GEOFF CRAMBIE: We are seeing more herons these days

This week, gaze upon a bird from another time. With its long primeval body and its antediluvian pterodactyl-like head, the heron is always a wonderful sight to see in our beautiful countryside.

Monday, 1st August 2011, 6:41 pm

Our stunning photo shows a huge hoary heron captured locally by master cameraman of great repute Colner Colin Bean.

This wary wading bird is certainly on the increase here in Pendle. Colin’s sublime picture was taken in Fence and this year alone, our family have spotted this unmistakable bird on the canal at Wanless, the canal at Foulridge, Old Ebbie’s Reservoir, the Water-Meetings, Lake Burwain, Ball Grove lake, the stream at Barley, Colne Water at Carry Bridge and, most exciting of all, was at the pond at Towneley when a huge, ancient, male heron fought two fierce black-as-night carrion crows from stealing eggs from its nest. It was a mighty aerial battle against an awe-inspiring azure blue sky. I’m pleased to report the big old heron won the day against the two coal-black villains.

In flight, the heron (proper name, the grey heron) is a truly amazing sight with its long sinuous neck drawn back as its wide outstretched wings slowly flapping overhead with stilt-like legs trailing behind and its long, sharp bill pointing as this medieval bird watches with its golden-yellow Argus eyes.

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Growing up in bonnie Colne during the 1940s and ‘50s, the heron was a rare sight indeed with my only encounter seeing a giant venerable bird with my pal, Roger Cookson, at the mill dams on Tum Hill.

Today, in the 21st Century, this iconic bird is flourishing and it’s always a joy to see the striking, sylph-like heron, with its strange echoing call as it flies slowly overhead.