‘SHARKY’ NO MORE
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