A treat for birders - we hear a rare white egret has been spotted quite a lot lately at the Arundel Wetland Centre. What a delightful sight, and it made me wonder what counts as rare. Well, according to the first report I read these egrets were so scarce in this country that up to 2011 only 39 had been recorded and the last sighting at Arundel was around the same time last year, which obviously begs the question of whether it's the same one returning to familiar territory. And if that's the case it presumably feels safe there, or knows there's a good source of food, which speaks volumes for the success of the Wetland Centre.
However, further reading shed a different light on the meaning of 'rare', or at least the context in which it's used. In this case it's not that the birds died out here like some of our protected species, but that they have gradually moved through Europe and started landing on our shores in recent years. So they could in theory become a frequent sight one day.
At the Arundel centre visitors have been treated to really good sightings of this lovely egret as he fished near one of the hides. Migrating sand martins have also been there in numbers and even posing on perches to be admired and photographed. It's a lovely place for a quiet few hours, as indeed are the other Sussex wetland centres and nature reserves such as Pulborough Brooks and Warnham Mill. Some people love to spend a long time watching and recording sightings, others like to stroll around; sometimes just sitting in a hide for a while is a peaceful, delightful way to relax and get close to nature.
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