Egretta garzetta – CREYR BACH – Winter visitor and passage migrant which has bred.
See also Little Egret 2012
Little egret numbers increased rapidly between 1995 and 2005, then levelled out. The cold winter of 2010-2011, when at least eight little egrets were found dead in Pembrokeshire, reduced the numbers considerably – a shown in the counts for the subsequent winters. Numbers seem to have recovered a little since then, and they do not appear to have suffered (at least locally) from the effects of the cold ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018.
As the numbers have increased, the pattern of occurrence has changed slightly. Until 2001-02, the numbers built up slowly to a peak in December-January, then decreased slowly for the rest of the winter.
Since the 2002-03 winter, numbers have been noticeably higher in September-October. This may reflect dispersal of youngsters from local breeding populations. However, birds from further afield do reach the Cleddau, as evidenced by a colour-marked bird observed in November 2011, it had been ringed as a nestling in north Wales the previous spring.
This map was produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre using data collected between November and February for the BTO Atlas 2007-11, with additional data collected in 2011-12 winter to fill gaps in coverage.
Best places to see little egrets
Small numbers of egrets are found almost anywhere in the Cleddau complex, with embayments such as the Gann, Sandy Haven, Carew-Cresswell, Western Cleddau, and Pembroke River usually supporting larger numbers.
Small numbers are also regularly seen on the Nevern and Teifi Estuaries, and in Fishguard Harbour.
Wetland Bird Survey
The effect of the cold winters of 2010-11 to 2012-13 is clearly shown on this graph. The effect of the ‘Beast from East’ (cold spring of 2018) may simply have been a set-back in the overall recovery from the previous cold winters.
Data for June and July are collected by Jane Hodges during the annual surveillance of summer shelduck populations on the Cleddau Estuary complex. There are no counts in August. The September to March data is collected from sites across Pembrokeshire (including the Teifi Estuary) for the BTO Wetland Bird Survey.
Pattern of occurrence
Cumulative number of records per week since 2000 in Pembrokeshire, taken from BirdTrack. The low numbers of sightings in May-July may reflect the birds staying local to their breeding sites, which may or may not be in Pembrokeshire.
Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)
HAYCOCK A (2019). A review of the status of wetland birds in the Milford Haven Waterway and Daugleddau Estuary, 2019. A report to the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group.
HODGES J E. (2010-2020) Daugleddau Estuary and Milford Haven Waterway: annual surveillance of summer shelduck populations. Reports to the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group.