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Great White Egrets Somerset

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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 22:17   #1
Himalaya
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Great White Egrets Somerset

Just wondered what is it about Somerset that would have attracted the Great White Egrets to nest there? There are some good wetlands in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Dorset which i thought would be more likely places for them to start breeding in the UK.

In fact they seem rare in Suffolk and Norfolk as visitors - have they ever had 12 there as has been recorded in Cheshire? I know they bred at Norfolk last year.
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Old Saturday 11th August 2018, 03:19   #2
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I do not know the answer to your question, but I have a question myself. Are great white egrets the same bird that we refer to as great egrets here in the states?

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Old Saturday 11th August 2018, 04:44   #3
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I do not know the answer to your question, but I have a question myself. Are great white egrets the same bird that we refer to as great egrets here in the states?

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Same species, but different sub-species.
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 20:49   #4
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Would the American subspecies be able to make it across here - can it be told apart from the Eurasian one?
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 21:46   #5
IAN JAMES THOMPSON
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Just wondered what is it about Somerset that would have attracted the Great White Egrets to nest there? There are some good wetlands in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Dorset which i thought would be more likely places for them to start breeding in the UK.

In fact they seem rare in Suffolk and Norfolk as visitors - have they ever had 12 there as has been recorded in Cheshire? I know they bred at Norfolk last year.
I thought as well they would preferably nest in Suffolk or Norfolk. But the Somerset Levels seems to be the place to visit now for new rare nesting birds for the first time in the UK according to reports that Ive read on the Internet.
Ian,
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 14:03   #6
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Would the American subspecies be able to make it across here - can it be told apart from the Eurasian one?
Ardea alba alba is the European one

The American subspecies is Ardea alba egretta It has been seen in the Western Palearctic and claimed elsewhere. With care it can be distinguished.
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 16:10   #7
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Would the American subspecies be able to make it across here - can it be told apart from the Eurasian one?
Considering my British List includes Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, American Bittern and Green Heron I'd call that a racing certainty. Proving it is another matter.

As for Somerset vs Norfolk/Suffolk I wonder whether it is an accident of geography: there are substantial coastal wetlands down the Atlantic coast of France and it seems to me that we get post breeding dispersal of wetland birds North into Western Britain (this is particularly obvious with Glossy Ibises in recent years). Thus GWE coming up the Bristol Channel find the Somerset Levels and drop in, initially to overwinter and eventually to colonise. Speculation, but am I missing anything?

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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 16:31   #8
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BBRC suggest biometrics needed for accepting Great White Egret subspecies:-

https://www.bbrc.org.uk/subspecies-i...vers-to-grebes

I suspect that the initial breeding that triggered the population could have happened in many places but suspect Somerset has the most suitable habitat over the largest area.

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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 16:45   #9
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Makes absolute sense that scenario of G.W.E. expanding up and into the South West, particularly Somerset. What about the ones that have successfully bred in North Norfolk, where may have these come from? Expansion up the South East and now the East side of England? Four birds together at Potter Heigham recently. I believe that the much larger reedbeds are more to their liking as breeding sites and with the expansion North of these Mediterranean herons, it surely is highly likely that Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk will prove to be counties with high numbers of this species on a regular basis. It's almost a reversal of the expansion of Common Cranes, but as we are aware these are the results of reintroduction schemes e.g.. Lakenheath and the S.Levels.
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 16:54   #10
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BBRC suggest biometrics needed for accepting Great White Egret subspecies:-

https://www.bbrc.org.uk/subspecies-i...vers-to-grebes

I suspect that the initial breeding that triggered the population could have happened in many places but suspect Somerset has the most suitable habitat over the largest area.

All the best
Don't I recall that the American race retains black legs year round or am I mis-remembering again?

There was one in Northants I think it was, in the 90's that was widely touted as being the American race, was it Billing Aquadrome?
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 16:58   #11
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Don't I recall that the American race retains black legs year round or am I mis-remembering again?

There was one in Northants I think it was, in the 90's that was widely touted as being the American race, was it Billing Aquadrome?
Yes and yes. I twitched that one but I understand that bare part colouration is now considered less reliable than was once thought.

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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 17:03   #12
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Makes absolute sense that scenario of G.W.E. expanding up and into the South West, particularly Somerset. What about the ones that have successfully bred in North Norfolk, where may have these come from? Expansion up the South East and now the East side of England? Four birds together at Potter Heigham recently. I believe that the much larger reedbeds are more to their liking as breeding sites and with the expansion North of these Mediterranean herons, it surely is highly likely that Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk will prove to be counties with high numbers of this species on a regular basis. It's almost a reversal of the expansion of Common Cranes, but as we are aware these are the results of reintroduction schemes e.g.. Lakenheath and the S.Levels.
My understanding was that Crane reintroduction is confined to the Somerset Levels with East Anglian birds being natural colonists. The RSPB agrees:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rs...-cranes-in-uk/

The Great Crane Project, like the Rutland Water Ospreys, is an unnecessary vanity project in aid of a bird that is managing perfectly well on its own.

John
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 17:14   #13
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The Great Crane Project, like the Rutland Water Ospreys, is an unnecessary vanity project in aid of a bird that is managing perfectly well on its own.

John

100% agree and these are not the only two complete waste of time projects.
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 17:57   #14
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I reckon the Iberian Marsh Frog population might be a contributing factor. Sorry I don't know the proper name but there are loads on the Levels. Are they widespread in the UK does anyone know?
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 20:55   #15
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There quite a few marsh frogs in areas of the south east especially Kent and Essex can't speak for elsewhere
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 21:22   #16
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Originally Posted by Himalaya View Post
Just wondered what is it about Somerset that would have attracted the Great White Egrets to nest there? There are some good wetlands in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Dorset which i thought would be more likely places for them to start breeding in the UK.

In fact they seem rare in Suffolk and Norfolk as visitors - have they ever had 12 there as has been recorded in Cheshire? I know they bred at Norfolk last year.
Think that a lot of work has gone into the Somerset Levels over the last 20 years - management and creation? Similar to new nature reserves initially being good for rarities in first few years, this may be a factor as opposed to the other areas which are much more 'stable' and possibly providing less farmland feeding/staler environment.

??
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 22:11   #17
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I forgot about the others ie Little Bittern and Night Heron. Cattle Egrets seemed to have an imbalance towards the South West too. Surely Kent, Dorset, Norfolk and Suffolk all have suitable breeding habitat for Little Bitterns?

Purple Heron quite naturally in my eyes nested at Dungeness, Kent in 2010. Glossy Ibis attempted to breed at Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire in 2014. Spoonbils went for Norfolk as a colony but I am aware that there were breeding attempts in Lancashire, Dumfries and Galloway, and possibly Cheshire?

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Originally Posted by IAN JAMES THOMPSON View Post
I thought as well they would preferably nest in Suffolk or Norfolk. But the Somerset Levels seems to be the place to visit now for new rare nesting birds for the first time in the UK according to reports that Ive read on the Internet.
Ian,
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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 22:23   #18
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I saw the photo of the 4 Great White Egrets at Norfolk - are 4 at Norfolk together unusual? I visited Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire last year and I believe for the first time ever they had more than 1 Great White Egret present. Swillington Ings in Yorkshire for the first time recorded 3 Great White Egrets together over the last year. However in 2016 12 were recorded at the Dee Estuary, Cheshire and 10 at Leighton Moss, Lancashire. Kent has had large numbers roosting at Dungeness, possibly mid 30's at some point in the last 2 years? Dorset has had some good counts in some areas.

They seem to be unusual on the east coast of Britain for sure.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 19:18   #19
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Milder winters in the southwest. It can get very cold in the southeast on an east wind out of Siberia, and that's not too good for herons in general
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