Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
In 20 years, the Little Egret (E. garzetta) has gone from being a rare vagrant in Sussex to a regular breeding bird, present throughout the year. The first record in Sussex was in 1952, when a single vagrant was recorded at Manhood End on 10th June 1952, and nearby, on the eastern side of Chichester Harbour, from 2nd July to 1st September 1952. Thereafter, there were occasional sightings in the county, with a total of 27 birds recorded during 1953-88, mainly along the coast. E. garzetta is now a fairly common resident which has bred in Sussex since 2001. This was just five years after the first UK breeding record - recorded from Dorset in 1996.
In Britain, the Little Egret is at the northernmost limit of its range. A warmer climate is likely to lead to an increase in the breeding numbers found in Sussex, but an exceptionally cold winter will lead to a profound drop in numbers.
An elegant bird and one that is always a delight to see …
Collins, B., 1996. Little Egret. Birds of Sussex. Sussex Ornithological Society, pp. 120-121.
Watson, B., 2014. Little Egret. The Birds of Sussex. Thetford: British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Books on behalf of the Sussex Ornithological Society, pp. 163-164.