Ardea cinerea – A common resident.
Although there are no large Heronries in the county, there are numerous small breeding stations, and the bird is generally distributed and fairly common. Our fishponds at Stone Hall were constantly visited by Herons that came from Sealyham, where there are a few nests in one of the covers. We have counted seven together of a summer’s evening by one of our ponds, and we never went down to the Cleddy at any day in the year without seeing one or two, and after a long-continued drought in the summer, the birds would be especially numerous, as they then had better opportunities for capturing the eels, small trout, &c, that form their prey.
Herons suffer severely after a long-continued spell of frost, when we have come across them perfectly starving. We captured one once, and brought him home, and put him in our carriage house, where he preferred to perch upon a high dog-cart. Here we fed him for about a fortnight, until we thought he had almost become strong enough to be restored to liberty, but one morning were vexed to find him lying dead upon the ground.
We have often seen Herons perched upon the oak trees bordering one of our ponds. Here they would sit for some time before they descended to the shallow end of the pond in search of frogs and small fish or water-rats, and we believe they are expert catchers and devourers of these rodents. Some Herons nest upon the cliffs of the coast; we have already related how those at Poyntz Castle were dispossessed by Cormorants. The ejected Herons are stated to have migrated to Slebech, where they have formed a heronry. There is a heronry at Llanmilo, near Pendine, just over the borders of the county in Carmarthenshire, which, we are informed, consists of about thirty nests.
Mr. Tracy mentions another at Linney Head, where the Herons nest in company with Cormorants and Guillemots. The nests, from six to twelve in number, are arranged side by side on the ledges of the rocks, and are quite inaccessible.