Great White Egret - Ardea alba


As the name suggests this is a large, white bird. Great White Egrets can look similar to Little Egrets, but they are much larger - the same size as the familiar Grey Heron. Other identification features to look out for include black feet (not yellow), yellow beak (in juvenile and non-breeding plumage), and a different fishing technique like that of the Grey Heron.

Identification difficulty

Great White Egrets favour all kinds of wetland habitats - even farmland ditches can attract them.

When to see it

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.

Life History

Diet consists of fish, insects and frogs, caught by spearing with its long, sharp beak.

UK Status

Expanding populations in Europe mean that this species is now seen more frequently in the UK - it can turn up in almost part of the country, with most in south-east England and East Anglia.

VC55 Status

An infrequent vagrant from Europe it is uncommon in Leicestershire and Rutland.

First recorded at Saddington Reservoir in 1988, there have been occasional records since.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Great Egret, Great White Egret
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
24/07/2006 (J.A. Sharpe)
Last record:
19/02/2024 (Messenger, Nigel)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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