Tuesday 12 August 2014

Another new breeding species for the County

After marsh warblers successfully bred at Druridge last year, Druridge has another new breeding species for the county this summer - little egrets

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
So I climbed the tree and just below the heron nest I saw this out on a limb

Two little egret chicks on the nest
Not much bigger than a woodpigeon nest, with two white egret chicks sat on it - I nearly fell out of the tree!

This is them taken from the ground
We returned with Ian Fisher and ringed one of the chicks the following day.

The little egret chick we ringed. Photo: Ian Fisher
I never confirmed that the group on the Budge fields were a family party or had bred locally, but I suspect that they might have.

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
So breeding marsh warblers in 2013 and little egrets in 2014. Could Druridge be on for a hat-trick in 2015?


Yellowbelly in Exile said...

This is great news. Spoonbills next?

Yellowbelly in Exile said...

This is great news. Spoonbills next?