Great White Imposter!

All that glitters is not gold, or so the old proverb says and nothing is more apt in the case of this leucistic Grey Heron, initially identified as a Great White Egret, near Stanford on 23rd February.

Leucistic Grey Heron, Stanford 23rd February 2012 (Mike Newhouse)

From a distance it looks interesting but upon closer examination – and before any structural differences become apparent – there are a number of plumage anomalies.

Leucistic Grey Heron, Stanford, 23rd February 2012 (Mike Newhouse)

Dark feathers are visible among the white, the most obvious of which are the grey tertials and the rest of the flight feathers on the closed wing. There is a ghost of Grey Heron’s black lateral crown stripe above, and behind, the eye and the legs are pale – much more in line with those of a Grey Heron. Bizarre that this bird should be discovered at the same time as a ‘real’ Great White Egret has put in an appearance in the Nene valley not so very far away …

3 thoughts on “Great White Imposter!

  1. Hi,iv just seen 2 big white birds,was unsure of thier identity,and now know the were great white egrets,spotted in Silverstone brook,towcester Northamptonshire,would be interested in any other sightings in the area,how rare are they? Many thanks in advance

    1. Hi Jack, The birds in Silverstone Brook will be Little Egrets. They are reasonably common in the area and have an all black bill. Great White Egret is MASSIVE in comparison – the same size as a Grey Heron and it has a large yellow bill.
      Regards Mike

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