June 17, 2010

Story - The Grey Herons

Hi, A lot more activity among the Grey Heron family in Valentines Park- flying backwards and forwards and having one squabble after another- a typical family? It was really exhausting! Sequence of events: Three chicks by nest- (one in nest, the other two on branch). Parent sitting on island oak tree as yesterday.
One chick flies off nest, does wide circle ending up in Alder tree on main land, where he wobbled about. Suddenly (caught me out- to my annoyance with myself) the chick from the nest-branch arrived in a fury, landing beside the first chick.
After violent squawking and flapping, he flew off and returned to the nest! First chick shortly flew down to the usual logs in the water. Then he started making a racket and I rushed to see what was happening: he was chasing another grey shape onto the bank and into the undergrowth- difficult to see, but I then realized the adult bird in the oak tree had vanished so it must be him- the other two chicks still being by/in the nest. They chased each other along the back but finally disappeared into the islands' woods.

Nothing happening, I decided to walk round the island to see if I could find them. Eventually I spotted them on the islands' North/East bank. At first they seemed quite amicable but then they started MORE squawking at each other. At this point I saw the adult bird emerging beside a Foxglove in the undergrowth above them- and they then started going for him! One chick moved to a shrub above the water and after a time the other chick flew off leaving his parent and sibling. I walked back to check the nest- that's where he had flown to. But he wasn't going to stay there- down he flew to the log in the water...soon the other chick joined him and then they fished for a bit before disappearing among the trees again, chasing each other. Later, one returned to fish. All was peaceful at first, but then- making horrendous, blood curdling cries- he rushed out of the water chasing anothe rgrey shape (the other chick- the parent was still by his foxglove)! He was in such a state I actually wondered if he would have a heart attack! I followed their movements along the bank until they disappeared. Later, walking round the island again, by the bridge on the West side of theisland, what looked like a grey duck swimming caught my eye- needless to say it was one of the chicks, who proceeded to fish- the first time I have seen one there. One chick remained in nest- the same one? Who knows! Sorry this is so long, but it all happened over about five hours. Gillian

(the last pic, is from Wanstead Birder blog (JLethbridge)

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