EGRETS OF WORCESTERSHIRE
Andy Warr, Worcestershire County Bird Recorder
Little Egrets Egretta garzetta
It was not many years ago, observing a Little Egret brought a touch of excitement to a day's birdwatching on the southern coast of Britain. How times have changed, with hundreds now resident throughout the southern counties and even breeding colonies being discovered in recent years. In consequence, it seemed only a matter of time before it made an appearance on the Worcestershire list, especially as the odd birds were already being reported from other West Midlands Counties.
Since its first occurrence at Bredon's Hardwick Gravel Pit on May 6th 1992, its status in Worcestershire has gone from strength to strength, being reported during subsequent years in ever-increasing numbers, with the exception of 1995, when it was absent. By the end of 1999 at least 23 individuals had been record in the county, twelve of which came from Bredon's Hardwick, but the years 2000 and 2001 revealed the true extent of this species success in Britain, with unprecedented numbers reaching the county. Up to 25 individuals were reported during this period, including small flocks of five at Gwen Finch reserve near Nafford on August 4th 2001, and then three at both Gwen Finch and Upper Bittell the following day. Regular sightings have continued this year 2002, with at least three individuals at Upton Warren, Two at Ryall Pits, one at Bittell Reservoir and one in the Grimley area.
Site totals of Little Egret in Worcestershire (to September 2002)
11 at Bittell Reservoir
14 at Bredon's Hardwick
Five at Defford
A single bird visited Droitwich Canal, Redditch, Upper Bentley, Feckenham, Callow Hill, Crabbs Cross and Oakenshaw.
One at Foxmere Court
Two at Grimley
One at Holt
Two at Kinsham Pool
Two at Lower Moor
Eight at Gwen Finch Reserve, Nafford
Three at Ryall Pits
One at Strensham
One at Throckmorton Tip
One at Trimpley Reservoir
Six at Upton Warren
Two at Westwood Pool
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
The county has also hosted both Cattle Egret and Great White Egret in resent years. A Cattle Egret present in 1980 was considered a probable escape and was subsequently rejected as a wild bird by the British Birds Rarity Committee (BBRC). A second individual discovered feeding amongst cattle at Besford between October 25th to November 14th and again from December 4th to 26th 1993, was accepted by the BBRC as being of wild origin and was last reported in the county at Bredon's Hardwick on December 27th 1993.
Great White Egret Ardea alba
The sole record for Great White Egret in the county came from Westwood Pool, where one roosted during the late evening of September 11th 1999 and was seen to depart at dawn the following day. The bird was colour ringed yellow-pale green-yellow on the left leg and has only recently been traced as a young bird ringed at the nest at Lake of Grand-Lieu, Loire Atlantique, France in May 1999. It was also realised to be the bird seen at a site near Salisbury, Wilts, during the previous week and, remarkably, it returned to Salisbury the following day.
West Midland Bird Reports 1990-2000.
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