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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.

in!
- 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!

18 comments:

  1. These are stunning images of the bird fishing as is the flight shot. I have seen and a fellow photographer got images of one taking a Reed Warbler! They are breeding round my way now too, but what annoys me about this species is how quickly some have developed the attitude "jus' an egret" so was pleased to read your enthusiasm for the bird.

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    1. Thank you, Doug. What an experience that must have been - an egret taking a Reed Warbler!

      It's sad the way familiarity tends to breed contempt. Sometimes one has to remind oneself that these are all wonderful creatures, and think, for example, how upset we'd all be if the common House Sparrow disappeared for all time!

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  2. These are terrific Richard,love the last image,I remember seeing my first Little Egret in Hayle Cornwall in 1986 or there abouts.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. I'm not sure when I saw my first one in UK, but I expect it was only inside the past ten years.

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  3. Brilliant pictures Richard!!! I often see them on the River Stour, Wimborne and Poole Harbour from Holes Bay road. It is incredible how these birds have increased in numbers and are spreading while many of our native birds are in decline. I wonder why they have yellow feet :-)

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I guess they probably spend too much time standing in custard! ;-}

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    2. Maybe it is all the lemonade they drink :-) it has been recorded that they use the colour of their feet as lure to catch fish

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  4. Hi Richard, I thought I would let you know we counted 32 Little Egrets in Poole Harbour from our walk at Upton Park, Poole on Thursday evening. I think a lot of them were probably juveniles, it is the most I have seen at one time.

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  5. Hi Richard: Great shots! Saw lots of this species in France. We just arrived back home yesterday so still a little jet-lagged. It's good to be back with the blogging community!

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    1. Thank you, David. It's really great to have you back in Bloggerland. We've missed you! I'm looking forward to more reports on your European travels.

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  6. Oh Richard these are wonderful pictures!
    I bet you were thrilled!
    The fishing shots are a must!
    They actually catch small prey like small fish, and fresh water shrimps essentially.
    I used to expect to see eventually a decent sized fish in their beak but it never happened in all the times I have been "shooting" them!
    BRAVO!!!
    Keep well and enjoy your evening!

    PS:
    We can expect some Osprey pics if I read you correctly?!!! ;-)

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    1. Thank you, Noushka. It's interesting to know that they only go for small prey. I was worried that they might be a bit more ambitious with their feeding habits (like a Grey Heron), and try to take the young Water Voles that are in these waters.

      I am totally missing out with Osprey images this year. Sadly, the nest I monitor has 'failed'.

      Hoping all is well with you. I love your Kingfisher images in your latest post!

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  7. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These are really excellent photos of Little Egret. We saw this species a few years ago in Bulgaria, Romania, North Africa and only one time in our country (Poland) :-). It is a beautiful heron.
    Have a nice day!

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    1. Thank you, Michał and Piotr. As they are now quite common birds in UK, many photographers don't seem to be interested in them, but I think that they are fabulous birds.

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  8. Hi Richard, just stumbled across your site, they really are excellent images, you have inspired me, might even invest in the lens you use, do you use a tripod at all.
    Again brilliant images thanks for sharing going to spend a few hours now trawling through the rest of your site, so impressed.

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    1. Hi Neil. Thank you for your kind comments.

      I don't often use a tripod, which is why it's essential for me to have 'image stabilisation' (by whatever name the manufacturer cares to call it) on my lens. At my age it's enough for me to cary the camera (two cameras in the summer) and binoculars, without the added weight of a tripod. I do, however, use a tripod in my hide if I've not got to walk far. With a tripod I do get consistently better results. There'll be a post in a week or so with some tripod based images.

      With regard to the lens, I've been very happy with the Sigma 150-500, but I really would like the latest version of the Sigma 50-500. In spite of the extended focal length range, it's a significantly better lens in terms of image quality and of versatility (pretty good for macro work too).

      Thank you for dropping by.

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