The hragra, harn, hernser and hernshaw or heron as we now call it comes from the French name: héron. Grey herons are the largest birds most of us ever see in Hong Kong, and they can attain a wing span of around 6ft. I was in Mai Po when I witnessed this great territorial scuffle.
I have a sequence of around 20 shots of this fight....
In medieval times the heron was a favourite quarry of falconers who valued its great flying skills and ability to evade the falcon's stoops, and herons were also popular at medieval banquets: the young birds, called branchers, were thought to be the best to eat. Roast heron was once a specially prized dish in Britain for special occasions such as state banquets. For the appointment of George Neville as Archbishop of York in 1465, 400 herons were served to the guests. Yum yum!
The fat of a heron killed at full moon was once believed to be a cure for rheumatism.
Herons are sociable birds when nesting, invariably nesting in long-established heronries.
In Ancient Rome, the heron was a bird of divination that gave an augury (sign of a coming event) by its call; Whilst in Ancient Egypt, the bird deity Bennu, associated with the sun, creation, and rebirth, was depicted as a heron in New Kingdom artwork.
Persuading marauding herons not to raid goldfish ponds is very difficult. The only 100% effective protection is netting the pond. Plastic decoy herons are more likely to lure birds to a pond than frighten them away from it, so I have been told by out-of-pocket pond keepers.