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heronries in the south of England. Parham is a
beautifully wild and forest-like park. Everything
seems imbued with the spirit of the olden
time; from the ancient hall itself, with its huge
grate, and walls hung with ancestral armour, to
the venerable oak-trees in the foreground, and
the dark woods of Scotch and spruce fir which
crown the heathery hills in the distance. The
herons at Parham assemble in February, and
begin repairing their nests. In March they
begin laying their eggs, and most of their young
are hatched early in April. About the end of
May, the young birds may be seen napping out
of their nests, and basking for hours in the sun.
And indeed onward until the end of August
they may be seen upon the branches, clamorous
for food as evening approaches, and fed by their
parents with redoubled assiduity during the
night. At all hours of the night, during summer,
the cottagers residing near Parham hear the
shrill cry of the herons flying to and fro overhead
between the heronry and the open country.
During the winter months, the trees are never
entirely deserted, a few of the birds roosting upon
them every night. The great alluvial plain,
watered by the Arun, lying spread beneath
Parham, is covered with wide meadows of long
rank grass, where herds of black cattle lazily
chew the cud during the summer months; but
during the winter months the plain, as far as the
eye can reach, becomes one vast sheet of water,
frequented during storms by wild-fowl and
seabirds, while the dark pine-crowned hills of
Parham arise like a beautiful island in the distance.

"Creeping," says Mr. Knox, "through the
thick wood of Scotch and spruce firs in which
the heronry is situated, my object being to
approach so near as if possible to obtain a
good view of the birds themselves before they
had become conscious of my presence, as I
advanced, I could hear the indescribable half-
croaking, half-hissing sound uttered by the young
birds when in the act of being fed by the old
ones. But a treacherous stick snapping beneath
my foot, all was changed in an instant; the
unfledged inhabitants of the nests became
suddenly mute, and every adult member of the
colony was at once on the wing. Some ascended
into the air to a considerable height, screaming
loudly, others flapped heavily round the
summits of the trees, as if unwilling to leave the
place until they had discovered the cause of the
general alarm, while a few of the less timid even
resumed their position on the high boughs. I
now raised my glass, and had a capital view of
one splendid fellow as he stood like a guardian
angel over his nest, upright as a falcon, his long
graceful neck extended to the utmost, and his
keen glance directed all round as if it could
pierce even through the gloom of the dark
wood..... By the aid of my glass, I could
perceive that the heron which had attracted my
attention was a very old bird, as indicated by
the long crest and the pure white plumage of
the breast and neck, with which the rows of jet
black spots on the sides of the latter contrasted

Being anxious to examine the young birds,
Mr. Knox climbed a spruce fir, on the top of
which there was a nest. He was in danger of
losing his footing in the brittle branches, and
could not say he experienced a pleasing sensation
when the tall and narrow stem, already
well loaded with the enormous and wide-spreading
fabric at the top, began swaying to and fro
from his additional weight. Walking out on
one of the boughs immediately underneath the
nest, he outflanked it so far as to be able to
reach the edge, and, supporting himself with one
hand, partially explored its contents with the
other. He found three young herons in the
nest, two cold and dead, and one warm and
living; and the living bird did not appear to
avoid the touch of his hand. "An effort," he
says, "with both arms now brought my face to
a level with the nest, but I had scarcely time to
perceive that it contained a healthy and
perfectly fledged young bird sitting complacently
upon the bodies of his defunct brethren before
he darted violently at my eyes, although he
had previously evinced no displeasure at the
introduction of my hand, and I was only able to
protect them by bobbing my head suddenly, and
receiving the attack in a less vulnerable quarter.
He then scrambled out of the nest to the
extremity of an adjoining bough, from whence,
being unable to follow him, I endeavoured to
shake him off, but for a long time in vain. The
obstinacy with which he maintained his hold
was extraordinary, and even after losing his
equilibrium, and hanging head downwards for a
few moments, just as I fancied he was about to
drop, he suddenly clutched the branch more
firmly than ever, and writhing his elastic neck
upwards, he seized a twig with his beak, which
he held with all the tenacity of a parrot. I
therefore continued to shake the bough, and
after persevering in this manner for some
minutes, he gradually relaxed his hold, and
half fluttering, half tumbling through the
horizontal boughs of the tree beneath me, at last
reached the ground in safety."

The nest was about four feet in diameter.
Sticks of larch and fir composed the outside,
and the materials became finer towards the
interior, which was lined throughout with very
thin birch twigs closely matted together. The
young heron captured on this occasion was
carried home, one of his wings was partially
clipped, and he was kept in a large stable-yard.
A tank was supplied with fish for his use during
the first three months. But afterwards, he lived
on familiar terms with three tame ravens, and
became even more omnivorous than his sable
friends. His favourite position is in a corner of
the yard, cheek by jowl with a large watch-dog,
where he passes most of his time apparently lost
in absent thought, his head drawn back between
his shoulders, and muffled up in a collar of loose
feathers. But gradually as his dinner-hour
approaches he rouses himself, unfolding his long
neck, smoothing his plumage, and stalking
about the yard screaming with delight.

The beak of the heron seems to be an instrument

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