Wednesday, 30 October 2013

126. Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egrets, or Great White Egrets, are another one that is slowly making its way north through Europe - vagrants to the UK have been increasing for a while, and their first recorded breeding in the UK occurred last year at Shapwick Heath, just next door to Ham Wall where the Little Bitterns nested this year! Great Egrets are distributed patchily throughout southern Europe and their increasing population trend is thought to be the reason they are spreading north. Apart from the size difference, they can be told apart from Little Egrets by their yellow bill (except in the breeding season when it becomes mostly black), their lack of nape plumes, all-dark legs and feet, much longer legs (projecting way out beyond the tail in flight) and slower, more ponderous wingbeats. Great Egrets also gain very long ornamental plumes during the breeding season as seen in the photo. Their habitats comprise a wide range of inland and coastal wetlands including shallow swampy lakes with vegetation, marshes, rivers, estuaries, lagoons and mudflats.

Great Egret, ©mikebaird, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Great Egret painting.
I liked the juxtaposition of shapes in this hunched egret, and I thought I'd try adding a background seeing as the bird is all white.

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