Predictable really, despite being surrounded by flora and fauna from around the world the first batch of photos I take after arriving at London Zoo are of a bird common throughout the UK, and the world in fact.. a Grey Heron. Ever the opportunist, a number of these birds have made the Zoo their home, living in the numerous trees around the site and with a marvellous new penguin environment, a couple of these birds have spotted an easy meal and hang around the pool side waiting for feeding time.
I used to quite like herons, they’ve always seemed so much more exotic than any of the birds that grace our shores, however a recent article on a birding website has changed my opinion of these goliath of birds. The article, a series of photographs really, detailed what the birds had caught and ate when out hunting and it’s surprising how (I was going to say varied) indiscriminate herons can be; basically, if it’s smaller than itself and has a pulse it seems to be fair game. Along with the rather obvious frogs, fish and insects were some rather unexpected (and unfortunate) prey; a couple of photos showed heron devouring rather large pike, numerous ducklings – still nothing too disturbing – then there were various rodents including our beloved Water Voles, full grown Little Grebes (a person favourite) and the most disturbing of all, a Water Rail. There ought to be some sort of mechanism that protects our rarer wildlife from predation but nature doesn’t work like that and the heron is simply doing what it can to survive.. it’s just a pity it doesn’t prey on the plethora of wood pigeons that seem to be everywhere – there are a couple in my garden that could easily be taken by a surprise attack – and if a heron doesn’t take them, I’m sure they’ll be a suitable turkey substitute come Christmas time… they’re certainly big enough.
*I’m tired… Air/Heron a G-String is the best you’re going to get (actually it’s the best you’re going to get even if I’m not tired!)