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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - on 10th July, 2014

Other than with Little Owls, I don't think that I've ever done a post on this blog which features only one species.

Twenty years ago, Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) were relatively uncommon in UK, the first confirmed breeding pair being in Dorset in 1996. By ten years ago they had started to spread northwards but were still mainly being seen in the south of England. Quite quickly they have spread even further and today are now far from uncommon in most parts of England, although still comparatively uncommon in Scotland, central Wales, and away from the coast in the north of England and Northern Ireland.

Rutland Water, where I am a volunteer on the Osprey Project, now has a good population of Little Egret, but they are usually seen at a great distance, and in my experience are rather nervous birds. I was, therefore, quite pleased to get a distant flight shot of one of a pair of these birds at the start of my turn of duty on Thursday 10th July.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I was, however, somewhat unprepared when, a little while later, a pair of Little Egret came into land in the water right in front of Waderscrape Hide, where we were on duty. They started to fish, and there seemed to be some territorial competition going on between the two birds as meetings between them were antagonistic! 

Little Egret - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
They hung around for about ten minutes before departing. I've been a volunteer on the Osprey Project for eight years now, and I've seen quite a few interesting things (to say the least!) whilst on duty, but I've never seen Little Egret in front of the hide before. I was more than a little delighted, therefore, when they returned again (I'm assuming it was the same pair!) about ten minutes later.

Fortunately the light, which was behind them, was not too bright, and I managed some images that I was rather pleased with. I'd not had much success with Little Egret before, and I particularly like the images showing the water splash.

- and out again!
We were treated to the presence of these birds, on and off, over the next two and a half hours, until nearly the end of our shift. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity and fired off nearly 300 frames!

Little Egret - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
They seemed to be having no difficulty catching the fish, although their catch just seemed to be tiny fry. For much of the time they employed a foot-waggling technique to locate the fish, and their accuracy in then catching them was amazing to behold! The first image, below, shows a catch.

Little Egret - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Titus and I are back on duty this coming Thursday, and we will be interested to see whether the Egrets are there again, or whether they've managed to over-fish this bit of water.

 - bye !!
Thank you for dropping by. I'm not sure what my next post will feature, but I guess there'll be a Little Owl in there somewhere!