Since 2014 Little Egrets have bred within the heronry at Verulamium Park with one nest then increasing to four nests there in 2018. Barry Trevis and his team have been ringing and colour-ringing the young there during this time with 34 birds ringed. A further 10 Little Egret chicks have been ringed at Stanborough Lakes since 2016. Also some full-grown Little Egrets are ringed at Lemsford Springs. The main purpose of the ringing is to monitor the movements, distribution and survival rates of this recently colonized species to the UK.
The colour rings are placed on each leg (a single number or letter is repeated three times around the ring) - on the tibia just above the leg joint - and are fairly easily read in the field, particularly with a 'scope. Most re-sightings received are local including at Hertfordshire sites such as Tyttenhanhger, Tewinbury, Amwell, Great Gaddesdon, Boxmoor and Lemsford Springs.
Sightings from birders further afield in the UK include Hullbridge (River Crouch, Essex), Waterstock (Oxon), Brent Reservoir, Horsham, Ipswich, Orford Ness, Theale, West Midlands and Kidwelly Quay, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
News was received of an incredible re-sighting in November 2018:
A chick that was ringed in the nest at Verulamium on 10 June 2018 ("F" "6") and was seen to have fledged the nest there on 2 July 2018, was next seen on 12 November 2018 on the island of Santa Maria, one of the islands of The Azores archipelago in the Atlantic ocean, some 1,400km off the coast of Portugal!
This bird had travelled approximately 2,550km from the nest at Verulamium!
If you see any colour-ringed Little Egrets, or any other colour-ringed species, details of the ringer to report the sighting to can be looked up at http://www.cr-birding.org/colourprojects. Please note the colours of the ring and on which leg. Also the colour of the digit and the number/letter shown. Please give location, date and approx. time of the observation.
Cover photo: Little Egrets in the nest at Verulamium © Barry Trevis
Coloured-ringed Little Egret ("9" "9") at Lemsford Springs © Kevin Garrett