Identification: Night Herons are relatively small stocky herons with broad rounded wings. The adults are mostly a delicate shade of grey showing a neat solid black saddle in flight. At close range you may see the gorgeous deep red of their eyes. Juvenile Night Herons are basically dark brown in colour but heavily marked with pale rain-drop shaped spots.
Habitat: Breeds and roosts in trees and bushes usually close to shallow, reed-fringed lakes, marshes or fishponds where they feed.
Distribution: Annual vagrant to the UK, with most birds seen in spring. There have been 523 birds recorded in Britain and Ireland up until the end of 1995.
Apart from the introduced colony in Belgium, these are mostly birds of southern Europe, being present at most of the major wetland sites. Birds at the nest can be viewed from the tower at Lake Manyas (Turkey). The largest colonies, of up to 3000 pairs, are found in Italy.
Population: The European population is estimated at between 45,00-52,000 pairs. Russian population 9000-11000 Turkish population 1000-3000