Thursday, 31 March 2016

Home-patch First

Malcolm and I set out for a slightly shorter walk this morning, taking in the lakes of Straw's Bridge once again. at 'Swan Lake', we were delighted to see 26 Mute Swans of varying ages on the lake.
The sunny weather and blue sky made a wonderful backdrop to this magnificent male or Cob swan. who seemed only too pleased to pose for photos.
Heading home again, we were stopped in our tracks by the sight of a bird which is a first for us on our 'home patch'.  Sitting in a tree above the reed beds of Pewit Carr, was a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta).
A small member of the heron family, the Little Egret is a recent colonist to Great Britain and they are still mostly confined to the South and East coasts, with a few spreading to Wales. They first bred in the UK in 1996, but have been seen here since about the mid 1980's.
They are beginning to spread further north as this individual proves. I had heard reports of a Little Egret being seen at Shipley Lake a few weeks ago, but heard nothing since, so it was a great surprise to see this one today.
We were not the only ones to be taken by the sight of a Little Egret this morning. Another couple had stopped to view this still rather rare bird.
The British population of Little Egrets is increasing all the time and currently stands at some 660 - 740 breeding pairs and an over-wintering population of around 4,500 individual birds (figures from the RSPB.)
Let's hope this one is just the first of an 'advance guard' of a resident population in the area.
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