Receiving far less attention than the nearby Ring-necked Duck, this ‘black-fronted’ Grey Heron proved to be quite a striking bird. At first sight it may be easy to assume it is oiled but closer examination reveals a rather uniform density of dark feather symmetry – not the patchy, uneven distribution of staining associated with a liquid, and this suggests it is natural pigmentation rather than the result of an oily encounter.
Grey Herons with aberrant plumage occur from time to time. Structurally, the Wicksteed individual is a Grey Heron and is not likely to be a hybrid, unlike this bird, which it closely resembles in plumage but not structure. Interesting bird and thanks to Simon Hales for his image.