Ellesmere Heronwatch


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All photographs are copyright Edward Bevan unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

What is a heron?

According to Lynne (during one of her more lucid moments) they are “grey flappy things” ! For those of you who want to know more…

It’s the common name for members of a family of tall wading birds of the stork order. These also include bitterns, boatbills, and egrets. In addition, there is the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) found in North America and the Purple Heron (Ardea purpura) found in the north Mediterranean (though there are records of some found in Northern Shropshire). The Sqacco Heron (Ardea ralloides) is the smallest bird at 45cm / 18 ins. It is found in the Mediterranean but winters in Africa. The Green Backed Heron (Butorides striatus) is found in Europe and the Americas. There are also Night Herons e.g. black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). There are 60 types of herons and these are only a few…

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is the one which concerns us here at Ellesmere. It is about 1 metre tall and weighs approximately 2kg. They can reach up to speeds of 50km/h. the adults head plume (long feathers on top of their head) measures about 10-20 cm, growing with age.


What is a group of herons called?

A sedge or siege. Herons have also been called handsaws, hernshaws, herns, harns and frank (apparently because of the noise they make!)


Where do herons go in winter?

Our herons are believed to go to the Dee estuary and similar coastal areas where the water is more likely to remain ice-free. They will also fly south to warmer areas of the UK, though some will remain locally (meres and canals) if not driven away by cold. They do not migrate, prefering to stay as UK residents!

Heron 6909