Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Grey Heron
2nd winter Grey Heron
(Harnser, Old Frank, Johnny Crane, Hegri, Haigrie, Heronshaw, Norry-the-bogs, Julie-the-bogs, Common Heron, European Blue Heron, European Heron, Gray Heron, Heron, Mauritanian Heron)
Photograph © Ela Springwater
Callanish - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
30th September, 2008
Our Grey Heron photographs
- Grey Heron
- Ardea cinerea
- Gaelic: Corra-ghritheach
- UK: Resident Breeder, Winter Visitor. 14,000 nests BTO
- WI: Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
- Breeding: Generally temperate Europe, Asia, Indonesia, sub-Saharan Africa. Also now common in summer even inside the Arctic circle, including Iceland*, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice. Nests in colonies in trees (or on cliffs) by lakes, sea-shore, reed beds, other wetlands. Bulky stick nest.
- Diet: Usually stalks food, standing motionless for long periods, usually feeds in shallows, may wade out a little. Prey fish, frogs, small mammals, insects, reptiles. Sometimes fishes by artifical light . An adaptable bird
- Habitat: Lakes, lochs, reedbeds, marshes, rivers, flooded fields, sea-shore, wetland marshes, gravel pits, reservoirs, estuaries, garden ponds, fish farms
- Largest European heron (Over 3ft (95cm) tall. Wingspan almost 6'6" (195cm). Mostly slate-grey above, off-white below. Adult - forehead, crown-centre, head-sides white, crown-sides & nape & slender crest black. Juvenile/1st winter dull grey head. Straight, powerful pinkish-yellow bill (brighter in breeding adults).
Flight slow, laboured, powerful, (long neck retracted) . Broad rounded wings.
Usually solitary. Several birds may feed close together (as many as 20 birds, collective noun a hedge, sedge or siege of herons)
- Listen to a Grey Heron (RSPB site) (loud croaking "fraaank")
- Typical lifespan 5yrs. Max recorded age 23yrs 9mths
Grey Heron records in the Western Isles
Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Grey Heron is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Grey Heron is resident and a winter visitor to the UK. The BTO Migration Atlas shows a movement from Iceland to the UK outside of the breeding season (it is also mentioned that migrating herons use a flapping flight and can migrate at night ).
I asked Yann I at the Icelandic Birding Pages about the Grey Herons in Iceland.
"We have usually 40-60 wintering Grey Herons around the country (sometimes more). They are however very rare in summer but in recent years we’ve had the occasional oversummering individual".
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section