It was just a matter of time before little egrets were confirmed to have bred in the county, given the rapid expansion of the population across the UK. Little Egrets first bred in the UK at Dorset in 1996
It was the appearance of what appeared to be a family party of little egrets on the Budge fields back in mid July that got me suspicious. There were seven birds, that appeared to be two adults and five juveniles, but they were difficult to see. They certainly behaved as though they were a family.
This led me to check the heronry as I had recently learned from colleagues in Arnside & Silverdale that little egrets breed later than grey herons. The first tree I checked had an old heron nest in it (I wrongly presumed they bred in old heron nests), there was broken shells on the ground that were about half to two-thirds the size of grey heron eggs, there was also white feathers. Very suspicious.
|Left - grey heron eggshell. Right - little egret eggshell
|Two little egret chicks on the nest
|This is them taken from the ground
|The little egret chick we ringed. Photo: Ian Fisher
|I suspect this is the juvenile we didn't ring, the ringed bird was nearby but too distant for a photo. Photographed on 3rd August