Sunday, 24 November 2013

Grey Herons

The Grey Heron (ardea cinerea) is present in small numbers in my part of Sliabh Mannan. I have never seen more than two together. However as consumers of fish and frogs they are reasonably well supplied by the waters of the Culloch Burn and other streams, as well as a number of ponds and areas of semi-permanent standing water.
These upland herons are warier of human contact than those that you may find around town rivers or in shallow areas of larger waterways. This means that they are commonly seen in flight, retracting their long necks into an s-shaped bend and beating their wings in a slow and relaxed rhythm. Their flight is surprisingly graceful for such a tall and gangling bird.

Herons are regarded as predators by the local rook population and correctly so, for they will take small birds if they can. It is less common to see rooks mobbing herons than mobbing buzzards, but I have seen it. I have also seen herons quite happily roosting in trees, a sight which for some reasons seems incongruous, though no-one seems to have told that to the herons.
It was not until a river cruise in central Europe that I was able to take good pictures of herons on the ground. I would need a very long lens to achieve such pictures around Sliabh Mannan. This one was happily standing on one leg and pretending to be a statue.