Grey Heron

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Nesting Grey Herons

During the week beginning 20/4/09 the British Trust for Ornithology carried out the annual count of grey heron nests and birds in our Heron Colony. We were concerned that it had diminished over the past couple of years but they found 31 occupied nests i.e. one with either eggs or youngsters, and an additional 34 active nests which may produce young this year. The results are similar to last years count so clearly the herons are still happy with the environment we provide at the Animal Ark.

The colony was established at the centre some 20 years ago when a nature reserve in Lyng (approximately 2 miles away) was closed down. At this point the birds left their original nesting site and decided that the centre looked like a good place to stay and have been here ever since.

You can see the Herons nestled up in the high conifers in Children's Wood located close to the Island pool above the Kune Kune pen. In the early evening there is quite a commotion when the birds fly in to roost and you can hear the distinct croaking 'kah-ark' they produce while they settle down for the night. The birds are also quite active during the day flying in and out to collect food for their young and will produce a 'knocking' clattering of beaks sound when in the colony. See pictures.

The Herons build their nests rather precariously at the very top of the canopy and the trees will sway wildly in a strong breeze. Occasionally a Heron chick will get dislodged either by one of it's siblings or a high wind. If the chick is old enough it will survive the long fall and over the years we have hand reared a number of chicks and re released them successfully back into the colony. They have to be one of the ugliest babies you will ever see, but babies are babies and we love them all!

Information

if you'd like to know more about the work of the British Trust for Ornithology, their work and surveys, then visit their website at
http://www.bto.org/survey/index.htm