12 June 2012
Latest news from our Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve in Somerset, where the UK's first breeding pair of great white egrets have sucessfully raised three chicks.
Natural England confirmed the UK’s first successful breeding attempt by great white egrets at their Shapwick Heath reserve in Somerset on the 31st May. A second chick was confirmed by reserve staff a couple of days later.
Over the weekend, staff on the reserve saw a third youngster near the nest, which is buried deep in the reedbed and under constant watch by a team of volunteers and visitors. The other two young were also observed taking their first flights over the adjacent reedbeds and have now been joined by the fully fledged third sibling.
Simon Clarke, Senior Reserve Manager at Natural England’s Shapwick Heath reserve said; “These birds just keep surprising us, it’s tremendous. This is the first UK breeding record so we didn’t know really what would happen next or when. We knew the eggs could hatch over a number of days but the location of the nest, deep in the reed bed, has meant a waiting game – to confirm the first chick, then a second and now a third. Watching these birds take their first tentative flights around the reserve is just a joy.”
Simon added, “Our dedicated volunteers have done a brilliant job – with advice and support from the RSPB, they provided a 24 hour watch on the nest when eggs were suspected and latterly daylight monitoring to keep a look out for young chicks.”
The chicks mature quickly and those on Shapwick Heath are already almost the size of an adult, which can grow up to a metre. The wing span of an adult male is 155cm.