Saturday, 10 October 2009


No matter how many I see, every sighting of a heron gives me goosebumps.

They are utterly distinctive against the river banks, so tall and yet delicate enough to have been crafted from wire. I also enjoy how such a still creature can occasionally jerk into action, like a clockwork toy, at the suggestion of a fish beneath the water's surface.

At London Zoo yesterday (one of my favourite haunts) the real stars for once were not the crowd-pleasing penguins, but instead the savvy heron who, spotting his opportunity for a free lunch, had swooped down into the enclosure, and was sidling up to the keeper and his bucket of fish. The heron obviously thought that, like fishing, he only needed to move slowly enough that the keeper wouldn't see him. He seemed unaware of his tall stature, and his sharp, angular contrast to the chubby little birds beneath him.

I would have given him the whole bucket.