A rare visitor to the Park

Photo and report by Nigel Jackman

On the last day of August, more than thirty members of the Friday Bird Group thrilled at the sight of a Great White Egret as it flew overhead before dropping to land briefly on a tree top on the island of Upper Pen Pond.

This graceful white bird, with yellow bill and black legs, is the same size as a grey heron. The only previous Park record is of one seen flying over in 2012.

Only a decade or so ago the Great White Egret was not even mentioned in books on British birds; now it is a rare, but increasing migrant from the near continent with up to 150 birds a year, and even limited breeding records.

Over a period of half an hour the bird settled twice on the island and twice in the shallows of the Pond, but for the most part it treated observers to an unforgettable aerial display against a vivid blue sky, circling, soaring and dropping serenely in ever widening and then decreasing circles.

Eventually it rose high into the sky again before disappearing from view. We may well wait a very long time for another visit, but memories of this one will linger on forever. 

See more of Nigel's photos of the Great White Egret.