October 9th   Leave a comment

The last couple of times I have down to the top of Kilminning I have flushed a grey heron from the rank grass alongside the pines and sycamores that I check for migrants. This is a long way from any water and the bird was stalking as if feeding before it flew off rather than roosting (it’s not a good place for a heron to be roosting anyway so close to predator concealing cover). I have also been seeing lots of voles about, so I think it is a heron that has shifted to a mammal diet to exploit this opportunity. Grey herons are formidable generalist predators. They do mostly eat fish but really anything they can swallow will do, from crayfish to ducklings, from frogs to lizards and snakes (well perhaps not at Kilminning), and also mammals. John Anderson has a spectacular sequence of photos (see below) of a grey heron eating a fair size rabbit. So it’s perhaps not such a surprise to find a grey heron behaving like a stork or a raptor. Generalism is key to success for species that live close to humans – they can thrive on the chaos and the shifting goalposts we create.  

Grey Heron (JA)
And the proof of their optimistic generalism… (JA)
And the rabbit was successfully swallowed! (JA)

Posted October 9, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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