The bird you saw was almost certainly a little egret.
These small white herons are becoming widespread in the UK and occur in increasing numbers along the Norfolk coast and in the Broads. They are also now beginning to appear in other areas of inland Norfolk.
It’s difficult to believe that Norfolk’s very first little egret was recorded as recently as 1952 (it was filmed at NWT Cley Marshes) and they remained an extreme rarity until the 1990s. Over the last decade they have started breeding both in the Norfolk Broads and on the coast and the rate of increase has been phenomenal.
A close view shows they are smaller than a grey heron and they also have striking yellow feet. They wave their yellow feet around in shallow water and it’s said this acts as a lure for fish!
Many people suggest the increase of little egrets is related to changing climate and global warming. It also seems that another member of the family, the cattle egret, is beginning to colonise the country and parties of a dozen or so have been a regular feature of south-western Britain recently. To add to the picture great white egrets (about the size of our grey heron but all white) have also been seen wandering around Norfolk and Suffolk. Perhaps it won’t be too long before we have two or maybe three species of white heron resident in the county!
For help with identifying the difference between the egrets watch this video
by the British Trust for Ornithology
Picture by Elizabeth Dack