Monday, 17 September 2012

Great white egret?

One thing I've learnt whilst writing this blog is never to go out and look for something - as you will almost certainly never see it, but there maybe something else to see.
For example, whilst looking for water voles I've seen foxes and whilst looking for foxes I've seen otters and on Sunday I went looking for hares and didn't see any - instead there was something even more interesting and quite unusual.
Flying overhead from the North East in a South Western direction was a very large white bird:
First impressions were it could be a stork or a crane. But having studied the photographs, it has the bent neck, normally associated with herons:
Such a bird is not listed in my reference guides, so it took the internet to resolve the identification and the most likely contender is a great white egret (a type of heron).
An unusual bird to see in the UK, the going birding site for Oxfordshire describes it as 'Very Rare' 

Great white egrets can reside in the UK over winter, but they are also migratory, so as this one was heading in a southerly direction, it could be migrating to Africa and may not have touched ground in the county.

As always, corrections are welcome.


  1. Well done Richard for spotting this fantastic bird.
    GWEs bred for the first time this year in Somerset:

    David Guyoncourt

  2. Hi
    I'm afraid this is a river question not a wildlife one but thought you might know the answer. I took part of the Ock Valley walk today from St Helen's church. The walk goes along between two branches of the river. Are these both called the Ock or only the northern one?
    Any help much appreciated. I've looked at various EA maps and the southern part doesn't appear to have a name?

  3. Hi Maggie,

    Thank you very much for your comment.

    I'm not sure there is an answer to your question, I refer to both parts of the Ock as the upper and lower Ock, which seems to fit and so far, no one has corrected me yet.

    I hope that helps.


  4. Ah thanks. That does help and makes perfect sense. Do the upper and lower parts join up again to the west of Abingdon somewhere?

  5. Yes, they diverge just before the weir near Tescos.

    If you carry on past Drayton Road Bridge you can follow the lower Ock along the Ladygrove playing fields. There is then a small footbridge which leads to Tescos and you can walk along the Ock all the way to the A34.

    Hope that helps.

  6. Thank you very much for your help.

  7. Hi Richard,

    I agree that it's a Great White Egret. Little Egrets have black beaks and yellow feet whereas yours has black feet and a yellow beak so must be a Great White.I was in Florida in July and saw lots there but have never seen one here before.Lucky you!


  8. Hi Rachel,

    Good to hear from you again.

    When I first saw it, I thought it must be a stork or a crane as it was so big. It was only when checking the pictures I noticed it flew like a heron.
    I find it interesting what is common on a holiday, but staggering rare at home. A few years back we watching an osprey fishing in the Canadian Rockies and no-one seemed to give it any attention. Yet other here it would draw huge crowds.