‘SHARKY’ NO MORE

Bird Watching (UK) - - Challenge -

This Great White Egret in south Lin­colnshire was one of at least seven Mike saw near his home, in 2016 Lit­tle Egrets are old hat, es­tab­lished, dyed in the wool. Great White Egrets are the new kids in town, de rigueur, en vogue, all the rage (if you will ex­cuse my passé ex­pres­sions). I ticked my first near Peter­bor­ough, by a ditch at Sawtry Roughs, on 14 Oc­to­ber 2002, one mem­o­rable lunchtime. Then, I didn’t see one again un­til Fe­bru­ary 2009. I ‘found’ my first on New Year’s Day 2013; and now ex­pect to see the species ev­ery year. In fact, their stealthy ex­pan­sion has led to a sit­u­a­tion where, dur­ing 2016, I have seen at least seven in­di­vid­ual Great White Egrets in the Peter­bor­ough area, in­clud­ing two self-found birds. In fact, I found one last week­end along the River Wel­land near Crow­land, south Lin­colnshire. Dur­ing the year, there have been Great Whites present in just about ev­ery month around these parts. Great Whites have be­come so reg­u­lar we have stopped call­ing them all ‘Sharky’! But this is not some iso­lated anom­aly. There are, as I write in late Novem­ber, prob­a­bly more than 100 Great Whites in the coun­try. There have been, for in­stance, counts of 16 at Dun­geness (Kent), 26 at Chew Val­ley Lake (Som­er­set), 16 at Blag­don Lake (Som­er­set), and 12 at Bur­ton Marsh (Cheshire). Great White Egrets have been nest­ing in small num­bers in the UK since 2012 (start­ing at The Avalon Marshes, Som­er­set). It is surely only a mat­ter of a few years be­fore these kink-necked, ex­tra tall, gan­gly, grace­ful white herons will be wide­spread breeders across the coun­try. Egrets are colonis­ing our is­lands at an ex­cep­tional rate. These lovely birds are ev­ery­where now. White is the new black. Great is the new Lit­tle.

Mike is an ob­ses­sive patch lis­ter and keen wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher in his home city of Peter­bor­ough, where he lives with his wife, Jo, and chil­dren, Jas­mine and Ed­die. You can see his pho­tos at weed­world.blogspot.com

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