Herons Up Again
News from the BTO
15th April 1996
Since 1928 the population of Grey Herons in Britain has been monitored: one of the longest continuing bird census projects world-wide. The results for 1994 have just been published by the British Trust for Ornithology and they are very encouraging. Again the species is at an all time high with an estimated 6627 nests in England and Wales.
Every year BTO members visit Heronries throughout the country to count the nests and their results are compared with the previous year's - at the same colonies. No fewer than 272 colonies were counted in both years. As has been usual in recent years the colony at Northward Hill, in North Kent, had the most nests with 189. Unfortunately there is bad news from closer to the centre of London where the Walthamstow Reservoir colony had fallen from 138 to 116 nests.
The good news for Herons is probably due to the recent run of relatively mild winters. A certain amount of snow and ice is not important. However a week or more of hard frost will encase many of the bird's feeding places in an impenetrable mantle of ice. When the survey first started many people will have shot Herons as predators of their fish. Now the birds are fully protected and there are well known ways of protecting fish in ponds and fish farms.
The lack of figures from Scotland is wholly due to a lack of people willing to count Heronries. Help is needed in other parts of the country as well. If you know of a Heronry contact John Marchant or Andy Wilson, at the British Trust for Ornithology, The National Centre for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford,. Norfolk IP24 2PU. They will be able to tell you whether it is already counted or not - and it is important that the Herons should not be disturbed too much - and send you a simple recording card if a count is needed.