Sunday, November 02, 2008

Green Heron, West Hythe, Kent

Anyone who visits this blog regularly will know I have a fondness for herons. With Britain and Ireland’s sixth Green Heron (Butorides virescens) found more than a week ago on the 25th, I was tempted to go for it, particularly as it was allowing many people to capture some great photographs. This migratory Nearctic heron, roughly the size of a Coot, somehow found itself on the wrong side of the Atlantic and has settled into a fish-rich stretch of the Royal Military Canal near West Hythe in Kent. Yesterday was the first day I could make it down to the south coast, due to work, but the weather forecast was bad. I waited until today but even then the sun shone for about 10 minutes in the four hours I was there. Getting down from North London on public transport took five hours there and four hours back, including 12 miles of walking. Still, it doesn’t really compare to the journey this Green Heron made across the sea! It was definitely worth the hassle to see such a charismatic and entertaining rarity. It caught at least six good-sized fish (Roach?) while I was there and on one occasion caught two in a single strike when it accidentally speared a second fish with its upper mandible. And there is quite a density of fish in this luxuriantly vegetated canal judging by the shoals breaking the surface when the Pike attacked, the numbers of Kingfishers (6+ between West Hythe and Hythe) and anglers actually catching something. Its feeding strategy ranged from patient waiting on the edge of a Phragmites bed to plunge-diving from a half-sunken tree. I captured a few standard shots below, but it was just too dull for sufficiently high enough shutter speeds to capture the action of the brief feeding frenzies.

A few more photos here:


Thomas Vattakaven said...

great shots! Did you not get any pics of the bird catching fish?

Anonymous said...

Great photos, fantastic bird!

Fraser Simpson said...

Thanks Tom and Vitaliy.

I did get a few fish catches but nothing great. Light levels were too low to freeze the action and a'plunge-dive' capture is just a blur! Others (with fish in mouth) are partially obscured by the reeds. Hope it hangs around... may try again in a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Superb images, love the last one with the reflection.

Warren Baker said...

Wel done fraser. You must really like herons to come all this way. Should have popped in for a cuppa!!