Aaron Shaw Trainee Reporter
ONE of the UK's rarest birds has returned to a Hampshire wildlife reserve.
Known as Walter, the great white egret is a familiar sight to the thousands of visitors that visit the Blashford Lakes Nature reserve near Ringwood every year.
Great white egrets are one of the rarer feathered visitors to the UK, and the bird usually arrives in the UK in August ready for winter, which Walter has done since 2003.
He spends six months at the reserve which is managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
Bob Chapman, reserves officer said: "Walter has become a much loved winter fixture on the reserve and although not the rarity he was when he first turned up, he is still a great sight.
"Especially good views can be had when he is fishing close to the Ivy North hide, where sometimes he can be seen alongside kingfisher and bittern in the water."
A similar size to a heron, the great white egret was close to extinction in Europe a few decades ago, with around 35 spending their winter in the UK.