Rare breed of bird spotted at Norfolk nature reserve

Cattle Egrets at Pensthorpe Natural Park.

Cattle Egrets at Pensthorpe Natural Park. - Credit: John Savory

An endangered species of bird has been spotted at a natural beauty spot for the first time in its history. 

Up to eight Cattle Egrets have been seen standing on the backs of Pensthorpe Natural Park’s resident Longhorn cattle and a herd of Aberdeen Angus. 

The park’s undisturbed areas of woodland near to its lakes and the River Wensum has made the ideal place for egrets to roost. 

Cattle Egrets at Pensthorpe Natural Park.

Cattle Egrets at Pensthorpe Natural Park. - Credit: John Savory

The birds - which are included on the amber list of conservation concern - began to colonise the UK in the mid to late 2000s but they remain a rare breeding species. 

Bill Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park, said: “We believe that our approach to low intensive grazing is a huge factor in the arrival of the Cattle Egrets and it’s been a joy to watch them making friends with the cattle. 

“Our meadows are rich in a diverse range of flowers and grasses. This leads to an increase in invertebrates in the vegetation, making our grounds a suitable feeding habitat for the egrets. 

“We’re hoping that 2022 will be the year that the birds also decide to breed.” 

Cattle Egrets at Pensthorpe Natural Park.

Cattle Egrets at Pensthorpe Natural Park. - Credit: Stephen Evans