Is it safe to go in the water?

There's a great white at large!

The water in the tributary of the River Adur isn't quite deep enough to host a great white shark, but we've been thrilled to see a great white egret spending some time at Knepp. 

This magnificent bird has been spotted at Arundel WWT Reserve, Warnham Nature Reserve and Pulborough Brooks RSPB Nature Reserve - it may well be the same individual that has been visiting Knepp; it's not far to travel for bird with a wingspan of 170cm.

 This photo was taken by Knepp bird survey volunteers Chris and Juliet Moore

This photo was taken by Knepp bird survey volunteers Chris and Juliet Moore

Standing as tall as a Grey Heron, it's an impressive bird, with a pure white plumage and a pumpkin orange bill. As it prefers to hunt in flood meadows and along rivers where it catches fish, frogs and aquatic insects, the river restoration with its scrapes and slow flow is the perfect spot for feeding here.

In the last 25 years sightings of the great white egret have become more frequent in the UK, as their numbers grow in France and the Netherlands. In 2012 a pair successfully bred in the UK for the first time, and in 2017 twenty young fledged from two sites in the UK.

It's wonderful to see a bird that once saw such a catastrophic decline in Europe, thriving and expanding its range across Europe and here in the UK.

 

by Penny Green, Knepp Ecologist