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Byline: Andrew Jackson ,

fish thief A heron spotted in Huddersfield recently

WARM winters could be the cause of the rise in the number of herons in Huddersfield.

In recent weeks the big birds have been spotted at numerous sites across the town, pilfering fish from ponds.

But the beaky burglars could be doing it for the best of reasons - to feed their new chicks.

Hundreds of herons have been nesting on islands in the lake at Bretton Hall College.

And bird experts believe they are dropping into Huddersfield for their fishy fast food.

Tim Melling, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said this time of year was the prime time for nesting herons.

He added: "They nest in colonies, like rooks. Normally they either choose somewhere in remote woodlands or, alternatively, on an island, where predators can't get at them."

Mr Melling, who is a bird conservation officer, said heron numbers had been increasing.

He added: "Herons, like kingfishers and wrens, suffer badly when it is a cold winter and their numbers are reduced.

"This is because they have little or no access to food.

"We have had warm winters for the last few years, so more herons have survived to the following year.

"But their numbers are controlled by natural factors, such as the availability of food and nesting sites, so they won't over-run the area."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 5, 2005
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