We often get asked what wildlife can be seen whilst cruising along a British canal....and we're proud to say the types are wonderful and varied. Here, we'll highlight the characterful Grey Heron.
Grey Herons or Ardea Cinerea truely are unmistakable. They are tall and often solitary and they are fantastic to watch. Sometimes, as they stand at the side of the canal, you could be mistaken for thinking they might be a plastic model. As you get closer, they then surprise you by either moving along or lifting gracefully into the air on magnificently outstreached wings. They sour up and around, often circling to land pretty much where they were, once you have passed by.
They are, of course, keen fishers....they will stand patiently waiting for exactly the right momet to stab into the water with their dagger like beak to get a fishy meal. They also wade through shallow water looking for amphibians and small fish. They do sometimes eat mammals, such as moles. Beware if a Grey Heron takes interst in your garden pond, as they will quickly empty it of stock, given half a chance.
Its wingspan can be over half a metre and they can live up to five years.
Grey Herons nest in tall trees, often with other herons in a colany or 'heronry'. The nest will consist of a large platform made from grass and twigs and both the male and female will be involved in its construction. Both parents will be involved with incubating the eggs and with feeding and protecting the young fledglings.
If you are lucky enough to spot a Grey Heron whilst cruising, see how close you can get before it chooses to fly away. If it does launch itself into the air, watch out for it circling back or just moving along the towpath ahead of you. They can be fascinating canalside companions....