Egrets in fog are a great motif. By the white color , the herons have always something mystical in the morning mist. White creatures are often used in myths and legends to serve as leaders to a different world. White deer, white horses and white rabbits are probably the most common associations for magic and are often brought into connection with fairies and other magical figures. To see a heron flying out of the fog in the first dim light of the early morning is a magical experience. The plumage of the Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) has a brilliant, pristine white. They seem to act as messengers from world far away from daily business life. The slow wing-beat has a unique beauty. If they stand patiently on the hunt in the shallow water, they are looking very majestic.
In nature only very few things are of pure white. Well, there are milk and snow , and of course white birds. A long time human being had to live with earthy tones, before technical progress brought us bleach and white color. White in the natural environment was unusual and therefore all the more fascinating .
There was no white heron in Germany when I was a kid. In general, there were very little egrets or herons. Herons were followed up in the 80s as a fish predator. The name “Fischreiher” (fishing heron) for the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) can be found even today in zoological textbooks. The Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) has spread only in the last few decades in Germany. The population is on the rise in Germany for about twenty years. First as a winter visitor the first nest could be detected in 2012 in the north of Germany. The first definite breeding record for the egret in Germany involved two couples who had settled in a colony of Grey Herons. Egrets are not part of traditional fauna of the country. The people , therefore sometimes mess up identification with storks and cranes . Of course, the Herons do not dance – just as those shown in the gallery – nor does the Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) dance on the images but they do follow each other. For fun or to secure their feeding territory? Who knows?
The Great Egret is the heron with the largest geographical distribution. It is found on all continents except the Antarctic. Egrets are partially migratory. First, the young birds disperse – or they are kicked-out by the adult birds from the breeding areas. Adult birds migrate only from September onwards from the breeding areas. However, in the mild winters they remain near the breeding areas and/or show winter escape movements only when the winter conditions become inhospitable. Wintering egrets can therefore be observed best in climate- favored areas such as the Upper Rhine valley and Lake Constance.
The pictures in the gallery were made in the nature reserve (NSG) Wagbachniederung end of August. This area is also known as “The Waghaeusel” by local ornithologists. The reserve is located between Mannheim and Karlsruhe on the right bank of the Rhine in the Wagbachniederung that stretches west to the Rhine. The NSG is probably one of the best birding spots in the Upper Rhine valley and an important stopover for shorebirds and other migratory birds. Nearly 100 species of birds breed here and around 250 species have been observed.