Musings Upon Herons

Wherever you are on the waterways, you never seem to be far from a heron. But they seem to behave differently in different places. On the narrow canals in the Midlands, you normally see them in open countryside, standing on the bank, and they clearly have their own territory. Approach one in a boat (even at idle, or with the engine off) and as one gets close, off it flaps ahead of you for a hundred yards or so before “assuming the position” again. After several goes at this, it finally gives up/reaches the end of it’s beat, and loops back to way before the first sighting, presumably to the beginning of it’s beat.

On the wide rivers, you sometime see them perched up in trees, and on the Basingstoke we saw them perching on boats. Still keeping a good distance though. Sometimes you saw them paddling in the shallows, and once at Oxford, we saw one standing in a fast flowing culvert/small weir, albeit barely getting its feet wet.

But maybe it’s the more urban/industrial atmosphere of the Grand Union, but the herons seem mainly oblivious to passing boats (even when passing quite close). And they also seem happy to do more than just paddle just getting their feet wet. We’ve seen several standing right up to their oxters in deep water while the world rushes past them.


All of which reminds me of a time in another life, when working for a large project in International Computers Ltd (aka ICL) in Bracknell. Another large project was managed by a chap called Brian O’Heron aka Hero No Brain (anag). Imported from Univac by Geoff Cross, along with the infamous Ed Mack, one of O’Heron’s principal claims to fame was converting a large chunk of the Bracknell car park into a helicopter landing area so he could get to Putney HQ more easily, if at enormous cost. Smart political move when you’ve just been brought into a company in financial difficulties. His project were frequently causing ours difficulties, and they often claimed they needed some man power to cope with the interface between the two. One of my claims to fame was that when my departmental manager finally gave in and said “who do you want” the instant reply was “anybody but Bob Walton”. I still remember the Tannoy announcement that Geoff Cross was leaving, ostensibly to move to Arizona for health reasons. Ah, such sweet memories.

Tried Googling him to see what had become of him, but all I could find was this, which doesn’t exactly match my memories of that period (or, I suspect, those of many of my colleagues). Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

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