Saturday, 10 January 2015

Day 70 - Handsome Herons

Hi everyone, day 70 and another fantastic bird that I love to see. I'm lucky enough to live not far from a big pond a couple of fields away from the road I live on, so I get to see them quite often flying over to the pond to feed.

Grey Heron (Ardea Cinerea) coming in to land on
Horsey Mere and a slightly alarmed swan.
I'm talking today about the Grey Heron. A very majestic bird in flight and when its wading through the water searching for food. Whilst I seem them a lot the place where I have seen the most is on Horsey Mere. When we visit Norfolk one of my favourite things to do is to go on one of Ross' Wildlife Boat Trips on the mere. The first photo here of the Heron coming into land, and the worried looking swan, is from on Ross' boat Lady Ann. If you are ever around this area its a great trip and Ross always finds something interesting to see.

Looking for dinner at Nosterfield.
Well, I'd best tell you a little bit of what I've found out about these birds:

Found a snack at least
  • Mostly solitary hunters, they eat mainly fish but they will eat anything from moles to baby rabbits to small waterfowl and amphibians if they get the chance.
  • Ross told us the local Norfolk name for these birds is the Harnser.
  • As you would expect they have quite large size statistics. A 185cm wingspan and they are 94cm long. Both male and female birds weigh on average 1.5kg!
  • They are a green status bird sitting safely at 13,000 nests in the UK.
  • While we're on the subject of nests I read somewhere that at about this time of year you might be surprised to see a heron in a tree because they will be building nests. A good example of this is when me and my Dad were walking in York and we saw a Heron in a huge Willow tree!
  • Herons tend to mate for life and often return to the same nests year after year. 
  • They tend to nest in colonies or heronries, which can be noisy places.
  • Herons have interesting courtship displays which may involve some flying and diving but gets more interesting on the nest when they stick out their head and neck plumes, twist and turn their heads, snap their beaks and make strange noisy calls.
  • This behaviour and their skulking nature when hunting has meant they have a lot of folklore associated with them. Anglers used to think that Herons feet emitted a smell which attracted fish and so they would carry a herons foot with them.
  • Kings and Queens used to like to eat them too and poaching them was a crime, in Scotland they would chop off a hand for this!
So I hope you liked the results of my research. If you want to find out some more about these birds then try these sites:

Hope you enjoyed,


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