The Collapse of the Branshill Wood Heronry.
Throughout February and March 2007 I had been watching the Grey Herons returning to the Heronry in Branshill Wood Barton-in-Fabis.
The Grey Heron were first seen to return to the Heronry in the second week of February with numbers peaking at 54 birds on the 17th. For the next week the Herons were seen pairing up, displaying and rebuilding last year’s nests, but they seemed very nervous whenever a Common Buzzard flew over with all herons leaving the Heronry each time a Common Buzzard was sighted.
On the 24th February 47 Grey Herons were seen in the Heronry but again vacated the sight whenever a Common Buzzard passed over. Continuing to watch
the site on the afternoon of the 24th I witnessed 6 Common Buzzard and the escaped Red-tailed Hawk that has took up territory in the area appear over the Heronry. 2 Common Buzzard and the Red-tailed Hawk then deliberately dived into the Heronry flushing all the Grey Herons from their nest, and continued to fly just a few feet above the group of distressed Grey Herons until they were a good distant away from the Heronry.
The Red-tailed Hawk and 1 Common Buzzard then flew back to the Heronry and landed on one of the nests where they stayed for the next 30 minutes. The Grey Herons never attempted to return to the Heronry for the rest of the day and stayed in the fields near to Barton Flash.
Throughout March I never saw one Grey Heron again in the Heronry but did see the Red-tailed Hawk and two Common Buzzard perched in separate nests.
Over Easter I observed 2 pairs of Common Buzzard and the Red-tailed Hawk that has paired with a Common Buzzard displaying over Branshill Wood in the vicinity of the heronry. The Red-tailed Hawk and Common Buzzard pair were seen carrying sticks and ferns into the area of conifers where the heronry was.
On a visit to Attenborough just over the river, I observed that the Grey Herons are now building new nests in the hawthorns on the islands. With nests now been built in a new location it seems that the Common Buzzard has succeeded in evicting the Grey Heron from Branshill Wood in an amazing act of avian cleansing.