two separate species. I’ve seen both and I couldn’t put a hair between them on differences. If a Great Egret turned up over here I feel sure it wouldn’t be identified as such. Unlike your Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) which is superficially similar to our own Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) but can be separated with care in the field … and has been on one occasion in Scotland where a Snowy Egret was located in 2001 – which I was lucky enough to see!


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