Friday, 29 August 2014

Harnser

This morning, with grey clouds scudding across the sky and the threat of rain hanging over us, we set out around the lakes of Straw's Bridge. At 'Swan Lake', we found something else grey - a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea).
Unusually for a Heron, this particular bird was more intent on searching for fish than worrying about us walking past. As a result, on any bright day, a few good shots would have been possible, but as the weather was as grey as the heron itself, photos were a little tricky.
If you are wondering about the title of this post, the word 'Harnser' is the name given to herons in my native Norfolk. The derivation of the word is not clear, but it may stem from 'Harnser' being used also as a name for a Goose, the Latin for which is Anser.  Wherever the word comes from, "here's an ol' harnser."
Sadly, fishermen were once responsible for the near demise of this spectacular bird. It was noted that Herons had great success while fishing in the shallows and, not having much going on between the ears, fishermen decided it was because the fish were somehow attracted to the herons' legs. The result of this misconception was that herons were caught and killed whereupon their legs would be cut of and chopped into small pieces for use as ground-bait to attract more fish.  Thankfully, most (sadly not all) fishermen are somewhat better educated these days and heron numbers have recovered.
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