The Heron Watch is returning to St Albans!
The ever-popular Date with Nature will be returning to St Albans, offering city visitors a chance to get closer to nature with the RSPB and watch the breeding grey herons in Verulamium Park.
We may have had a winter of frequent rain storms, floods and heavy deluges, but that doesn't stop the grey herons of St Albans returning to the trees on the lake in Verulamium Park, ready for their nesting season.
Grey herons lay eggs and raise young earlier than many other birds and so they have a difficult job incubating the eggs and keeping their chicks warm, sometimes in sub-zero temperatures.
Last year there were seven occupied nests in Verulamium Park and we will soon find out how many herons have returned this year and whether the floods and high water levels will have had an impact on them.
The RSPB will be returning to the edge of the lake with their exhibition trailer on Wednesday to Sunday between 26 February and 28 April 10:30 am to 4:30 pm, to show visitors to the park these fantastic birds.
Thanks to funding from St Albans City & District Council's Community Grants Fund, along with Hertfordshire County Council's Locality Budget, the RSPB has installed a nest camera on the island that will transmit live images of the nests to a television screen at the viewpoint.
Debs Allbrook, RSPB's Date with Nature Project Officer said: "Although we have had issues with the recent flooding and bad weather, we hope this year that our camera will be able to show visitors close up action of the herons as they raise their young throughout their stay in the park.
"If all goes to plan and the herons do as we expect them to, visitors should get amazing live, close-up views of the activity and antics of the herons and their offspring The RSPB would like to thank St Albans City & District Council for its generous funding of the nest camera which has added an extra element to the project for the second year."
Debs added: "The herons returning each year to breed at Verulamium Park shows that a well cared for inner city green space can provide fantastic homes for wildlife."
Councillor Chichester-Miles, Portfolio Holder for Environment at St Albans City and District Council, said: "This is a brilliant project that provides residents with information about beautiful herons nesting in Verulamium Park. The camera will hopefully provide the RSPB team and local residents with close-up shots of the herons as they prepare their nests and raise their offspring."
Plenty of other wildlife can also be seen in the park at this time of year. Volunteers at the heron viewpoint often see more than 60 different species throughout the project starting with winter birds such as redwing and fieldfare and ending with summer visitors such as warblers, swallows and swifts as the temperature rises. Red kites are also regularly seen soaring majestically over the park and lake.
As an extra bonus, a pair of kingfishers has recently been delighting visitors as they catch fish along the nearby stream. Normally these incredible birds give just a flash of electric blue as they zip past, but this pair seems to be quite happy posing for the admiring crowds to see!
Photo sent into us by reader Robin Pearson of some herons nesting on the island at Verulamium Park lake.