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Pets and their people: Hue and cry as herons pair up; BIRDWATCH.

Byline: MARK WARD

GREY herons are back in their treetop colonies.

Male herons are ready to breed and their dagger-like beaks have turned bright orange as a mating signal.

The same basket-like nest - made almost entirely of big sticks with a leaf and grass lining - is used each year.

Once a suitable mate has been found, it is time to repair winter damage. Males collect the twigs while the females rebuild the nests.

The four eggs are usually laid in early March but hard-working pairs can already have their nests ready. Grey herons are noisy but make loving pairs and often perform pair-bonding routines such as "billing" - gently tapping bills together - and raising up their black head plumes to each other.

-A Rose-coloured Starling - usually found no closer than Hungary - is wintering at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

CAPTION(S):

LOVING: Grey heron
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 3, 2002
Words:141
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