Herons look like a prehistoric birds on takeoff after they wipeout all the fish in your pond. We do not, however, like to see them standing beside our newly built garden fish pond, hunting our prized and very expensive specimen Koi.
Because herons are a protected species, we have to come up with methods from them landing in our garden in the first place, and secondly, from picking off our fish one by one until they are gone.
1. Herons are intelligent birds. They know when they are on to a good thing, and if they are successful in catching and eating a fish from your pond, they will return again sometime in future for more.
2. Herons land on the ground next to the pond as they fly in, and then walk to the waters edge to feed. If we prevent them from landing in the first place, then we will win the battle.A dog that spends most of it’s time in the garden is effective. A scarecrow – so long as it is regularly moved. Once the heron realizes that the ‘human’ shape is no more than a dummy, you will have lost the game. A decoy Heron also works for a limited time unless you move it every couple of days.
3. Make the water’s edge uncomfortable for the grey heron to stand on and to fish in. We can do this in a number of ways:
* Dig out the edges of your pond to make the sides steep and deep. A heron wades to feed. Prevent him from wading. This does not always work – my pond has steep edges and a wall and the Heron still got my prized Koi.
* Cover the edges of your pond with grids, and then completely fill the grids with pot plants – to allow no standing space. The grids will also allow the fish a place to hide when they see movement from above.
* Place sharp stones, for example broken flint all around the water’s edge and into the water to about 12 inches deep. If you wouldn’t walk on it – chances are that neither will the heron.
4. Make use of bird scare’s:
* Water sprinkler motion activated bird scare’s can be effective but when you go out to the pond make sure you shut the water off, it can be quite cold in the morning.
5. Because grey herons are territorial and solitary birds, it has been thought for a long time that decoys will keep them way from a garden. In reality – they seem to work as attractants – especially for aggressive male specimens trying to protect their territory.
6. Protect your fish by providing shelter for them. Nature has made the average fish with very good eyesight – designed for the purpose of spotting danger from overhead. Koi also have the natural instinct which makes them dive for cover when shadows cross over the water they are in. Ways of providing shelter:
* Give them tunnels to swim in, large empty plant pots submerged on their sides, large pots with water plants in them, spaced apart to allow the fish to swim in between them, slabs of slate supported by pillars, but with surface totally covered by plant pots to prevent the heron from using it as a platform.
* Plant foliage provides cover – for example lotus and water-lily, overhanging bushes and grasses
* Build a waterfall in your backyard pond. A waterfall provides shelter in the form of overhanging rocks, disturbed water, which helps confuse the predator, plus if the fall takes place a little way away from the wall, a quite place is formed behind the curtain of water in which the fish can hide.
Tags: heron, koi protection, pond building, pond protection, predator
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