The Great White Egret, at Frampton Court lake

I indulged myself with a quick trip to Frampton Court lake after shopping in the outskirts of Gloucester. When I arrived there I found that there were extensive preparations for the annual Sheep Races being held on Saturday 16th September in the grounds of the Court. The lake is actually formed from the redundant gravel pits which were excavated up to the end of 1945, mostly to provide building materials for the development of the Bristol suburbs.

I walked along the footpath which runs past the lake and at first thought that there would be little bird activity, as I expected the erections of all the marquees and ancillary work would disturb them. But I counted more than 60 swans all grazing peacefully on the weeds just below the surface. I stood on the banks and happily watched the birds.

I saw a few geese, some swallows, a few swooping gulls as well as a couple of pigeons and crows. But I was pleased to see two Little White Egrets although they were so pleased to see me, flying off as soon as i arrived. But I watched them go from place to place around the edges of the lake, standing on patches of lilies as well as in the shallows beside the reeds.

Then I spotted a hobby flying high overhead between the islands before heading off towards the direction of the River Severn. After a period of relative quiet with just the swans moving gracefully around the large lake, I saw the distant movement of another Egret.

It was only when I had it in my sights that I realised it was a rare Great White Egret. One has been visiting this lake for some weeks according to local bird spotter records and I thought it I had seen it on an earlier visit. But I am sure that this is the Great White Egret because of its yellow bill and large size compared to the Little Egrets I had also seen.

Apparently the Great White Egret only appeared in Britain very recently and in 2012 a pair started breeding on the Somerset Levels, about forty miles south of here. In 2017 it has been reproted that seven nests in Somerset fledged seventeen young. Perhaps we are going to get a colony on this lake?  I gather there are still only 60 Great White Egrets in the whole country.

Sign in or get an account to comment.