Twenty years ago when a little egret was spotted it caused quite a stir a amongst bird watchers and wildlife photographers. As time has passed the little egret is spreading its range wider and wider and moving up the country.
The first record of breeding little egrets were a pair nested, raising three young, on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, in 1996 (RSPB)
Leighton Moss is an RSPB reserve I use to visit on a regular basis being a hour away from home when I lived in Lancashire. We would see an odd little egret in a year. I would go to Cornwall on holiday and visit the Hayle Estuary and see these beautiful birds and would think how lucky people in Cornwall were to have these birds, they seemed to be in every creek and estuary.
Since the mid nineties their breeding success and spread has been quite impressive. They have moved north and now can be found in many parts of the country. Even in the north east of England in Northumberland, a pair can be seen on Budle bay and on the coast up to Holy Island. IN 2002 there were 146 – 162 breeding pairs in the UK with wintering numbers between 800 and 900 individuals (BTO)
When I visited Leighton Moss a few weeks ago and they now have a resident population of little egrets. On the Allan Pool alone there was a small group of 14 with other birds spread over the reserve. The numbers in Lancashire have increased dramatically and are now a common occurance along the coastal areas.
The pictures below are just a few from a trip down to Lancashire a few weeks ago