The Ingenious Heron!
How to deter herons from your pond and protect your fish from this major pond predator
by Peter Mills, Aquatics Expert, Henley Water Gardens

Herons have long been protected species, and still are, but they are definitely on the
increase and are a major nuisance to every pond-keeper in the country.

They are extremely clever creatures and are even becoming wise to some of the existing
heron deterrent products. They will visit your pool every day at the same time, once they
know it contains fish, and stand silently at the water’s edge eyeing up their prey and
reduce your loved and valuable fish stocks within a matter of minutes.

Some heron facts:

1. A full size adult heron grows to approximately 90cm (3ft) tall and has a wing span of about 2m (6’ 6”).
2. They have a reach of approximately 60cm (2ft) and will find their way to any unprotected food source.
3. They eat fish, frogs and small mammals, even insects and small water birds.
4. They build their nests in February and March and breed between March and July but you seen them all year
5. They fish at dusk and dawn and are at their worst at the start of the breeding season.
6. Young herons leave their nests in June/July and garden ponds make easy fishing for them.
7. They wade into shallower water.

Evidence of Heron Visits

Apart from the obvious signs: fish losses with no remains, and actually catching sight of them,
you may find the following:

1. an oily slick on the pool surface
2. your fish are staying hidden or on the base of the pool and will not eat for several weeks
3. a leak in you liner with a tiny v-shaped puncture where the heron has stabbed at its prey
4. bodily damage to your fish which they did not succeed in eating
5. plants may have toppled into the pool or been obviously disturbed.

How do I keep them out?

If you want to keep herons out, you need to invest in some kind of deterrent, or, better still, a
combination of them. I use the word “deterrent” because there is no one hundred per cent solution
on the market and what works in one pool may not work in another due to different pool configurations.

I present to you a number of deterrents I recommend based on my long experience in the trade and some
are certainly better than others.

1. Heron floats consist of plastic rings, which clip together around
the whole pool inside edge in a double row, where most planting shelves and shallower waters are, or
anywhere where your pool is shallow or exposed. You can even cut holes in them to accommodate tall plant
growth. They are easy to install and to unclip to clean, and they are more discrete than the traditional
pond net. Best of all, herons do not like walking on them! Netfloat - heron deterrent for fish ponds ...

2. Then there is the traditional cost-effective pond netting, used by most people, which is better than
nothing, but which may still be penetrated by the heron’s beak. The mesh should be smaller than 2.5cm (1”)
and it must be kept taut at all times. Sometimes a wooden framed affair is best. However, it must be borne
in mind that even the most effective netting can be breached if not maintained to the highest standard. The
down side to netting is that is spoils the look of your pond.  Velda cover net ...

3. Another new product is something called a Pond Guard by Velda. This is completely different from floats
and nets and works by emitting a high pitched bird of prey sound when the sensor detects movement and a
flashing light, neither of which the heron likes. It stands by the pool and has a 180 angle of movement
detection. Velda pond guard ...

4. A humane and quite effective device is a water spray deterrent which your attach to a hose pipe and which
emits a high pressure jet of water when it senses movement. The Scarecrow scares the heron and other predators off.

It only works if you have sufficient water pressure in your hose.    Contech Scarecrow ...

5. An electric heron fence is an very effective deterrent for many people, providing you have at least four
rows of electrical cabling at the correct height. It is also more discrete than you would imagine. It will also
keep unwanted cats, magpies, crows etc away. However, you must always check that there is nothing that the
heron can hop onto to gain access to the pool. Please enquire as every pool has a different number of heavy
duty stakes and lengths of electrical wire.

6. Other cheaper products such as a bell fence which consists of stakes, fishing wire and bells are sometimes
worth a try, but are not as good as the other products above. Velda heron stop ...

7. I am afraid herons have become wise to the plastic heron. They used to be effective but we would no longer
recommend them although we do still list them. Plastic heron ...

8. The cheapest product we know of is a floating pyramid which is anchored in your pool. It has a reflective
coating and, as it bobs on the water surface, it reflects light, which supposedly the heron dislikes. We are
not 100% convinced it works, but for its small price it may be worth a try! Velda brilliant pyramid ...

A final word of advice from the aquatics expert: herons are on the increase, so take action now to protect
your fish whilst you still have them!

If you would like to talk to Peter about your heron problem, or, indeed, any other pond related problem, then
please call him on 01564 797 391.