Little Egret

A photograph of a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) taken by Shantanu Kuveskar

There has been one Little Egret around for three or four years. While walking the dogs on Halford Meadow along the river bank we disturbed three Little Egrets. I thought I had seen two earlier in the year but wasn’t sure as I didn’t get a clear view. Two of them flew off together while the other one flew off alone. Little Egrets look like small white herons when flying. Herons always remind me of pterodactyl when they are flying.

So I thought I would tell you about Little Egrets.

Little Egrets were once a rare visitor from the Mediterranean. The first confirmed breeding of Little Egrets in Britain was in 1996 in Poole Harbour in Dorset. They are now well established in Britain with well over five hundred pairs.

They became extinct in Northwest Europe and scarce in Southern Europe after being hunted extensively for their long head plumes in the 19th Century. At one point in time Little Egrets plumes were worth more them gold. After being given protection their numbers increased and spread.

Little Egrets are found mainly around the coast line and esturaries of England and Wales. It is increasing in numbers and spreading further North and inland. It has been discovered that some of these beautiful birds can migrate and can go further North after the breeding their breeding season.

Little Egrets are easily recognised as they are a brilliant white. On the top of their head and neck they have long white plumes during the breeding season. They are about 60cm long with a wing span of between 88cm to 106cm. The bill and legs are black in colour and they have yellow feet, these are red in the breeding season.

They prefer to breed in colonies as they are social birds, so will often been seen in heron colonies. Little Egrets build a platform of sticks in trees, bushes or reed beds. They produce three to five eggs of a bluish-green colour which are incubated for three weeks by both parents. The chicks fledge at six weeks.

Little Egrets prefer open locations and will not be seen in dense cover. Hence why they are seen on Halford Meadow and not on Onny Meadows.

They stalk prey in shallow water shuffling their feet to disturb small fish- they will run through the water or stand stock still and wait to ambush. Their diet is mainly fish but includes frogs, toads, reptiles, small mammals, birds, crustaceans, molluscs, insects, spiders, worms, and ticks of livestock.

So look out for the Little Egret around your local rivers, canals, ponds, lagoons, marshes, the coast and  the shore of lakes, as long as it is not densely covered.

The photograph of a Little Egret, latin name Egretta garzetta, at the top of this post was taken by Shantanu Kuveskar and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The Shropshire Way 80k

On Saturday 17th March the first Shropshire Way 80k walk will be starting from the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms.

The circular walk will take you through some of the most stunning countryside in South Shropshire.

I love the views from Hopesay Hill towards the Burrow and the views from Bury Ditches.

The aim is to complete the 80k walk in 24hours. This brand new long distance walk will take you along the Shropshire Way main route and some of it’s shorter walks.

The check points will provide the opportunity to sample local produce and when you finish back at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre there will be a breakfast provided for participants.

The Walk will be raising funds for Grow Cook Learn who run the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre and Onny Meadows.

There is a £40 entrance fee and there are still places available. Contact the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre on 01588 676060 to book your place.

It would be great to see this Walking Festival become an annual event supported by the whole

Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

Entrance to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

The Secret Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms was opened in 2002 and run by the County Council.

It was set up to encourage tourism to the area.

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre changed its name in more recent times and is now run by a charitable organisation, Grow Cook Learn.

There is an interactive exhibition which has a replica mammoth skeleton on display. Much of the exhibition refers to the Iron Age.

At the entrance is a small furry mammoth, called Tusker, to welcome children to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre.

The cafe provides lunches using local produce. On Sundays there is a roast dinner, booking recommended. You may just want to pop in for coffee and cake.

There are benches outside where in good weather you can sit and enjoy your food and drink.

There is a shop which has maps and walking books about the local area or where you can pick up a special gift.

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre runs courses for adults and children. During the school holidays it is always worth checking if there is something going on that might interest you or your children.

Entrance to the Discovery Centre is free but there is a charge for the Exhibition. Car parking is free or you can give a small donation.

Don’t forget there are the 35 acres of the Onny Meadows to explore as well.



Tusker the Wooly Mammoth

Tusker, the mammoth outside the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms has a new coat.

Tusker had began to look a bit worn and dull, being out in all weathers and being stroked by all those children and adults.

He now looks bright and wooly again and is ready to be cuddled.

Tusker has been at the front of the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre since it opened.

Its good to see Tusker looking like he should.

Entrance to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

The Onny Meadows



In a few of my blogs I have talked about the Onny Meadows here in Craven Arms. I often walk there as I have two border terriers called Hettie and Dillie.

The Onny Meadows is thirty five acres of meadows and woodland, half a mile from Folly View Let. At the entrance to the meadows is The Discovery Centre, where you are able to get food and drink.

The woodland was planted when the Discovery Centre was built in Two Thousand, there are alders, hazel, ash, oaks, and poplars among others. There is an area planted with willows and a willow arch, now behind a fence.

There are two orchards which have apples and pears. One of these orchards has hedges that are planted with medlars and damsons.

The river Onny runs through the site and there are several ponds. Some of them are the remnants of former mill ponds.

Onny River

Onny River

There is a hard path around a small part of the site but this is presently being extended. This will make access for wheel chairs, pushchairs and people who have problems on uneven surfaces a lot better.

Part of the hard path is a circular Cycle Path, great for children to learn cycling skills in a safe environment.

There is a children’s play area near the Discovery Centre and there are still some other play _ around the Meadows. The logs are to be climbed over which you can see from the Sun Dial, it is accurate.

There are wonderful wild flowers and beautiful grasses. Damselflies, dragon flies, may flies are beautiful to observe flying over the ponds in Spring and Summer.

There are birds to be observed including the Red Kites. I have seen otters and stoats on the meadows, squirrels can be seen in the trees and I can often smell that a fox has been around.

The Onny Meadows are the starting point of several circular walks and the Shropshire Way passes through.

Onny Meadows Signpost

Onny Meadows Signpost

It is lovely to walk round, not sure about the barbed wire.

Dull Days with Hints of Colour

Red Stems in Winter

Red Stems in Winter

There have been lots of dull days with the odd bright day to give us hope that Spring is on its way.

Walking on the Onny Meadows I was looking for fresh green shoots that hint at Spring but found myself looking at zings of colour that are there if you look more closely and stop thinking it all looks dull.

Bark Textures

Bark Textures

The clumps of grasses that have died of over winter have creams and yellows and although not hinting at Spring their colours add to contrasts and vibrancy when we do get some sunshine.

There are wonderful textures to find in the bark of different trees. Even on the same tree you find a multitude of different textures. The colours can also be stunning and some trees develop a green which comes from a lichen at this time of year.

The Hazel catkins have a fiery yellowy green, if you look very closely their tiny reddy brown flowers are putting in their appearance.

Hazel Catkins

Hazel Catkins


Alder Cones and Catkins

Alder Cones and Catkins


The Alders which you will find by the river, also have catkins. They are mauve in colour and contrast well with their nut brown cones.

I love brown, it is such a warm colour, the Burdock makes a stunning argument for it being a lovely colour. It is a colour I love to wear as it is so versatile as nature shows us.


The Witchhazel is beautiful, looks stunning on dull days with its creamy yellow flowers. I can see it from my living room window but it is much better to get outside and breath in its wonderful fragrance.

Witchhazel at Folly View Let

Witchhazel at Folly View Let

There are a few more pictures to look at below, most were taken on the Onny Meadows when I was walking Hettie (Border Terrier).




Teazles in the Onny Meadows

Teazles in the Onny Meadows