Sunday, January 21, 2007

Heronries Census 2007

The survey documents for this year have just come through my letter box. If anyone wanted reminding that a new year is under way then this is it; as, according to data analysis herons are now nesting 28 days earlier than they were in 1968. The average nesting date now is March 12 – so time to get a move on.
As with Lapwings and Golden Plovers heron numbers are also decreasing. Since about 2000 there has been a slow decline in the number of breeding pairs reported (see graph).

In Merseyside there were seven recorded heronries within the Heronries Census, but two of these – Scarisbrick Hall and Formby Hall - are now extinct. Of the remaining the Moss Wood /Ince Blundell Hall collection is the oldest, recorded from pre-1863, while the heronry at Knowsley Hall is dated from 1872. The former site is noted as ‘slowly increasing’ while Knowsley is ‘stable’.

Most of the regions Heronries are covered by the South-West Lancs Ringing Group who annually record the number of active nests. Ringing is not undertaken with the same gusto as previous years due to the lack of an experienced climber. The Knowsley Hall site is visited with special permission from Lord Derby.

All records of breeding herons - from anyway - gratefully received.

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