Thursday, 3 October 2013

Colour-ringed Little Egret

Ugly ducklings...

One of the team spotted a colour-ringed Little Egret at Merrion Gates on Sandymount Strand the other day. It turns out that “HN” was ringed on the 4th June this year at a colony in Galway Bay, and that it’s the second bird from this colony to head to the big smoke for the winter.

Little Egret nest in Galway Bay colony John Lusby

Little Egrets are a very recent coloniser – we only confirmed their breeding in Ireland in 1997, so we know very little about them here. We do know that their population and range are expanding, and thanks to a colour-ringing project, we are able to follow the movements of these pioneering birds. Chris Benson and John Lusby started to colour-ring Little Egrets in Galway in 2009, soon after they started nesting there, and they are getting some fascinating insights into the movements of these birds away from their natal colonies.

Little Egret chicks after ringing John Lusby

In January 2011, John was contacted about a resighting of one of his Galway Bay birds. You’ll all remember what a harsh winter we endured in 2011, and how we constantly mused about escaping to the sun? Well that’s just what one of John’s Galway-born Little Egrets did! This bird was seen in the Azores in Portugal in October, over 2,000 km from its natal colony! Who would have guessed that they would travel as far as the Azores?

Colour-ringed Little Egret John Lusby

Chris and John have received good numbers of resightings so far, but are of course, always keen to hear about more. As the season progresses, we’ll bring you lots of info on the colour-ringed birds that are in Dublin Bay this winter. Colour-ringing projects can tell us so much about birds – things we would have no other way of finding out.

Please report your colour-ringed Little Egret resightings to  

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