Colourful creatures are moving north from Europe into a warming Britain … but indigenous rivals risk being lost for ever
Cattle egrets – birds once so exotic we rarely saw them north of the Mediterranean – are now nesting in a heronry near my home in Somerset. Flocks of them often gather in the nearby fields, feeding among Jerseys and Holsteins. They look as if they are quite at home on this side of the Channel – which nowadays they are.
These small white herons, adorned with their orange breeding-plumes, are just one of several species of waterbird to have colonised southern Britain in the past decade or so, as a result of the climate crisis. These include the little egret, which has bred here since the mid-90s, and the great white egret, which first nested on the Avalon Marshes less than a decade ago.
‘If we fail to deal with the global climate emergency… only the most adaptable wild creatures will be able to survive’