Category Archives: wetland birds

Great White Egret

About

The great white egret can look similar to the little egret but as the name suggests they are much larger, similar to the size of a grey heron. Great white egrets are an occasional visitor and favour all kinds of wetland habitat – even farmland ditches can attract them. They have a diet of fish, insects and frogs, caught by spearing with their long, sharp beak.

Great white egrets have occurred in the UK in all months of the year, but they are most likely to be seen during spring and winter.

 

How to identify

The great white egret is a white heron, similar to the size of a grey heron with black feet and a long sharp yellow beak.

Kingfisher

About

A famously colourful bird of rivers and streams, the kingfisher can be spotted sitting quietly on low-hanging branches over the water, suddenly diving in to catch a small fish. Kingfishers breed near lowland watercourses and lakes which have suitable banks for burrowing nests and shallow edges for feeding. They occasionally visit gardens.

Kingfishers are vulnerable to harsh winters and habitat degradation such as pollution and the unsympathetic management of riverbanks.

 

How to identify

The striking mix of its bright-blue back and metallic copper breast make the kingfisher unmistakable. Male kingfishers have an entirely black bill, females have an orangey-red patch at the base.

Sand Martin

About

Sand martins are common summer visitors, arriving in March and leaving in October. They nest in colonies, digging burrows in steep, sandy cliffs, usually around water, so are commonly found on wetland sites. The tunnels they bore can be up to a metre in length. At a chamber at the end of the burrow, four or five eggs are laid on collected straw and feathers. Sand martins are sociable birds and will nest together in summer and gather to roost in large numbers in autumn; eventually they migrate to Africa to spend the winter.

Over the past 50 years, the European population of sand martins has crashed twice as a result of drought in their wintering grounds in Africa.

 

How to identify

Our smallest swallow, the sand martin is brown above and white below with a brown breast-band and short, forked tail.