Great White Egret (Great Egret, Great White Heron) Ardea alba (Egretta alba, Casmerodius albus)

Until recently Great White Egret was a very rare visitor to the UK from Europe. In line with a range expansion within Europe records began to increase towards the end of the 20th century and since then its status here has changed dramatically. In 2012 this species nested in Britain for the first time ever, in Somerset, and since 2016 it has bred in Norfolk.

In Europe this species was formerly known as Great White Heron, but this name should be avoided to prevent confusion with the similar all-white form of Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias occidentalis that is known by the same name where it occurs in North America.

Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Granelli (Sicily, Italy), 3rd May 2012

 

Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Granelli (Sicily, Italy), 29th April 2012

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Granelli (Sicily, Italy), 29th April 2012

 

Great White Egret, Ebro Delta (Cataluña, Spain), 21st May 2013

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Ebro Delta (Cataluña, Spain), 20th May 2013

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Stiffkey (Norfolk, UK), 1st October 2013

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Hilf Harbour (Norfolk, UK), 7th November 2017

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret  

Great White Egret, Hilf Water Treatment Works (Norfolk, UK), 7th November 2017

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, near Porto Pollo (Corsica, France), 15th April 2008

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, near Porto Pollo (Corsica, France), 15th April 2008

 

Great White Egret, Göksu Delta (Turkey), 9th May 2010

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Minsmere (Suffolk, UK), 2nd May 2015

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egrets, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 19th September 2016

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Narford Lake (Norfolk, UK), 4th February 2017

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 1st May 2017

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Hockwold Fen (Norfolk, UK), 25th March 2016

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret
Great White Egret

8 Great White Egrets, Sheringham (Norfolk, UK), 14th October 2009 - the largest flock ever recorded in the UK at the time!

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret

Great White Egret, Minsmere (Suffolk, UK), 7th September 2013

 

Great White Egret, Holkham (Norfolk, UK), 16th September 2017

 

This species has an extensive world range and in North America the form that occurs there (race egretta) is more commonly known as Great Egret. This form is suspected as having occurred in the UK on occasion and the next set of photos all belong to this form.

Great Egret Great Egret

Great Egret (North American form egretta), Garden Key, Dry Tortugas (Florida, USA), 20th April 2013

 

Great Egret Great Egret
Great Egret Great Egret

Great Egrets (North American form egretta), Wakodahatchee (Florida, USA), 27th April 2013

 

Great Egret Great Egret

Great Egret (North American form egretta), South Bay, San Diego (California, USA), 20th April 2005

 

Great Egret (North American form egretta), Garden Key, Dry Tortugas (Florida, USA), 21st April 2013

 

Great Egret Great Egret

Great Egret (North American form egretta), Corkscrew Swamp (Florida, USA), 15th April 2013

 

Great Egret (North American form egretta), Hungry Tarpon restaurant, Islamorada (Florida, USA), 23rd April 2013

 

Great Egret Great Egret

Great Egrets (North American form egretta), Ramer Lake (California, USA), 22nd April 2005 - these photos were taken in an active breeding colony

 

Great Egret Great Egret

Great Egret (North American form egretta), Babcock-Webb (Florida, USA), 15th April 2013

 

Great Egret (North American form egretta), Babcock-Webb (Florida, USA), 16th April 2013

 

I'm not sure how the African form differs from European birds, but it is assigned to a different race, malanorhynchos. So far as I know it has not been recorded in Europe, though any that did turn up here would be very difficult to detect.

Great White Egret Great White Egret

African Great White Egrets (race melanorhynchos), Lake Chilwa (Malawi), 15th May 2011

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret

African Great White Egrets (race melanorhynchos), Liwonde (Malawi), 26th May 2011

 

Great White Egret Great White Egret

African Great White Egrets (race melanorhynchos), Liwonde National Park (Malawi), 24th-25th September 2008

 

Great White Egret  

African Great White Egret (race melanorhynchos; front) and Intermediate Egret (behind), Mpatsanjoka, Senga Bay (Malawi), 9th October 2008