The heronry is on the edge of a new housing estate located in a narrow, shallow heavily wooded valley. Where birds have nested in the tops of trees growing from the valley base, by standing on the valley ridge effectively puts you at the interesting perspective of being level with the nests. Given the dense tree growth along the side of the valley there is only one small gap which is clear of vegetation to allow you to photography the birds. When I say small I mean its a 2ft clear hole through the branches which, with some careful camera positioning allows you to photograph three different nests. Each of the nests was occupied one with 4 well grown young, another with 3 and the third with an adult bird which was presumably sitting on eggs.
Here is a short video to show what I mean:
Herons Nest from Richard Steel on Vimeo.
On the video you can hear the sounds of birds on other nests nearby. It must be quite a noisy place at times for the local residents but from the few I spoke to out walking their dogs it appears they have a great fondness for the herons. One cold morning whilst waiting for an adult to return I was even offered a cup of tea by the owner of the house over the road from where I was stood.
The main challenges with photographing the birds was trying to get all the birds facing in a good direction, one session I arrived to find a thick mist in the valley and also with the cold weather on the morning when I managed to eventually get some sun a heat haze rapidly developed.
Below is a further selection of images from the three short but enjoyable morning sessions at the Secret Valley with the herons.