Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea


The largest European heron. It can stand with neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunch down with its neck bent over its chest. In flight it holds its neck retracted and has large rounded wings. It is usually solitary although several birds may feed fairly close together.

Identification difficulty

Wetland marshes, gravel pits, reservoirs, lakes and rivers and estuaries. Usually seen standing silently at the water's edge, waiting for prey. Will come to gardens with ornamental fishponds and fish farms.

When to see it

All year round

Life History

It stalks its food, often standing motionless for some considerable time. It usually feeds close to the bank or shore, but may wade out into shallow water. This species breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reed beds. It builds a bulky stick nest.

UK Status

Quite common and widespread in Britain

VC55 Status

Fairly common as a breeding bird in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map