Heron Spotted on Canal by NIA

Walking along the towpath opposite the NIA yesterday, I spotted a large bird in the near distance perched on the edge – a heron. I approached slowly but, of course, as I got nearer it walked away.

Luckily, I happened to have my SLR camera with me but the light was very poor, and there was little time to prepare; so I knew I couldn’t get very good photos.

It started to peer intently down into the water just by the towpath edge.

I wanted to get nearer, so decided to try to creep up on it by walking up the ramp up to Sheepcote Street unseen by the bird. I was then closer to it and higher up and also disguised as I peered through some greenery.

Suddenly, the heron dived into the canal. Seconds later it took off with much thrashing and noise carrying a fish in its mouth. It then flew back to the towpath and raised its beak vertically – the fish was swallowed whole in a couple of seconds. The bird then composed itself as though nothing had happened and effectively posed for me! Below are some photos of the happenings. (Click on image for larger view.)

I have since discovered that the heron has been hanging around the area for a few days, so you might see it if you visit.

Geoff Caine

7 thoughts on “Heron Spotted on Canal by NIA

  1. Simon

    I’m a regular runner along Birmingham’s tow paths and have seen this heron regularly for about the last year or two. It is often found on the main branch of the canal in the area around the Soho Loop and up to French Walls. When I’m trundling my way along the tow path the bird will often flit from the side I’m on to the opposite side. About two weeks ago I actually saw two of them on that same stretch of canal.

  2. Geoff Caine Post author

    I’ve now enhanced the photos a little and changed to a gallery rather than a slideshow as the latter was darkening the images. You can now see enlarged versions.
    Simon, I too have seen a Heron in the stretch you mention but this was several years ago and I haven’t been there lately. So your nest theory could well be fact.

  3. simon gray

    I saw it in the boatyard the other day!

    Although it’s relatively rare for the herons to come right into the city centre where all the people are, they’re a more common sight than one would think along the stretch of canal between the end of the loop and smethwick – I suspect they may nest at the reservoir. I remember once going out for a drive, seeing one just at the far end of the soho loop, and it ‘followed’ us (the behaviour described above is classic heron behaviour) all the way to the Galton tunnel!

  4. Simon Felton

    It must have decided the city centre canals make an easy hunting ground for fish. It looks to be the same one I spotted a couple of weeks back near the Mailbox on the opposite side to the towpath.

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