Heronries – BTO Survey

The BTO Heronries Census began in 1928 as a one-off investigation but has matured into an annual survey still ongoing more than 90 years later and is one of the longest running breeding bird survey in the world. The simple aim of the Heronries Census is to collect counts of ‘apparently occupied nests’ (aon) of herons, egrets and other colonial waterbirds, e.g. cormorants from as many heronries as possible in the UK each year. In the latest Bedfordshire Bird Report details are recorded for five heronries. The following table lists these and other locations where herons have nested over the years. In recent years Herons have started nesting in the disused clay pits, e.g. Coronation and Rookery North pits, and may also have nested in other similar locations. If anyone is able to visit these sites to confirm whether or not these heronries are active, that information would be gratefully received as would any nest counts from active colonies (whether on the list or not).

Heronry GridRef Currently Active
Battlesden Lake SP957287  
Blunham Lakes TL158510 Yes?
Bromham Park, Biddenham TL019512  
Coronation pit   Yes
Harrold-Odell CP SP963573 Yes
Ickwell Bury TL1445  
Little Barford TL180571  
Luton Hoo   Yes?
Priory CP, Bedford TL075491 Yes
Radwell Gravel Pits TL007589  
Redstone Hill, The Lodge, Sandy TL183485  
Rookery North pit TL010410  
Rushmere CP SP913284 Yes
Southill Park Lake, Old Warden TL144428 Yes
Stratford, Sandy TL184474  
Tempsford Hall, Tempsford TL171535  
Turvey House, Turvey SP937528  
Tusting SP952572  
Willington Gravel Pits TL100504  
Woburn Park SP961325 Yes


For more information, including how you can take part, please visit the BTO Heronries census web pages at


or contact me at rogerkhicks@hotmail.com

Roger Hicks

BTO Regional Representative for Bedfordshire