Your bird­ing month

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Five birds to find in Novem­ber in­clude Golden Plover, Barn Owl and Shag

TALL, STATELY, EL­E­GANT, deadly. Grey Herons are mag­nif­i­cent, pa­tient, killing ma­chines. They are mainly fish spe­cial­ists, given a de­cent sup­ply of prey, but are equally adept at gob­bling up duck­lings, small mam­mals and am­phib­ians, given the op­por­tu­nity. But to con­cen­trate on the heron’s diet some­how de­tracts from its beauty; and Grey Herons are un­doubt­edly hand­some birds. Also, de­spite be­ing ex­tremely widely dis­trib­uted across the whole of the UK, in­clud­ing the is­lands, the Grey Heron is a sur­pris­ingly un­com­mon breeder in this coun­try, with about 13,000 nest­ing pairs. Com­pare this, for in­stance, with breed­ing pop­u­la­tions of some birds you pos­si­bly don’t see ev­ery day: there are 27,000 pairs of Shag, 50,000 pairs of Tawny Owl, 200,000 pairs of Tree Spar­row, or 260,000 pairs of Stock Dove. Grey Herons nest colo­nially in heron­ries in trees, and there are rel­a­tively few suit­able sites for them to breed, which is al­ways go­ing to keep the num­bers down to an ex­tent. They are much less fussy in their choice of feed­ing area, turn­ing up at a wide va­ri­ety of water bod­ies, from rivers and es­tu­ar­ies, ditches and lakes, to gar­den ponds. As our coun­try is full of such habi­tats, Grey Herons can turn up any­where. And the res­i­dent breed­ing pop­u­la­tion is boosted at this time of year by con­ti­nen­tal mi­grants, swelling it to more than 60,000 in­di­vid­u­als in win­ter. Take some time this month to en­joy watch­ing one of our most mag­nif­i­cent birds do­ing what it does best.

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