27 March 2012

Purple Heron

27th March 2012. I set out  from checking Penberi Pool to St Davids Hd. With bright sunlight and light easterlies it was looking promising. As I was driving along I saw a bird from the car as it flew towards me to the west of the minor road near Ivor's Pond (Daffodil Lane). It was clearly a heron but looked a bit dark and Bittern like to the naked eye

I stopped and it was immediately clear it was a Purple Heron and what's more an adult in full summer plumage; it was now quite close and the purple colour on the neck was distinctive as was the chestnut on the thighs and especially the purple on the underwing coverts. Because it was so close, the structural differences were diminished, and it didn’t look especially ‘spidery’ or angular. 

It dropped into cover, nearby, beyond a willow clump. It was damp bramble and grass/sedge – typical of much of Pembs. After half an hour it reappeared and flew to a nearby bank enclosing a pond where it stayed in full view, close to the road, for a couple of minutes. I was able to enjoy the full glory of the colour and snaky, erect neck before it lifted off to Treleddyd Fawr Farm and Holiday Cottages about a qurter of a mile away. Then the more spidery feel compared to Grey heron wa apparent.

Interestingly, it avoided nearby open water each time it landed and appeared to drop down in an area of gardens when last seen. Purple Herons can be secretive birds and I have never had better views here or abroad. There was too much to take in for a precise description but on the ground the long yellow bill and even brighter yellow legs stood out as did the purple and black along the neck, the purple underwing coverts in flight and chestnut on the thighs and at the bend in the wing when standing. A superb bird in full breeding condition.

Purple Herons in Pembs since 2000

Skomer 22nd March 2001  (JGB)

Martletwy  12th April-12th May 2006  (MS)
Orielton  24th-26th April 2006  (CH)
Bosherston  29th April  2006  (DE&EE)
nr Narberth  22nd-27th March 2010  (A Hart)
St Davids 27/3/2012  (MYP)