Posted 17th Mar 2014
Every year grey herons gather together in large numbers to breed and raise young. They usually choose to build huge dishevelled nests out of large twigs, perilously perched high up in clusters of tall trees. Easily recognisable for their enormous body, long plumes and spindly legs, these angular birds en masse present an impressively prehistoric-looking spectacle best seen at this time of year before growing leaves shroud them from our gaze
London's Battersea Park has a heronry (where herons gather together to raise young) of around 30 nests but if you want to head for wilder scapes why not explore one of these Wildlife Trusts' reserves and observe their fascinating behaviour for yourself:
Home to one of the largest heronries in the south west. Access is by permit only but a nearby lay-by offers a great view of the herons flying back and forth.
Comprised of three habitat types; open water, reedbeds and shingle, Besthrope Nature Reserve supports one of the largest heronries in Nottinghamshire.
Made up of mixed woodland, the Coed Llwyn Rhyddid reserve frequently runs heron watching trips, with brilliant views of the herons to be seen from the roadside parking near the farm entrance.
Ellesmere offers one of the most accessible heronries in the UK, where nesting herons return each year to the manmade Moscow Island.
This reserve's heronry can be found in the bog's surrounding birch woodland. It is also home to the biggest known colony of the large heath butterfly in Northern Ireland.
One of the oldest gravel pits in the Colne Valley, Stocker's Lake is home to the county's largest heronry with over 60 other species of breeding bird recorded here.
The Titchmarsh wetland is a popular place to catch a glimpse of the heronry located in the reserve's pines.
More than 20 pairs of herons nest amongst the larches toward the eastern end of the reservoir. The heronry is best viewed from the lay-by east of the ranger station and car park.
This 145-hectare reserve provides the ideal habitat to support the region's largest heronry, known as the Attenborough heronry.
This marshy, heath-like grassland supports diverse wildlife including an active heronry, where they can be observed fishing from the trees near the old Bude Canal.
Photos courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Neil Phillips, Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography