Thursday 11 June 2009

Little Egret Chicks at Wildwood

Little Egrets have successfully hatched chicks at Wildwood Kents award winning woodland discovery park, this is further proof of the effects of global warming on Britains climate, warming it enough so that these birds can breed effectively. Wildwood is the first carbon zero zoo in the UK using a 20kw wind turbine, solar thermal and Photovoltaics to run the park ensuring that the Little Egrets upkeep within the park is does not contrivbute to global climate change.

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) is a small white heron with plumes on its head and chest which frequents marshes and shallow fresh and coastal waters, over the last few years has made its home on British shores.

Unfortunately the plumes of the Little Egret and other egrets were in demand for decorating hats in Europe. They had been used for this purpose since at least the 17th century but in the 19th century it became a major craze and the number of egret skins passing through dealers reached into the millions.

Hunting had reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels (concern about this stimulated the establishment of Britain's RSPB in 1889). Now conservation laws protect this species, and the population has rebounded strongly in their traditional haunts but they are now successfully breeding in the wild in the UK too.

Photo: Phil Houghton

Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust's Chief Executive said:

"The Little Egret is another example of a creature brought almost to extinction by man yet we have been able to conserve and build the populations by proper conservation and the birth of these chicks demonstrates that the Wildwood Trust, as a charity, is committed to restoring our native and once native species".

Little Egrets are just some of the huge range of British animals and birds that can be seen at the Wildwood Discovery Park near Canterbury. For more information visit our website at or telephone 0871 7820081.

Wildwood's 'Wildlife Conservation Park' is an ideal day out for all the family where you can come 'nose to nose' with British Wildlife. Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by actually seeing the wildlife that once lived here, like the wolf, beaver, red squirrel, wild boar and many more.

Wildwood is situated close to Canterbury, just off the A291 between Herne Bay and Canterbury.

Photo: Lol Beacham

More Information about Little Egret

The adult Little Egret is 55-65 cm long with an 88-106 cm wingspan. It weighs 350-550 grams. Its plumage is all white. It has long black legs with yellow feet and a slim black bill. In the breeding season, the adult has two long nape plumes and gauzy plumes on the back and breast. The bare skin between the bill and eyes becomes red or blue. Juveniles are similar to non-breeding adults but have duller legs and feet.

Little Egrets are mostly silent but make various croaking and bubbling calls at their breeding colonies and produce a harsh alarm call when disturbed.

The Little Egret nests in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees, shrubs, reed beds or bamboo groves. In some locations such as the Cape Verde Islands, the species nests on cliffs. Pairs defend a small breeding territory, usually extending around 3-4 m from the nest. The three to five eggs are incubated by both adults for 21-25 days to hatching. They are oval in shape and have a pale, non-glossy, blue-green colour. The young birds are covered in white down feathers, are cared for by both parents and fledge after 40 to 45 days.

Little Egrets stalk their prey in shallow water, often running with raised wings or shuffling their feet. They also stand still and wait to ambush prey. It eats a variety of small animals including fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects.

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