BIRDS 95 – GREAT WHITE EGRET – AND A NEW BIRD FOR MY UK LIST!!!

 

 

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Last Friday, driving home past Chew Valley Lake, I saw a white heron out of the corner of my eye and automatically assumed that it was a Little Egret, a bird that was very rare here in my youth but which has flooded into southern Britain in recent decades.  But, all in an instant, it hit me that it looked far too big for a Little – and my car swerved across the thankfully empty road, I grabbed the bins, leapt out and, well, here it is pictured above – it is a Great White Egret, a bird of warmer, more southerly climes and, as far as I knew, a great rarity – tho not new for my UK bird list, as I’d already seen one on Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides, in the 1990s.

Well, I will summarise what happened next.  I immediately met a birder from South Wales, a chap of my age, and as we looked out over this small part of the lake – the Herons Green Bay that I’ve often spoken of before – we found 18 Little Egrets, 12 of these Great White Egrets – and a single Cattle Egret, a bird I’d never seen in Britain before, but which I’m very familiar with from 12 years in Kenya.  Unfortunately this new bird was too far away for anything like a decent photo – I wished I’d been carrying a full-frame Nikon and 400+mm of telephoto reach!

I’m not a bird lister these days, its simply a type of collecting, and while I was reasonably into it during my birding decades, 1967-2002, a great chunk of my life really, I now have a far more relaxed attitude to birds.  I still enjoy them hugely, I love to see them and they certainly significantly raise my Quality Of Life – as do butterflies.  But I am now out the frenetic race to see more and more bird species – I’ve moved on, as the current phrase goes, and I’m different now.

But, nevertheless, seeing a new bird for my UK list so unexpectedly was quite a (nice) shock – and this welcome feeling was only enhanced by the setting, because Herons Green was one of the Somerset locations where I started birding all those years ago.  I’ve travelled quite a bit I suppose, including living in Kenya, but now I’m happy to be, more or less, “back where I started”.  Is it a “coming home” thing, well I don’t know, although I am now very close to where I grew up – but I do know that ending up here in southwest England – Somerset, and sometimes Dorset, Devon and Cornwall too – feels right.

Click onto the image to open another copy in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 6 Oct 2017.
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

15 Responses to BIRDS 95 – GREAT WHITE EGRET – AND A NEW BIRD FOR MY UK LIST!!!

  1. bluebrightly says:

    A very enjoyable read, Adrian. I’m in a similar place re listing – I kept one years ago but am now happy to drink in the whole of the bird, not just its name. What a fabulous sight that must have been though, and I can feel your excitement. Do you ever look on ebird? I imagine people would have reported all the Great White Egrets there. I first saw them on an island off Georgia, where we spent Spring vacations because my grandparents had retired there. Later they expanded their range to NYC and beyond, but on the west coast they don’t come very far north, I believe. I miss seeing them.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Drinking in the whole of a bird is a very good way of putting it, Lynn. Yes, I’m not a birder as such now, but looking out on all those herons was really astonishing, and all the more so since I’ve known the site very well since 1967 – OMG! >>> 50 years! I used to subscribe to a rare bird site here in the UK, but I never look at such sites now – despite doing all this blogging, I’m not big on looking at screens, I prefer paper/print – and I’m hoping that Amateur Photographer magazine will come today – so that I can devour and heavily annotate it! Many thanks for all your great comments this morning! 🙂

      Like

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    We saw one in Wales last year… wonderful to see 🙂

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  3. Beautiful capture. I often combine my passion for photography with my passion for hiking and the outdoors. It’s always a bonus to encounter wildlife. Thank you for sharing.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      My pleasure – and I have enjoyed your blog too – I especially like your words “For me it is a life free of rules and regulations, one that allows me to escape the must expectations while jumping off the hamster wheel that is spinning faster all the time.”. Yes, absolutely, many expectations, few people being able to see outside these constraints; and the “busy modern lifestyle” getting busier and more complicated all the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. paula graham says:

    How exciting, Adrian, to see these magnificent birds in our area. It is still a very nice shot of bird in its environment. There are a lot in watery Holland and I believe in East Anglia also. Super stuff.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, Holland has had these birds for sometime I think – there are quite a few creatures on the continent that are either rare here, or have never made it here at all. I’m just wondering what the Levels / Chew Lake are going to throw up next!

      Like

  5. Meanderer says:

    How wonderful to have seen these birds. Do you think the presence of the Cattle Egret is another sign of climate change?

    I’m also thinking about your description of having come home – full circle, I guess – and your contentment at living where you do. I envy it, really and am really happy for you.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well, birds are mobile and their ranges change, sometimes very rapidly, and not always for climatic reasons. But I assume the climate is changing due to human activities – although that must be tempered with my geological background – which tells me that far greater changes have happened in pre-human time. But now does seem to be human-induced, and to me the problem is that we shall all put money/profit first, and not do anything really concrete about climate change until it is too late – haha! as with Mr Trump!

      Thank you for your happiness, I’m glad you feel that for me. I lead quite a simple life really, I always have done, but it has been a very varied life full of many things – some good, some bad. Now I’m content to be here. I don’t have a lot of money but I have enough, and that is one hell of a good situation to be in. Do you still miss Wilts?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Meanderer says:

        I do still miss Wilts but the feelings I have since moving here feel much more complex.

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Two things. I think you ought to examine your feelings, and their sources / catalysts, in depth. Try to find out where you are – hahaha, and I don’t mean geographically!

          And two, re climate change, something I forgot, which I’ve just seen on the news – the Earth had had 5 major biological extinctions through geological time, the most well known being the demise of the dinosaurs of course. Experts are now saying we’re starting the 6th, due to Man – and I can remember from when I started birdwatching in 1967, there were far more birds around then. I’m going to do my best to become fossilised, although some may opine that I’ve already achieved that …

          Liked by 1 person

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