Little Egret

My favourite walk along George V Memorial Walk in Hayle is not only interesting for the number of plants which grow there, but also the birdlife, especially in winter when migrants arrive to feast from the muddy tidal pools.

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996. With a white body and attractive fluffy snowy plumes on its crest and back, black legs and bill and yellow feet the little egret is relatively easy to identify.   Generally they are solitary and silent birds, however they do make harsh alarm calls if disturbed at their roost sites.  They are small white herons and smaller than a grey heron.

They are most common along the south and east coasts of England and in Wales. The estuaries of Devon and Cornwall, Poole Harbour and Chichester Harbour hold some of the largest concentrations and they are also common in East Anglia.


  1. Sue says:

    Ooh, he’s a poser!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes. Usually see one down there, but not always as close to the road.

  2. Anne Guy says:

    Yes these days sighs of Egrets have become so commonplace but I still recall back in the 1990’s loads of birdwatchers training their binoculars on them in the gardens of the Quay House pub and on the station platform at the Saltings Hayle!

    1. Heyjude says:

      There are still birdwatchers along there every time we drive past. One day I will stop and visit the hide there.

      1. Anne Guy says:

        Yes do especially when the tides are rising the birds get pushed up closer. There also another bird hide under the Hayle bypass too never seen much there though!. Also in season there was a good cafe nearby the pub car park…don’t know whether it’s still in business. Coming down later this year so I can check!

  3. Lovely shots of the little egret, Jude. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have many really bad shots as they never come close enough, unlike your cooperative birds!

      1. I know all about bad shots. 😳

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Any idea where they came from before they landed in your part of the country. Here I am more familiar with a much larger white egret.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I believe they came over from northern France, but they probably migrated there from elsewhere.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I forget how close France is to you!

  5. Su Leslie says:

    Nice shots Jude. Interesting that it’s a relative newcomer to your area. Does that pose problems for other, established species? Or am I projecting NZ-style concerns about invasive species? 🤨

    1. Heyjude says:

      We get a lot of winter migrants on the estuary down here, I don’t think they impact on the natives which are probably mainly herring gulls.

  6. It’s such a graceful little bird!

  7. beetleypete says:

    I have seen an egret in the same spot every day, ever since I started taking Ollie out, more than seven years ago. It always flies off as we approach the riverbank, and lands further down. I have often wondered if it could be the same bird, as I have no idea how long they live for. There is never a pair, or a young one, so their mating must be done elsewhere.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’ve never seen them as a pair either. No idea how long they live. But they are lovely elegant birds.

  8. A very elegant bird, great pictures!

  9. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Lovely photos – we get them here too occasionally

  10. I love the peaceful waterliness of this. A good antidote to fire anxiety – which has diminished for now, with Spud still intact, except for monumental clearing around the perimeter and in my garden.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Have the trees gone then? Glad you are safe for now and cross fingers this disastrous event comes to an end very soon!

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