GRC Blog

Welcome to the GRC Recorders pages. This blog provides details on all the relevant news of Glamorgan’s scarcer birds, plus all BBRC & WRP decisions that affect us locally. It will also be used to document the status and occurrence of these scarcer species and we welcome contributions from anyone with photographs, artwork or documentation of rarities past, present and future. The GRC also welcomes all seawatching news from around Glamorgan and news of passage migrants in spring & autumn, uncommon birds in our area and unusual behaviour.

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The Glamorgan Rarities Committee, in conjunction with the Glamorgan Bird Club & Gower Wildlife , have agreed to co-operate with the Welsh Ornithological Society in the sharing of bird records & photographs in the interest of keeping accurate records and to promote birdwatching in North, Mid & South Wales.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

News of breeding Great White Egret

This features the female that frequented the Wentloog area of Cardiff & Gwent

Natural England confirmed today that the Great White Egret has nested for the first time in Britain.

The nest site - at Shapwick Heath, Natural England’s National Nature Reserve in Somerset - is being monitored by staff and volunteers from Natural England, the RSPB and Somerset Ornithological Society. Activity on the site strongly suggests that the birds may already have young and in the next few weeks, Natural England hopes to be able confirm that the nest contains chicks and that Britain can welcome a new species to its list of breeding birds. 
The great white egret is more usually found in mainland Europe, but in recent years, there have been increased sightings of these elegant birds in England, a small number of which have been visiting the reedbeds and wetlands of the Avalon Marshes. Until now, none of these visitors have nested and there is growing excitement that this summer could see the beginning of a growing trend. 
The female bird was ringed as a nestling in May 2009 in Besne, in France, and records show she travelled to Lancashire, Wales (Cardiff & Gwent area) and Gloucestershire before visiting the Somerset Levels for the first time in April 2010. She has stayed in the region ever since and managed to cope with two relatively cold British winters.
Local birdwatchers spotted nesting activity on the Shapwick Heath Reserve in early April this year and alerted the Somerset Ornithological Society, Natural England and the RSPB. The three organisations immediately established a 24 hour nest watch operation with volunteers, who have currently clocked up over 1000 hours of nest-watching time. This ensured the birds were not disturbed whilst they completed their nest, concealed deep in the reed beds. 
This species tends to return to the same nest site each year, so it is hoped that this pair will be pioneers and that a colony of great white egrets will become established on the Avalon Marshes.

Simon Clarke, Reserve Manager for Shapwick Heath said; “This is hugely exciting and we’ve been keeping everything crossed and a close eye on the nest since the signs of nesting activity were first noticed last month. In the last few years, we’ve been carrying out a lot of work to improve the reserve’s reedbeds for bitterns and otters – but it seems great white egrets have also appreciated the work we’ve done.
Tony Whitehead speaking for the RSPB said: "This is another major step forward for nature conservation, and the RSPB is delighted to be working alongside NE and the Somerset Ornithological Society to protect these pioneering birds as they breed for the first time
“The Avalon Marshes are a wonderful example of landscape scale conservation, where partnership working has produced one of Western Europe's largest and best wetlands. Places such as these are vital in providing valuable space for newly colonising species as well as safeguarding populations of vulnerable birds such as bittern. And the really exciting thing is now predicting what's going to turn up next - it’s the sort of place where anything's possible"

Simon added; “Despite the appalling weather conditions over much of this period for wardens and birds alike, these egrets have shown extreme diligence in tending the nest site. Although chicks have not yet been seen, a significant change in behaviour has been noted which suggests we may soon have some very demanding new additions to the Reserve!”

RSPB and Natural England have set up a recorded information line for people to keep up to date with the birds progress and details on visiting the reserve to view the birds. The number is 07866 554142
Visitors to Shapwick Heath are welcome but parking is very limited. Therefore, in order to avoid disturbance to local residents, visitors are asked to park at the Avalon Marshes Centre, Westhay, BA6 9TT, where you will find directions to the Great Egret Watch.

1 comment:

Martyn Hnatiuk said...

Visited there today after the Great Reed Warbler at Weston sewage works. Saw one Great Egret that was ringed above the knee - orange, lime green, taupe, colours from top to bottom on each leg. Other birds on show included Bittern, Hobby, Marsh Harrier and 2 Temmincks Stint.