Little Egret - Egretta garzetta


The Little Egret is a small white heron with attractive white plumes on its crest, back and chest, and with black legs and bill and yellow feet. It first appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996. Its colonisation followed naturally from a range expansion into western and northern France in previous decades. It is now at home on numerous south coast sites, both as a breeding species and as a winter visitor and is expanding northwards. It is included on the Amber List as a rare breeding species.

Similar Species

The Great White Heron is superficially similar, but around twice the size and with a yellow, not black, beak.

Identification difficulty

Waterways, canals, lakes and wet grassland.

When to see it

All year round, although numbers increase in autumn and winter as birds arrive from the Continent.

Life History

This egret stalks its prey in shallow water, often running with raised wings or shuffling its feet. It may also stand still and wait to ambush prey, such as fish and frogs.

UK Status

Common in Britain.

VC55 Status

Locally common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map