Grey Heron

Occasionally, grey herons (Ardea cinerea) visit the Priory – but they are shy and hoist themselves into the air when I amble into view.  I haven’t been able to photograph them.


Ardea cinerea

But a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a juvenile standing on top of the old duck box


on the east pond’s small island.  Grabbing my camera, I crept up behind a leafy alder, crouched down (on creaking knees) and stole a few shots

grey-heron-04before my twig-quivering


finally alerted the heron to my presence.


Surprisingly quietly for a bird with a six-foot wingspan, it took off and flapped slowly and pterodactyl-like away (as if I have any idea whatsoever what a pterodactyl in flight is like).


Though they do feed on fish, herons also eat small birds, mammals and amphibians.  And so while I welcome herons to the Priory, I also wince at the thought of them spearing ‘my’ beloved frogs and toads.


And how do I know it is a juvenile?  Well, since you ask – because when I visited Berlin Zoo in the spring I took these photos of an adult.  Mature herons have a white forehead and cap, a handsome crest and grey ‘cape.’


Though the herons at the zoo are ‘wild,’ because of an endless stream of visitors they are hardly bashful.  Which is good news if you want to get a decent close up … but have creaky knees.

42 thoughts on “Grey Heron

  1. I live by a lake and see lots of white egrets and one large grey one. I call him Charlie, just cause. They are beautiful birds and are welcome here because there are plenty of fish and toads to share. They don’t bother my gardens.


  2. Hi Dave. To see a wild bird like this in a ‘domestic’ setting is very lifting. Here we have a similar-looking creature, a white-faced grey heron – a pair of which is sometimes seen floating about over my back yard.


    • I read recently that herons can take ducklings as well. I wonder whether that is why we haven’t had any baby ducks for a few years now (though it could be mink, foxes, rats etc etc). D


  3. Stunning photos, it was worth the effort! In 20 odd years we have only seen a heron once in the garden here, soon after we made the pond, we don’t have fish, so maybe that is why we haven’t seen it again.


  4. Love herons. We have a regular on a river local to us. I’m always impressed by their size. A few years ago we were canoeing on the Norfolk Broads and spotted one on the riverbank partially hidden by trees. It had THE most enormous fish in its beak. As we crept closer it couldn’t work out whether to fly off and leave the fish behind or just stay there as still as possible. Fortunately for us it chose the latter and we got some good photos. I always think you can see the link with birds from the dinosaur age with herons.


    • I certainly see the dinosaur link, WW. Years ago, I was cycling in thick mist over a footbridge and a heron swooped low over my head. I was so spooked I almost fell into the river. It was like being dived on by a nazgul. Dave


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