BIRD watchers have been enjoying sightings of a great white egret for only the third time at the Arundel Wetland Centre.
The egret, a member of the heron family, was spotted at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s reserve in Mill Road on Sunday afternoon, near its Reedbed hide.
It then took to the air, coming down at the Scrape hide, and continued to ‘hide hop’ for the rest of the afternoon, moving between the Scrape hide and Sand Martin/Ramsar hides. The great white egret was still on the reserve on Tuesday morning, according to a spokeswoman for the trust.
Until 20 years ago, great white egrets were very rare in the UK. The first verified sighting in Sussex was at Thorney Deeps, in 1985. Sussex Ornithological Society records say only 39 were spotted in the county up to 2011. The last sighting at Arundel was on November 2, 2013.
The great white egret is a large, pure-white heron with a yellow bill and black feet.
In the 19th century, its feathers were used to decorate women’s hats, which lowered its numbers on the continent.
However, the bird is now bouncing back and the frequency of sightings in the UK is rising.