No matter how much you welcome visiting wildlife to your garden, there are times when you can have rather too much of a good thing – as one family discovered when a local heron decided to add their pond to its list of top fishing spots.
“I was brought up on the Norfolk Broads,” says Pam Lambert, “so when we moved up here, it was great to see herons when we went walking along the shore. Having them around took me right back to my childhood.” That, however, was all to change when Pam, husband Alan, and seven-year old daughter Emily decided that what their new garden was crying out for was a pond.
“We did all the things you’re supposed to – you know, matured the water, planted it and then waited for it to settle down before getting any fish,” she explains. “But I swear that heron was watching us. Honestly, I don’t think we’d hardly opened the bags to let them out before he was nosing about – well I say ‘he’ but I suppose he could have been a ‘she’. I mean, how do you tell with a heron?”
By all accounts, whether a ‘him’ or a ‘her’, their unwanted visitor was soon making its presence felt, and young Emily’s much loved goldfish were beginning to disappear at an alarming rate. For a while Pam and Alan managed to hide the fact from the youngster and fortunately it seems she didn’t notice – but they knew that they couldn’t let things carry on like that for much longer.
Finding the Right Solution
“We didn’t really know what to do,” Pam confesses, “but we had to do something, so I did a bit of a search on the internet. Trouble was, everyone seemed to be suggesting something different, and frankly, it was all a bit bewildering. I knew there were a few things that I really didn’t want to use. All the talk of bird scarers and distress calls, for instance, that was a big ‘no-no’ right from the start – I mean you’d have to have some very forgiving neighbours to put up with all that noise, now wouldn’t you?”
Armed with the results of all her research, Alan and Pam came to the conclusion that the most sensible course of action for them seemed to be to fit some kind of a mesh, but they didn’t want it to spoil the look of the pond, nor to make managing it too difficult. After a few phone calls to local suppliers, they found a garden centre that seemed to understand what they were trying to do – and stocked a design of grill system that sounded perfect to help them achieve it.
Solving the Problem
They chose a heavy-duty mesh, mounted on a sturdy frame, which sits just below the surface of the water. “It was quite pricey,” Pam admits, “and it was a bit of a fiddle to fit, but it looks absolutely fantastic – mostly because you can’t see it.” It also meets their other key criterion; although the grill itself fits very securely onto the frame, it is hinged at various places, which allows the mesh to be opened up to provide easy access for pond maintenance. The big question, however, was does it work?
According to Alan it did – “well, mostly. It obviously made it difficult for him [the heron] to grab the fish, but we reckoned we were still losing one or two every now and then – and sometimes you’d catch him flying away when we came home.” Still not keen on the idea of shattering the peace of the neighbourhood with the sounds of artificial ‘gunshots’ or distress calls, the Lamberts opted for an altogether quieter way of ‘shooting’ their bird – using a water cannon.
With the addition of one of these PIR-driven, movement sensitive water jets, sourced from their local garden centre, and around thirty yards of hose-pipe, they were finally able to bid farewell to their troublesome heron.
“Actually, that heron did us a favour,” laughs Pam. “If he hadn’t been quite so persistent, we would never have got the water gun, and we only found out after he was gone that next door’s cat was in the habit of helping itself too – and goodness did it get a shock the first time it got a good blasting with cold water!”
The unexpected bonuses, however, didn’t end there. Shortly after the victory with the heron, Pam discovered that a new member of the family was on the way. “We would’ve had to have done something about making the pond safe for a new little one, but this way, everything’s already taken care of and we don’t need to worry. I suppose you could say we killed two birds with one stone – or is that just way too corny?”