When I was about 15, too young to drive and stranded in mid-Kent, I begged my dad to help me twitch a Little Egret at Rye Harbour.
Back in 1990 or thereabouts, Little Egrets were thin on the ground. Despite having ticked off quite a few odd vagrants, I had yet to see one. The Rye bird, which spent most of that summer hanging out with the Cormorants, was an exotic treat.
Seventeen years later and Little Egrets are an established part of the scenery, a daily feature of the journey to work for many of us. Look out as the train crosses the Ouse at Lewes and – if there’s any mud showing – you’re likely to see one wading around at the edges.
Commuters crossing the Cuckmere at Exceat or passing the Ouse Estuary Project at Newhaven presumably see them often too.
No longer a rarity, not even a scarcity – but seventeen years after my first, I still get a buzz every time I catch sight of one.