I have been checking the Sussex Ornithological Society’s website morning and evening, waiting for a rare bird to turn up (which it shall, with it being the autumn passage season) and finally one turns up not too far away from us. It was a Great White Egret, a bird that I regularly see in Africa, though have never seen in the UK before. The only problem was that the sighting appeared on a Monday, a school day, so I had to persevere a whole week of worrying whether it was still going to be there.
On Saturday morning it looked good, there was no reports of it having left on Friday (though none to suggest it was still there) and we set out just past 8 am. When we had nearly arrived I looked anxiously out of the car window to try to spot it early on, but in vain. I did get a mild shock when I misjudged the distance between me and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull, however apart from that there was no sign of it so far.
To my surprise there were only two people at the car park next to the hide, they seemed to have arrived much earlier to try to snatch a glimpse of this elegant bird. Our visit started out with a bit of horrible luck, as the Great White Egret had just flown away and rounded a bend only a few minutes before we arrived. This meant we had time to look at all of the other birds that were visible from the hide: a pair of Mandarin, Cormorants, several Green Sandpipers, a possible Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Lapwing, Mallard, Little Egret, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Grey Herons. While we were watching a trio of Green Sandpipers on the far bank we all received a pleasant surprise, the Great White Egret had flown silently on broad wings underneath the view of the scope! It landed half-visible to the left of the hide behind an overhanging shrub and I hastily took a few pictures. It seemed these weren’t needed, as the Great White Egret regularly flew right in front of the hide and along the far shore! Once I even took a photo of it flying behind a Kingfisher perched on a post, which I only realised when I arrived back home!