Pelecaniformes

BIRDS /

The Pelecaniformes is an order of medium-sized and large waterbirds found worldwide.
Most have a bare throat patch (gular patch), and the nostrils have evolved into dysfunctional slits, forcing them to breathe through their mouths. They feed on fish, squid or similar marine life. Nesting is colonial, but individual birds are monogamous. The young are altricial, hatching from the egg helpless and naked in most. They lack a brood patch.

Further Information: Wikipedia

Heron (Family Ardeidae)

This family differs from others in the Pelicaniformes Order in that they retract their necks when in flight.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) This shows the characteristics of the Heron family, Ardeidae, with the neck being retracted in flight. Copyright Peter Drury

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) This shows the characteristics of the Heron family, Ardeidae, with the neck being retracted in flight.
Copyright Peter Drury

This ability to retract and extend their neck  is due to a modification to the shape of the 6th vertebrae.

The family is sub divided into three subfamilies Tigriornithinae, Botaurinae and Ardeinae. Of these, Ardeinae is the subfamily of interest with respect to the Hayling Island nature reserves.

Further Information: Wikipedia

Sub family Ardeinae

This contains fourteen generi. Of these, two are of interest to the Hayling Island nature reserves. Heron (Ardea) and Egret (Egretta).
The bill is generally long and harpoon like. It can vary from extremely fine, as in the agami heron, to thick as in the grey heron. In flight the legs and feet are held backward. The feet of herons have long thin toes, with three forward pointing ones and one going backward.

Genus Ardea

There are some 64 recognised species of Heron worldwide which include Heron, Egret and Bittern.
The bill is generally long and harpoon like. It can vary from extremely fine, as in the agami heron, to thick as in the grey heron.  In flight the legs and feet are held backward. The feet of herons have long thin toes, with three forward pointing ones and one going backward
These large herons are associated with wetlands where they prey on fish, frogs, and other aquatic species.
Most members of this almost worldwide group breed colonially in trees, building large stick nests. Northern species such as Great Blue, Grey and Purple Herons may migrate south in winter, although the first two do so only from areas where the waters freeze.
These are powerful birds with large spear-like bills, long necks and long legs, which hunt by waiting motionless or stalking their prey in shallow water before seizing it with a sudden thrust.

Further Information: Wikipedia

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)  Resident

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions. It has become common in summer even inside the Arctic circle along the Norwegian coast.

Further Information: Wikipedia

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) Photo Peter Drury

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) Photo Peter Drury

Where these can be seen: These can be found on the coastline as the tide retreats. They also can be found roosting on the bunds surrounding the Oysterbed site and even in the lagoon islands.

 Family Ardeidae. Genus Egretta

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)  Resident

Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the little egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas.
These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage.
These herons feed on insects, fish and amphibians, caught normally by cautious stalking.

Further Information: Wikipedia

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) Photo Peter Drury

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) Photo Peter Drury

Where these can be seen: At low tide, anywhere on the coastline. High tide roosts on the islands or bunds or in the marsh area, feeding in the pools.

 Heron & Egret Gallery