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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

22 October, 2009

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

During the spring and summer Grey Herons gather together in nesting colonies and so become less frequent elsewhere in the county. There are currently eight known heronries in Dorset which are surveyed every year and the figures obtained show the Grey Heron as a declining species.

One of these heronries is on Brownsea Island and they are known to be heavy predators of the tern colony and Sandwich Terns in particular have suffered although measures have been taken to reduce this with some success and the terns have benefited as a result.

In the autumn and winter the birds from the nesting colonies spread out across the county, mainly to coastal sites (Christhurch Harbour, Poole Harbour, Lodmore, Radipole, the Fleet and so on) but the also go to some inland lakes and rivers and you can encounter them just about anywhere there is water.

They stand motionless up to their knees in water waiting for a fish to swim by. Sometimes the prowl slowly around to disturb unsuspecting prey. On cold days they stand hunched up and looking really bad tempered.

It is strange that Grey Heron numbers should be declining when their cousins, the Little Egret, are doing so well and their more remote family, Spoonbills and Cattle Egrets are being seen more and more in Dorset.