6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Herons - the stork of Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 March 2014

A grey heron population has reached about 750 in Lancashire. Picture: Darin Smith

A grey heron population has reached about 750 in Lancashire. Picture: Darin Smith

not Archant

Wildlife experts are reporting a bonanza in this majestic class of bird

A great white egret by Damien Waters A great white egret by Damien Waters

Since early man swapped stories around camp fires, the heron has become ingrained in folklore and myth.

Native Americans believed that when wise men died they came back as herons. In the Egypt of the pharaohs, a double-headed heron was a sign of prosperity. Meanwhile, the Maoris of New Zealand consider it a great compliment to be compared to these striking birds.

Across the planet, these strange, almost prehistoric creatures, are seen as a good omen. Happily for Lancashire we are having a bit of a bonanza with four varieties sending birders flocking to Brockholes, at Preston, when news broke than one of them was the elusive bittern.

This came on the back of sightings of little egret, great white egret and the resident grey herons among the lakes and reedbeds. All are members of the wider heron family.

The elusive bittern by Peter Smith, NW Wild Images The elusive bittern by Peter Smith, NW Wild Images

They are recorded regularly at Brockholes and, according to the newly published Bird Atlas for Lancashire and North Merseyside, the region has a population of between 500 and 750 birds – four per cent of the national total.

Little egrets and great white egrets are winter visitors from large groups that inhabit Dutch and French coastal areas, but they are being seen more frequently in Lancashire, according to the atlas.

Bitterns are rare in Lancashire with sightings confined to nature reserves like Mere Sands Wood and Wigan Flashes and the only breeding site at the RSPB’s Leighton Moss reserve.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright said: ‘Herons are magnificent birds and not uncommon sights at Brockholes, but there was much excitement when we heard of a bittern on the reserve.

‘A lot of work has been done to attract bitterns to Brockholes and to Wigan Flashes, but the reed beds are not well established so we are not expecting breeding birds for some time yet.

‘Herons, bitterns and two types of egret at the reserve prove that we are heading in the right direction at Brockholes and this has caused a lot of excitement among local birders and other visitors. There reserve will be a magnet for nature lovers as we head into spring and summer.’

Birds of a feather

Herons and storks are in the same class of birds but storks were hunted to the point in extinction in this country. The closest you can come to one in Lancashire is in a glass case in The Stork pub at Thurnham Greenn, near Glasson. It’s stuffed.

You can find out more about sightings of living birds at Brockholes at www.brockholes.org or by calling 01772 872000.

The Bird Atlas is an essential guide to the state of birds in the region and can be downloaded for free at the website of Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society at www.lacfs.org.uk/Lancs%20Birds.html.


More from Out & About

Wed, 00:00

Hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners are just two reasons for walking in this stunning area, as John Lenehan discovers

Read more
Bowland Walks
Wed, 00:00

There are few finer thing than exploring the countryside surrounding the many rivers situated across the county.

Read more
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Victoria Smith always loved horses but her high pressure job meant she had little time to ride – until she met a deer in the Forest of Bowland

Read more
Monday, May 14, 2018

Developments underway and planned around the city are celebrating its proud heritage and building for the future

Read more
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

For almost 25 years, outdoor writers and photographers Dennis and Jan Kelsall have produced guides and articles covering many of the country’s popular walking destinations. Here, Dennis picks five of his favourites.

Read more
Friday, May 4, 2018

Ramsbottom is well known for its food and drink scene, but Rebekka O’Grady meets some arty residents that will inspire your creative side.

Read more
Thursday, May 3, 2018

A devastating riding accident may have saved Katherine Beaumont from a life of anxiety and stress. Now she is sharing her experience.

Read more

A unique community musical in Wigan is taking one of George Orwell’s most famous works from the page to the stage and making a song and dance about social inequality.

Read more

When photographer Emma Campbell fell in love with Lakeland’s fell ponies she decided to raise their profile with a special project.

Read more
Equestrian photography
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Our walking guide John Lenehan takes us on a towpath where you can see one of Lancashire’s great engineering feats.

Read more
Canals Chorley
Monday, April 9, 2018

A selection of walks in and around Bowland for outdoor types who like to end their hike on a high note – with some great food and drink.

Read more
Monday, April 9, 2018

From specialist soap to awarding winning ale, Staveley is proving to be a magnet for small businesses and visitors

Read more
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The joy of spotting owls is described by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright who tells us where to find them and how to identify these elusive creatures.

Read more
Monday, April 2, 2018

It stretches the length of the Liverpool suburb, and over the years has hosted many shops and businesses. Rebekka O’Grady chats to those who currently call it home

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search