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Heron and Little Egret
Little Egrets are part of the heron family and use much the same strategy for feeding, though Little Egrets can sometimes be seen dsahing about after small fish in shallow streams or pools. With their spectacular white plumage they stand out as almost exotic visitors in Ireland. Little Egrets were once common in Western Europe but were hunted to extincition during a fashion craze for feather decorations in hats, culminating around 1900. During the 1930 the breeding birds started once again to colonise the west coast of France reaching Britain by 1997 and Ireland the following year, the expansion probably being related to climate change, particularly overwintering (little egrets and herons are badly affected by prolonged freezing because the ice prevents them form feeding). Today there are probably several dozen breeding birds and several hundred spread around the country. There is at least one pair overwintering around Ballymascanlon bay at the present and we can hope to see them breeding there in the near future.