A new and very distinctive bird is becoming a much more regular sight around the Cotswold Water Park; the Great White Egret.

Until recently, this species was extremely rare in the UK. Before the year 2000 only one had ever been seen in Wiltshire and just another single in Gloucestershire (and neither of those were in the Cotswold Water Park). Global warming has assisted the remarkable expansion of their range, from south and east Europe, as the milder winters allow them to carry on catching fish without the handicap of extensive ice. These giant white herons, about the same size as the native Grey Herons, have been gradually appearing here and this winter at least two have made the Water Park their home.

 

The much smaller Little Egrets have been regularly spotted for years. These are also ‘all white herons’ but with slender black bills compared with the large, dagger like, orange bills of their larger cousins.

During the last few years Great Whites (that is egrets, not sharks) have bred in the Somerset levels.The Cotswold Water Park already hosts breeding colonies of both Grey Herons and Little Egrets. How long will it be before the Great White Egrets join them?