Find information, pages & articles on British & Irish Birds, Birding & Birdwatching...

Irish Little Egret turns up in Iceland! (BirdWatch Ireland)

The recently-published Bird Atlas 2007–11 has highlighted some very significant patterns and shifting trends in our bird populations over the past 20 years.  For all too many species these findings reveal declines and range contractions; however there are some positive stories too. One of the most remarkable of these has been the colonisation and subsequent spread of the Little Egret.  As the atlas has shown, this elegant heron is now widespread and is frequently observed throughout the country both during the winter and breeding seasons.  It is therefore easy to forget that it was as recently as 1997 that the first ever nesting record was documented in Ireland, following the first British record the previous year!  These events followed on from a rapid expansion of the Iberian breeding population in the early nineties, and their arrival to these shores throws up all sorts of interesting questions, such as the speculation as to whether their colonisation is linked to climate change.

Little Egret close to fledging at the Galway colony (Photo: Dario Fernandez Bellon)
Little Egret close to fledging at the Galway colony
(Photo: Dario Fernandez Bellon)

To try and learn more about the breeding ecology and dispersal of Little Egrets in Ireland, a monitoring and colour-ringing study was initiated in Co. Galway by Chris Benson and John Lusby, and this work has provided some interesting and unexpected findings to date. 

RSPB News Feed

BTO News Feed