Heron at Wollaton Park   1 comment

I only discovered  we had a colony (is that the correct collective term?) of Heron at Wollaton Park in Nottingham last year. My bad (as the kids say) as they aren’t exactly easy to miss being just about the largest bird we have in the United Kingdom. Anyway, last year I photographed them whilst they were just finishing rearing chicks so this year I thought I’d get in there early doors (to use a footballing parlance) and catch them at the nest building, twig collecting phase of their year.

So wrapped up snug in my Bear Grylls outfit I went stalking the Heron last Sunday morning. It was a really sunny bright blue sky day but very cold in the strong breeze. Hmm, bitterly cold in the strong ‘breeze’ – good job Bear can’t hear me.

Trees and lake

By the time I arrived the sky had started to cloud over and  looked more like this. But with the cold wind came fast changing skies and we were treated to a morning of intermittent sunshine.

Heron in tree Twig

Twig collecting had started in earnest; and the resident Heron were making it look very difficult. And the bizarre thing was that they seem to stalk the desired twig as if they were hunting for fish. Their slow patient movements followed by a smooth yet careful extension of the neck culminating in a caressing clasp of the twig in their beaks.

Heron in tree trunk

The longer I watched them the more I couldn’t help but think that this was all a cruel joke by mother nature! I could imagine the Herons standing in line at the dawn of creation awaiting their various attributes to be bestowed on them by Mother Nature.

Mother Nature (looking up from her desk): ‘Ah the Herons – right then, you lot will be nesting in trees.’

Herons (looking pleased with themselves): ‘Cool – just like Ospreys at the very top of ancient towering trees, commanding majestic views of the landscape!’

Mother Nature (looking embarrassed): ‘Yeah…no, these will be your bog standard trees growing in public parks and such, although some of them may be by the water.

Herons (slightly deflated): ‘Meh… okay, so not towering trees, just right at the top of ordinary trees – that’s still cool.’

Mother Nature (fidgeting with her pen): ‘Yup..at the top. That’s right. And…. at every other level in the tree too… also actually inside the tree. And sometimes it would be a stretch to describe them as trees – more like a big bush thingy!’

Herons (looking aghast – as only Herons can): ‘Seriously! Have you seen us? Long uncoordinated legs, big flapping wings and this big beak – inside a BUSH!?

Mother Nature (suddenly engrossed in the paperwork on her desk) ‘Yes, yes that’s correct. And…. (in a small voice) you’ll have to climb around inside the trees and bushes to find nesting material!’

Herons (becoming affronted): ‘You must be F&%king joking! What do you think we are; Tits!? We’ll be extinct in a year!

*Cut to undignified scenes of name calling and fisticuffs.

Heron in tree branch

*An affronted Heron stands and contemplates how it all could have been oh so different!

Heron in flight Twig

Prehistoric and majestic in flight and about 2 seconds away from landing at the penthouse suite of a straggling willow tree and suddenly becoming a lot less majestic and dignified.

Heron in tree Twig green

Squawking a deep throated battle cry to keep other Heron away from a hard fought nesting site took up a lot of the morning. That and grooming (seen here).

Heron on bank hunting 01

Notice how totally pissed off this Heron looks. That’s because he’s just dropped the twig he’d spent 5 minutes waddling around in the tree to obtain. He can be seen here trampling on a Coot’s nest in spite.

Heron on nest

On the nest! Still a lot of work to do on this one but its coming along nicely.  Plus it could be worse – he could be a penguin!





One response to “Heron at Wollaton Park

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