Winchelsea Heronry and other busy birds

Last year we went for a sunny walk and a picnic around Winchelsea and along the Royal Military Canal. During our walk we spotted a heronry in the trees. As it was mid-June, it was hard to make out the chicks from the adults. This week, we went back.
    Being us, we had to get our priorities straight, and started off with a suitably civilised coffee sitting out in the garden at the Ship, at Winchelsea Beach.

Looking across the level towards the heronry
Garden at the Ship

      Next, we parked near the canal below Winchelsea, and walked along to find the
herons. It was a glorious sunny day, and everything looked absolutely
beautiful. Fresh greens, reflections in the water, yellow flag irises,
drifts of white cow-parsley and hawthorn blossom, water lilies –
fabulous. We could hear loud bird song from the reeds, which we later
identified as reed warblers. I wouldn’t know one if I saw one – they are
one of so many anonymous little brown things.

Winchelsea from the canal
Beautiful and peaceful
Yellow flags

      The heronry is on the far side of the canal, in high trees in the wooded escarpment below Winchelsea. It is suitably inaccessible for the protection of the birds, but easily visible from the towpath. There have been previous internet posts about it, so clearly it is no secret. Neither Philosopher or myself have ever seen such a thing before. Herons return to the same place year after year to breed – I have no idea how long the Winchelsea heronry has been established, but from the large size of the sprawling nest areas, made from dead branches, I’d guess a long time.
      Here they are – the tall grey adults are easily distinguishable from the smaller chicks. We only saw two or three chicks, but more were probably hiding in the foliage. Some of the photos are a bit blurred because of the distance. Who else has seen a heronry?

Heronry actual size
First sight of the herons
Two parents, one baby
Two families visible here

Larger chick

Here are just a couple more pictures from our walk back to the car. Water lilies and cloud shadows.

     At home, our garden birds have also been busy. Followers on Facebook will have seen the somewhat fuzzy picture of the wood pecker on our bird-feeder. Here he is again. This morning we arrived home from shopping to find the garden literally crowded with baby starlings and their parents. You could have heard the squawking racket down in the Old Town. We always see a few, and have several nests nearby, but this looked like a mass fledging – the beginnings of our own murmuration?  Anyone else seen this?

Great spotted woodpecker
Starling invasion

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