Gardening Magazine

Grey Heron

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

Occasionally, gray 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

before 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 gray ‘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.

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